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Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) Discusses Impeachment Stalemate; Suspect Arrested in Abduction Caught on Home Security Camera; Family of N.Y. Stabbing Victim Says "Prognosis Is Not Good"; Satellite Images Document Uyghur Cemetery Destruction; Australian P.M. Criticized for Lack of Action on Climate Change Amid Wildfire Threat. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired January 2, 2020 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): I can't really comment or speculate on this process. I think that Nancy Pelosi is going to select an excellent group of people who know the facts and can present the case fully and bring credit to the House.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Would you consider yourself an excellent person who knows the facts and could bring credit to the House?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: I don't know if the word "excellent" would ever be appropriate. Certainly you'd have to ask my wife about that.
But I'm happy to have played a role in the House with regard to the Intelligence Committee. And as you could tell, we try to maintain decorum and do it the proper way, and then we presented the facts as we best knew them to the Judiciary Committee.
KEILAR: It sounds like, if asked, you would do it, though, if you were asked?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: I really can't comment on that. What I can say is that Nancy Pelosi is the type of person -- she was on the Intelligence Committee. She cares very much about making sure that the case is presented well in the Senate. Above all, it has to be done in a way that comports with the constitution and brings credit to the House.
KEILAR: I'm getting nowhere with you on this question, so I'm going to move on. But do you have a sense of when we're going to find out who has been appointed, when we're going to see the articles go to the Senate?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: I have no idea. I think that right now, I think it's reasonable for the speaker to hold the articles until she knows kind of what the process is going to be like in the Senate, and above all, that it's a fair process.
I think wherever people stand on the substance of impeachment, I think the vast majority of Americans want a fair trial, not one that's rigged in favor of one side or the other. And therefore, I think it's only appropriate to wait and see that those processes are fair. KEILAR: So when you're talking fair, you're talking about wanting to
see witnesses. Democrats want them in the Senate impeachment trial. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, he doesn't want them.
So is there anything that has happened over this recess that makes you think you will see witnesses in the Senate trial? Because right now there's a couple Republicans with -- you know, they've said some things but some of it is pretty tepid. Do you believe that there's support among Republicans for witnesses?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: There could be. And you pointed to two Senators, Senator Collins and Senator Murkowski, who criticized the way McConnell appeared to be walking in, quote, unquote, "lockstep" with White House counsel in devising these trial processes.
It takes four Republicans to join with the 47 Democrats to actually devise a fair process. So if a couple Republicans are making noises right now, there might be others who are willing to join with Democrats to create a fair process.
Let me point out one other thing. Over the last couple weeks --
KEILAR: But they completely slammed you guys for how you conducted -- whether you think you deserved it or not, they had seriously critical words for your party.
So don't you have to acknowledge that there's that as well, or do you think that doesn't matter?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: I personally disagree with the characterization that they slam the Democrats. But what I would just say is a bunch of disclosures came out the last couple weeks.
You mentioned an email just before this break that basically raises the question of why the aid was withheld.
And all kinds of emails are coming out now that had not previously been considered by the House Intelligence Committee as part of the impeachment inquiry that only, in my opinion, compel the production of those emails and other documents, especially by the White House Office of Management and Budget, specifically Mick Mulvaney and his associates.
But also the requirement that witnesses testify to exactly explain the contents of these emails and why the aid was withheld. We believe it was withheld as a condition of launching investigations of the president's domestic rivals. I think there's a lot of evidence to support that.
But we need more witnesses and documents to shed or illuminate the situation.
KEILAR: Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, thank you for being with us.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you. Thank you.
KEILAR: I'm going to let you disagree with me over slamming Democrats, though, because these were not complicated words, but I hear what you're saying. And we're always glad to have you on.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you, Brianna.
KEILAR: A heartbreaking family reaction of a man who was stabbed at the Hanukkah party as they give an update on his dire condition.
A woman was seen abducted on a home security camera, and police have just updated this story.
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KEILAR: A shocking and violent attack IS caught on camera. And just into CNN, the suspect has been caught.
I do want to warn you the video you're about to see is disturbing.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop, please! Please!
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KEILAR: That was a distraught woman who ran up to a home in Las Vegas. She banged on the door as a man grabbed her from behind. He beat her, dragged her to a car parked outside.
And the homeowners didn't recognize either of these people. And police asked the public for help, fearing she was being kidnapped.
The man in that video, identified by police as Darnell Rogers, was arrested after a tip by someone who saw the video. There's no word on the woman's condition or her relationship to the suspect.
It's very grim news today for the family of a man brutally attacked at a Hanukkah celebration near New York City. Josef Neumann suffered stab wounds and a fractured skull Saturday when a man burst into a Jewish holiday gathering with a knife, a large knife, described as a machete. Five people were badly hurt. This morning, Neumann's daughter, other family members and community
leaders spoke to reporters.
I want to go to CNN's Brynn Gingras who is in New York. She has been following this story.
What are doctors saying about this man's condition, Brynn?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, it was a really emotional press conference by this man's family. And they just keep reiterating that doctors don't have any hope for their father.
He is 72 years old. He is one of the five victims from Saturday's attack and the one most critically injured. He's in a coma. He hasn't come out of this coma ever since this attack happened. He had a surgery earlier today to help him eat and breathe. But again, doctors are not giving a good prognosis.
I want to show you a picture that the family released. It's pretty graphic, so I want to warn your viewers. But you can look yourself at the injuries this man sustained in this attack. He was stabbed through the neck. He also shattered his arm.
His family said it was a difficult decision to release that photo, to make it public, but so many people were asking how is he doing, what's going on, and nobody has a grasp on how horrific this attack was, and that's why they decided as a family to release this picture.
It was emotional for this family to come out and talk today. They said, though, part of that reason is because they hope that their father, for what they're going through, that he could be a change for this hatred in the world.
Take a look at what else they said.
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NICKY KOHEN, DAUGHTER OF STABBING VICTIM JOSEF NEUMANN: Guys, I'm begging you, if you are watching this, please stand up and stop this hatred. It cannot keep going on. We want our kids to go to school and feel safe. We want to go to our synagogues and feel safe. We want to go to groceries and malls and feel safe.
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GINGRAS: Josef Neumann, the victim, his daughter will be at a news conference we're waiting for at 4:00 in the town. We'll get updates from officials in this case. We'll have that later on -- Brianna?
KEILAR: That family has just really done a lot to drive home to people what they're going through.
Brynn, thank you so much, in New York.
Still ahead, the Trump administration announces a ban on most flavored e-cigarettes. We'll have details ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KEILAR: CNN uncovers fresh evidence of a cultural genocide that is taking place inside China right now. In addition to banning long beards and destroying mosques, Beijing now appears to be systemically demolishing Muslim gravesites.
CNN's Matt Rivers has the grim details.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Aziz Isa Elkun's father died, it was too dangerous for him to go to the funeral in China. Aziz is an ethnic Uyghur who lives in exile in North London, but he grew up in a western Chinese region called Xinjiang, an area that activists say is the center of an unparalleled human rights crisis in the world today.
AZIZ ISA ELKUN, ETHNIC UYGHUR: This is not a normal state, normal country can't do like this. This is pure evilness.
RIVERS: Xinjiang is where the United Nations says the Chinese government has detained hundreds of thousands of Muslim ethnic minorities, including Uyghurs, over the past several years. Critics say China is doing that to try and eliminate Islam within its borders.
Some detainees are seen here in leaked video, blindfolded and shackled as they're transferred between places.
Former detainees have told CNN they're kept in a massive network of detention camps where, inside, allegations of torture abound. China's government denies that, and says they're just offering vocational training designed to fight extremism.
But earlier this year, we tried to see those camps for ourselves and were met with police.
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RIVERS: Ma'am, can you tell me what that is? Is this something that you don't want us to see?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why you are here? You tell me. Why you are here? Why you are here?
RIVERS: We're here to film what we believe is a camp.
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RIVERS: In London, Aziz tells us his father was buried in this tomb, near his family home in central Xinjiang. In the past, he visited him the only way he could, by using Google Earth to see the tomb from above.
But in June, the satellite image changed. Before, rows of tombs. Now, a largely empty flattened field.
RIVERS (on camera): What happened to your father's remains?
ELKUN: I don't know. I don't know. I -- I have no idea.
RIVERS (voice-over): In a months-long investigation, working with sources in the Uyghur community and analyzing hundreds of satellite images, CNN has found more than one hundred cemeteries that have been destroyed, most in just the last two years.
Like this one, in the town of Aksu, a cemetery first demolished then redeveloped with a manmade pond. Or this one, in Xayar, distinctive white tombs leveled and simply built over.
The AFP first reported on this destruction and visited some sites. At three different places, they said they found human bones.
CNN has also found multiple government notices online, in one case, giving families just 15 days to move remains.
We showed these images to Rian Thum, an anthropologist who studies Islam in China and uses satellite imagery to study this region.
RIVERS (on camera): There's no doubt in your mind what that is?
RIAN THUM, UYGHUR HISTORIAN, UNIVERSITY OF NOTTINGHAM: Right. No, these -- this is -- this is absolutely clear, what this is. You can see the destruction encroaching. And now, if you look at Google Earth today, you'll see that this sort of flat surface now covers everything. And that is a phenomenon stretching right across the region of Xinjiang.
RIVERS (voice-over): In response, the Chinese government did not deny the cemetery destruction. They said, in part, quote, "Governments in Xinjiang fully respect and guarantee the freedom of all ethnic groups to choose cemeteries and funeral and burial methods."
In public documents, official reasons for the destruction include wanting to build, quote, "civilized" cemeteries to promote progress.
Uyghur cemeteries are central to village life, a place to meet and connect one generation to the last.
THUM: It's akin to, for an American, seeing Arlington Cemetery razed and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier dug up and paved over. It's a great act of desecration and a kind of open insult to Uyghur culture.
ELKUN: We are stronger together --
RIVERS: Aziz believes it's a desecration that will have a backlash.
ELKUN: We cannot live anymore with them together. Because they are committing genocide against the Uyghur people.
RIVERS: In Xinjiang, it seems even the dead can't rest.
KEILAR: Matt Rivers is joining me now.
Matt, thank you for bringing this very important report to us.
And tell us, is the U.S. getting involved at all?
RIVERS: Yes, and it seems like, Brianna, in a bipartisan way. It was late last year the House passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, which would allow the U.S. to target sanctions against Chinese officials involved in these alleged human rights abuses. You can expect the Senate to probably pass that at the beginning part of this year.
Of course, it goes to President Trump for signing it into law, but that could make things more complicated than the trade deal that President Trump is trying to work out with China.
KEILAR: All right, Matt. Thank you again. Matt Rivers reporting for us. We appreciate that.
Apocalyptic scenes out of Australia as the massive wildfire traps firefighters and force thousands to evacuate.
KEILAR: The deadly bushfires ravaging Australia are expected to worsen in the come days. The prime minister is warning they could continue to burn for months.
This is video from New South Wales's fire and rescue. It shows how dangerous and out of control these fires are. So far, they've burned in every state in the country. But New South Wales has been hit the hardest, and 17 people in all killed and 900 homes there alone have been destroyed.
The prime minister has been heavily criticized during this crisis for his lack of leadership and action on climate change. Take a look at the reaction that he got when he went to visit victims.
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SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm only shaking your hand if you give more funding to us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So many people here have lost their homes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You won't be getting any votes from people down here, buddy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You control the funding.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're an idiot.
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KEILAR: Well, U.S. health officials formally banned most E- cigarettes. The Food and Drug Administration announcing today that they have finalized the new rules around vaping.
Companies that make vaping supplies with flavors other than menthol and tobacco have 30 days to stop making and selling it. Some companies make cigarette flavors like lemonade, cream or pineapple. And those flavors will be banned in the United States one month from today. Officials say the move is aimed at preventing young people from vaping.
Some people were suddenly trapped in their cars New Year's Eve by a very scary attack of tumbleweeds. This happened in southern Washington State. There were crazy high winds that blew so many tumbleweeds onto Highway 240 that traffic had to stop and the weeds buried several cars and even a tractor trailer.
You see those emergency crews there? They worked all night to dig out the cars and get things moving again. At one point, police used snowplows to clear the tumbleweeds. One state trooper calling it tumble-geddon and saying he had never seen anything like it in more than 20 years on the job.