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Protesters End Siege of U.S. Embassy; Tom Steyer on Campaign for 2020; FDA Ban E-Cigarette Flavors; Gulman Tackles Mental Illness. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired January 2, 2020 - 08:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Embassy in Baghdad have finally subsided, but look at the damage. This was the reception area outside America's largest, most expensive embassy after pro-Iranian demonstrators vandalized it. The immediate danger seems to have passed, but the Pentagon is sending hundreds of troops to the region as tensions with Iran escalate.

CNN's Arwa Damon is live in Baghdad with the very latest.

Arwa, what are you seeing this morning?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do know that the Iraqi security forces are finally stationed outside of the U.S. embassy compound, and things are back to normal in the sense that you once again need to have either a proper badge or an escort to get through those checkpoints.

These protesters have not necessarily gone home, though. They've actually set up another sight that is across the Tigris River from the U.S. embassy. And what we are hearing from Kataib Hezbollah, that is the group that was targeted in those U.S. air strikes on Sunday, is that they decided to withdraw because they had delivered their message to America, but they continue to maintain that their main demand, which is that U.S. troops leave Iraq, still stands.

What they are doing now is allowing the Iraqi parliament about a week to begin debating and drafting a bill that would address the U.S. troop presence. They say if this fails to materialize or move forward, then they will resort to other means.

Iran also throwing in statements from one of its top commanders, saying that the U.S. should watch what it's saying and how it's saying it and that they also are capable of delivering more blows to America.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Arwa, thank you for being there, for your great reporting, as always.

Back now to the 2020 race.

Senator Bernie Sanders out with some huge fundraising numbers this morning. His campaign raised $34.5 million last quarter alone. Two newcomers to the national scene also reporting pretty big numbers. Pete Buttigieg with almost $25 million. Andrew Yang at $16.5 million. We're waiting for the rest of the field to report their numbers.

Joining me now, I'm pleased to have Democratic Presidential Candidate Tom Steyer, who just launched a bus tour of Iowa.

It's nice to have you on, Tom.

I know we're both big fans of Iowa. I hope you're enjoying your time there.

Let's begin with the numbers.

How much money did your campaign raise in the fourth quarter?

TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we're going to release those numbers in a couple of days, Poppy. But as you know, I started a successful business and I'm pretty much self-financing my own campaign. The way we think about momentum is how many people are showing up at events, how are the polls moving, both of which are going really well. We're in a new phase of the campaign. We can tell, because so many people are showing up.

HARLOW: You have the luxury of having made a lot of money in your career. You've spent, I think our latest reporting is, $109 million so far in television advertising. I think everyone in America has seen at least one of your ads.

Are you running, Tom -- are you running to win? Are you running to flood the air waves with your message about impeaching the president and the danger you believe this president presents?

STEYER: Poppy, I am running 100 percent to win. I am out there because I believe this government is broken and no one else will say that to the American people. I'm out there because I'm the only candidate who will say his or her number one priority is climate, and I know we have to deal with it on a state of emergency basis. And I'm running because I'm the only candidate with the expertise and experience to take on Mr. Trump on his supposed strength, which is the economy, to go toe- to-toe with him on a debate stage and take him down. I'm running to win, no question about it.


On your big push, we'll get to climate in a moment, of impeaching the president, I was listening to some previous interviews you did. And here's an interview you did with Jonathan Karl back in July about impeaching the president.


STEYER: Americans don't know the facts, that when we present them the facts very simply, they all say the same thing, I didn't know this, he's a liar and a cheat. If I did that, I'd be in jail. The only way to actually push this the right way is what we've been saying, actual democracy. Get it on TV. Let the American people see the facts and let them judge. That hasn't happened.


HARLOW: That has now happened, right? It's been six months since that. And the polling tells a different story. From November to December, we saw a 5 percent decline in CNN's polling of the overall number of Americans who want the president impeached or removed from office. It's now at 45 percent. And among Democrats it stands at 77 percent, but that's down from 90 percent a month ago.

I'm really interested in why you think that is given it has been all over the air waves.

STEYER: You know, Poppy, what I was pushing for then and what I'm pushing for now is to have every one of those Trump administration officials testify on TV, under oath, about what happened.


What -- what I was asking for was televised interviews of those people so the American people could see without any control from either MSNBC or Fox News of exactly what happened.

And, in fact, this president and his administration have continued to obstruct justice by refusing to actually come in front of the American people and tell the truth.

HARLOW: Well --

STEYER: That's why Speaker Pelosi won't send the charges to the Senate because they've refused to tell the truth to the American people.

HARLOW: Well, look, all of those administration officials are welcome on this network any time of the day or night. We'd love to talk to them.

And you make a good point because two out of three Republicans in the latest "Washington Post" polling want to hear from administration officials. I don't know if I'd hold your breath for that in the impeachment trial. Let's wait and see.

But you -- I do want to get to climate change. You bring it up. It matters a whole lot. A whole lot. And you have put a ton of money and a ton of energy behind it now for years.

However, you know it's been well reported the hedge fund that you started invested a ton of money in coal plants, in power plants. Let me read to you from "The New York Times" reporting in 2014, in case people haven't seen it. Quote, over the past 15 years, Mr. Steyer's fund, Farallon Capital Management, has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into companies that operate coal mines and coal fired power plants from Indonesia to China. "The Times" goes on to say, even after his highly public divestment, the coal related projects his firm bankrolled will generate tens of millions of tons of carbon pollution for years, if not decades to come. I know you know no amount of money can turn back the clock and can

change the ongoing impact of those investments, but I'm interested in if you asked your fund to itself fully pull out? Did you ask them to sell off those investments?

STEYER: Poppy, as you know, my fund invested in every part of the economy, including fossil fuels. We actually invested in fossil fuels less than they are as a percentage of the economy. Over 12 years ago, when I realized fully that there was an unintended consequence of fossil fuels, I divested. I took the giving pledge to give over half my money away to good causes while I'm alive and I've spent 12 years fighting climate change, putting together coalitions of Americans to take on the oil companies, the fossil fuel companies at home and around the world.

I divested. I asked Farallon to, but that was a big reason why I walked away from my business.

HARLOW: So they -- you did. That's news, though, because you've never --

STEYER: In fact what I did is what I'm asking --

HARLOW: You asked them to fully divest and they said no and that's why you left.

STEYER: I asked them to do what I had done. And what I'm asking you to do, and what I'm asking every American to do, which is to fully realize the cost of climate and to understand that we all come from a fossil fuel background. We've all driven to work. We've all driven to school. We've been in an economy that's driven by coal and oil and gas and now we realize something has happened, which I realized 12 years ago, that we can't allow to continue, and that is for the climate to change and for us not to move to clean energy.

So, in fact, I'm asking Americans to do exactly what I did 12 years ago, which is to make a change, which actually will let us rebuild America, create millions and millions of good-paying union jobs. And we will do it on a justice basis. We will start with environmental justice in the communities where it's dangerous to breathe the air or drink the water that comes out of the tap, and we will actually change. We'll be richer. We'll be better paid. We'll grow faster. We'll have cheaper energy.

We're in a position where we can make this change now without costing ourselves, but, in fact, we can reinvent America in a very essential way by accepting our biggest challenge.

HARLOW: Tom Steyer, I appreciate your time. We'll have you back --

STEYER: I did that 12 years ago, Poppy.

HARLOW: Many more questions for you.

Enjoy your time in Iowa. Thanks very much.

STEYER: Thank you. This is my favorite thing to do.

HARLOW: Appreciate your time.

BERMAN: All right, new vaping rules could be announced at any moment, but not all public health officials are happy with them. We'll explain why, next.



HARLOW: So the FDA is preparing to take action soon to ban mint, fruit and dessert flavored e-cigarette cartridges, obviously ones that appeal to young people. But public health groups like the American Lung Association not happy with the president's plan.

Why is that? CNN's Elizabeth Cohen is here with us to discuss.

You would think that they'd be thrilled, but I guess they don't think it goes far enough?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, and that there are too many loopholes. I mean, Poppy, in September, the president presented this plan like we're getting rid of these flavors that appeal to children, end of story. This is happening. And then three months later it's like, well, we might -- this might happen, that might happen, there are some loopholes that really stand out here. And so advocates are saying, what's going on? Why is this happening?

Let's take a listen to the president himself because he kind of answers that question.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to protect the children. We have to protect the families. At the same time, we have a very big industry. It's become a very big industry. We're going to take care of the industry.


COHEN: Ah, so he says -- he say we have to protect the industry. And so public health advocates, the American Lung Association, pediatricians say it is clear that Trump feels that he owes more to the industry, to the vaping industry, than he does to children, and he's created a plan that won't really take these flavors off the markets, certainly not in all cases.


BERMAN: All right, Elizabeth, thank you very much. We'll stay on that.

So normally there's not much funny about mental illness, unless you're Gary Gulman.


GARY GULMAN, COMEDIAN: The only anti-depressants we had access to in the 1970s and '80s pretty much was, snap out of it, and, what have you got to be depressed about?



BERMAN: The comic who turned his struggle with depression into a stand-up TV comedy special and, frankly, a mission, next.


BERMAN: In the spirit of the new year, I wanted to revisit a story that made a really big impact, both on me --


BERMAN: And gauging from the response, on many of our viewers as well. It's the story of comedian Gary Gulman, whose new HBO comedy special, "The Great Depresh," is deeply moving, it's inspiring and, of course, it's very, very funny.

This is Gary Gulman.


GARY GULMAN, COMEDIAN: Over the years I have tried Pamelor, Nortriptyline, Wellbutrin, Zoloft, Paxil, Abilify, Adderall, Afexa (ph), Celexa, Zyprexa. At one point my doctor said, let's just try drugs that rhyme. Thank you, Dr. Seuss.

BERMAN (voice over): Comedian Gary Gulman makes jokes about his depression because he has to.

GULMAN: Thank you. Thank you so much.

I was so clearly in distress. My hands were shaking. I acknowledged that I was sick, and I started to write jokes about it because that -- that's the most comfortable I am is when I'm being funny.


So I started saying things like, have you ever gotten recognized in the psyche ward?

BERMAN (on camera): So it's a true story, you were recognized in the psyche ward?

GULMAN: Yes. Yes. Yes. The day I got there, a man came up to me and he said, I won't tell anybody, but you're Gary Gulman, right? Am I crazy or are you Gary Gulman?

I grew up at a -- at a time the definition of manhood was so narrow. You were either Clint Eastwood or you were Richard Simmons. There was nothing in between. There were no Paul Rudds. No kind-eyed Mark Ruffalos. You had to be so hard.

BERMAN (voice over): His new film, "The Great Depresh," is a brutally honest chronicle of his journey back two years ago from a near fatal battle with treatment resistant depression.

BERMAN: (on camera): You said you were afraid you would never get better.

GULMAN: Yes. I wasn't communicating. I didn't feel good about anything. There was nothing I looked forward to. And I spent a lot of time trying to think of painless suicides. Yes.

BERMAN (voice over): He was forced to step back from comedy, admitted himself to the hospital, twice, and more.

GULMAN: My psychiatrist is an advocate for and an expert in something called electroconvulsive therapy, which used to be called electroshock therapy, but they felt electroshock was not quite horrifying enough. They said, yes, electroshock is disturbing, but I feel like we're soft selling the convulsions.

BERMAN (on camera): How important is it to you to destigmatize these things. Like the hospital. Like electroconvulsive therapy?

GULMAN: I think I have a responsibility and an obligation, but also I'm so grateful for feeling good that I want to share this, that if people feel the way I felt, can feel better, I would do everything in my power to get that information to them so that they'll try it and so that they won't be afraid.

BERMAN: You actually joke about suicide notes?

GULMAN: Yes. Yes. And I was concerned about that.

I really feel, in some way, that my aversion to essays has saved my life again and again because any time I've contemplated suicide, I've thought, you got to leave a note. I'm not spending the last hour of my life doing something I have dreaded throughout it.

I didn't want to trivialize people who leave suicide notes or who are suicidal, so we -- we actually checked that with the National Foundation for the Suicide Prevention to make sure that it wasn't insensitive.

BERMAN: Really?

Was that the closest to the edge?

GULMAN: Yes, I think so. I think that was the closest to the edge. And also there was one joke where I -- where I said that I would compare my childhood to Charlie Brown's if Snoopy had died and I said that's too dark and really sad.

BERMAN: So I laughed at that joke. My wife went, awe.

GULMAN: Yes, it's so sad. The only anti-depressants we had access to in the 1970s and '80s

pretty much was, snap out of it, and, what have you got to be depressed about? That was the second leading brand of anti-depressant.

BERMAN: Were you convinced that you could make mental illness funny?

GULMAN: I was convinced at that point that even if I didn't make mental illness funny, it would be a valiant effort. Sort of a quicksodic (ph) effort that even if I failed miserably, if this was something that took some courage and quickly it became not even an act of courage because it worked so well.

BERMAN (voice over): So well that he landed the HBO special. So well that people are laughing. A lot. And so well that he's having an impact on people's lives, right before our eyes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My sister and brother both have severe depression --

GULMAN: I'm so sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I talk about you.

GULMAN: Oh, all right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're an inspiration.

GULMAN: OK, thank you. That's so nice. Thank you. That doesn't happen every day, but --

BERMAN (on camera): Yes, see.

GULMAN: But occasionally.

BERMAN: You say the first time you watched the special, once it was all cut together --


BERMAN: You cried.

GULMAN: It hit me that it was over and I survived and now I'm thriving.

BERMAN: How do you know you're going to be OK?

GULMAN: Well, I don't. But, I am optimistic and it doesn't dissipate. If anything, the work and the talks that I've given have given me more energy, and I can't thank God, the universe, the computer simulation that we're living in, whatever you -- whatever gets you out of bed, I can't thank that entity enough for saving me.

I am so glad -- are you kidding me -- that I stuck around for this. Oh!

(END VIDEOTAPE) [08:55:06]

HARLOW: I haven't watched it. I'm going to watch it now. I'm so glad you did that.

BERMAN: The special is terrific. It makes you think about everything in a different way. And he really has given people permission structure to ask for help. People come up to him after shows and say, you know, where can I go get help or --

HARLOW: Or how did you get better, right?

BERMAN: Yes, how did you get better.

If you know someone who is struggling, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

HARLOW: OK, it's time for "The Good Stuff."

The new year is off to a fabulous start for a waitress in Michigan. Her name, Danielle Franzoni (ph).


HARLOW: A very generous couple left her, yep, that tip for what? $20,020.

The check was $23.

BERMAN: I think it was $2,020, but still big.

HARLOW: I'm just going to say 20,000. It was 2,000, you're right, Berman.


DANIELLE FRANZONI, WAITRESS: Because of this, my kids have a future. And I have a home. It's a big deal. It's a really big deal.


HARLOW: She really needed a break. She is a 31-year-old single mother of three. A recovering opioid addict who moved from Alpena from Detroit last year to start over. She is no longer homeless because of that couple's generosity, which was inspired by the 2020 tip challenge that is circulating online.

BERMAN: All right, Iran's top general is speaking out after two days of violent protests at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. CNN's coverage continues right after this.