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Puerto Rico's Governor Fires Two More Cabinet Members After The Discovery Of A Warehouse Filled With Unused Disaster Supplies; The FBI And Local Law Enforcement In VA. Responding To Threats Of Violence At A Gun Rights Rally In Richmond. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired January 20, 2020 - 08:30   ET



KATHLEEN KINGSBURY, DEPUTY EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, NEW YORK TIMES: For us, we feel as though she's been very contrite on this issue. She's pledged to do better and we have to take her word at her but it's up to the voters to determine if they -- if they believe her.

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: You also, as -- as we noted, you're endorsing too. So I want to play a little bit as well with -- with Senator Warren.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the old left-right division, yes, there's a lot of that. But I think there's a very different division in America and that is an America that's working for a thinner and thinner slice at the top and not working for much of anyone else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that enough to -- to -- to bridge, you know, the -- the systems -- the ecosystems of misinformation, hyper partisanship, things that are ...

KINGSBURY: Yes, and even more practically is it enough to get anything past the Mitch McConnell Senate?

WARREN: I think attacking the corruption in Washington brings a lot more people together than most folks recognize.


HILL: One of the other things you noted is that Elizabeth Warren came to Washington as this pragmatic problem solver, really there to do the work of the people but that her -- as a candidate, you've seen her in a slightly different light and that there's some talk about, you know, if she were to go on and become president, could she be just as divisive even as a candidate as President Trump.

KINGSBURY: I think that the country right now really needs someone to unite it again. And some of the rhetoric that Senator Warren has been using on the campaign trail really creates this universe of us versus them. She absolutely has the clearest diagnosis of what ails America today. And given what we've seen over the past three years, we have to take that into consideration. We've brought a lot of humility to this process generally but we really do feel like the institutions and norms that we relied on to make the country strong have shown that they're weaker than we thought.

So we -- we really appreciate that the Senator is calling out those important issues, we're just a little bit concerned about the prescriptions that she's offering, particularly because voters have shown through polling that they don't agree with things like Medicare for All.

HILL: Be interesting to see where all of this goes. And to watch the -- the further fall out. I know you said you're avoiding the Twitter a little bit this morning. There's a little reaction on there.

KINGSBURY: Yes, yes, yes.

HILL: Yes, when you look through it you let us know.

KINGSBURY: We came into this knowing nobody was going to be totally happy.

HILL: Katie, thank you.

KINGSBURY: Thank you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: I might give that a few days. All right. Outrage in Puerto Rico after residents discovered a warehouse full of supplies meant for Hurricane Maria survivors. We have a live report from the island next.




BERMAN: New this morning, Puerto Rico's governor has fired two more cabinet members after the discovery of a warehouse filled with unused disaster supplies. It is believed they were there since Hurricane Maria hit the island all the way back in 2017. CNN's Rafael Romo live in Ponce, Puerto Rico with the very latest on this. You can understand why the people there might be outraged.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, most definitely and John that makes three cabinet members that were fired in little over 24 hours.

And I'm standing right in front of the warehouse where this alleged emergency aid that had been sitting here since Hurricane Maria wasn't distributed and we have noticed in the last couple of hours that several trucks with the national guard have arrived here and the idea is that it will be distributed to all 41 shelters that have been opened here in Puerto Rico's southern coast. But it all started Saturday when the allegations surfaced that there was aid here that was not sent to the people who needed it back two years ago.

At one point about 200 people came to this location and forcibly opened one of the metal gates behind me, entered the place, and they found pallets of water, baby formula, diapers, emergency radios and basic necessities. And of course the - until then director of the management office here in Puerto Rico Carlos Acevedo's said that there was no mismanagement, that this was an active warehouse from which they had been sending supplies to all of the island but it was too late. Governor Wanda Vazquez said he was getting fired, John.

HILL: Thank you. (inaudible) follow that story meantime we are also watching Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido defying (ph) a travel ban to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Colombia today. Now this comes as Venezuela's embattled leader Nicolas Maduro claims he still has full control of the country. CNN's Jorge Luis Perez Valery is live in Caracas with more for us this morning. Good morning.

JORGE LUIS PEREZ VALERY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Erica. That's correct. Secretary of the State Mike Pompeo is going to meet the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido in Bogota amid a regional (ph) conference against your recent in the western hemisphere. One of the main topics is going to be the situation in Venezuela and that's what probably Secretary of the State Pompeo and Juan Guaido are going to mainly discuss.

This is the second time in the last year that Juan Guaido defied this travel ban that was imposed on him by the authorities of the government of Nicolas Madura after he self proclaimed him interim president of the United States and gained the recognition of the United States and several other nations, especially western democracies.

Why is this meeting so important? Because the United States still recognizes Juan Guaido as the legitimate leader of this country despite Nicolas Maduro is still in charge of the main estate institutions. Recently in an interview through "The Washington Post", Nicolas Maduro said that he has full control of all the institutions in Venezuela and that he's also looking forward to having direct discussions with the United States.

He is also offering the possibility of a number of American companies coming to Venezuela to exploit oil in this country, the one with the biggest oil reserve in the world but the United States insists that they do not recognize Maduro, that they recognize Guaido as a legitimate leader. And the only possibility to talk to Maduro is to find a way for him to get out of power. Erica, John.


BERMAN: All right, I'll take it. Thank you so much. Watching that meeting very closely today. In the meantime, the mother of the young woman killed while protesting White Supremacists in Charlottesville has a message for anyone planning violence at today's gun rights rally in Richmond, "Stay the hell away." She joins us next.


BERMAN: The FBI and local law enforcement in Virginia responding to threats of violence at a big gun rights rally in Richmond. They've arrested several suspected White Supremacists before today's rally. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency citing threats and rhetoric similar to what was seen before the White Supremacist march (ph) in Charlottesville back in 2017. Dozens were injured, and one counterdemonstrator, Heather Heyer, was killed.

Joining me now is Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer. She is now President and Chairwoman of the Heather Heyer Foundation. Susan, thank you so much for being with us today, and I hope people are listening to your message because you do have a message for the people to - attending today's rally, and what message is that?


SUSAN BRO, PRESIDENT & CHAIRMAN, HEATHER HEYER FOUNDATION: Well, I have a couple of messages depending on who I'm talking to. If I'm talking to someone who is a member of a hate group, I'm saying stay away. Don't go to Richmond. We don't need your help. We can handle this on our own. If I'm talking to someone who has come because they care to participate in violence even though they're not normally a violent person, again, stay away. If you're there to actually speak with representatives, have your voice heard, have calm conversations about what's happening, by all means be there, but understand that it may be dangerous today because there are foolish people who choose to go and stir up more hate.

BERMAN: It is important, I think that you've noted there may be two different groups of people at least thinking about attending today's rally. What is your concern that some of these White Supremacist groups - and there have been arrests already as recently as Friday here. What is your concern that some of these groups might try to take advantage of this day?

BRO: I think groups who want to stir up problem have definitely been afoot here. I've seen rhetoric from a great many conspiracy theories so that people are able to insert themselves into these situations. They're looking for violence. They don't really care about the cause.

BERMAN: What's it like for you in general having gone through what you went through with the loss you have suffered and I think, to a large extent, we all suffered along with you. What's it like to now see an event like this now being planned?

BRO: Like yesterday, I had a lot of anxiety I have to admit. I stayed home, but I was anxious all day trying to distract myself. Today, I'm kind of calm about it because what's going to be is going to be. I pray and hope that people show restraint and common sense, but as we know it, it only takes one individual to create a disaster, so I hope Governor Northam's measures can help discourage people like that or catch them either way.

BERMAN: What do you think of the measures that the governor has taken, which as included among other things banning weapons in this restricted area where the heart of the demonstration might take place, restricting access to that area? There's going to be one place to go in and out of. Do you think those measures will be affective?

BRO: Probably feels like overkill to people who are there trying to actually speak to the representatives, but given the circumstances, I think that those measures are probably needed today. Admittedly, I don't live in Richmond. I'm not going to Richmond. I'm sorry for the inconvenience for the people who live here today and work there, but yes. I'm afraid those measures are necessary for this event.

BERMAN: And I - and I want to point one thing out to people here, and we're talking about this even, which is an annual event by gun rights activists that may be being hijacked at a certain level by White Supremacists. You're a gun owner and you yourself have asked questions or raised questions about some of the measures that Governor Northam has pushed for over the last year. Correct?

BRO: Correct. I grew up around everybody owning guns. That was just a normal part of existence, and yes. I'm a gun owner. I believe in common sense gun measures definitely, but not extreme measures. And I think that those need to be discussed. I think people need to be able to talk to their representatives. I'm just not sure this year's going to be able to do that because the violence has threatened. Rhetoric from non-violent people has also encouraged violence. People need to be mindful of what they say.

BERMAN: And to that end, let me tell you what the president has said. He has weighed in in general on this issue over the last couple days. He says your second amendment is under very serious attack in the great commonwealth of Virginia. That's what happens when you vote for Democrats. They will take your guns away.

BRO: Yes, yes, yes.

BERMAN: Republicans will win Virginia in 2020. Thank you, Dems. I just heard you say, "yes, yes, yes." The president's comments -


BRO: That -

BERMAN: -- what are the effect of that?

BRO: He could care less - he could care less about the second amendment. What he's interested in is pushing politics with that statement. No, I'm talking about people who are gun owners who have been pushing others to really foam at the mouth about the laws in Virginia and what the Democrats might do even before the list came out. I think the list is a bit extreme. There are some good common sense gun laws, though, that are on that list, and I hope sanity reigns today.


BERMAN: Susan Bro, I hope sanity reigns today. Important comments especially coming from you. Thank you so much for being with us to send that message today.

BRO: Thank you. Thank you so much.

BERMAN: Erica.

HILL: On this holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ahead we share a fifth graders lesson about love overcoming hate.


HILL: Prince Harry meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and African leaders during a summit today in what could be his final royal engagement. Harry also breaking his silence about why he felt there was no other option but for he and his wife to cut their royal ties.


CNN's Max Foster, joining us live from Buckingham Palace with more. So what is the reason that he's giving in this video?

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he talks about sadness today and also a staunch defense of his wife as well. And it's interesting that all of this was delivered in an Instagram post at an even which normally the media would be invited to but on this occasion they weren't.

A real sign of how they're going to play this media strategy they been talking out (ph) into the future. They are now private citizens. Let's listen to part of that Instagram video.


PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly. It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges.

And I know I haven't always gotten it right, but as far as this goes there really was no other option. What I want to make clear is we're not walking away and we certainly aren't walking away from you.

Our hope was to continue serving the queen, the commonwealth and my military associations but without public funding. Unfortunately that was impossible.


FOSTER: Interesting there saying that he made the decision. It wasn't Megan, which might explain why she was in Canada, didn't dial into that crisis meeting. This has been Harry's thing. He also points out that Megan is the same woman that he fell in love with.

This is all undermining that narrative that Megan was behind all of this, a manipulative figure pulling Harry away from the United Kingdom. He's saying that's absolutely not true. But it's a sad situation where you had to give up those core royal duties. But he was pretty much told you're either in or you're out, John and Erica.

BERMAN: And he chose out.

HILL: Yes.

BERMAN: It was a choice. All right. Max Foster, thank you very much for being with us. Look, for those crushed about that familial break- up, we have a ray of hope.

HILL: Yes. You are -- you are here with some good news.

BERMAN: We might be reading too much into this but Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were both winners at last night's SAG Awards. This is Brad Pitt accepting his supporting actor prize for "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood."


BRAD PITT, ACTOR: I got to add this to my Tinder profile.

Let's be honest, it was a difficult part. The guy who gets high, take his shirt off, and doesn't get on with his wife. It was a big stretch.


BERMAN: So Pitt's ex-wife, Jennifer Aniston picked up an award also for the Apple TV -- TV drama, "The Morning Show" and this is the part that's important. Pitt was spotted backstage watching her win on the monitor and smiling. He was happy about this.

And a little later, a photographer snapped the former couple sharing a few moments back stage. It's on the cover of the New York Post this morning. So ...

HILL: John Berman is very excited about this, in case you can't tell. Good friends taking care of each other, supporting one another.

BERMAN: And that's it?

HILL: That's all I know about.

BERMAN: All right.

HILL: Who's your inside source.

BERMAN: We'll find out. We're watching this one very closely.

HILL: Meantime, it is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and we want to mark the day, the holiday honoring his legacy, by sharing with you a little something (inaudible) Dallas fourth and fifth graders.

They honor the civil rights icon by competing in a speech contest that answers the question what would MLK's vision be for 2020.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COLIN HARRIS, FOLEY & LARDNER MLK JR. ORATORY COMPETITION WINNER: In order to meet that vision we would have to listen to one another, have compassion for each other.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From (inaudible) math, science, and technology Vanguard (ph).


HILL: That is fifth grader, Colin Harris, who won the competition and afterward explained that it all boils down to love.


HARRIS: What I meant by moving forward was to stop worrying about differences in people and act -- and move on to a better society where love -- where love comes first instead of hate.


HILL: How about that. More than hundred Dallas students from 16 different schools took part in the competition. The district has honored Dr. King with this contest for nearly 30 years.

BERMAN: Colin Harris, or as I like to refer to him, President Colin Harris.

HILL: I think that's -- I think that's -- actually yes. I think that would be fantastic.

BERMAN: Because why not? I know the Constitution has this thing about being 35 but really.

HILL: Sure. He seems a little bit more mature and focused than a lot of people these days.

BERMAN: Not naming names but yes.

HILL: Not naming any names. No, but how about that simple message? So simple as he said; love, compassion, listen to one another.

BERMAN: And important message and an especially important message to think of today.

HILL: That it is. It is a big day ahead.


Of course we'll continue to honor Dr. Martin Luther King on this day. There also is a lot of preparation happening in Washington for the Impeachment Trial. "Newsroom" with Jim Sciutto starts right now.