Return to Transcripts main page

At This Hour

Families Take Search for Missing Loved Ones Into Own Hands; Minister Stands in the Sea for Speech on His Sinking Country. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired November 09, 2021 - 11:30   ET


DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: See as Republicans continues to campaign.


And I'd say running for governor is very different than running for Senate or for Congress. But, clearly, what Youngkin was trying to do and was successful was a camel walking through the eye of a needle. It's a very difficult thing to do, especially when you have Donald Trump lobbing grenades all the time that everyone feels the need to respond to, that they were able to show restraint.

And what a great job not just Youngkin did but his team as a rock star and a rising star. What they were able to do was really difficult because anytime Donald Trump says or does anything, everyone wants to respond or get a response.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: But Republicans have real internal problems too, right? The latest example is Fred Upton receiving threatening voicemails after his vote on the infrastructure bill, after he points to Marjorie Taylor Greene publishing his number, calling him a traitor for that vote.

Let me play his voicemail that he gave to CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope you (BLEEP) die. I hope your (INAUDIBLE) family dies. I hope everybody (BLEEP) dies, you piece of (BLEEP). Traitor.


BOLDUAN: And then add to that, Paul Gosar tweeting out a Photoshop image video of him killing Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez and attacking President Biden. I combine these two things because this is -- this kind of reaction is a problem for Republicans. It's a problem for leader Kevin McCarthy. But do you have any belief that he'll do anything to address any of this?

HEYE: You know, I hope so. I don't know at this point. And I would say if I were speaking to him, Kevin, you need to do something here, Steve, you need to do something here, because this hasn't happened in a vacuum.

You've covered all of this, Kate, when Gabby Giffords was shot, when the baseball practice for Republicans was interrupted by gunfire, Steve Scalise was shot, obviously January 6th. And what I worry about is if we don't condemn this -- and that's Republican leadership and Democratic leadership, if we don't condemn this, if we don't censure Paul Gosar, then what we do is, essentially, we sacrifice whoever that next member of Congress who suffers violence may be. It may be a Democrat. It may be a Republican. We don't know. But somebody is going to get hurt again.

And we see this not just here but internationally as well, where there are assassinations and attacks.

BOLDUAN: Right. And, Doug, the question then becomes -- and I mean this -- is that violence worth getting the majority back? Because that's what you weigh, it seems, sadly.

HEYE: No, it's not. And that's where Republican leadership needs to step up here. We need to be able to condemn our members who say and do these kinds of terrible things that don't just put one or two members in Congress but really every member of Congress in jeopardy.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you, Doug. Thank you.

HEYE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, missing in America. The families of missing black Americans say they are not getting the help that they deserve. CNN follows two families and their desperate search for answers, that's next.



BOLDUAN: We're monitoring live testimony right now in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot three people, killing two of them during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year. Forensic Pathologist Doug Kelly is on the stand right now. He is the Milwaukee County medical examiner. And he is offering graphic forensic detail and testimony about the fatal gunshot wounds.

The prosecution could rest its case today, and it is still possible that Kyle Rittenhouse himself could take the stand during this trial.

We are also monitoring the Georgia trial of three men charged in the death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. An officer who responded to the shooting, he is on the stand, testifying moments ago during his interview with one of the defendants, Greg McMichael, saying that he was interrupted more than once, even by bystanders.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At any point in time was Greg McMichael isolated from speaking with any of the other parties there? JAKE BRANDEBERRY, GLYNN COUNTY POLICE OFFICER: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was he told to sit on the curb and don't move?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was he put in the back of the patrol car?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You got your sergeant coming up and interrupt, you got unknown people coming up and interrupting and you're trying to get a statement from this person?

BRANDEBERRY: Yes, ma'am.


BOLDUAN: The officer's body camera video also being entered into evidence during today's proceedings. We'll continue to follow those.

And now to a report you'll see only on CNN. Black and brown families across America are crying out for help as their loved ones remain missing. So many families are saying they have to fight and beg for police to give their full attention to their loved ones' cases, even taking matters into their own hands.

CNN's Sara Sidner reports.


SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): At the break of dawn in the middling of the Arizona desert, a crowd of strangers meet for one purpose.

DAVID ROBINSON, FATHER OF DANIEL ROBINSON: You guys coming out here to help me out, I really appreciate that from the bottom of my heart.

SIDNER: To help another stranger, a father desperately searching for his 24-year-old son, Daniel Robinson.

ROBINSON: Since he was a child, he liked to challenge everything.

SIDNER: He was born with a challenge.

ROBINSON: And I wanted to introduce him to prosthetics because he was born with one hand. We quickly learned that that's something that Daniel didn't want. He let nothing stop him. He decided to be a geologist once he got into freshman year in college. He excelled that. He graduated with honors.

SIDNER: Daniel's first job is checking the viability of water wells in the Arizona desert.

ROBINSON: He loved this area, of course, of the rock formation.


If you're a geologist, this is the place to be.

SIDNER: But the terrain became hellscape for his dad when Daniel went missing back in June from his job site.

And what number search is this?

ROBINSON: This is search number 14.

SIDNER: Navigating the dangers in the desert, the army veteran knows firsthand time is of the essence.

ROBINSON: When I called the police department, they told me I had to wait three hours because they had 12-hour, I guess, report time to say a person is missing. Then I called them back and put in a missing person report. I got very worried. That's when I got very worried. I asked the Buckeye Police Department to search the area. They also told me that they were going to send a vehicle out there, a helicopter out to search for him. I was relieved. And then he called back an hour later saying, no, it was a no-go.

I'm his dad. And he's my son. I've lost all sense of reality. Then at that moment, I said, you know what, they're not going to look for my son, I'm going to do it myself.

SIDNER: Before he arrived, police did decide to search on foot and with helicopters.

This was the last place your son was seen?

ROBINSON: The last place.

SIDNER: What do you think happened, David?

ROBINSON: I think a lot happened here, very suspicious.

SIDNER: But he doesn't know what. A month in, there's a break in the case, and police called Robinson.

ROBINSON: I got afraid, actually, that it was going to be some bad news. He said, no, we just found his vehicle.

CHIEF LARRY HALL, BUCKEYE, ARIZONA POLICE DEPARTMENT: Some ranchers found it and at that point, we conducted our investigation and additional searches.

SIDNER: What was the condition of the car? If it rolled over, it sounds like it was pretty bad.

HALL: Yes. The car was on its side. The sunroof was kicked out at that point, so he might have exited through the sunroof.

SIDNER: His wrecked car in a ravine, both airbags deployed, Daniel's cell phone, clothes he was wearing that day and a case of water all found at the crash site, but not Daniel. People don't just disappear into thin air.

HALL: True.

SIDNER: Does that sort of feel like what's happened here?

HALL: Yes. Yes. It's very, very challenging case.

SIDNER: No matter how much the family asked for this to be a criminal investigation, can you make that happen?

HALL: We can't make up evidence. Absolutely suspicious circumstances related to the case.

SIDNER: Frustrated and heartbroken, Robinson hired a private investigator.

Where are we going?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down here is where the vehicle was recovered from.

SIDNER: Is that the glass from the car?


SIDNER: When you looked at this accident, what are the discrepancies that you noticed right away?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe it was more than one collision.

SIDNER: What is the data from the black box of the car telling you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That there was 11 additional miles on the vehicle since the airbags came out.

SIDNER: What does that tell you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That tells me it was crashed somewhere else.

SIDNER: Does that sound suspicious? What explains that?

HALL: Well, we have the national expert that came in and provided these findings and then they ended up speaking to an expert at Jeep. And the expert says sometimes that happens and it's not unusual.

SIDNER: But the data also shows someone tried to start the car 46 times after the crash.

HALL: That's something we can't explain.

SIDNER: It begs the question, again, the family is saying it's criminal, it's got to be he's in danger, do something.

HALL: Right. No, I agree. But we need information. We need evidence.

SIDNER: He's got a lot of theories. His words, I think, were, I don't think they cared. What do you say to that?

HALL: It couldn't be furthest from the truth.

SIDNER: Losing hope, Robinson began pleading for media coverage.

ROBINSON: It literally took three months.

SIDNER: While Robinson searched for his son, the country became riveted by media coverage of another missing person's case, the case of Gabby Petito.

ROBINSON: (INAUDIBLE) people think love our children less or something or they're less important.

SIDNER: In 2020, more than 543,000 missing persons records were filed. More than 480,000 were cleared. And 40 percent of the missing are people of color.

DERRICA WILSON, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, BLACK AND MISSING FOUNDATION: There are a lot of Gabby Petitos and Natalee Holloways in the black and brown community.

SIDNER: That's why former police officer Derrica Wilson co-founded Black and Missing Inc., and says, too often their cases go untold.

Eventually, local stations did stories and citizens began helping search.

Did you know Daniel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I just wanted to help.

SIDNER: You're just helping out a stranger on a Saturday?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what, I can't imagine what that man is going through.

SIDNER: As the search for Daniel goes into its fifth month, another family is in the midst of a terrible mystery for a fifth year, the family of Nikki and Arianna Fitts.

CONTESSA FITTS, AUNT OF ARIANNA FITTS: Arianna is very energetic, very happy.

SIDNER: Two-year-old Arianna went missing under the most suspicious of circumstances in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2016.


Her mother, Nikki Fitts, was found in a shallow grave in San Francisco's McLaren Park, but Arianna was gone. FITTS: It breaks my heart that Arianna is not with her mom and Arianna is not with her family, but it also breaks my heart even more is that I know that Nikki wants nothing more than Arianna to be with us, to be home.

SIDNER: Tessa Fitts says she is convinced her niece, Arianna, was taken by people close to Arianna's mother. San Francisco police searched for weeks. They had some leads but no arrests. A digitally altered photo was made of what she may look like now.

FITTS: And she's eight now. I don't want to see this in a picture. I want to see her face in person.

SIDNER: Should Arianna Fitts be a household name like JonBenet Ramsey?

WILSON: Absolutely. Why is her case any different from Caylee Anthony? I can tell you. The color of her skin is the only difference.

SIDNER: For five desperate years, the family has continued searching, using flyers, social media and Black and Missing Inc.

Do you think it has anything to do with color?

FITTS: I try not to put myself in the mindset of the race issue with the media coverage. All I want is for there to be the media coverage for her. I think she deserves that.

SIDNER: The Fitts and the Robinsons want only one thing, with hugging their missing children once again.

Do you think that Arianna is still alive?

FITTS: I do believe that Arianna is still alive. And it would mean everything to me to know where she is and to find her. I wait for that day every single day. I believe that day will come.

SIDNER: How long will you search?

ROBINSON: Until I find my son. I have to. I mean, he's my responsibility.

SIDNER: Sara Sidner, CNN, Buckeye, Arizona.


BOLDUAN: That's great reporting. Thank you so much, Sara.

Coming up still for us, a foreign minister giving a speech knee-deep in water. What his message is to the world today.



SIDNER: A powerful warning at the International Climate Conference this morning coming from the foreign minister of the South Pacific nation of Tuvalu, a low-lying island located midway between Hawaii and Australia. The foreign minister standing knee-deep in sea water on what used to be dry land to show the world how urgent the crisis is.


SIMON KOFE, TUVALU FOREIGN MINISTER: We cannot wait for speeches when the sea is rising around us all the time. Climate mobility must come to the forefront. We must take bold, alternative action today to secure tomorrow.


SIDNER: Joining me now is CNN Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir. He's just back from the COP26 climate summit.

So, Bill, you spent six days at the summit in Glasgow. You have been covering climate for years. And I have to say you wrote the most eloquent and biting reporter's notebook of your takeaways this time. It will be posting on very soon.

I want to read for everyone just your closing graph. It's impossible to come to Glasgow and not pinball between hope and cynical despair. At times, it feels like a global Gamblers Anonymous convention held in a casino. But then you see the sustainable light in the eye of an earnest soul as they describe all the things worth saving.

Tell me more about what you learned now that you're back.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it's so messy, Kate. You know. It's sort of a crystallization of human nature in so many ways. Yes, there are so many activists outside, frustrated that they can't get into the hearings, frustrated that it's just a parade of more promises that we have really been hearing from world leaders of the last five American presidents.

You know, back in Rio, George H.W. Bush first signed on to the idea that this is an issue and, you know, countries together have to figure it out. That's when Michael Keaton was still Batman, you know? And the only thing that's happened to global climate cooking pollution is it's gone up. So, the fear is that COP26 is not going to be any different than COPs 1 through 25, even though it's still in our faces.

We have a conga line of billion dollar disasters that are just obviously unnatural disasters. But every country has a different political system. Every corporation has a different board of directors and shareholders are thinking about, and nobody is saying, we're going to stop the production of this oil platform or this coal mine or this pipeline in this vital ten-year decade. Everything is all these net zero promises which really is creative accounting based on technology that doesn't even really exist yet. So, yes.

SIDNER: That was so striking, Bill, because it sounds like the math that Congress does sometimes which is we're going to get there, but we're just kind of assuming we'd get there in ten years because the accounting will work in our favor. Because when it comes to -- you talk about the pledges and the promises, but was there a single real commitment coming from this for urgent and immediate change?


WEIR: Well, the ones on methane, reducing methane, which is, you know, very potent in the near term, that's hugely important. The countries that signed on to that, although the big ones that didn't, Russia and China, the deforestation pledge is huge. If they mean it and, really, this is all just sort of a promise. It's an honor system. There's no international climate court.

So, it's kind of the same thing as when you go to your doctor and they say, how many drinks do you have a week? Yes, one, you know, it's -- it's a complete -- it's a complete fabrication that anybody could fudge if they want to. You have to trust that the people are earnest and they are there. And I look at the people line up and I thought, man, if people can pull together in the same direction, we're capable of a incredible things together.

But then you realize that the biggest contingent of lobbyists at COP26 represent oil and gas companies. And maybe some of them have changed their minds about their business models, but these are the same folks in a lot of ways that have been sort of fudging the facts, hiding the science and pumping this information, you know, out into the national discourse for decades. So, it's -- all of these things are competing around each other.

But President Obama, you know, got a standing ovation standing up there yesterday to talk about how sometimes he gets very dystopian but that cynicism is for cowards, and you have to keep trying.

SIDNER: I -- when it goes up, everyone should read, it read your reporter's notebook. It kind of crystallizes everything. It's great. Thanks, Bill.

WEIR: Thanks, Kate. You bet.

SIDNER: Inside Politics with John King begins after a break.