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Michelle Melendez Is Interviewed About The Muslim Community In New Mexico; Serena Williams Evolving Away From Tennis; Competitive Races In Wisconsin. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired August 09, 2022 - 09:30   ET





The Muslim community in Albuquerque, New Mexico, once again this morning on edge after the murders of four Muslim men that police say may be connected. Twenty-five-year-old Naeem Hussain, 27-year-old Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 41-year-old Aftab Hussein and 62-year-old Mohammad Ahmadi, they were all shot, ambushed, according to police. The last three killings happen within two weeks of each other. And now so many people in this community fear they could be next.


SAMIA ASSED, MUSLIM MOTHER OF 9 LIVING IN ALBUQUERQUE: We watch ourselves. We don't go out. Our daily routines have changed. We watch ourselves as we go to the prayers, or the mosques. Many people don't go to the mosques.

TAHIR GAUBA, ISLAMIC CENTER OF ALBUQUERQUE: Right now I have probably three, four missed calls for my wife, where are you, it's getting dark, you know, she's freaking out. So, it's terrifying, to be honest with you.

MUHAMMAD IMTIAZ HUSSAIN, BROTHER OF MUHAMMAD AFZAAL HUSSAIN: I'm scared to go outside of my apartment. I'm scared to sit on my balcony. I'm scared to go pick something in my car. My kids do not allow me even to step out of my apartment. They say, dad (ph), it's scary.


HARLOW: That is the reality from Muslim residents in Albuquerque right now.

I'm joined by Michelle Melendez. She is the director of Albuquerque's Office of Equity and Inclusion.

Michelle, thank you very much for being with us.

And I want to be clear with our viewers, you are not involved in the investigation itself. You're, roll, your job, is to be a liaison between the city, the city government, and the people of Albuquerque.

And I just wonder what your reaction is to the three - three of your residents you just heard from there.

MICHELLE MELENDEZ, DIRECTOR, ALBUQUERQUE OFFICE OF EQUITY AND INCLUSION: Thank you for having us. And, yes, as you can hear in their voices, our community is shocked and fearful and coping the best we can under these circumstances. You know, the fear that these are racially motivated and targeting Muslims has really galvanized our entire community to try to surround our neighbors and friends and coworkers with protection and care and support.

HARLOW: The city is taking a number of steps, right? They're increasing police presence at mosques, at Muslim affiliated schools, calling in extra state police to Albuquerque. But when you hear people say they're scared to go to prayer, scared to go to work, scared to go to the grocery store, what will make them feel safe short of apprehending this criminal?


MELENDEZ: You're right, Poppy, I mean that is the top of mind for everybody is just to catch whoever is responsible for these murders. But the way that we can try to make people feel more safe is those added security measures at schools, at the university, but also patrols in neighborhoods, in areas where people shop, in or around the mosques especially. And so our city government is doing all that we can to try to supplement what the community is doing for itself and what neighbors are doing and we're offering things like grocery pick up, or rides for people who need to pick up a prescription and even offering counseling or connecting people with counseling during this very traumatic time.

HARLOW: Right.

And you can't forget the fact that this, you know, if these are connected, which many signs are pointing to, as you acknowledge in the press conference over the weekend, this person, murderer, is still out there in the community. I just thought that this was a prime example of the level of fear. You have a current Muslim state house candidate running for office right now, Holidim Shodi (ph), who has halted all of his public appearances on the campaign trail. No more appearances for him because he is so afraid. And I wonder what your reaction is to that.

MELENDEZ: Well, we know that these are well-founded fears and we cannot help people get over that fear. What we can do, though, is to surround them with as much protection as we can and with galvanizing the community to really step up. And that's what we've done.

And it's helped that our city and our office of community engagement and equity and inclusion have had long-standing relationships. So this isn't the first time that people in the community are hearing from us. We're joining community meetings on Zoom offering these services and offering information. That's the number one thing that people want is to know what we are doing and what the police are doing. And we're offering that in (INAUDIBLE) languages.

HARLOW: Michelle Melendez, thank you very much for being with us today and for what you're doing for the entire community in Albuquerque.

MELENDEZ: Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: Of course.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: And still ahead, Serena Williams says she's terrible act good-byes. The tennis legend's major announcement. That's coming up next.



HARLOW: Big news just in from the tennis world this morning. Serena Williams appears to be announcing her exit from tennis in an article in "Vogue." Let me quote her. Quote, I'm here to tell you that I'm evolving away from tennis toward other things that are important to me. A few years ago I quietly started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after that I started a family. I want to grow that family.

Coy Wire joins us now.

I'm smiling because it's so important for us to hear people like her come forward with their truth about how they're evolving as a person outside of what they're known for.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, these are very cryptic comments, right, Poppy, but we can certainly interpret this. This is Serena reveling that she does have a set time in her mind when she will walk away from the game. The 23-time major winner got her first win in 14 months yesterday at the Canadian Open. It was the first time she competed since her grueling first-round loss at Wimbledon. She told the fans, Poppy, in Canada, after her win, that she wasn't even sure that she'd be playing there again, let alone get a win.

Now, interesting that despite this being her first win in more than a year, she looked more relieved just to be done. And you'll see it here on her face. More relieved than excited, right? But the victories have been harder to come by for Serena. The injuries, tougher to rebound from. She turns 41 next month. She was asked afterward what keeps her going. Here's what she told reporters.


SERENA WILLIAMS: I don't know. I guess there's just a light at the end of the tunnel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is that like?

WILLIAMS: I don't know. I'm getting closer to the light. So that's - yes, so that's like -- lately that's been - that's been it for me. I can't wait to get to that light. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) I know you're joking but can you -

WILLIAMS: I'm not joking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. So then explain to me what - what the light is to you, what the light represents.

WILLIAMS: Freedom. Yes. I love playing though. It's like - it's amazing. But, you know, it's like, I can't do this forever.


WIRE: Now, when you hear her talk about freedom, it's almost as if she feels that she's a prisoner to the game she loves.

She has had lots of injuries. She is a mother now, Poppy, to your point about moving on. She's one of the greatest athletes to ever walk this earth though. And we're living in privileged times having been able to watch this legendary career be built right before our eyes. She's changed the game, made us rethink what's possible, inspiring generations, especially women and people of color.

And we remember that feeling we got last year when Tom Brady announced that he was retiring from football. We all know that these legends are going to go off to greener pastures at some point.


But when you're faced with the reality, you realize that we really need to cherish every single time we get to see someone like Serena step on that court and play. It looks as if her legendary career might be coming to an end sooner than later. She mentioned a few weeks from now. Well, the U.S. Open is just three weeks away. So, we will clearly wait to see what's to come for Serena.

HARLOW: I admire her for so many reasons, which you just listed a number of, Coy, but, I don't think this is Serena Williams' greatest chapter yet. I believe she has an even greater chapter ahead of what she's going to do for the world and all of us. So, I'm excited to see it whenever it comes.

WIRE: Well said, Poppy.

HARLOW: Coy Wire, thank you very much.

Still ahead, Wisconsin, key state always in election, especially right now, it is embroiled in the 2020 election investigations. Well, they have their primary today. How that issue is at the forefront for some of the candidates in some Republican voters, next.



HARLOW: Welcome pack. It's another primary day across America. Polls are open in four

states, Wisconsin, Vermont, Connecticut, and Minnesota. In battleground Wisconsin, there's said to be another Republican proxy battle between former President Trump's pick for governor, businessman Tim Michaels, who's facing off against Mike Pence endorsed and establishment favorite Rebecca Kleefisch.

MARQUARDT: Now, former President Trump has also endorsed the challenger to the state's assembly speaker, Robin Vos, after Vos refused to decertify the 2020 presidential election.

Now, joining us now is Seung Min Kim, a White House reporter for "Associated Press" and CNN political analyst.

Seung Min, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

We have talked a lot about these proxy battles throughout the course of the primary season. Now we have another one in Wisconsin in the gubernatorial race in that Republican primary. Both candidates to different extents have embraced the big lie about the 2020 election. But when you look at that Wisconsin Republican electorate, which way do you think that they are leaning? Are they leaning more to the Trump side, to the Pence side, more establishment, more outsider? How do you read it?

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "ASSOCIATED PRESS": Well, it's actually a really interesting dynamic here because the Trump-backed candidate to Michaels, you're right, has embraced this idea of election irregularities to some extent. But he's actually refused to say things outright that other Republican candidates in other gubernatorial races have been willing to say.

He hasn't been willing to say that he would work to overturn the 2020 election results in his home state, which we should note everything -- you know what the president and his allies say about the election is not the truth, but he hasn't been -- you know, it's notable that Tim Michaels hasn't been willing to go as far as perhaps gubernatorial candidates in Pennsylvania and in other states because, perhaps with the acknowledgment that Wisconsin is still a swing state. It is a very close, you know, in every statewide election in Senate races and governor's races and certainly in presidential elections and whoever wins the nomination will have a very close matchup with the current governor, Tony Evers.

And it is really interesting that Tim Michaels, as he talks about, you know, election integrity and certain election irregularities, won't go as far as other Trump-backed candidates have done. But, regardless, Donald Trump is still endorsing him and is really looking for - was really looking to boost him beyond the finish line tonight.

HARLOW: Let me ask you about what's going on in Liz Cheney's home state ahead of her tough re-election battle there next week. So, we're seeing Democrats, a number of them, boosting her, not for the same reason as we've seen in recent weeks Democrats boosting election deniers, et cetera, which has proved to be dangerous in some respects, but because of this. Watch these clips.

Oh, we don't have sound. OK. I'm sorry about that. That's my mistake.

But I just wonder what you make of that in her race in Wyoming and what it will mean for her.

KIM: Right. Well, I think politically it is -- again, we don't know until the voting commences and ends in that primary. But the conventional wisdom does seem to point to that Liz Cheney, who, obviously, has taken a leading role in the January 6th investigations, voted to impeach Trump, has been a very strong critic of the former president, is probably going to lose her primary later this month. And I think Liz Cheney really is looking to -- you know, she's fine with losing the battle, the current battle in the Republican Party, but she's really looking to win the overall war, that is - that is plaguing the Republican Party right now over the big lie.

And I think what the Democrats are doing here is kind of looking beyond party politics, looking beyond the fact that, obviously, you know, they clearly want to try to keep their majority and really looking to bolster the Republicans, the handful of House Republicans who have been willing to speak out against the former president and the broader Republican Party that has continued to embrace these false election claims.

And I think that's why, I mean, the two House Democrats who have cut ads for Liz Cheney, they were also among some of the House Democrats who were really angry at the broader Democratic Party for meddling in that Republican primary involving Peter Meijer, who the -- one of the pro-impeachment Republicans who lost his primary last week, they were really angry about that because, in their words, these are the kind -- they believe that these are the kinds of Republicans you need to have in public office, not the election deniers. I think this is a broad - you know, helping Liz Cheney in that effort is a broader part of that.


MARQUARDT: And it will be very interesting to see, if she loses her primary, whether Congresswoman Cheney has aspirations beyond this office.

HARLOW: What do you think?

MARQUARDT: I can't imagine that she's just going to walk away.

HARLOW: Right.

KIM: Right.

MARQUARDT: Seung Min Kim, thank you so much for your time this morning. We have to leave it there.

HARLOW: Still ahead, we are following this extraordinary, unprecedented FBI search at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence. How a June meeting there in Florida with investigators potentially led to this.

All of this and at any moment President Biden will speak as he signs the Chips Act and Science Act into law.

We're following all of it this morning. Stay with us.



HARLOW: Top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

MARQUARDT: So nice to be back with you.

HARLOW: Good to have you.

MARQUARDT: I'm Alex Marquardt. I'm in for Jim Sciutto this morning.

We are following several major stories this morning.