Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Audio Reveals Uvalde's Acting Police Chief Was Told Of Kids In Class; Michelle Obama: Trump's 2016 Win "Shook Me Profoundly"; Celebrities Caught Up In Collapse Of Crypto Exchange FTX. Aired 7:30- 8a ET

Aired November 15, 2022 - 07:30   ET




SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Pargas tells them he's waiting on the Texas Department of Public Safety.

JOSE RODRIGUEZ, DETECTIVE, UVALDE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Are we just waiting for BORTAC or what's going on?

MARIANO PARGAS, ACTING UVALDE POLICE CHIEF: They tell me a DPS Ranger has somebody in there and come in.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): At 12:10 p.m., nearly 30 minutes after police first arrived, 10-year-old Khloie Torres, a fourth-grader trapped inside the room with the gunman, is on the phone with a 911 dispatcher.

KHLOIE TORRES: I'm in classroom -- what's the classroom number?


TORRES: 1012.


TORRES: 112, 112 -- yes, ma'am.

DISPATCHER: What's your name, ma'am?

TORRES: Khloie Torres. Please hurry. There's a lot of dead bodies.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): CNN obtained that call and published it with the approval of her parents. When the dispatcher radios the information to the officers, Pargas and other police on scene are immediately informed.

DISPATCHER: The child is advising he is in a room full of victims -- full of victims at this moment.

RODRIGUEZ: F**k. Full of victims. Child called 911 and said the room is full of victims.


RODRIGUEZ: The room is full of victims. A child -- 911. Child -- 911 call.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Pargas, who didn't have a radio with him, takes one from a detective and enters the hallway. He tells the men inside --

PARGAS: A child just called that they have victims in there.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): But then, Pargas steps back. Two minutes later he walks out of the hallway and places a phone call directly to the Uvalde dispatcher. CNN has obtained this call.

PARGAS: OK, and the call that you got here from the -- from the -- one of the students -- what was -- what did they say?

DISPATCHER: OK, Khloie is going to be -- it's going to be Khloie. She's in room 112 Mariano -- 112. She's with eight or nine students that are still alive at the moment (INAUDIBLE).

PARGAS: So how many are still alive now?

DISPATCHER: Um, eight to nine are still alive. She's not too sure.

PARGAS: And how many more?

DISPATCHER: She's not too sure how many are actually DOA or possibly injured. We're trying to get --


DISPATCHER: -- more information.

PARGAS: OK, thanks.


PROKUPECZ (voice-over): The recorded phone call proves, for the first time, that a senior officer at the scene was directly made aware of the horrors happening inside the classroom.

Pargas walks back in the hallway one more time.

PARGAS: Someone called 911 and there's nine injured.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): A few seconds later, the acting police chief turns his back and walks out. In the doorway, Pargas can be seen talking to the Texas Ranger Christopher Ryan Kindell who, as CNN has previously reported, is currently suspended and under investigation for failing to organize a response that day. But Pargas doesn't appear to tell him about the 911 information he received.

CNN has learned from sources familiar with the investigation that a number of law enforcement officials on scene, including high-ranking officers with the Texas Department of Public Safety, say they did not know about the 911 call.

A few minutes later, at 12:20 p.m., Pargas can be seen walking away from the school -- away from the hallway where dozens of officers from several law enforcement agencies remain -- debating, at times, confused and seemingly uncertain about what to do. They wouldn't breach the classroom for another 30 minutes.

CNN analysis of a new never-before-made public angle of the hallway security camera shows that Pargas never steps foot back inside this hallway.

In interviews with investigators obtained by CNN, Pargas says he didn't believe he was in charge and his officers from the Uvalde city police were there only to assist the school police until the Texas Department of Public Safety took over.

The Texas Department of Public Safety, which placed seven of its officers who were at the scene under further investigation, labeled Uvalde school police chief Pete Arrendondo as the on-scene commander. Arrendondo, who was fired in August, maintains he wasn't in charge either.

CNN reached Pargas by phone. He said, quote, "He would love to defend himself but he's been told not to speak to the media." Adding, quote, "It's not that we're afraid because there's nothing to be afraid of. We did what we could but the thing is that we've been told that we can't."

In interviews with Texas Rangers, he was asked why officers didn't force their way into the classroom sooner as active shooter training clearly indicates.

PARGAS: The room was extremely dark and we didn't know where he was, where the kids were standing. If they were by him or not knowing what was behind the doors.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Pargas didn't tell the investigators about his direct call with the dispatcher and claimed he didn't remember hearing radio traffic about the 911 calls.

PARGAS: We knew we had heard all those shots but we didn't know if there were kids in there, there were kids alive, there were kids -- we had no idea.


PROKUPECZ (voice-over): But Pargas did know. He knew Ruben Ruiz's wife called and said she was inside dying, and he knew a child called 911 and said she was in room 112 surrounded by victims.

As the acting Uvalde police chief, Mariano Pargas was a commanding officer on scene and could have done something about it.

(END VIDEOTAPE) DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Shimon, it's a fascinating report. Can you tell us more about this senior officer?

PROKUPECZ: Right. Mariano Pargas -- so he was placed on administrative leave back in July after the House report. They did their investigation -- the local politicians here. They conducted their investigation. And so, after that, the city put him on paid leave, which is where he remains. He's still being paid though he's not serving the Uvalde Police Department.

Look, there are people, Don, inside the city, inside the police department that feel he needs to go and that it's just a matter of time. There is a process underway. The locals are still doing their investigation. So we'll see what his status is.

Also, interestingly enough, Don, he is an elected official. He was just reelected as a county commissioner.

Yesterday, before we aired this story, I had some time to talk with the families about this before we went ahead and published this story just to give them a heads up, of course. And everything that we do, we always include the families. And when I started telling them about this story -- certainly, they were just quiet.

And they are just continuing to be upset because the only way that they're learning information is through us -- by us calling them, by us airing these stories. By us digging and getting this information. Because still, we are almost at the 6-month mark. Next week, Thanksgiving Day, will mark the 6-month period since this happened and the families have still not gotten a full briefing from law enforcement officials on exactly everything that happened here.

And guys, every time we dig in we find more and more and more. There are so many layers of this that we're not looking at those moments of the breach and what happened. But there is still so much more information that needs to be learned and that needs to come out.

LEMON: Shimon Prokupecz in San Antonio for us. Great reporting again. Thank you, Shimon.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: In a new book out today, Michelle Obama, the former first lady, talks about a lot. Talks about marriage, running for president -- her husband, that is -- and the former president, Donald Trump.

The host of NPR's "All Things Considered," Juana Summers, sat down with the former first lady. It is a fascinating interview and it's ahead.

LEMON: I mean, some people might think she was --



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY, AUTHOR, "THE LIGHT WE CARRY": And I was very clear that the person running against Hillary Clinton was not up to the job. That it was going to be chaotic. That the job of president is not a joke and that it would cause problems. And to see citizens storming through the Capitol -- it was surreal and it was frightening, and deeply, deeply disappointing.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Former first lady Michelle Obama sharing her thoughts on January 6 last night with Stephen Colbert.

Her new book, "The Light We Carry," is out today. In it, she speaks very bluntly about how she felt when former President Trump won the 2016 presidential election.


OBAMA: It shook me profoundly to hear the man who'd replace my husband as president openly and unapologetically using ethic slurs, making selfishness and hate somehow acceptable, refusing to condemn white supremacists or to support people demonstrating for racial justice. It shocked me to hear him speaking about differentness as if it were a threat. It felt like something more, something much uglier than a simple political defeat.


COLLINS: For perspective on that comment and more, let's bring in NPR's "All Things Considered," Juana Summers. She sat down with Michelle Obama. And thank you so much for joining us this morning on what is a fascinating conversation just to hear her speak out so candidly.

And one thing I noticed from your conversation with her is the tone of this book is a lot different than the tone of the other book that people might be familiar with.

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST, NPR "ALL THINGS CONSIDERED": That's absolutely right. It is still partially a memoir. She peels back the layers much like she does in her acclaimed book "Becoming," which came out back in 2018.

But she told me that she intentionally wanted this book to be more practical. To offer people a guidebook -- a roadmap of sorts to chart a path out during difficult times. She told me that she wrote this book largely in isolation during the pandemic with only a close group of people by her side who were giving input.

And it gave her a lot of time to look inward and think about what type of tools she could offer to the type of people across the country and around the world who constantly are writing her and asking her for advice on how to solve some of the biggest problems that they're experiencing in their lives.

HARLOW: When I think of Michelle Obama I think of bravery, and that's just like what comes to mind. But what I love is in this book she opens up about when she was really scared and fearful, and when she almost let that fear stand in the way of history. Let's listen to that and get your thoughts on the other side. Here it is.


OBAMA: I think the most anxious I've ever been in my life was when Barack told me for the first time that he wanted to run for President of the United States. I found the prospect of it actually terrifying. And perhaps worse, as we carried on a conversation off and on over the course of a few weeks late in 2006, he made it clear that the decision was really up to me. It's strange to think that I could have altered the course of history with my fear. But I didn't. I said yes.


LEMON: One hundred percent true.

HARLOW: I love it so much.

LEMON: One hundred percent true.

HARLOW: What do you think?

SUMMERS: I think it's something -- it's such a -- even though you're talking about someone who is a former first lady, it's just this really relatable sentiment for anyone who has been in a long-term relationship -- anyone who is in a marriage where in marriage, you have to have those give and takes -- those conversations.


To hear her openly acknowledge that she was fearful of what this would mean for her family, her children, her career -- how this would catapult their life -- is a really unique revelation. Then, of course, seeing the ways in which their family was examined and cross-examined, and scrutinized during their eight years in the White House and since, I thought it was a really telling moment to hear her open up and own that moment of intimidation.


So, Juana, here's the interesting thing. You know, when I was telling Poppy that's 100 percent true.

I was a local anchor in Chicago when Barack Obama was a --

HARLOW: Right.

LEMON: -- state senator and then he became senator. And then he ran for president. And I remember that -- this book, long story short, is the Michelle Obama that I know. Not that I'm like best friends with them but I do know them. I used to introduce them at like chicken dinners. I was the local anchor. I'm like oh, you know, Barack and Michelle Obama, everybody.

And so, this was the Michelle Obama that Chicagoans knew. That the constituents knew. She didn't want him to run for president.


LEMON: She did not. And even, she had a hard time actually running and being for -- becoming -- being first lady.

And so, this is a book -- look, "Becoming" was great. It was a great book. There's no shade to Michelle Obama. This is all praise for her. But this is the real book. This is what she really thinks. This is personal and I think that this is actually more relatable to women who have careers and then have to sort of sometimes take a back seat to their husbands because their husbands -- they put their husbands' careers first.

And exactly how she felt about Donald Trump and what he did to the country. This is it. And you saw her face on Inauguration Day and this book is a reflection of that.

SUMMERS: I think that's absolutely right. And you heard her describe her family in this book as this hopeful and earnest Black family that believed in hard work, that catapulted into the White House. And then, after eight years of what she describes as progress and achieving, and believing in those principles, for the country to, in her words, have repudiated what her family stand for.

She expresses a great deal of vulnerability about what that was like for her -- that self-questioning of did we do enough? Were we enough? What does this say about us that this is the turn the country makes? When she talks about that so incredibly opening.

I have to say she seems like someone who really wants to be a helper. She's providing tangible things --


SUMMERS: -- that have worked for her. She talks about picking up those knitting needles and what that has meant for her and how that was something that offered her calm and steadiness in a moment of global instability.

So I think it was a really interesting turn for her and I'm excited to see what she has to say about it as she heads out on her book tour that starts today.


LEMON: Did you think that at -- watching -- I don't know if you guys noticed, I watch them very closely on Inauguration Day when Donald Trump became president -- but when Donald Trump was inaugurated. And I could tell like the dynamic between her and her husband. He was like we can get through this, we can get through this. And she was like I just -- like, I kind of -- she didn't want to really be there. She was doing her duty but she was not having -- look at her face.

SUMMERS: Yes, it's really fascinating. In the book, she describes her husband as the greatest disrupting force of her life and talks about that counterbalance between the two of them. And I do remember watching their faces very closely on Inauguration Day from our studios just down the street from you all here in D.C. and seeing the contrast in how they were approaching, even though no words were said between the two of them --


SUMMERS: It was an incredibly powerful moment I don't think I'll forget.


COLLINS: Juana Summers, I also loved what she said about the pandemic and I think that was really relatable for people.


COLLINS: The feeling that she felt being at home writing this book.

Juana Summers, this is a great interview. Thank you so much for sharing --

LEMON: Really good.

COLLINS: -- more of it with us this morning.

SUMMERS: Thank you very much for having me.

COLLINS: All right, it could be worse. That is from the former cryptocurrency billionaire -- no longer a billionaire -- Sam Bankman- Fried --

LEMON: Could it?

HARLOW: Could it? Really?

COLLINS: -- after losing this entire fortune in just one day. We'll tell you who else is losing big, because of him losing big, after betting on crypto.




TREVOR NOAH, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL "THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH": After being hailed as the future of money, 2022 has been cryptocurrency's worst year yet. The crypto market has lost $1.3 trillion dollars worldwide. Hundreds of cryptocurrencies have completely disappeared.

And Matt Damon has moved on to selling Herbalife. And personally, I hope Tom Brady didn't invest too much of his money in this company -- yes -- because otherwise, he'll never be able to retire. He's going to be like 90 years old in a huddle just like you going to run a post out left and you block the blitz.


HARLOW: Is anyone else very sad that Trevor Noah is not going to be doing that show forever?

LEMON: Or he'll be yelling Omaha.

HARLOW: He's so great.

OK, this morning, several celebrities and popular athletes are facing the fallout of the sudden collapse of this big crypto exchange FTX after the $32 billion company plunged into bankruptcy in less than a week.

Former FTX chief, the CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, who lost his fortune, tells The New York Times -- this is what's stunning in this interview he did with the Times -- quote, "You would've thought that I'd be getting no sleep right now, and instead I'm getting some. It could be worse."

He also said, "Had I been a bit more concentrated on what I was doing, I would have been able to be more thorough. That would have allowed me to catch what was going on on the risk side."

Our Christine Romans is here to explain. I read this interview. He's playing video games. He says it could be worse. Just watch Christine's piece.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR (voice- over): The implosion of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, one of the most powerful figures in the industry, has left investors grappling with the aftershocks.

SAM BANKMAN-FRIED, FOUNDER AND FORMER CEO, FTX: How much of this is effectively an empty product?

ROMANS (voice-over): FTX's CEO Sam Bankman-Fried is facing multiple investigations after reports that he mishandled billions of dollars in customer funds causing the 30-year-old to see his own $16 billion fortune erased overnight.

Now, the stunning collapse reverberating across the trillion-dollar industry. Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, Kim Kardashian, and Matt Damon among the celebrities who have endorsed the crypto craze.


MATT DAMON, ACTOR: The four simple words that have been whispered by the intrepid since the time of the Romans -- fortune favors the brave.

ROMANS (voice-over): So does fortune favor the brave? For those that invested $1,000 in when actor Matt Damon started touting it just over a year ago -- that investment is now worth less than $300 today, dropping almost 70 percent.

Bloomberg reporting that billionaire Mark Cuban's investment in the Titan token tumbled 99 percent this August.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady bought an equity stake in the now-failed FTX.


ROMANS (voice-over): Along with Brady, tennis Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka, basketball star Steph Curry, and baseball Hall of Famer David Ortiz among the top athletes who will reportedly lose millions with the collapse of FTX.

DAVID ORTIZ, BASEBALL HALL OF FAMER: Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down. You're getting into crypto? The FTX?

ROMANS (voice-over): But no franchise took a bigger hit than the Miami Heat basketball team, who terminated their 19-year, $135 million naming rights deal with FTX, leaving them scrambling for a new sponsorship partner one month into the season.


ROMANS: You guys, buyer beware. This is a totally unregulated part of (audio gap). And for a lot of people, it was a get-rich-quick phase that then -- fad that suddenly became, I guess, real when they saw the celebrities who were endorsing it.


ROMANS: This was supposed to be an easy beginner investing place for crypto -- to buy, to hold, to trade -- this FTX. And it had this air of legitimacy that now we can see the whole thing has just blown up. And the real sad thing to me is that it's the individual investor who gets in late on a craze like this who is always the one who is hurt the most.


COLLINS: The least.

LEMON: I tried. I'm so glad my guy said no.

HARLOW: Don't.

COLLINS: The fallout is fascinating.

HARLOW: Don't.

ROMANS: I mean, this is a -- I mean, if you don't expect to get your money back, fine -- you can play in this kind of -- in this part of the wild west. But if you expect to get your money back and you expect to invest in it, you should be --

COLLINS: (INAUDIBLE). ROMANS: -- being stock index funds.

HARLOW: Of course, high-yield savings accounts. Interest rates are good right now.

ROMANS: Yes, yes.

HARLOW: Cash, folks.

Thanks, Romans.

LEMON: Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: Risk-averse person at this desk. We all know that.

ROMANS: We're showing our midwestern.


Ahead on CNN THIS MORNING, guess who we get to talk to?

LEMON: Oh, that guy.

HARLOW: That guy, Charles Barkley.

LEMON: Charles -- Chuck.

HARLOW: We'll talk NBA. We'll talk also politics. And also, we'll ask him about Brittney Griner still detained in Russia.

LEMON: We're also going to be joined by New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan after her reelection win against an election denier.