Return to Transcripts main page


St. Louis Policeman Suspended for His Remarks on Protesters; U.S. Military Officials Talk about Possible Airstrikes ISIS in Syria; Experts Analyze Ways to Defeat ISIS; Video of Murdering James Foley; Investigation of Michael Brown's Death Could Last Until October; James Foley's Family Remembers Their Son and Brother; Russian Convoy's Back from Ukraine; More Hot Weather for Southern California

Aired August 23, 2014 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: It is already 5:00 on a Saturday morning. And we are so grateful for your company. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell live in Ferguson, Missouri. This is a special edition of "NEW DAY Saturday." And we welcome our viewers from around the world.

PAUL: As well, of course, right here in the United States. And at this hour, the U.S. is gathering some intelligence on the location of ISIS leadership in Syria for use in possible airstrikes in that country. To take a look at this map we've made for you here. ISIS has gained control of large swaths of Syria, as you can see, with a corridor leading into and through northwestern Iraq. Now, we're going to have much more from our teams in Washington, as well as overseas coming up. But first, we do want to take you to Victor in Ferguson there to let us know what's happening. Victor, good morning.

BLACKWELL: Good morning, Christi. Here in Ferguson, another quiet night, but tensions over the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown remain high in this community. The familiar sounds of tear gas and police cars replaced now by smaller protests, sense of calm in the community as well.


CAPT. RON JOHNSON, MISSOURI STATE HIGHWAY PATROL: There were no Molotov cocktails tonight. No fires, no shootings. And we did not see a single handgun. Again tonight, we deployed no smoke devices, no tear gas and no mace. And again tonight, no police officer fired a single bullet.


BLACKWELL: And today in a sign of solidarity with the people of Ferguson. Multiple rallies are expected to take place, including one in Washington. And supporters of Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown, they are not staying silent either. They're expected to gather in Ferguson later today. Now, all of this is really a grim reminder that at the center of this, there is a family that is grieving. Brown's funeral is scheduled for Monday, the same day that Ferguson students are scheduled to return to school. Meanwhile, a St. Louis county police officer, he's in trouble. This is Dan Page, and you might remember him. He is the officer who pushed back a lot of the protesters including CNN's Don Lemon while he was reporting earlier this week. Now, this morning, Page, who was a military veteran, 35- year veteran of the force. He's on administrative leave, and this is why: a video surfaced of him making inflammatory comments about women and Muslims among others, President Obama, gays as well. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN PAGE: Now this here in Kenya, I had my own airplane, I had me a leerjet, I said I want to go find where the illegal aliens claiming to be my president are, my undocumented president lives at. So, I flew to Africa and right there, and I went to our undocumented president's home. He was born in Kenya.


BLACKWELL: That county police chief - the country police chief, rather, here in St. Louis has apologized for Page's actions and calls the video bizarre. CNN has placed several phone calls to what is believed to be Page's home number for comment on the video, but we've not received response. Of course, we'll have more on that explosive video later this hour. But for now, we need to be reminded that here in Ferguson, although the streets are quiet. A lot of people in this community are outraged with this local police force. Christi, we're going to continue to follow everything that's happening here and we're going to talk more about that video, the funeral coming. And to learn more about this officer, Darren Wilson. Back to you.

PAUL: Already. Victor in Michigan studio, but I know you're doing important work out there. Thank you so much.

The other big story, of course, we are following is the battle to stop ISIS. Here's what we know this hour. CNN sources confirm the U.S. is considering possible airstrikes inside of Syria, targeting the terror group. And this map that you see shows these areas in red controlled by ISIS in Syria, as well as neighboring Iraq. CNN sources say intel on the location of ISIS leaders and troop concentrations in Syria is being gathered as President Obama weighs his options here.

Now the Pentagon says it will do what is necessary to do to protect Americans and see justice is done. Of course, this is following the brutal beheading of freelance journalist James Foley in Syria earlier week. Now, the White House is calling his killing by ISIS jihadists a terror attack. And now ISIS is threatening to kill a second American hostage, freelance journalist Steven Sotloff. The U.S. has already carried out more than 90 airstrikes inside Iraq against ISIS targets to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces and protect Iraqi refugees fleeing the militants. But we want to go to CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr right now for more on whether U.S. warplanes will indeed take aim at targets in Syria, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi, day by day, the Pentagon appears to be edging closer to airstrikes inside Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) STARR: U.S. officials tell CNN there are longstanding and ongoing talks inside the administration about increasing airstrikes in Iraq, and even the possibility of tailored airstrikes inside Syria against specific ISIS targets. But officials stress, no decisions have been made by the White House.

BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: We're actively considering what's going to be necessary to deal with that threat. And we're not going to be restricted by borders.

STARR: And the Pentagon is divulging nothing.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We don't telegraph our punches. I think you can rest assured that the leadership here in the Pentagon understands the threat posed by this group.

STARR: Talk of military options stirred up by this comment by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about the threat of ISIS and its ranks of 10,000 fighters.

CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Oh, this is beyond anything that we've seen so we must prepare for everything. And the only way you do that is you take a cool steely hard look at it. And get ready.

STARR: Officials are taking pains to emphasize that any military action would only be part of a long term strategy against ISIS involving diplomacy, and action from other countries in the region.


STARR: The military is insisting airstrikes alone will not be enough to defeat ISIS, but it is not ruling them out. Christi.

PAUL: All right, Barbara Starr, we appreciate it, thank you. Let's get deeper with Professor Peter Neumann, he is the director of the study of Radicalization and president of security studies at King's College in London. We are also joined by Andrew Tabler, the author of "In the Lion's Den: an Eyewitness Account of Washington's Battle with Syria." Gentlemen, we appreciate you both being with us. Thank you, Mr. Tabler, there from Paris. But Peter, I want to start with you first. When you look at the video of Foley's execution, do you identify any clues that could help determine not just who the executioner is, obviously, but where this murder took place?

PETER NEUMANN, KING'S COLLEGE: Yes, I think -- I'm very confident that it was probably being carried out in or near Raqqa, which is in Syria, and which is one of the strongholds of ISIS. Organizations like ISIS always hold their hostages in their securest areas, and that is Raqqa. Raqqa is also a place where a lot of foreigners, a lot of foreign fighters are based. And also, we know that the vegetation, the background in the video matches the vegetation in Raqqa, so I'm pretty confident it was carried out there.

PAUL: OK, I want to ask you, Andrew, about the possibility of going into Syria. Can this destruction of ISIS, as some people say, that, you know, Bob Baer (ph) says we have to decapitate ISIS? Can that be done without going into Syria?

ANDREW TABLER, AUTHOR "IN THE LION'S DEN": It's hard. One of the effects of not supporting the opposition inside of Syria at any kind of, you know, concerted way, there has been a secret program is that we lack really good intelligence. That doesn't mean we lack intelligence completely. But that's one of the problems with our Syria policy of the last few years that if we didn't get enough information out in an already very chaotic situation that ISIS took advantage of, I would suspect that's changed radically in the last few weeks as the ISIS outbreak has spread across back - into the border into Iraq and, of course, with the execution of James Foley.

PAUL: Speaking of that, British counterterrorism police are studying that video, framed, by the way, they're doing it frame by frame to determine who the executioner is. Let me read part of a statement for you that was released this week. It said, we would like to remind the public that viewing, downloading or disseminating extremist material within the U.K. may constitute an offense under terrorism legislation. So in the U.K., you could actually face terrorism charges just for downloading this video. Is that right, Peter?

NEUMANN: Yes, that's true. And people have been convicted on the basis of those charges. Both possession and dissemination of so- called terrorist materials is illegal in the U.K.

PAUL: OK. So, in that regard, how hard is it to knock out ISIS on social media?

NEUMANN: Well, the problem is that ISIS is not communicating centrally. It is communicating centrally, but there's a lot else going on. There are literally hundreds of people who will forward and repost and re-disseminate the videos, once they are posted. And literally one hour after a video like that has been released, it will be on 500, maybe 1,000 locations on the Internet. It becomes very difficult to prosecute everyone who's been involved. And it becomes very difficult to take it down from the Internet. In a sense, ISIS is using social media in a very grassroots driven way.

PAUL: OK, let's take a listen here to something Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said this week about the strengthening threat of ISIS.


CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: ISIL is a sophisticated and well- funded as any group that we have seen. They're beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded. Oh, this is beyond anything that we've seen.


PAUL: I mean, it's frightening to hear it, Andrew. Is the U.S., however, going to have to team up with Bashar al Assad in Syria? Is that even possible?

TABLER: Yeah, I think there are a lot of moral and legal reasons why that's not going to happen. But beyond that, the Assad regime has not attacked ISIS as much as it could have even though it says it is fighting terrorism. Also it purchases a lot of (INAUDIBLE) products from ISIL. It has done so since ISIS took control of these oilfields. So, I think it's a very complicated situation where any U.S. action is going to be a direct form of any kind of airstrike. As well as at least seems working with the modern opposition, the problem is that neither the modern opposition nor the Assad regime are ready to go in eastern Syria and retake those areas. They're going to have to work with tribes in those areas as well if they hope to succeed.

PAUL: Already. Peter Neumann and Andrew Tabler, we appreciate your time, gentlemen. Thank you.

NEUMANN: Thank you.

PAUL: All right, the top story, of course, that we're watching today, Ferguson, Missouri, and Victor Blackwell is live there.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, Christi, it's been two weeks since a police officer shot and killed Michael Brown. It's a shooting that has divided a community and the law enforcement here. But overnight, something that happened that is making people feel a little better in this community. Also, another St. Louis area officer is in trouble. We now see that officer right here moving, here he is, moving Don Lemon back there, a live newscast. He's been suspended for a rant. And the video has been posted online.


DAN PAGE: I personally believe in Jesus Christ is my Lord savior. But I'm also a killer, I've killed a lot. And if I need to, I'll kill a whole bunch more. If you don't want to get killed, don't show up in front of me. It's that simple.


BLACKWELL: Welcome back to "NEW DAY Saturday." We're live in Ferguson, Missouri, this morning. A St. Louis County police officer who was helping to maintain security here in Ferguson is now on administrative leave, and it's because a video surfaced in which he rails against President Obama, the Constitution, gays, Muslims, others. His name is Dan Page, he's a St. Louis County officer. And he pushed CNN's Don Lemon back. You see him here. That's the man who's doing this. He was live on our air this week as Don was anchoring the show there. But the comments he made back in April, those are the issues that have prompted his bosses to relieve him of his duties. Listen to just a snippet of the video. Here's what he said.


PAGE: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal that does not mean affirmative action. That means we're all equal and then we work through life to become unequal. Some of us get to be lawyers. So far - Like a cars salesman, maybe I don't know. But we're all equal. God does not respect persons. So we have no business passing hate crime laws. None. Because we are setting aside a group of people special.


BLACKWELL: CNN's Alina Machado joins me now. She's also here in Ferguson. Alina, so tell us - tell us some more about this suspension of the officer and so far the reaction you are hearing to what he said?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, we're talking about a 35-year veteran of the force. And he was suspended yesterday after this controversial video surfaced online. The St. Louis County police chief did issue an apology yesterday on Facebook. And then he came on CNN to talk about the incident. Listen to some of what he had to say.


CHIEF JOHN BELMAR, Saint Louis COUNTY POLICE: The bottom line on this is, we expect our police officers to hold themselves to a higher standard. He didn't do that here. His topics were wide ranging. They were offensive -- patently offensive to everybody. In fact, they were bizarre. And at the end of the day what disturbed me more than anything else was when he talked about the killing. That's out of bounds in my world.


MACHADO: Now, this suspension marks the beginning of a process that will likely include an investigation by the department's internal affairs department. As well as a psychological evaluation of this officer. Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Alina Machado here in Ferguson reporting as well. Thank you so much. And CNN has placed several phone calls to what's believed to be Page's home number. Of course, we'll look at the comment on the video and disciplinary action against him, but we've not yet received a response. Christi, that is just fuelling the flames here in this community already divided over the killing of Michael Brown.

PAUL: Absolutely. Thank you so much for the very latest. Being there in Ferguson. Victor, we appreciate it, as always.

Meanwhile, the race is on to find James Foley's killer. His face is covered nearly entirely. There he is, the killer. There are some specific clues contained in this video, though, that investigators are using to close in on the terrorist.


PAUL: Twenty-two minutes past the hour right now. And a manhunt is under way as we speak here for the ISIS jihadist who brutally beheaded American freelance journalist James Foley. Now, the biggest clue may be his voice and his accent. CNN's Atika Shubert is following the search for Foley's killer and she has got this report for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The race is on to identify the man who killed James Foley. His face is hidden but there are clues especially his voice. Spouting militant propaganda in an unmistakable British accent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any attempt by you, Obama, to deny the Muslims their rights of living in safety under the Islamic caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people.

SHUBERT: Now, we will not show the video, it is simply too graphic. But we did ask a number of voice sounders to take a listen to the audio. And here's what they said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a guy who's spent less of his formative years in and around London, I would say. He may well have been born in another country. He may well have had another language as his first language. But he has ended up speaking very much in the same way as other people in the eastern London or south London as well.

SHUBERT: Our experts all agree the man is under 30 years old and grew up in Britain from a very young age.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He comes from a well-educated professional class of family which some people might find very shocking.

SHUBERT: And there are other clues his height and build, even the boots he wears and the way he holds the knife indicates he may be left-handed. British investigators are now analyzing the video and comparing it to the database of video and audio recordings of known jihadists. They're also reaching out to Britain's Muslim community hoping someone, somewhere, recognizes his voice. There are an estimated 400 to 500 British nationals that have volunteered to fight in Syria and Iraq. One of them may be the man who killed James Foley. And the British government says it's determined to find him.


PAUL: CNN's Atika Shubert joining us now live from London. Atika, good to see you. Help us understand more of what they've been able to discern from these clues.

SHUBERT: Well, what they've really been doing is going over the video and audio their already have in their database and trying to narrow down who this could be possibly be. It may be somebody that they don't actually know about yet. Because the 400 to 500 fighters that have gone there is simply just an estimate. A lot of terror analysts I've spoken to say the number could in fact be much higher. So the greatest hope may be that somebody somewhere in the community actually recognizes that voice or the person's build. And tips investigators off. And there are a number of communities that are cooperating and helping them out with this.

PAUL: All right. Atika Shubert, thank you so much for the report. We appreciate it.

Meanwhile, angry protesters in Ferguson, they say they want justice. And they're calling for the arrest of this man, Darren Wilson, he's the officer who shot and killed unarmed teen Michael Brown. Will he be forced to testify?

Up next, we're going to ask legal expert Page Peg (ph) what he would tell Wilson if he were his defense attorney.


PAUL: 29 minutes past the hour right now. Thank you so much for sharing your time. I'm Christi Paul. I want to give you the five things that you need to know for your new day. First of all, a Hamas official now admits Hamas militants are in fact responsible for kidnapping and killing three Israeli teens back in June. Their deaths helped spark the current war that's raging in Israel and Gaza. The official however said the militants acted on their own and neither Hamas leadership nor its military wing approved that operation. It's believed more than 2,000 people have been killed since the fight had begun. Two thousand people have been killed since the fighting began.

Number two, the White House says the Chinese fighter jet had a, quote, "dangerous encounter" with a U.N. Navy plane this week. Apparently, the Chinese plane repeatedly roared over, under and beside the U.S. patrol plane. At one point passing within 20 feet. It happened in international airspace over the South China Sea. And the Pentagon voiced its objection to the incident directly to the Chinese government.

Three suspected Shiite militia men have attacked a Sunni mosque in northeast Iraq. Here are some of the - it's disturbing video. 65 people were killed. 17 were wounded. And the attack led Sunni lawmakers to pull out of talks to former government there. They say they will not return to the discussion until those behind the attack are arrested.

And Nigerian officials are reporting two new cases of Ebola in the country bringing the total to 14. So far, nearly 2500 suspected cases have been reported from Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, and the World Health Organization says more than half of the patients died. Meanwhile, Senegal has closed its border with Guinea because of that outbreak.

And Texas Governor Rick Perry is in New Hampshire testing his presidential prospects for 2016. Perry says, in 2012, he simply didn't lay enough groundwork before jumping into the race, but now he's, quote, spent a lot of time in preparation. Although he hasn't decided if he's going to run yet. This is his first visit, of course, to the state, since he ran for president in 2012. He was arraigned on an abuse of power charge yesterday which he says was politically motivated.

We are learning more about the investigation into the death of unarmed teen Michael Brown. Let's get over to Victor Blackwell. He's on the ground there in Ferguson this morning. Victor, what have you learned?

BLACKWELL: Well, we're learning, of course, we've known for some time the FBI is here in Ferguson. Well, sources tell CNN that the FBI has now interviewed more than 200 people in the community and is knocked on more than 400 doors here. And officials are also investigating recent cyber-attacks against local law enforcement. This morning, we know more about the makeup up of the grand jury weighing these cases.

Well, according to a St. Louis court administrator of the panel of 12, three are African-American, one male, two females. Overnight, it was a peaceful night here in the community. So that's some good news. Protesters were still on the streets, but there were no arrests. Today also in a sign of solidarity with the people of Ferguson, there are several rallies scheduled including one in Washington, D.C. And supporters of Darren Wilson, the officers who shot Brown, they're speaking out as well. They're expected to gather in St. Louis later today.

And all of this, we have to remember that there is a family at the center of this that is grieving. Brown's funeral is scheduled for Monday. It's the same day Ferguson students are scheduled to return to school in this community. And you know, Christi that according to the prosecuting attorney it could take another two months before the grand jury decides whether this case should be brought to trial.

PAUL: Yeah, they were saying October. And that decision is expected to be a tricky one. Primarily because there are so many different eyewitness accounts of what actually happened. So, let's talk about this with criminal defense attorney Page Pate. Page, thank you so much for being with us so early in the morning. On Saturday. Let me reach you, if you would, please. Something that you wrote actually about Officer Darren Wilson's legal defense. Just so we can get some background here. You wrote the investigators who will be reviewing this case will likely be predisposed to believe the officers' version of the events and the citizens serving on any grand jury or trial jury may be predisposed. To defer to the officer's judgment. Convicting Officer Wilson of any crime in this case will be much more difficult than some people are assuming. Do you think charges will be brought, and what makes it so difficult?

PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, that's a very good question. I think it's particularly difficult for a state grand jury to indict him. Let's remember number one. The makeup of this grand jury. We know that it's majority white. And we know that there's a minority African-Americans on it. When you come into a Grand Jury, you can come in with your own biases, you own predispositions about what you think about the particular case. Unlike a trial jury where they don't let someone serve on that jury if they've already made up their minds.

So, in my experience, and I've represented several officers in excessive force cases, once the jurors hear from the officer, and if they believe that officer, and if his explanation makes sense, they're going to defer to him. They know it's a tough job. And they put themselves in the shoes of the officer, and they say, look, I don't want to be in that position. We trust you to do the right thing. And if he appears to be somewhat remorseful that what happened happened, I think they're going to defer to him. I really do.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Page, if you are advising Officer Wilson, you know, thus far, we've not heard from him, we've heard from a woman named Josie (ph) who CNN's confirmed that that's the story he's telling, but would you advise him to come out and tell his side of the story or continue to stay quiet?

PATE: Well, Victor at this point I would advise him to go ahead and get his story out there. We know he's already given at least two statements to investigators. So, it's not like he has not gone on the record yet. He has. And I think this district attorney is going to offer him the very unique opportunity of appearing before the grand jury. That doesn't happen in every case. So, I think you need to go ahead and get your statement out there. Tell people why you did what you did and be prepared to go into the grand jury and tell them the same thing, because if you do it and it's believable, then I don't think this grand jury will indict him.

PAUL: Well, we know that investigators have spoken to hundreds of people, these witnesses, and so many of them have different accounts, how do you reconcile and decipher the truths from all of those accounts?

PATE: Well, I think that's going to be difficult, and that's another reason why I think this grand jury is going to have a hard time indicting him. Most of the time a prosecutor will only present their best witnesses to a grand jury. It's a one-sided affair. They're going to take the best witnesses they have to go ahead and get that indictment. But in this case, the district attorney said I'm going to let them hear everything. I'm going to let them hear all the evidence. So they're going to hear these witnesses who have inconsistent statements not just with each other, but with themselves sometimes. And I think it's going to be difficult, especially if the officer has one consistent credible story about what happened. It's always the prosecution's burden, and I think it's a tough one to meet here.

PAUL: Victor.

BLACKWELL: The prosecutor, the prosecutor, Page, just said that this could take until mid-October. And we know that this sometimes takes some time. The grand jury is presented with all the evidence and then they have to decide. That means it could be another two months until charges are brought in this case. Do you think that will quiet the community, and come things down here, knowing that things are happening, or do you think just the wait and no response no answer will incite more protests?

PATE: Well, I think it's tough to tell right now. I mean we've seen the protests continue. Although I think they've been not nearly as potentially violent as they have been in the past. But this will take some time. And let's assume for a second this grand jury does not indict him, then we're talking about a federal investigation, which I think will take even more time. In my experience with this federal grand jury investigations into excessive force, we're not just talking months. Sometimes those investigations will last for a year or more. So, I just don't know if this town can keep it together for that long.

PAUL: Already. Page Pate, thank you so much. Victor, we're going to check back in with you here in just a few minutes as well. But we appreciate your time this morning.

PATE: Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you.

PAUL: We can only - can you even imagine the pain suffered by the family of murdered American James Foley? Well, ahead, you're going to hear from his brother about how tormenting this is for the family. His words in a moment.


PAUL: Well, Syria could be the Pentagon's next target. The U.S. is ramping up its strategy against ISIS in the wake of that grisly murder of American journalist James Foley. A military official tells "The Wall Street Journal" airstrikes could target ISIS leaders and other, quote, "high-valued targets." In fact, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey say the U.S. is ready to take action against any threat. That could include ISIS training camps, yes, in Syria. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes put it bluntly, if you come after Americans, we're going to come after you wherever you are, essentially. None of that tough talk, obviously, though, is going to bring that James Foley whose parents say they remember him for his gentleness.


DIANE FOLEY, MOTHER: He was strong, courageous, loving to the end. We just hardly recognized our little boy. I mean, he is just - he was just a hero, you know.

JOHN FOLEY, FATHER: And you know from the videos - his last words were - I wish (INAUDIBLE) to see my family.

DIANE FOLEY: So Jim had a big heart.


PAUL: What strong people. Foley's brother Michael says James also had courage, which he showed right up to the end. He says the U.S. needs to show that now, needs to show some of that courage. Because in his words, "I don't want Jim to have died in vain." He's - back tears, but Michael told our Anderson Cooper that dealing with his brother's savage beheading is essentially like "being in a horror movie."


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I was thinking about your family when I heard that they have received an e-mail. I just can't imagine the horror of even seeing that email pop up.

MICHAEL FOLEY, BROTHER: Have you read it?

COOPER: Yes, I have. But - but just seeing, you know, checking your e-mail one day and seeing an e-mail from the people that are holding your brother, your child, I mean, I just - I kept thinking about your parents in that situation and your whole family, and I just - and there's no question there, I just - there's horror that really struck home for me.

MICHAEL FOLEY: Horror is a good word. It's like - It's right out of a Hollywood movie, unfortunately, you're in it. And I just know that I'm comforted by the fact, and it was clear in the images in the video that Jim didn't flinch. He had the courage. I'm certain, that he put himself in a position to be first in line. And he wanted us to be strong. And that's the message he was sending without saying it. And, you know, I want that memory to live on. We all love Jim. And I know there's a lot of others that look up to him. And it's just the people from all over the world. All over the country, from all walks of life have reached out to us. And it really - really, really means a lot.

COOPER: And the words of others who were held captive with him, a French journalist who was with Jim, who said that he was a pillar of strength for everybody else, despite what was happening to him at the time. That's also got to give your family such strength and pride.

MICHAEL FOLEY: Yeah, it does. No surprise, though, Anderson, I'll be honest with you, but it absolutely does. And I look forward to meeting some of them in person and understanding more. There was a letter that was memorized, you know, from one of them that really just talked about my boys. And really, really it was great, great to hear. I love them.

COOPER: One of the other captives had actually memorized a letter from Jim to your family?

MICHAEL FOLEY: Right. That's right. None of Jim's letters got out, but he was nice enough to take the time. And they did have time to memorize the letter. And it was there pretty long, actually, it was really, really, a nice - really, really nice touch. It really means a lot to us.


PAUL: You can imagine how those things are really holding this family up. And ironically, the Foley family says it seemed as though they were making progress towards getting James released. And then, of course - and then, of course, this. So, we will continue, obviously, to follow what this means for the fight against ISIS.

And still to come, well, now some trucks from the Russian convoy leave Ukraine today but global indignation remains high over Moscow's move into another country it seems.

Also I want to tell you about torrential flooding in the Midwest. It's closing roads in Indiana and Illinois. And some cars are feet under water.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Russia should not send vehicles, persons or cargo of any kind into Ukraine. Whether under the guise of humanitarian convoys or any other pretext without Kiev's express permission. This is a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity by Russia. Russia must remove its vehicles and its personnel from the territory of Ukraine immediately. Failure to do so will result in additional costs and isolation.


PAUL: Rear admiral James Kirby there yesterday at the Pentagon. Russian media said several dozen aid trucks went back into Russia today after delivering humanitarian aid in the eastern Ukraine. Now the withdrawal not likely going to ease international pressure against Moscow after 227 of the Russian vehicles rolled into Ukraine yesterday. President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the move a "provocation." CNN's Diana Magnay is following the latest developments from Slavyansk, Ukraine. What are seeing there today, Diana?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christi. Well, Lugansk where that convoy brought its humanitarian aid, which is under siege, as the Ukrainian Army trying recapture it from the rebels, is about two hours down the road, and it's very, very difficult to gain access there because it is so dangerous. Because the fighting still rages. That is why the Red Cross decided not to accompany the aid convoy as they were meant to under this meet deal between the Ukrainians and the Russians because they said it was simply too dangerous and they couldn't be guaranteed safe passage. So, this convoy of trucks just entered unilaterally, without (INAUDIBLE), went and delivered their aid or whatever it was they delivered in Lugansk and now are on their way back. But not, of course, without having stirred considerable international outcry with promises from the White House that Russia would pay the costs for this violent unilateral action though we have yet to see what exactly those costs would be, Christi.

PAUL: Diana, we're also hearing that there are about 18,000 Russian soldiers on the border, combat-ready soldiers. What have you heard about that?

MAGNAY: That's right, because what we've been hearing from NATO. Remember, though, a few months ago when the whole conflict in the east of Ukraine started out there were 40,000 combat-ready troops on the border between Russia and Ukraine, on the Russian side according to NATO and U.S. Defense officials so it's not as many as that, but it is still an alarming buildup in NATO's words. And they say also there's been a considerable amount of weaponry, heavy weapons systems that have been coming up through across the border.

And also artillery shelling not just from the Russian side of the border into Ukraine, which has been happening for the last couple of weeks, but also NATO said from Russian positions inside Ukraine. And that is an interesting step up on Russian activity on this side of the border. Now, I just want to talk to you briefly, Christi about where I am. This is the city of Slavyansk. About two months ago, this city was under siege. Just as Lugansk is now. Where that aid convoy went in. I came here two months ago. It was incredibly difficult to get here. It took us about three days trying to get in. But the Ukrainian army had sealed it all off. And I remember walking across this square, where now you have little families coming out, children on go-carts, just the happy scene, fountain that - with running water. Then there was no electricity, no running water. This square was absolutely deserted. It was really scary walking through here to the city hall where there were sandbags and the pro-rebels behinds those sandbags telling us we should watch out for snipers.

Just an incredible, incredible change to see how (INAUDIBLE) swept through this city, and now that it's been recaptured by the Ukrainians, it's back to life. People are out, coming out having a nice weekend, back in work, and they said, you know, we're praying for our friends, for our neighbors in Lugansk who are going through what I saw here in Slavyansk two months ago. Christi.

PAUL: All right. Great - thanks for giving us a great sense of what's going on there, Diana Magnay. We appreciate it. Thank you.

I know. It's unrelenting heat in California, right. And it's causing some very serious ecological damage now. We'll talk about that.

Plus, no school? Apparently, no problem. Local schools may have shut down amid all the turmoil in Ferguson. However, the St. Louis rams stepped in and gave football players a safe place to practice for their new season.


Now, we're feeling for all of you in California with this drought really taking its toll. We know, on the lakes in that region. Especially Lake Oroville. And the heat, I know it's not showing any sign of giving you some relief. While get this, we have a little bit of a drought here as well. Apparently, Jennifer Gray is stuck in makeup. It happens, people. It happens. Fortunately, CNN producer and meteorologist Todd Borek is live at the weather center. Todd, you have a lot - I remember when they put me in charge of weather in Phoenix, I didn't have any weather experience. At least you are a meteorologist.

TODD BOREK, CNN METEOROLOGIST: At least it was Phoenix, too. You are not dealing with a lot of weather.

PAUL: Sunny and 75. Back to you.

BOREK: Yeah, we're going to the bull pen here, if we are going to the third or fourth inning of --


BOREK: Let's take a look at that drought. Terrible conditions in California. The latest drought index that just came out last Thursday. Check out some of these numbers, 97 percent severe drought or worse. And the worse - it actually got better. It was at 100 percent last week. So, I guess you could say it does look a bit better. Excessive drought still out there for about 58 percent of California and does not look like these conditions will be getting any better anytime soon. Unfortunately, the way the weather pattern is set up, everything is just looking very hot and very dry out there. And that's the same type of thing for the south and these hidden sees for today. Little Rock, up in Kansas City, St. Louis, down toward Birmingham. Over 100 degrees heat index.

So, we are talking temperature as well as the humidity. The same type of thing for the south, 110 degrees or above from places like New Orleans, Panama City and Jacksonville. It's going to be a hot sticky day across the southeast. Unfortunately, Christi, for the West, it doesn't look good either. That drought will continue. But it's just said, the thing that it was 100 percent drought before now getting better to only 97 percent. There's always a glass half full type of thing.

PAUL: There is. But I know that there's some other parts of the country that are just getting too much of the wet stuff, right?

BOREK: Unfortunately, they are. In fact, we are going to be dealing with the heavy rainfall. With all the heavy downpours off to the north and to the West. Temperatures at least for today, looking 107 degrees for Memphis. But this is a really what we're a little concerned about, is up towards the north and West as well, we are going to be seeing the excessive amount of rainfall with the amount of rain, anywhere from two to four inches from Billings, Montana, all the way over to the Dakotas, that could cause some flash flooding as well. And just look at some of these numbers, the warmest start to the year for California, in 120 years, this has been the warmest start for California since records have been taken. So, it's hot out West, it's going to be hot in the South and the East. And nothing, but rainfall for the prairies as well as -- .

PAUL: Can I hear it for Todd Borek, people, come on, producer, meteorologist --

BOREK: And sometimes middle reliever --

PAUL: Yes.


PAUL: So glad you're here, Todd, thank you.

BOREK: Thank you.

PAUL: OK. Nice job. Good to have you on the team, Todd. All righty. Let's look at some other good steps here. Local schools as you know have been closed in the wake of the unrest in and around Ferguson, Missouri.