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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

New Fears For Drinking Water Downstream; NTSB: Poor Response By Emergency Crews. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired August 11, 2015 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:30:03]

SCIUTTO: And, then, when it went from January to February, a month later, those spots up here got even bigger. And the melting here again got bigger as well. Typically, you would expect the snow to melt all in the same place as the temperature rose, but clearly it's not here.

Not taking their word for it, we pulled up an older picture of this site from 10 years ago, from 2003. And we noticed that when the snow is melting then, you can see that it melted consistently on one side, whereas here these new photos, you see it one place. What does it mean?

They think it may mean that they have installed more centrifuges in here, that the activity of centrifuges, spinning uranium, is creating heat, but only in the places where they're installed. That is a warning sign to "Jane's Defence Weekly," which did this analysis.

But I will tell you this as well, Jake. We know that U.S. spy satellites, they can do more than just take pictures. They can also find heat signatures. They can even sense radioactivity, et cetera.

Presumably, U.S. spy satellite -- these are civilian satellite images, but presumably U.S. spy satellites are doing the same thing right now, examining this facility to see if there are any heat signatures that would indicate nuclear activity there.

TAPPER: Interesting timing, Jim, given the fact that there's this potential nuclear deal with Iran. One wonders if this discovery in North Korea raises questions about Iran and our ability to monitor their potential activity.

SCIUTTO: Well, we know they're watching them very closely. You may remember this, because we talked about this last week, Jake.

Satellite activity around the Parchin -- this is a military site, a suspected nuclear site in Iran, very key to those nuclear negotiations -- and just last week, activity spotted by satellites, for instance, what appears to be a bulldozer here, new structures outside these buildings here, what looks to be an oil spill, what looked to be piles of debris, which the concern was that this is a sign that they were doing the cleanup of this site.

Now, what the administration says is, listen, we have a lot of ways that we can track this program before on these satellite images. The administration says, if they are cheating, we will find them.

TAPPER: All right, Jim Sciutto, thank you so much.

The national lead now, a state of emergency in Ferguson, Missouri, protests now turning violent, the anger and the frustration seen in heated clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement. A tough task ahead, as both groups demand to be heard and as we inch closer to nightfall in that city -- that story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:36:25]

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

In national news today, a state of emergency in Ferguson, Missouri, after another night of violence, police now saying these protests are no longer safe. Police say demonstrators threw bricks, rocks and even frozen water bottles at them. They made 22 new arrests last night and into the morning.

The Saint Louis County police sent out a message last night in a tweet saying -- quote -- "Safety, our top priority, is now compromised. This is no longer a peaceful protest. Participants are now unlawfully assembled."

CNN's Ryan Young is live for us in Ferguson.

Ryan, obviously, it's a little early for protests to start yet. But have you been talking to people in the community? Are people still angry?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are angry about last night.

And they're even angry about that tweet. In fact, we talked to some people who say they were in the street peacefully protesting when all of a sudden police surged into the street and tried to break them up. They said if they were allowed to march, they wouldn't have had that confrontation last night.

So, they're pointing it back toward the police and they were upset that they saw them in riot gear. As we break this down, we do know that 22 people were arrested, but that's not the only incident that happened. There were some people that took to the highway and blocked traffic. We saw frustrated drivers who decided to drive through some of the protesters.

That got contentious for a second. Some 60-plus people were arrested during that confrontation. But there's been a lot of conversation about the violence we saw Sunday. I can tell you protesters are trying to get out of a story about exactly what happened. The protesters were standing nearby when the gunshots were fired, a very dangerous situation. But now they're pointing back to the men who were involved, saying that was actually a transaction for a stolen television and had nothing to do with the protests.

Jake, you can still feel a lot of anxiety around the area. We talked to people about changes needed in the area.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN REILLY, THE HUFFINGTON POST: I think what we saw back in August was that the police -- the way the police acted could have a very big impact on the crowd, and especially during the peaceful demonstrations in the middle of the day, when police were pointing sniper rifles at the crowd.

That's not going to help the situation at all. It made the situation a lot worse. And I think that's what we're going to see in this forthcoming Justice Department report that is going to make some recommendations about how they should have handled this better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: Jake, you have been here before. In fact, we have stood next to each other out here, and I can tell you a lot of interaction in terms of a lot of focus on police officers and just how they're handling themselves.

We have heard outside the Ferguson Police Department wonderful, outstanding. We have heard mostly on out on West Florissant, that's been good as well. But they also do feel they should still have the right to march down the street, and should get the support from the police department in terms of blocking off roads.

It's a conversation that we might see in action again tonight.

TAPPER: Ryan young, thank you so much.

Joining me now to talk about Ferguson and much more is Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri and author of her new memoir, "Plenty Ladylike."

Senator, thank you so much.

I want to get to your book in a second.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Sure.

TAPPER: But let me ask you a couple questions about Ferguson, if I could.

It's now been one year and change since the death of Michael Brown. In that time, the Justice Department released a report that said systemic racial bias created what they call the toxic environment in Ferguson.

Based on what you have been seeing and hearing in the last few days, has any progress been made between the police force and the community in Ferguson?

MCCASKILL: I believe there has been progress made.

And if you look in context, what's occurred over the last few days, we have had hundreds of people protest peacefully in Saint Louis and in Ferguson Sunday and Monday. We had some criminals involved in something that had nothing to do with the protests that fired upon police and caused the shooting of a young man who's now been criminally charged.

[16:40:03]

And then yesterday, we had a lot of civil disobedience where arrests were made, and we had some clashing last night. But, by and large, we have made some progress in Ferguson.

And I think most of the people that are protesting would say we have so much more work to do, but we have elected more African-Americans to the city council. We have got an African-American leading the police department. They are working with Justice to try to alleviate some of the systemic problems in the Ferguson Police Department. And we have done massive reform of the Ferguson Municipal Court.

So, we're making some progress. We have got a lot more to do.

TAPPER: At the same time that the Justice Department released that report criticizing the Ferguson Police Department, they also released another report clearing officer Darren Wilson of any wrongdoing in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

I have talked to a lot of police and law enforcement individuals in Missouri who think that releasing that report at the same time was essentially burying it, and doing a disservice to justice and public understanding of what happened. What do you think?

MCCASKILL: I agree.

I don't believe the Justice Department should have issued the two reports the same day. The Justice Department did an independent investigation of what happened that day. And they looked at the physical evidence. And there was a lot of physical evidence, and they came to the exact same conclusion that the grand jury in Saint Louis did.

I think it would have been better for the community to highlight that, along with that we have systemic institutional bias against African- Americans in the criminal justice system. We can work on that problem. But at least people in Saint Louis would have realized that the Justice Department came to the same conclusion as the Saint Louis County grand jury.

TAPPER: I want to turn now to your book, if I could.

One of the things that the book deals with, mainly the main thesis is about how women are treated in politics. It starts with state legislators asking you when you were an intern, you were in an elevator, if you like to party. You said it made you feel trapped.

And it goes on from there. What's your take on the gender issues that have exploded on the campaign trail in the past few days, especially about Megyn Kelly and Donald Trump? MCCASKILL: Well, I have got to tell you, in the 30-some years that I

have been doing this, I have seen some positive changes in that regard, more women getting elected, less sexual harassment, although we have had some incidents of sexual harassment of interns in Jefferson City, our state capital, just this year.

So, obviously, it's not all well. But in the Senate, it's certainly -- I have always been treated with respect in the United States Senate.

What's surprising to me about the Donald Trump stuff is that none of those candidates on that stage spoke out at that moment and said, wait a minute, that kind of derogatory comments about women are not acceptable to us. But they didn't. They were all so anxious to tiptoe around Donald Trump, they were not willing to state the obvious, and I think women noticed.

TAPPER: The title of your book, "Perfectly Ladylike" -- "Plenty Ladylike," rather, comes from when your challenger in 2012, Congressman Todd Akin, said that you were not ladylike in a debate.

MCCASKILL: Right.

TAPPER: Now, when he got the nomination to run against him, you shotgunned a beer you thought he would be the easiest one to beat. That was correct.

Here's a photo of you proving to skeptics that you can shotgun a beer you tweeted a couple days ago just as proof.

Which Republican candidate do you think would cause Hillary Clinton to shotgun a beer if he and she got the nominations?

MCCASKILL: Oh, I would definitely say Donald Trump.

TAPPER: That would be cause for celebration for Hillary?

MCCASKILL: I think so.

I think, ultimately, at the end of the day, the American people want strength and stability in their president, not someone who's going to pop off and say something outrageous on a world stage. We want a steady hand at the end of the day.

And Donald Trump may be a lot of things, but I don't think he's a steady hand.

TAPPER: When you watch the Republican debates, does part of you root for Carly Fiorina, because she's a woman, and you want women to be in politics more in both the Democratic and Republican Party?

MCCASKILL: Of course. I think she's very strong and smart and accomplished, although I happen to disagree with her on almost everything.

(LAUGHTER) MCCASKILL: So I want her to get her due. I want her to be acknowledged for the strength that she possesses.

Being strong and ambitious should not be something that women shy away from. That's what this book is all about. But I will say this. I think that her views are not really going to really signal to the middle class in America that she's their champion.

TAPPER: Senator McCaskill, thank you so much for your time. Best of luck with your book.

MCCASKILL: Thanks so much.

TAPPER: Also in the national lead today, outrage after toxic chemicals turned this river bright orange, the growing fear as people assess the damage that could linger for a long time.

And alarming new details about the crash that injured comedian Tracy Morgan. The driver who caused the accident apparently had not slept in 28 hours, but that's not all that went wrong -- what first- responders failed to do that may have made this tragedy even worse.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: -- all that went wrong. What first responders failed to do that may have made this tragedy even worse.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. In national news today, new fears for the drinking water supply in parts of three states as a 3 million gallon toxic waste bill that turned a river in Colorado this shade of orange and cut a path through some of the most breathtaking land, makes its way downstream toward bordering states.

While the river is now clearing up closer to the source, the governor of neighboring New Mexico has declared a state of emergency. The before and after photos really give you an idea of the magnitude of this disaster and show you why people are so worried about the possible long term effects.

CNN's Dan Simon is live for us in Durango, Colorado. Dan, the pollution seems to be flowing faster than the facts coming from the EPA.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, there's really no way for the EPA to sugar coat this, this was their deal, their mistake, and that's why the river today is still closed. Let me show you why. While much of the river looks to be normal, in other words, the color is the way it should be. There are remnants of this toxic sludge along the shore line. You can see what it looks like right there.

[16:50:10] We actually put some of it in a bottle. You can see that this is really nasty stuff. There's arsenic in here, lead in here, but that said the governor seems to be striking an optimistic tone. He says the public threat may actually be waning, take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON (voice-over): The governor of Colorado touring the aftermath of the 3 million gallons of contaminated water that spilled into the Animas River and its neighboring states.

It turned the typical clear water into this ominous mustard color, but there are positive signs the toxins may not pose the danger some had feared.

Wildlife officials placed fish in cages in the river six days ago to see how they would fair with the contamination. Only one died and they don't know if it's related to the water?

DR. LARRY WOLK, COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH: At this point we don't feel that there's any potential risk for human health. That based on the preliminary results the levels of the metals appear to have returned to pre-incident levels.

SIMON: The toxic water sent arsenic levels to 26 times higher than normal. Lead levels almost 12,000 times higher than those set by the EPA, leading toxicologists to call all this shocking fearing that health effects could be seen for years to come. The EPA is warning residents not to drink the water. There are also concerns about crop irrigation as many local farmers rely on the river.

WOLK: To have one of your major rivers yellow/orange with all that water, that is the worst thing you can imagine.

SIMON: The spill occurred when an EPA team was sent to clean an abandoned goldmine that had been spewing contaminated water. The good intention backfired instead of pumping it out. The team actually caused it to flow into the nearby Animas River. The EPA is under intense criticism for not issuing a public alert until a day later.

GOVERNOR JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), COLORADO: We're ticked off. We're furious? All right, we are passed that. Now what do we do?

SIMON: Communities up and down the river depend on it for water, recreation, fishing, and farming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a main artery of this whole county, this whole region, it goes for the same -- everybody lives and uses this river.

SIMON: David Moler owns a river rafting company, his business essentially shutdown with no one allowed on the water.

DAVID MOLER, RESIDENT: We've been a rafting company established for over 32 years. This will negatively impact our bottom line.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON: Colorado officials say that the water chemistry levels have essentially turned back to normal. That's what their preliminary results show, this is Exhibit A. This is what residents point to. This is what they're frustrated about, and they are still worried that this toxic sludge could present dangers to the community -- Jake.

TAPPER: Dan Simon, thank you so much.

Up next, a deadly decision, new details into what caused the crash that badly hurt Tracy Morgan and killed one of his friends.

Plus a new perspective of what the driver likely saw as his semi- collided into the comedian's limo van.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:57:14]

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Our Pop Culture Lead today, it was a massive crash on the New Jersey turnpike, a chain reaction involving 21 people in six vehicles. The crash severely injured actor and comedian, Tracy Morgan, putting him in a coma for two weeks that killed his friend, comedian, James McNear.

It sparked a debate about truck safety. Today, more than a year after the crash, U.S. investigators say that Walmart truck driver who slammed into the back of the comedian's limo van had been awake for 28 hours straight before that horrific accident.

Let's get to CNN government regulation correspondent, Rene Marsh. Rene, 28 hours, was he driving for all 28 of those hours?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: The majority of the 28 hours, yes, he was behind the wheel, according to the NTSB, and we are just learning these details today.

He drove 12 hours from his home in Georgia, to his job in Delaware, which is roughly 800 miles. Once he got there, he reported straight to duty, and he was working for 13-1/2 hours.

So yes, for much of the time, he was driving. The NTSB saying that in the moments leading up to the crash, he was within 200 feet of the limo before he stepped on the brakes. That delayed reaction is just because he was too tired, sleep deficit.

TAPPER: Did investigators have anything to say about the vehicle that Tracy Morgan and his friend were riding in that limo van?

MARSH: They did. What we are looking at here now as you point out is an animation created by the NTSB of how exactly how they believe this crash unfolded. We know that there were seven people total in the limo. Only one person was seat belted.

A part of the problem at the time of the crash was that emergency response teams couldn't get the victims out of the vehicle, and part of that was because this limo was customized, it had a piece of plywood paneling in between the tab and the passenger compartment.

So there was really only one way out, which was a sliding door, and as you can see in this video, after impact, the limo flips on its side so that sliding door is not operable. There was only one way out, and they were trapped inside.

So the NTSB making recommendations that that shouldn't be the case, there should be more than one way out.

TAPPER: Quickly, if you could, were the first responders prepared for an incident such as this?

MARSH: This was probably the most stunning information that came out here. According to the NTSB, the majority of these emergency responders, they poorly executed the situation here. There was a delay in getting the passengers to the hospital and it's simply because the majority of them were volunteers and not trained for this sort of thing.

TAPPER: That's horrific. Rene Marsh, thank you so much.

That's it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jake Tapper. I'm now turning you over to Brianna Keilar. She is filling in for Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.