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Trump vs. Media; Trump's Twitter Attack; Fight in Mosul; Exploring Chinese-American Community; Bionic Arm for Amputees. Aired 8:30-9:00a ET

Aired June 30, 2017 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And capabilities of this president are called into grave question in a way that those who know him best are raising serious concerns about. And this is the greatest journalistic challenge of the modern era, to report on a malignant presidency and what it means and where it's going.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN ANCHOR: I mean, Carl, some people have said that this is an issue of impulse control. That the president is not able to control his impulses, to attack back, to fight fire with fire. Other people are saying, hold on, this is a genius obfuscation tactic, divert attention from the health care bill, which has been in trouble. What's your take?

BERNSTEIN: That both could be true. But I keep going back to the greater problem of this president is not in control of the presidency in a way that it is functioning. And that has got our leaders worried. They are worried about his character. They are worried about his capabilities. They are worried about his temperament and state of his temperament, to use kind words here.

We're in foreign territory. We have never been in a malignant presidency like this before. It calls on our leaders. It calls on our journalists to do a different kind of reporting, a differ kind of dealing with this presidency, and the president of the United States. We have to, and the press, be kind of medical reporters right now. I don't mean about the president's psyche, but rather about every aspect of his presidency and how and whether it is functioning, because many aspects are not functioning.

CUOMO: But question the premise. Other than -

BERNSTEIN: So we need to shift - go ahead.

CUOMO: Other than the fact he hasn't filled a lot of vacancies yet and at this point in a presidency it's somewhat odd that the administration is as underserved as it is in terms of appointments. They'll say, his defenders, what are you talking about, Carl, look at all the executive orders. Look at the regulations that have been cut. Look at the economic stimulation that we've seen. Look at how they got back Warmbier from North Korea. Look at how our presence on the international stage has changed. This president has done a lot and he's done a lot in terms of the perception of this country, as well as the policy? BERNSTEIN: He's done a lot in terms of the perception of his base, but

not in terms of the larger population of this country and not in terms of what Republicans in the House and Senate are now saying to each other, and especially in light of this latest tweet, which confirms for so many of them what they've been worried about all along, and that is whether or not this president of the United States is capable of being president.

They have - many of the Republicans in Congress, and our reporters, need to go out and talk to them, either off the record, on background, on the record, about the question of their confidence in his president and whether or not he is capable of being the president of the United States in a way that defends us, our country and the Constitution of the United States. Many members of Congress, many of our military leaders, many in our intelligence community, who I've spoken to, and I know other reporters have spoken to, understand and are beginning to comprehend that the underlying story here is a lack of confidence in the abilities and character of the president of the United States of America.

WARD: All right, Carl Bernstein, thank you for giving us "The Bottom Line."

Well, military officials say Iraqi forces are close to victory against ISIL in - ISIS in Mosul. We're going to take you to the front lines as the last of the fighting rages on. That is coming up next.


[08:37:42] WARD: The U.S.-led coalition says victory is imminent for Iraqi special forces in Mosul, but fighting still rages with just a few hundred ISIS fighters left. CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh takes us to the front lines.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Winning here comes only with dust and ruin. This was a day Iraqi special forces were meant to take back the symbolic al Nuri mosque of Mosul's old city, but it ended up the day their leaders declared victory while they were still bitterly fighting.

WALSH (on camera): Just literally to the side of the mosque is where ISIS have been.

WALSH (voice-over): The aim was to encircle the sacred (INAUDIBLE) ISIS themselves destroyed. Yet they've lost so many to ISIS. They moved carefully against an enemy even with high-tech help they rarely see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking in foreign language).

WALSH: When an ISIS fighter is spotted, the artillery rains down, throughout the day. (INAUDIBLE) impatience for this fight to be over. In the afternoon, news reports cited Iraqi officials elsewhere are saying the mosque had been retaken. A bizarre scene, given how legally, painstakingly they were advancing.

Huge political stakes here for Iraq, yet this fight is spearheaded by a few dozen men and two bulldozers. They borrow a drone. Theirs had been shot down.

WALSH (on camera): ISIS have been relatively quiet during the day, but it seem a drone put up in the sky to work out more about the defensive positions sent some incoming rounds towards us here.

WALSH (voice-over): More gunfire exchanges, and, as they grind slowly towards the edge of the mosque, more Iraqi officials announce they have retaken it. But that's just politics, and here is the ghastly reality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking in foreign language).

WALSH: Civilians held as human shields by ISIS, risking death to flee from its certainty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking in foreign language).

[08:40:08] WALSH: They're held back, feared as possible suicide bombers. But the agony becomes too much. There is nothing really to say when hell is behind you and just dust before you.

We've been shelled in the rubble, he says. The injured piggybacked out. The fear so strong, it led this woman to walk out with pins in her leg to get her family out. A mortar landed on their home. It's the only word little Tuka (ph) can say.

There's been no liquids for days. My little ones were dying of hunger. We didn't see anybody. No ISIS. Only the military.

This day perhaps prematurely Iraq declared ISIS vanquished, yet their three years have likely consumed all of hers. And the ruins from which she fled and in which ISIS lie will take more than declarations of victory to rebuild.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Mosul, Iraq.


WARD: You have to ask yourself, even after ISIS is gone, what can flourish in that rubble? What can grow? What comes next?

CUOMO: You tell me, because you have been there. You have been in similar places. What is the often day after effect?

WARD: This is the biggest concern is that you have the recipe, once again, for a group like ISIS to flourish in that environment where you don't have funding, where you don't necessarily have good governance, where you have sectarian disputes. A lot of concerns about the day after here.

CUOMO: Winning the war is often the easy part. Winning the peace, not so much. WARD: Exactly.

CUOMO: Clarissa, thank you for your perspective. And our thanks to Nick Paton Walsh.

All right, another story for you. After losing her eight-year-old son to leukemia, this week's CNN Hero, Leslie Morissette, transformed her heartbreak into action. She's using 21st century technology to keep kids battling life-threatening illnesses connected to their everyday lives.


LESLIE MORISSETTE, CNN HERO: It's really difficult for kids to spend a lot of time in the hospital. They get so disconnected from their family and friends, and schools. And when we bring them this technology, they're able to dial in and be right in the classroom.


KIDS: Hello, hi, Phillip!

MORISSETTE: You can just see their face light right up. It brings them such joy.


CUOMO: That is a beautiful effort to make their lives about more than just their illness. To see Leslie's full story, go to And while you're there, nominate someone who you think deserves to be a CNN hero.

Well, coming up, CNN's "United Shades of America" tackling misconceptions about Chinese-Americans. We are going to be joined with Kamau Bell, live. That's next.


[08:46:41] WARD: Sunday is the season finale of CNN's "United Shades of America." W. Kamau Bell tries to understand the modern Chinese- American identity and society's misconceptions about the community versus the country, China.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Their books over and over again with dragons, you know?

KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST, "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA": With dragons? It's always with dragons?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Always something about, you know, the rising dragon. You know there - it - it inspires a lot of fear. It's really disturbing because then that gets sort of mapped on to Chinese- Americans here and people begin to have these fears of Chinese- Americans and they see them as one in the same - BELL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Without, you know, distinguishes. China is China as a political economic, geopolitical kind of entity. And you have Chinese-American, whose have really been here for a long time. Who have adopted the ways, you know, of American culture and kind of becoming part of this multicultural, multiracial society.


WARD: Kamau Bell joins us now live.

And I just wanted to ask about this idea. You know, Chinese-Americans, what's their feeling of connection, or is there a strong feeling of connection, to China, which has become this kind of looming force on the world stage?

BELL: Well, I mean, I think that, you know, often America's politicians and then also Americans in general who are not Chinese assume there's some sort of strong connection to China. But when it comes back down to it, for many Chinese people, they've been in this country for maybe several generations. So they may have been to China, but they don't have - they are Americans. They just happen to be Chinese-Americans. But we often force them to sort of answer for China's sins because that's how we work in this country. You are like those people, so you must be those people. So when really the show tonight - the show on Sunday is about how there's a Chinese-American identity that is wholly - that is in some ways wholly separate from China.

CUOMO: And let's talk about that because, you know, you make a very good point that will pop some eyes. The Chinese predate just about every other ethnic group - I guess the English could make a good case that they're in there as well. But certainly, you know, my wave of ethnics, you know, the Italians and when the Jews came over, they were here long before. They dug a lot of the infrastructure, built a lot of the infrastructure in this country. And how does that play. What does it mean to the Chinese-American today in terms of their affinity for this country?

BELL: It means that many of them, you know, feel like very proud Americans and feel like they have contributed to the country's history and yet they also know that part of that history of Chinese people in this country was the Chinese Exclusion Act, which happened right here in the Bay area where I live, that said that Chinese people couldn't live here, that they had to go back to China. So it's that same thing where, like, you know, as you say, Chris, Italians, when they got here, weren't necessarily considered white the way the British people were white, but you guys eventually graduated, whereas some of us, we don't get to graduate to whiteness as we know.

WARD: You had now two seasons of "United Shades." I'm just curious, is there kind of a take all or a takeaway, rather, of what you've learned about the state of race relations in this country?

BELL: I mean, this season a lot was framed by the election. We started filming right before the election and then we filmed after - after the election. And so it really felt like it was - it was framed by a lot of those issues. And, for example, this episode, President Trump, when he was a candidate, demonized China a lot. Then once he became president, he became sort of friendly with China. Now he's starting to demonize them again.

But I - really what I've learned is that, if we can get away from the two-party system of team politics, we all care about the same stuff. Everybody wants better schools, everybody wants more jobs, everybody wants to be able to live safely where they live. If we can get away from the team sport of electoral (ph) politics, we could get - we could actually solve these problems, I believe.

[08:50:14] CUOMO: You know, Kamau, we always hear that. You say is very eloquently and you demonstrate it in a really unique fashion on your show. I enjoy watching it.

So what happens? How does it go from people who are like, it doesn't matter what color you are, what creed you are, where you're from. It's like, I worry about my kids and what kind of quality education they get, what kind of world are they coming up in and making sure that I can make ends meet. And then we wind up somehow capitulating to a tribal culture, like what we're seeing break down with the latest Trump tweets. How does that happen?

BELL: I mean this is - it's on us. We allow people to appeal to our basic fears a lot of times and I think that that's why President Trump is in office because he appealed to some of the basic fears of Americans, of some Americans. And so when you start to sell the fear, you forget the fact, you're like, wait a minute, I actually do like my neighbors. I do like the undocumented Latino family across the street. They're very nice. They've very helpful. But we have to stop letting politicians appeal to our most based fears is what I believe.

WARD: Al right. Well, W. Kamau Bell, the season finale of "United Shades of America" airs this Sunday, 10:00 p.m., only on CNN. Don't miss it. Thank you so much.

CUOMO: A smart guy. A funny guy. A good show.

BELL: Thank you.

CUOMO: New technology - this is a great story - inspired by "Star Wars," OK, is now helping our wounded veterans. The Luke Bionic Arm is not your average prosthetic, and it is really here and going to be put into effect. You're going to get its demonstration live. It is our "Good Stuff" and for good reason.


[08:55:35] CUOMO: All right, what a great, "Good Stuff "we have for you.

The Department of Veterans Affair as rolling out a new technology to aid our wounded warriors. It's a bionic arm named after Luke Skywalker and it can do thing that as normal prosthetic just can't. Joining us now is the secretary of veterans affairs, David Shulkin,

and Fred Downs, a multi-decorated four-time Purple Heart U.S. Army veteran, served in Vietnam, was wounded there and has the bionic arm.

Gentlemen, first, good to have you here. Thank you. And thank you for your service.

Tell us about the arm.

FRED DOWNS, WOUNDED VET WITH "BIONIC" ARM: All right. Well, it's - I control this arm with my feet. And so I have IMUs (ph) down here.

CUOMO: So you have these sensors on the boots. They're relative to this?

DOWNS: They are, because I control the arm by moving my feet. And when I do that, they send wireless signals up to 10 computers in here. So, for instance, now I'll lift my foot, and it will grip (ph).

WARD: Wow.

DOWNS: Like this. I rotate my foot, it rotates the hand. On my left foot, now I lift it and it rotates the wrist, like this. And then -

WARD: And can - can you grip things? Can you - can you hold a hand?

DOWNS: Yes, I can. I have - I have four grips.

WARD: Wow.

DOWNS: And what I can do is I'll open this up and, oops, then I'll switch to a - oh, here, I got - here we go.

WARD: That's incredible.

DOWNS: Just wait just a second, I'm going to show you something here. And I'm going to shake your hand. All right.

CUOMO: Just in case it gives you the death grip, I'll do it. Ready?

DOWNS: No, not yet. This - the death - OK, here we go. close like this.

CUOMO: Ooh, that's a good, strong - that is a strong grip. You owe me for this.

DOWNS: And we shake up here.

CUOMO: So this would be the Boy Scout handshake with the left hand. Obviously, we always use the right hand.

How big of a difference does this make for you in your life?

DOWNS: It's made a big difference because I'm now more independent than I was before. I can grasp things now for the first time with my left hand. WARD: Yes.

DOWNS: With the hook, it just works with a rubber band and I can only do so much with it. This increases my independence, my ability to take care of myself, my ability to do things with my hands, like working in my workshop or working in the kitchen, doing cooking and my wife says I should do that more. But that is part of the value of this.

And, also, it is a tremendous leap forward in technology that now is leading to more development. Better control systems that will work from nerves in the - in the muscles that I have left here. My arm is gone here, but by signals are still going down from my brain to the arm and my hand. So what they are doing now is they're, in the research part, they're piercing these out - piecing these out and taking the nerve endings and putting them in the muscles, putting sensors on them. And those sensors are sending signals directly to the wireless, to the arm, just by thinking.

WARD: It's like incredible. I mean it really is incredible to see. You feel like it looks like out of a movie or something.

CUOMO: Literally, "Star Wars," right? A little bit of inspiration.

WARD: Yes, it really does, hence - hence the - hence the reference, I guess. How much of a game changer is this for wounded vets all over America?

DAVID SHULKIN, SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: This is a big deal and this is why the VA exists. We do this type of research. It's been years of research to be able to bring this. And, today, we're actually rolling this out to veterans. And it's making a big difference in people's lives.

CUOMO: Now, what is this a reflection of in terms of the commitment to our fighting men and women? Before we started this segment, full disclosure, we were saying very often, everybody says they support the troops, but that support isn't there when they need it when they get back home to repair the body, the mind, the spirit, their finances. What does that mean to you at the VA?

SHULKIN: Well, this is what every American wants. This is why we exist, to bring the very best technology to our veterans. We want our wounded veterans to return to normal, healthy lives and this is the way that we're doing it.

CUOMO: So, how long did you have to go - what did - you said you were using a hook before this?

DOWNS: I used a hook for 49 years now.

WARD: That's quite an upgrade.

DOWNS: And this is a big upgrade. And it's the first upgrade I've had in 49 years. But the VA gave this to me yesterday. I've been testing it as part of the -

CUOMO: Oh, you only got it yesterday?

WARD: Oh, so you're new on this?

DOWNS: Well, I am new on this one. This is a VA arm. I've been testing it for (INAUDIBLE) for a year (ph), through the research phase.

CUOMO: Oh, OK. All right.

DOWNS: Don't want to like mislead you here. But that's one of the beauties of this is now it's available to all veterans. It's available also to civilians. And that is part of what the VA does so well. We invest in technology to help our disabled veterans. It has a ripple effect then which helps civilians.

SHULKIN: This is independence day. Today we're rolling this out to veterans. And this is a big deal. And we're going to keep at this research because we're going to make sure that veterans have the very best America can offer.

[09:00:02] CUOMO: That's good. It's a big mandate for you.


CUOMO: As we've said in the past, to the administration, when it comes to the issues and the accountability that must be there for the veterans and their issues, you're always welcome on NEW DAY to talk about what matters.

SHULKIN: Thank you so much.

WARD: Thank you.

SHULKIN: Thank you.

DOWNS: Thank you.