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Remains found of Missing Sailors; Trump Holds Rally in Phoenix; Players Kneel for Anthem; Battle for Elian Gonzalez. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired August 22, 2017 - 09:30   ET



[09:32:41] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, the Navy confirming that some remains of the 10 missing sailors have been found after a U.S. destroyer and an oil tanker collided near Singapore. This crash prompting a one-day operational pause for all ships based in the region.

CNN's Matt Rivers in Singapore with the latest.

Matt, what are you learning?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we just returned from a press conference with the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet in which he told us about the discovery of those remains. He wasn't clear in terms of exactly how many of the ten missing U.S. sailors have been recovered. But what he did tell us is that divers making their way into the damaged portion of that ship, into sealed compartments that were sealed during the flooding that took place after that accident early Monday morning, that's where they found some of those remains.

He also told us that the Malaysian navy actually found a body out in the waters near where that accident happened and that body is possible remains linked to this. That body in the process of being transferred back to the U.S. Navy.

He said that this is a recovery operation. It's still ongoing. And, of course, the chances of finding any more survivors -- or any survivors, rather, grows more slim by the hour.

Now, in terms of how this happened, a U.S. Navy official does tell CNN that the steering on the ship failed shortly before the accident. However, they're not sure exactly if that's the reason. That's the cause. That's going to be part of a broader investigation that the U.S. Navy is now launching, part of that operational pause you're talking about. They're going to, over the next several weeks, go through a series of steps because this didn't happen in a vacuum. You'll remember, it was just two months ago that the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship. Seven U.S. sailors died in that incident. And so the Navy now is wondering, quite transparently I might add, do they have a systemic problem here? They are saying that they need to look at this and they're actually going to command by command around the world go through and take one day operation pauses to really take a deep dive into safety practices and to figure out how not to make this happen again.


BERMAN: All right, Matt Rivers, thanks so much for your report from Singapore.

The president heading west to rev up his base, but does this include a Senate smack down? Stay with us.


[09:39:13] BERMAN: All right, this morning, President Trump getting ready to head to Arizona, where thousands of supporters are coming out for a campaign-style rally. Several people who will not be there, the major of Phoenix. That's not a surprise. He's a Democrat. But the state's governor not going. He's Republican. And at least one of Arizona's two Republican senators, Jeff Flake, not going either. Why? Well, it probably didn't help that the president all but endorsed one of his primary opponents.

We are joined right now by the former chair of the Arizona Republican Party, Robert Graham.

Mr. Graham, great to see you again. Thank you so much for joining us.


BERMAN: What version of President Trump do you want to see at this event tonight?

GRAHAM: Well, I can tell you what version we're going to have today. I mean after the president makes his border tour down south and comes back up here, his primary focus is the agenda this evening is the economic reform. You've got the tax reform. You've got a big agenda that's coming up here in September. And so he is keying in on the things that are going to be great for America as far as putting people back to work and really creating an environment that's going to make America more competitive.

[09:40:10] BERMAN: So one of the things he chose to do last night, even though it was a speech about strategy in Afghanistan, was he seemed to direct some comments toward the aftermath of Charlottesville. He talked about the need for the nation to heal. He, of course, as you know, has been widely criticized for his response to the violence in Charlottesville. Paul Ryan told CNN last night, he messed up in that response. Do you feel that the president messed up?

GRAHAM: Well, I would tell you that in anything like this, when you have these pretty horrific things that happen within our country, and he's' addressed that he's against it. Anything that's hate, anything that he reiterated last night that anybody that gets hurt in this country won't be tolerated, especially for these types of offenses.

But right now, what he's been doing, and this is what, you know, I really appreciate the American people, is that his speech last night set a stage and a tone that people were comfortable with. Your -- some of your last guests said they felt like that tone is something that can start to heal and bring people back together. When President Obama --

BERMAN: That's different -- that's different than the tone we heard -- that's different than the tone we heard last week, though, you would agree?

GRAHAM: Yes. I would tell you this, that when, you know, none of us are the president of the United States and we don't shoulder the burdens that you have when things like this are happening in the country. I mean you've got North Korea. You've got dynamics happening in the Middle East. You've got all these different hotspots that are landing on the president's (INAUDIBLE) --

BERMAN: But none of us -- none of us -- none of us bear the responsibility to bring the country together in moments like this either. And Paul Ryan says he missed a chance.

GRAHAM: That's right. Yes, well Paul Ryan's one person with one opinion. I can tell you that when you see what the president's doing as far as jobs, opportunity, economic development, education, working hard to bring people together, the job is multi-faceted. This is definitely one issue that has to be addressed. And he's working it. He's doing the best he possibly can. I think tonight, if he touches on it, it won't surprise anybody. But that's how you start to heal a nation.

BERMAN: Right.

GRAHAM: And it can't just happen overnight as, you know, when you look at racism in our country, it's built up over time. And then it just hit that pinnacle and a horrific evening, a day that we had there.

BERMAN: I want to ask you about Arizona, which has become the most interesting political spot on earth right now with the possibility of this Senate primary. Senator Jeff Flake running for re-election. You have been one of the candidates rumored to run against him. The president seemed to endorse Dr. Kelli Ward last week when he was very mad at how Jeff Flake was responding to Charlottesville. And just a few minutes ago, we saw an ad released by a PAC associated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell going after Kelli Ward. Just listen to a brief part of this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One year ago, Arizona Republicans rejected Chemtrail Kelli Ward. Remember why?


BERMAN: All right, let's run through this bit by bit here. Do you think it's appropriate for the president to go after the sitting Republican Senator Jeff Flake?

GRAHAM: Well, I'll tell you, what the president's doing is he's working on his agenda. He's got a broad economic reform, his trade reform, everything. And I'll tell you in the general election it wasn't appropriate in my mind the way that Senator Flake went after him. Going into now, the administration, I mean they're at odds. There's no question about it. And they're working through.

But the president has a very defined agenda. And when he gets opposition with no solution, no solution behind the opposition that Senator Flake, I would say that the president's mission is to take care of the people. Whether they're Republican or Democrat, he wants to force and go forward and do what he possibly can to make sure that people have good outcomes.

BERMAN: It sounds like you're OK with him weighing in on the primary. This is a little inside politics Arizona here. Are you OK with him naming Kelli Ward when there are other folks, say like you, who may want to run against Jeff Flake as well?

GRAHAM: Yes, I would tell you that when you look at the candidates, they've talked about Kelli Ward, they've talked about me, they've talked about treasure Jeff Dewitt. I mean this tweet, which people are perceiving as an endorsement, has been clearly defined as not an endorsement, definitely a poke to Jeff Flake.

But he now -- what he's ultimately doing is he's just making sure that like this trip right now has become a very key point for the Trump presidency. And this is why you're going to hear very disciplined approach as it relates to the agenda. It's about economics. It's about growing here.

So you've got Kelli Ward on one hand. You've got a very aggressive posture by the Senate committee to put these ads out on Kelly. But I'll tell you, right now, the president -- I would be surprised if you heard anything about the Senate race from the president tonight.

BERMAN: A prediction from Robert Graham. Thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it, sir.

GRAHAM: You bet.

BERMAN: All right, the NFL's largest national anthem protest yet. This time, white players joining in. Stay with us.


[09:48:56] BERMAN: All right, truly remarkable images. A dozen Cleveland Browns taking a knee during the national anthem before their pre-season game against the Giants.

Coy Wire has the "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Coy.


Twelve players kneeling on the same team during the national anthem. That's the largest number we've seen to this point. Remember Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett, he knelt for the first two pre-season games for the Seahawks and he said it was going to take a white player to join in protest to really see change. Well, last night, it was Cleveland's Seth DeValve who became the first white football player to take a knee during the anthem since these types of protests started last year. His wife, Erica, is an African-American woman and Seth says that the tragedy in Charlottesville was a big factor in his decision to kneel.


SETH DEVALVE, CLEVELAND BROWNS PLAYER: We wanted to draw attention to the fact that there's things in this country that still need to change. And I, myself, will be raising children that don't look like me and I want to do my part as well to do everything I can to raise them in a better environment than we have right now.


[09:50:08] WIRE: All right, let's have some fun. The sports world lit up yesterday when it got dark during the eclipse. South Carolina's football team sat in the nosebleeds at Williams Brice Stadium to take it all in. And how about Missouri's squad? They were in the path of totality. And listen to their reaction when it got dark.

And the Dodgers, they were playing the Pirates in Pittsburgh. And Justin Turner, I'd say he was a little excited to put those eclipse glasses on and peak at the sun. O'Dell Beckham Jr., he decided not to head all those warnings about not looking into the eclipse without wearing protective glasses. Not sure I'd have been the one doing that.

We want a feel-good story for the day. Venezuela celebrated a game winning hit in the final inning of the little league world series last night against the Dominican Republic. On the other side of victory, though, is defeat, of course. And nobody took it harder than pitcher Edward Ustasa (ph), who gave up that hit. But look at the coaches from the opposing team rushing to console him, and then the players, his opponents, 11 to 13-year-old boys from Venezuela giving us all a reminder of what sportsmanship's all about and lending a helping hand to someone in need when they need it.

John Berman, that's the good stuff right there.

BERMAN: That is phenomenal. I love that picture. You just made my day. Coy Wire, thanks so much.

WIRE: You're welcome.

BERMAN: All right, today, President Trump, which version will we see? The scripted version or off the cuff? Why are Republicans nervous? We'll tell you ahead.


[09:56:16] BERMAN: All right, when many of us first heard the name Elian Gonzalez, he was a five-year-old boy rescued from the Florida Straits. That was in 1999. His mother and several others drown after an attempt to come to the U.S. from Cuba. Gonzalez had become the subject of a battle over custody and politics between the two nations. A battle that ended in Elian Gonzalez being returned to Cuba after an early morning raid led by federal agents.

Now a new CNN film features a look at the life of Elian Gonzalez in Cuba today. Here is the now 23-year-old in his own words.


ELIAN GONZALEZ (through translator): When I got older, my father sat me down and said, I brought you back because I love Cuba. I love the revolution and I love Fidel. (INAUDIBLE). It's not that I think to (INAUDIBLE). When the Cuban people need me, I have to be there. I have to fight for the Cuban people.


BERMAN: All right, joining me now, Manny Garcia, executive editor for "USA Today's" east region. He was also part of the Pulitzer Prize winning team that documented the 2000 raid that reunited, ultimately, Elian Gonzalez with his father.

You know, Manny, I was covering the Bush campaign at that time and I remember this so vividly. There was this period of time when the story of this little boy took over the entire nation. What was so captivating about it?

MANNY GARCIA, WON PULITZER FOR COVERING ELIAN GONZALEZ STORY: Well, just imagine, just the mere fact of surviving in the Florida Straits, you've covered these stories, John. I mean the Florida Straits is basically, in many respects, like a graveyard for the dreams of migrants, whether it's Cubans or Haitians, who've drowned. And we've all seen those tragic images of empty rafts and so forth.

So the mere fact that you've got two fishermen who find him alive on an inner tube, basically, and his mother drown and then he comes to Miami and it's that great survival story that many immigrants have lived, similar to my story, my family, where you left Cuba to seek the American dream. And then you've got that whole tearing apart of the father who's in Cuba, who wants his son back, to help raise him after the trauma he went through.

BERMAN: Of course, your story has a very different ending than Elian Gonzalez, because Elian Gonzalez back in Cuba right now. And we're looking at some of these pictures right now. In some ways his life has been a story of pictures. From the picture of that raid, to all the pictures now used by the Cuban government since 2000 to show him happy at home there.

GARCIA: Yes. So, you know, it's a real interesting dynamic because he's 23 years old and he's like a national treasure. He's a young man whose come back, gone to university, served in the military, very much a defender of the faith and of the revolution. But there's sort of like a contrast to that, too, because if you interview a lot of young men and women on the island, as we have, who (INAUDIBLE) reporters over the last year or so, a lot of them dream of coming to the United States or coming to a, you know, create their version of the American dream. So it's really an interesting counter balance between Elian's life -- although Elian has said he would love to one day come visit and thank the folks in the United States who helped him out.

[10:00:05] BERMAN: That will be interesting. All right, "Elian" airs Thursday night, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Manny Garcia, thanks very much.