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LaVar Ball Refuses To Thank President Trump; Puerto Rico's Uncounted Hurricane Maria Deaths. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired November 21, 2017 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:32:07] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: LaVar Ball rocketed to the top of trends on Twitter but he is still offering no thank-yous to President Trump. He is the father of LiAngelo Ball, by the way, one of the UCLA basketball players that was caught shoplifting in China.
Then, when Ball refused to thank the president, the president took the bait and he said that maybe he should have left them in jail which, of course, was beneath the presidency.
So, we get back to LaVar Ball. Why won't he thank the president for helping get his kid out of China? Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAVAR BALL, FATHER OF DIANGELO BALL: It wasn't like he was in the U.S. and said OK, there's three kids in China. I need to go over there and get them.
BALL: That wasn't the thought process. I have to know what somebody's doing before I say thank you. I'm not just going to go around saying thank you.
CUOMO: They were in a place --
CUOMO: -- that didn't need to let them go and they could have been held for a long time.
BALL: They were in a place they didn't let them go?
CUOMO: He didn't need to let them go.
BALL: He said he got them out of jail, you know. You heard what he tweeted. He tweeted, because he's mad at me, I should have left their asses in jail.
CUOMO: Yes, Ball.
BALL: They wasn't in jail, they was in a hotel. Is that what you're supposed to say? CUOMO: So the President of the United States says he helped and you say if you didn't see it, you didn't hear it, you don't believe it.
BALL: Hey, if he said he helped, that's good for his mind.
CUOMO: What do you mean, good for his mind?
BALL: I mean, why he even got to say it? If you help, you shouldn't have to say anything. If you help, you shouldn't have to make --
If I help somebody I don't walk around saying you know, I helped you now. Come on now, you give me some love. I helped you. I mean, come on, for real?
CUOMO: All right.
BALL: Somebody told me about the tweet a couple of days ago. I don't even tweet.
I'm just saying why is that on your mind? All this stuff going on and that's on your mind that a father didn't say thank you? And you supposed to be the head of -- you know, you the head of the U.S.? Come on.
CUOMO: OK, fair criticism.
CUOMO: The president is asking for thanks. You can criticize that. Should he be doing that?
BALL: What is the criticism about that?
CUOMO: Should he not be doing that?
BALL: I'm just -- I'm just stating a point that I'm saying is there's a lot of other things that's going on, man.
CUOMO: No question about it.
BALL: Let him do his political affairs, and let me handle my son, and let's just stay in our lane.
CUOMO: You won't say thank you. Hey, thanks. Your son said thank you, the other guys said thank you, so you say thanks.
BALL: Well, let me -- I already -- I already said I wasn't going to --
CUOMO: Thanks for helping them.
BALL: I'm not the other guys, though. Come on, now.
CUOMO: It doesn't take much to say thank you. Why won't you say thank you to the president?
BALL: It doesn't make -- whenever somebody does something for you then you say thank you.
CUOMO: Somebody did something for you. Say thank you.
BALL: Not to voice your opinion what he's done for me. OK.
I would say thank you if he would have put him on his plane and took him home. Then I would have said thank you, Mr. Trump, for taking my boys out of China and bringing them back to the U.S. There's a lot of room on that plane. I would have said thank you, kindly for that.
What did he do for me? What'd he do for me?
CUOMO: He helped get your son out of China where he could have been in jail for a long time.
BALL: What about some other -- why was he going to be in jail for a long time?
CUOMO: Because he stole something, according to the Chinese authorities.
[07:35:00] BALL: How long did he think he was going to be in jail for?
CUOMO: It could have been a long time. It carries a minimum of three years.
BALL: OK, but the Chinese authorities was like you know what, he's OK. He has so much character in 18 years that he's allowed to have a pass for that.
CUOMO: That's your son.
BALL: One bad decision at a time, that's my thought.
CUOMO: And he said thank you to the President of the United States, something his father didn't want to do. What kind of --
BALL: Who didn't want to do that?
CUOMO: What kind of example does that give your son?
BALL: Is that to my son? I tell you why type of example it is.
You know where my boys at right now because of me -- because I spent all that time and love for them. Don't come in one time and think you did something for my son.
CUOMO: LaVar Ball, the best to you and your family for Thanksgiving, the best to your boys, and the best to your wife, as well, OK?
BALL: Hey, you have a great Thanksgiving. Hey, and I got a message for you.
CUOMO: What is it?
BALL: Tell Donald Trump to have a great Thanksgiving because Big Baller is.
CUOMO: I hope you're thankful for him. Take care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: All right, let's discuss what is going on here with CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Ana Navarra, and Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union and former political director for President George W. Bush.
Good to have you both. We are thankful for your voices on this show as we approach Thanksgiving and let's show proof of that right now.
So, what is this about for LaVar Ball? Is this just about hype or do you ascribe any currency to this alternate theory, which is Trump shouldn't be asking for thanks? There's resistance to Trump and that's what LaVar Ball is about -- his harnessing that descent of the president?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Does there have to be one or the other? Are they mutually exclusive?
CUOMO: I like it clean but you can -- you can mix if you want.
NAVARRO: Listen, I think it's both.
I think on the one hand, yes, look, what Donald Trump did, if he helped these kids, is a good thing.
I wouldn't want my kid in China. It is a dictatorship. It is a country where the rule of law is not what it is in the United States.
I mean, I was thinking of -- remember that teenager -- that kid that like painted graffiti on a wall in Singapore and got caned?
NAVARRO: You want -- you know, these are different countries with different sets of laws. What Donald Trump did --
CUOMO: They stole stuff.
NAVARRO: -- was good.
CUOMO: You go to jail for that here, too, by the way.
NAVARRO: Exactly. So --
CUOMO: So say thank you.
NAVARRO: Say thank you. I don't think it's that hard. I mean, I think there are times -- first of all, Donald Trump should not be asking for a thank you but LaVar Ball should be saying thank you without him saying it.
Look, you've got two tough-talking showmen who love the hype, who don't back down from a fight. The one doesn't apologize, the other one doesn't say thank you, and they just keep this thing going.
And that interview was coo-coo crazy. It was --
CUOMO: It cost me hairline.
NAVARRO: Well hopefully, though, you're getting some -- aren't you getting some sports paraphernalia? Aren't you getting some -- does he know your shoe size?
BALL: We'll see. He said he was going to send me some Big Baller stuff. I was like I can't wait to give that away to charity.
Matt Schlapp, the other side of the ball here is that the president shouldn't have engaged in this. Not only should he not ask for thanks for doing his duty, but why engage with this guy? With all the things that he's not talking about, why go at it with LaVar Ball?
MATT SCHLAPP, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION, FORMER POLITICAL DIRECTOR FOR GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I think one of the reasons he might have realized what a jerk he was. I mean, I can't believe that interview.
I -- you know, with my five kids, it's please and thank you, please and thank you.
You can say that the president shouldn't ask for a thank you -- that's a fair question. But I think it's also a fair answer to say, you know, when someone does something for one of your kids -- gets them out of, as Ana said, a dictator's prison -- whether it was a hotel or prison makes no difference -- you say thank you.
And this is why so many people across the country are divorcing themselves from their idolization of these professional athletes.
The acorn did not fall from the tree here but I have to give the son some credit. He acted with class at the press conference, he apologized for his criminal behavior, and he thanked the president. I think he needs to teach his father something.
CUOMO: Well look, it works both ways. Some of what the president says and some of what his antics have been about has diminished somewhat of the luster on the presidency for a lot of people, as well.
So let's pivot. I'm good on LaVar Ball. I'm good on this. Until there's the next chapter, I'm good on it.
Here's what I want to --
NAVARRO: And you'll interview him again --
SCHLAPP: You did a very nice interview.
CUOMO: No, I don't want to do it. I don't want to do it again.
But here's what I want to talk about, all right? Matt Schlapp, make the case for what's going on with the end of the temporary placement plan for Haitians and Nicaraguans, and all this.
What is this about? Why do this because it seems like an attack on one of the fundamental definitions of this country in terms of taking in people in need. Why do this?
SCHLAPP: Well, I think the -- you have to have boundaries in all these immigration programs. There comes a point where we can't just accept everybody for every reason.
I am sympathetic to the cause of these folks, especially the communities in South Florida, but I'm also OK with an administration with a president who said we can only do things for periods of time. I'm OK with them saying -- in each one of these populations where we allow people to come to America, especially under a temporary situation, temporary doesn't mean permanent.
And I think that's something we all have to understand, which is to get to America is a very special thing.
As Ana knows, my father-in-law escaped Cuba, he came here legally, and he wants to be an American.
[07:40:11] But that's not going to be the case for every person. Sometimes it's going to be a temporary work permit, sometimes they're going to come here because there's a national -- or an emergency like a natural disaster. But it's OK for our country to allow people to come here temporarily, but it's OK for us to end those programs, too.
CUOMO: Well, but it depends, it depends.
CUOMO: -- I'm telling you, you and Matt -- well, maybe you. You could survive anywhere. Matt and me, we couldn't make it in Haiti for two weeks. Right now, I couldn't make it there.
SCHLAPP: I agree. I agree.
CUOMO: I was there for that earthquake. I've seen the aftermath. I know what's going on there. The idea that we hear from our government that it's OK to back now is crazy talk.
And while Matt is right, as a premise temporary doesn't mean permanent, why start with these Haitians and the Nicaraguans? I know close to you because of your family but why start with them?
If you want to police legal immigration and reduce the number of people and make it as special as Matt is saying, why start with the most vulnerable?
NAVARRO: Because he's got to have something to show, right? This is a guy who made -- and, first of all, I couldn't hear a word that Matt says, which is fine with me. I think I like him better right now when I can see him and not hear him but -- so I can't respond to what he said.
Why? Because immigration was a huge part of Trump's campaign promises. There is no wall. You know, they have not deported everybody.
So these folks have no voice, they've got no vote, and it's a place to -- where he can show his base look, I'm doing something.
I, frankly, think it's not only unconscionable but it's also going to be incredibly destructive to Miami -- to South Florida, where I live. Most of these Haitians, most of these Nicaraguans are there.
And here's the problem. It is supposed to be temporary but for years, Republican and Democrat presidents -- Democratic presidents have let it become not temporary. It's been decades.
People have built families. People have built homes. People have built businesses.
SCHLAPP: This is our problem.
NAVARRO: People have -- are holding down jobs. People are part of our fiber, particularly in South Florida.
The disruption to our economy, the disruption to families, to U.S. children is going to be ginormous and the disruption in Latin America. You are --
NAVARRO: Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Nicaragua is the second-poorest country --
NAVARRO: -- in the Western Hemisphere.
CUOMO: You're extending people who've --
CUOMO: -- tried their best back to the worst.
Matt, go ahead. He wants to get in.
CUOMO: Go ahead.
SCHLAPP: This is one of the big differences in immigration policy. The idea that someone that is a political refugee who we've always given a special status to as opposed to someone who's an economic refugee.
Your premise of your question is you and I would not survive in Haiti and I agree with you. There's so many -- there's a huge percentage of the population that lives in desperate circumstances. We are very fortunate to be Americans.
But it doesn't mean that we need to accept everybody who's in a desperate economic situation. We simply can't sustain doing that. We have to make logical decisions.
And I think Ana is right. Temporary usually does become permanent, which is why there's this outcry across America. Becoming -- having legal status in America, you should have to go through the legal process in becoming an American. You shouldn't get to do it just because you came here in a temporary status.
NAVARRO: Matt, what is important though is that it's -- there are something, I think, like 18 months before this goes in effect. Look, we've got 800,000 kids right now whose lives are in limbo because of the Dream Act of DACA. We've got --
SCHLAPP: Because of Barack Obama.
NAVARRO: -- the Nicaraguans. We've got 55,000 Haitians.
So, Congress needs to act. If something's going to get done Congress has 18 months. It's got even less on the DACA side to act and they need to act quickly.
They need to have a comprehensive, fair immigration policy that has border security and also takes care of these people who are Americans in every way but one.
CUOMO: All right, thank you very much. Look, if nothing else, they're going to have a huge practical problem if they want to get these people out of the country and their kids are here. How they going to do it?
It's a first line that sounds strong. They played a jingoism as well but how are you going to do it? It's going to be tough.
Matt, Ana, thanks to both of you. Again, we're thankful to have you on this show.
SCHLAPP: Thank you, Chris.
NAVARRO: We're thankful to have your host.
CUOMO: Alisyn --
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Chris.
Now to an update from Puerto Rico. The official death toll from Hurricane Maria is 55, but CNN has found far different numbers. That's next.
[07:48:35] CAMEROTA: Two months after Hurricane Maria, the official death toll in Puerto Rico is 55, but an exclusive CNN investigation finds the number could be much higher. CNN's Leyla Santiago is live in San Juan with a CNN exclusive for us.
Leyla, what have you learned?
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, the experts tell us that if you don't have a good grasp on that death toll number -- who died, why, and how -- that could be a missed opportunity to protect people in the future. It's the reason we decided to look into the death toll and what we found, there are several reasons to question the accuracy of the death toll.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): These are the images they'd rather remember, the ones kept during Jose Pepe Sanchez joking with his family. But there's another image his daughter Roxana cannot stop thinking about. The moment she opened the door and found him on the ground.
ROXANA SANCHEZ, DAUGHTER OF JOSE PEPE SANCHEZ: (Foreign language spoken).
SANTIAGO (on camera): So she says if Maria had not passed straight through here she believes her dad would still be alive today.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): She believes his nerves, stressed during Hurricane Maria, led to a heart attack when Maria struck in September. He had had a heart attack in February but the family says he had recovered -- boarded up windows himself the day before the storm.
[07:50:00] Just minutes before Maria made landfall, she tells us her father complained of breathing complications. When her uncle called 911, he says help was not available in the interior part of the island.
SANTIAGO (on camera): No one from the government has come to ask questions about the cause or the situation surrounding his death.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): Over the same month last year, the number of deaths in Puerto Rico increased by 472. The government is reporting 55 people died at the hands of Hurricane Maria.
HECTOR PESQUERA, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, PUERTO RICO: It's accurate based on the factual information that we received, yes.
SANTIAGO: This is Puerto Rico's secretary of public safety, in charge of the death count.
CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, MAYOR, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: It appears, for whatever reason, that the death toll is much higher than what has been reported.
SANTIAGO: Politicians, news outlets like CNN have raised questions about the accuracy of those numbers so we decided to count for ourselves.
CNN called 279 funeral homes. We were only able to reach about half of them. We asked how many of the deaths were believed to be related to Maria.
Despite the official death toll, they claim 499 hurricane-related deaths in the month after the storm. That's nine times the government's numbers.
SANTIAGO (on camera): Why the gap?
PESQUERA: Because as I said before I work on factual. I can't believe -- I can't work on I believe.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): So we described Pepe's case.
SANTIAGO (on camera): The gentleman is at home, he has a stroke. The person with him calls 911 and 911 says we can't get to him in time because 150 mile per hour winds are pounding us right now.
SANTIAGO: Is that a hurricane-related death?
SANTIAGO: OK. Allow me to introduce you to Jose -- Pepe. That was his case.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): A case not included in Puerto Rico's death toll.
The discrepancy begins here, the death certificate. A doctor marked Pepe's death natural. Cases marked natural aren't supposed to go to forensics and forensics says if they don't get the cases there's no way to investigate if it's related to the hurricane. On the certificate, doctors are not obligated to report if the hurricane contributed to the death.
PESQUERA: Quite frankly, they should, but you're right. Will they be obligated to do it by law? No, but I still submit to you that there's a moral and ethical responsibility to do that.
SANTIAGO: Pesquera plans on asking legislators to change the law and require doctors to flag natural disasters on death certificates. And that's not the only issue. He admits he needs people to flag cases, too.
PESQUERA: And you're the first person -- the first media outlet -- and I'll say it publicly -- that brings in information for us to verify.
SANTIAGO (on camera): But is that the media's job or is that your job?
PESQUERA: So it's our job to take care of 2,900 bodies doing every month to see that the doctor -- the doctor certified that the deaths occurred in the way that it happened.
SANTIAGO: Pesquera tells us he will investigate the multiple cases CNN brought to his attention.
SANTIAGO: Why is the government of Puerto Rico not double-checking this? Why isn't the government of Puerto Rico doing what CNN did, calling these funeral homes one-by-one, visiting these families one- by-one?
PESQUERA: Funeral homes, to begin with, are not the person to tell us what the people died or did not die of.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): He says families should be notifying the government if they believe Hurricane Maria is responsible for a death. Loved ones like Pepe's wife who tells us at the time, the priority was not to make sure their loved one was counted in a statistic. Rather, to make sure he had a proper goodbye.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (SANCHEZ' WIFE): (Foreign language spoken).
SANTIAGO (on camera): They were married when she was 20 and she misses him.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): Families trying to make sense of tragedy and a death toll.
SANTIAGO: And according to forensics, after Hurricane Maria they sent people to funeral homes, to cemeteries, to hospitals to look into suspicious cases. They say those were false claims -- even called them rumors.
And you heard in our story the secretary say we were the first to bring him cases. The secretary has agreed to look into those cases, investigate those cases, and add to the death toll if justified.
In an update, since last night after our report aired, the Department of Public Safety issued a statement urging all funeral homes on the island to forward any information about possible hurricane-related deaths to them for investigation -- Chris.
CUOMO: It also shows the disconnect in some of the bureaucratic problems in that territory because the secretary said to you funeral homes aren't the ones to tell us cause of death. Now, the government puts out a call then.
Leyla, you worked hard on this with your team. The reporting matters, the reality matters even more. Thank you for this.
[07:55:07] SANTIAGO: You bet.
CUOMO: All right.
So, he has survived cancer and now he has hit the shot of a lifetime. A special prize for a Sixers super fan. Wait until you see this.
CAMEROTA: The Boston Celtics extend their winning streak to 16 in a row but it was not easy.
Coy Wire has more in the "Bleacher Report." Hi, Coy.
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Alisyn.
Those Celtics, they lost their star player and their first two games of the season but now, they've proven they still have the talent and the want-to to be great this season.
Down by double-digits to the team with the worst record in hoops, the Mavs. Kyrie Irving was not going to let this one get away. The Celtics would force it into overtime and end up capturing the 110-102 victory and their 16th straight win, just three off the franchise record.
Irving had 47 points. He was clutch. The Celtics roll to 16 and two.
All right, good stuff -- sports edition.
Seventeen-year-old high school student Mike Shelly who overcame cancer, stole the show and became a hero in front of 20,000-plus fans. He hit a layup, a free throw, a three-pointer, and this half-court shot in Philly -- bam.
Saturday, he wins 76 Chick-Fil-A gift cards. Everyone at the game got a biscuit. And thanks to the Sixers and Chick-Fil-A, Mike is going to be flying on the team plane to catch the Sixers play the Hawks here in Atlanta after the season.
You go, Mike. You keep shining. We're all cheering for you.
CUOMO: Can you hit that shot, by the way?
WIRE: Never in a million years.