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Vulgar comments by President Trump faces criticism; Status of West Virginia coal industry; CNN documentary "Trophies" on saving endangered wildlife. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired January 14, 2018 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:08] MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM.
The President under fresh fire over HIS vulgar comments.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he is a racist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, I think that is ridiculous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are saying flat out definitively, the President did not say those words?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm saying that this is a gross misrepresentation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't hear that word either.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are saying it did not happen or you haven't or you just don't recall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't hear it. And I was sitting further away from Donald Trump and Dick Durbin was.
SAVIDGE: All as the state of Hawaii is reeling from a phony missile alert.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted to check out and head to the airport because I didn't want to stick around to see if it is getting this is going to get blown up or not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just told him, let me use your phone and let me call my wife and tell her I love her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think traumatic under states the experience of the people of Hawaii went through yesterday. This was unacceptable that this happened but it really highlights the stark reality of the people of Hawaii are facing.
SAVIDGE: CNN NEWSROOM starts now.
SAVIDGE: Hello there. I'm Martin Savidge in for Fredricka Whitfield. Thanks very much for spending some time with me.
We begin this hour with the growing argument over what the President did or did not say in a crucial immigration meeting. The conflicting reports over the use of vulgar language firing up again today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming out of that meeting with a gross misrepresentation of what happened to that meeting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you it was a gross misrepresentation? Senator Durbin has been very clear. Senator Graham has told others that the reports were basically accurate. Are you saying the President did not use the word so widely reported?
SEN. DAVID PERDUE (R), GEORGIA: I'm telling you he did not use that word, George. And I'm telling you it is a gross misrepresentation any time you want me to say that.
SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: I didn't hear that word either. I certainly didn't hear what Senator Durbin has said repeatedly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you are saying in that room you didn't hear any of this sort of lumping everybody together. Is that what you are saying?
COTTON: I did not hear derogatory comments about individuals or persons, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. So this sentiment is totally phony, as well, that is attributed to him.
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: All I can say is that I was in a meeting directly afterwards where those who presented to the President our proposal. I spoke about the meeting and they said those words were used before those words went public. So that's all I can tell you is I heard that account before the account even went public.
SAVIDGE: The President is at his Florida golf club today and tweeting, blasting Democrats and declaring that a bipartisan deal on DACA is probably dead.
Let's start our coverage with CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez who is near the President's resort in Florida.
Boris, what do we know about what the President is doing today?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Martin.
President Trump spent the majority of his day so far at Trump national golf course. He returned to Mar-a-Lago estate just a little bit over an hour ago. And as you noted, he is further driving a wedge between Democrats and Republicans at a very tenuous time because the government is set to shut down in five days unless both parties come to an agreement over budgeting and funding for the government.
The issue at heart of the disagreement is the legal status of these DREAMERs, these 800,000 or so young adults that were brought to the United States illegally as children. And while there was already some contentious disagreement between Democrats and Republicans on that issue the question of the President's comments this week on Haitians, on African nations further driving a wedge between the two parties just based on what he allegedly said.
We should note the President, as you said, was on twitter earlier today saying that a deal on DACA with Democrats was possibly dead. He then further tweeted quote "I, as President, want people coming into our country who are going to help us become strong and great again. People coming in to a system based on merit. No more lotteries. #Americafirst."
The head of the department of homeland security Kirsten Nelson - Nielsen I should say, was on the Sunday morning talk shows backing up the President, the argument to convert the United States to a merit base system, she kept the possibility of a DACA deal still open though she made the case for separating any kind of immigration issue from the question of funding the government which as we noted was set to shut down midnight on Friday. Some Democrats however are saying they simply will not discuss a budget deal unless DACA is a part of that deal including Congressman John Lewis.
Here is Kirsten Nielsen and John Lewis speaking to the media earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRSTEN NIELSEN, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We need to fund our troops. We need to protect them. We need to increase homeland security. These are vital national security interests we need to fund to tie it into a DACA deal where the actual expiration date is in March is irresponsible.
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: Well, I for one would not vote for government funding until we get a deal on DACA.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[16:05:08] SANCHEZ: The key thing to keep in mind here, Martin, is that Republicans are going to need Democrats to pass any kind of budget deal. So Democrats are now using that leverage to get something done on DREAMERs and DACA, a program that is said to end in March.
Because of the urgency and limited amount of time that lawmakers have to get something done, some in the Republican party have suggested just passing a continuing resolution, another stop gap bill that will keep the government funded and then further move the can down the road on this argument as we have seen them do several times since September -- Martin. SAVIDGE: Yes, we have Boris. Thank you very much.
All right. Plenty to talk about here. And joining me to do just that Josh Rogin, a CNN political analyst and columnist for "the Washington Post." Also back with me is Julian Zelizer. He is a CNN political analyst and Princeton University historian and professor.
So thanks to both of you.
Josh, I will start with you and the President's tweet that DACA is probably dead and it is the Democrats' fault. Is the President by just putting that out there, hurting any chance of a bipartisan deal now?
JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He is definitely not helping. I mean, all we have seen the President Trump do over the last few days is harm the ability of these lawmakers to come up with a bipartisan compromise that gives the President much of what he wants and allows alas the DACA DREAMERs to stay in the country.
And that bipartisan compromise were actually rolled out on Thursday. There is a deal on the table. It does accommodate what the President is saying he wants about the visa lottery and chain migration. Gives a little bit of money for this wall or border security, whatever you want to call it, and fixes the DACA problem for these 800,000 DREAMERs.
Why can't he just take that deal? Well, it seems that they are pushing for a better deal. And meanwhile, the President is just creating controversy after controversy really throwing the entire process into chaos.
And why he is doing that? I mean, basically because he seems to lack the self-control not to do it.
SAVIDGE: Yes. I mean, the supporters may think that there is a grand plan. Others may say no. He has no plan at all. We will have to see.
Julian, you wrote a story for CNN.com about the President's remarks. And you say that it's a mistake to dismiss Trump's vile words as a distraction and to normalize the President's behavior would be absolutely reckless. So explain that a bit more.
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think if you take these comments and put them in the context of the many, many, many comments he said on twitter, in public about immigration from the very start of his campaign you see exactly where he stands on a lot of these issues. And the rhetoric of a President matters. And we speak of it as a distraction from the real stuff, the legislation and the regulation.
But I think he has given legitimacy to a lot of arguments that come from nativist organizations and individuals about immigration that are extraordinarily damaging to hear from the President of the United States. And I think that is part of why you have this backlash and the risk we have is that eventually this is normal.
SAVIDGE: Can I ask you this, Julian, especially from your historian perspective?
SAVIDGE: You listen to White House tapes of previous administrations, you know. And I'm going back to LBJ and I'm going back to Nixon. And you hear some really bad stuff. At the same time as they are trying to negotiate bills even as LBJ was trying to push forward, you know, civil rights, there is a time a President has private conversations or no?
ZELIZER: There is. This wasn't a private conversation at least this meeting. You are right. The previous Presidents have said horrendous things. But we shouldn't use that as the measure for what president should do today and the hope that --.
SAVIDGE: No, I'm not. And I do agree that what the President said was absolutely outrageous. I guess what I'm saying is that in trying to negotiate and work a deal -- it wasn't a totally open meeting, he is expressing something. And it was a question, actually, to which he got a response in a very good moments said here is why. So I guess this whole idea, you are always having to be on your guard even when trying to negotiate?
ZELIZER: I think it is correct. I mean, I think it would be good to have some space for Presidents and legislators to negotiate as they did decades ago. The reality is that doesn't exist. For many reasons from social media to polarized Washington environment where there is an incentive to report what has happened, I don't think we are going back to that. So I think Presidents will just have to deal with that. But again, that is separate from the comment itself which, you know, fits a broader pattern we have heard from the President.
SAVIDGE: No, I'm with you.
Josh, sorry, just had the opportunity to talk to a historian there.
Today "New York Times" reporting former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney texted a friend saying he is running for the Senate in Utah to replace retiring senator Orrin Hatch. So Romney was somebody who has been pretty critical of the President. And I'm wondering how might a senator Romney impact Trump and his agenda?
[16:10:14] ROGIN: Well, I know that a lot of people in the Republican party especially people who have been especially upset with the way that President Trump has handled himself are looking towards Mitt Romney to be a leader, a statesman in the Senate who stands up for what we used to know as traditional Republican values especially traditional Republican positions on things like foreign policy and national security that the President has abandoned. He could, because of his sheer gravitas his relationships and the large and well known step that he is like to bring on become a counter weight to the President in the Republican Party and the Senate. That is the scenario that I think a lot of people are looking for. You know, we are seeing a lot senior Republican leave the Senate who
play that role now. Bob Corker, you know, Jeff Flake, you know, we hope that Senator John McCain will be with us for a very long time. But in the coming years, it seems that this sort of Republican Party that we knew before 2016 lacks a standard bearer. And the hope at least amongst those people who still believe that the Republican Party can head in that direction is that Mitt Romney would take up that role. I think we are a long way before we actually get in there. First, he has to run, then he has to get elected.
SAVIDGE: Yes, interesting point. Next weekend, by the way, is the one-year anniversary of the President's inauguration. And times seems to have gone remarkably fast. And while a 2020 election is still far away today former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe was on "STATE OF THE UNION" and he hinted that he might run against Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Are you going to challenge him in 2020?
TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: What I'm going to this year, 36 governors are going to take a big lead. I am doing a big project on redistricting mode. That will be my focus on 2018. And we will see what happens after that. But could you imagine, you know, hypothetically, if that ever happened you would have to sell tickets to me.
TAPPER: That would be enjoyable.
MCAULIFFE: But I'm focused on this.
TAPPER: But you are focused on that but you are thinking about a debate with President Trump.
MCAULIFFE: I think everybody sits around and dreams about a debate with President Trump and how much fun that could actually be. Get the truth out there and let the facts speak for themselves.
TAPPER: OK. I'm not going to qualify this as you throwing your hat in the ring, but there is a hat there.
Governor McAuliffe, thank you so much. I really appreciate your being here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Julian, do you think that this is the beginning of where the Dems could have big, huge crowded field in 2020 kind of like what the Republicans did?
ZELIZER: Yes. I mean, midterms are at least in recent years the moment you see people throw their hat into the ring. I wouldn't be surprised if more people start to at least speculate that they might be in the mix. And it will depend on the midterms.
Look. If Democrats retake control of one or both chambers, you are going to see a lot of Democrats jumping in because they are going to sense that this President is vulnerable to losing in 2020. And that is when everyone starts to raise their hand and say I'm in.
SAVIDGE: Well, we will see how it goes.
All right, Josh Rogin, Julian Zelizer, thank you very much.
ZELIZER: Thank you.
ROGIN: Thank you.
SAVIDGE: Hawaii, that state still is reeling. And officials are demanding answers. Ahead, the details on that false alarm of an incoming ballistic missile that launched panic across the state and beyond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We put the baby in the bathroom. Didn't know what else to do in the stroller and cape after run.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[16:17:27] SAVIDGE: We are learning that an FCC investigation into the false missile alarm in Hawaii is already underway. The federal communications chairman saying in the statement based on information we collected so far, it appears that the government of Hawaii did not have reasonable safe guards or a process controls in place to prevent the transmission of a false alert.
And the Honolulu star advertiser calling out the mishap with the headline "oops, wrong button."
Let's discuss all of this with Hawaii state representative Matt LoPresti.
First off, yesterday - sir, thank you for joining us. It is good to see you in person. Yesterday was all on the telephone when we spoke.
I know you are looking for answers as many people are wanting to know how this could possibly could have happened. But the first thing I will ask you is that you gave yesterday a very moving and very personal account of what you and your family were going through. How are your family? How are you today?
MATT LOPRESTI (D), HAWAII STATE HOUSE: They are fine today. It was very hectic yesterday. Trying to take the day off today and maybe take the kids to the beach and relax. So they are fine, thank you.
SAVIDGE: I think it is very easy for people to sort of look at this and say, hey, you know, it was a mistake so when confronted with your own almost mortality it is very shocking to both of you and young people. So let's get to the business at hand. Have you learned why it took so long to send out a correction notification?
LOPRESTI: You know, they are saying that the reason that it took so long is that they didn't have one drafted. And there is certainly grave hoover for that to think that the system we have in place couldn't go out in error is a lack of planning. And certainly we need to ensure that there are measures in place to recall.
One of the really concerning things now is how seriously people going to take the system. And so, I'm going to suggest that if there is ever another warning or another alert that goes out we are going to have to send a confirmation notice that - second notice this is really is happening because people will be waiting for a second notice to see that it is another false alarm.
SAVIDGE: Thirty-eight minutes to come up with the right words to say it's not a real attack. I mean, is that what we are supposed to believe?
LOPRESTI: It is completely unacceptable, you know. We have to do better. Having this oops headline is not only embarrassing, it is dangerous. We are looking people didn't die yesterday. There were people who acted a little panicked more than they should have, but we are lucky nobody was injured and credit to the people of Hawaii who largely kept their cool and endured and are very resilient.
[16:20:05] SAVIDGE: The governor I believe said that, you know, simply a matter of a person hitting the wrong button. Have you learned any more details other than that?
LOPRESTI: I haven't heard more details on that. But I mean, I think we all in this information age know that there are a lot of areas in our personal lives where we need two step verification just to access our banking accounts. And the fact that we didn't have even something like that for an alert about an incoming ballistic missile is not OK.
So as vice chair of the public safety committee here in Hawaii, we are going to be holding a hearing this coming week to get to the bottom of what happened, second by second analysis of what happened, why did it happen and really have a larger discussion about what prepare preparedness needs to look like to the whole state.
SAVIDGE: And is it up to you as representatives to come up with the plan to make sure it doesn't happen like that again?
LOPRESTI: Well, we are not the experts, you know. We write the laws and we are here to represent the people and ask the questions on their behalf, you know. We need to make sure that our state has the resources to hire the right experts to have resiliency, to have redundancy in the plans. And I see my job as to not only hold them accountable for when things go wrong but to make sure they have the tools they need to make sure things go right next time.
SAVIDGE: Has this changed anything in Hawaii? I mean, whether it is the vulnerability or potential vulnerability of where you are out in the pacific? I don't know. Just the whole feeling in Hawaii. Anything change as a result of this?
LOPRESTI: You know, people's nerves are still pretty raw. So that's a question that I think a lot of people are asking right now. You know, I'm just glad I was home with my family. A lot of people weren't. And I can imagine if I was on the highway I probably wouldn't have been driving the speed limit either. But I just, you know, thank God that I was home with my kids and my family.
And one thing that it does help people realize is what is their plan going to be because the people who didn't take this seriously before are going to take it seriously now, figure out where emergency supplies are for me and my family. I realize my kids weren't clear where the emergency supplies and food was and how to open it if something happen to me. So, you know, we are working on that personal family plan this weekend.
SAVIDGE: Well, we appreciate the fact that yesterday you spoke to us and we appreciate again you appeared with us.
So Matt LoPresti, thank you very much.
As people in Hawaii were in the state of chaos, what was going on behind the scenes in Washington?
CNN military and diplomatic analyst and retired rear admiral John Kirby joins me now. And he is also former Pentagon press secretary and state department spokesman.
What exactly was going on behind the scenes at the Pentagon in this kind of moments, do you?
REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: I suspect that the real activity was at the Pacific Command, Martin, out there in Honolulu because it is doubtful that the Pentagon would have been made aware of this alert right away. But the people that work at Pacific Command also live right there on the island. And I'm sure some of them got that alert. In fact, I talked to somebody Pacific Command yesterday and he was out enjoying the weather and, you know, was made aware of the alert immediately, called the operations center, and of course the people in the operations center were already made aware of it and were consulting all of their censors in the region to see if there was anything to it. And of course, it didn't take very long for them to realize almost immediately that there was in fact no incoming missile. And that is when they went ahead and put a notifications to that effect as well.
So I think most of the U.S. military's capabilities were brought to bear there at Pacific Command rather than at the Pentagon. Although, I fully suspect that the Pacific Command operation center were in communication with the national military command center at the Pentagon to make sure that they were tracking all the same information that they were in Hawaii, as well.
SAVIDGE: I know, of course, it was a false alarm.
KIRBY: Right. SAVIDGE: But I'm wondering, you know, could other countries or
adversaries somehow misread, misunderstand what was going on.
KIRBY: I don't know that they would misread it. I think that certainly our allies, partners and perhaps adversaries might be taking pause here at the speed with which this false alert went out and a lack of coordination with which it went out.
I think what bothers me about it - a lot of it - a lot bother me about, one thing that bothers me is that it was sort of in isolation. So I find it hard to believe that a button push is the problem here. I mean, it takes two key strokes for you and me just to delete our emails, right? But that it was able to be done in isolation of any of the other systems and detection capabilities that the military has to bring to bear. And I think that might give some of our friends a little bit of pause in terms of how our system controls work and whether or not there are sufficient safe guards in place across from all the way from national intelligence and military capabilities down to state emergency management agencies.
[16:25:04] SAVIDGE: Yes, I guess, you know, what I'm saying is that it sort of is studied by your adversary and say it took 38 minutes just to recall a message. I wonder what other problems they have in their system.
KIRBY: Yes. Again, I don't know that I have read too much into that, Martin. Because again, the state doesn't have any detection capabilities. All those reside inside the U.S. military. The U.S. military did respond pretty quickly with a notice saying it wasn't happening. And I think even our adversaries know well that we have very ample missile defense capabilities in the region, very accurate detection capabilities in space, as well. And that we, you know, we have a good grip on what is going on in terms of missile activity in the Asia Pacific region. I don't think I would worry about that vulnerability so much as the fact that it certainly showcased a lack of professionalism at the state level and maybe perhaps the need to better integrate these alert systems from state to federal than exists right now.
SAVIDGE: Do you think - I mean, were you surprised at all the President didn't come out and make some comment, his commander-in- chief?
KIRBY: No. You know, I don't know that I'm going to fault him for that. I mean, again, Pacific Command which has the wherewithal to know what is going did come out very quickly and tried to set the record straight. And of course the governor of Hawaii who did take responsibility. And I thought that was a real act of leadership on his part to come out and say, you know what, this is on me. This is my emergency management agency. And I'm going to take responsibility for that. I don't know that it would have been warranted to have the commander-in-chief himself come out and add his weight to this particular case.
SAVIDGE: All right. Admiral, good to see you. Thank you very much for joining us, John Kirby. KIRBY: Thank you.
SAVIDGE: Coming up, a Republican Congress woman and Haitian American mincing no words when describing her reaction to the President's vulgar comments about her country. Hear what she has to say right after this.
[16:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump is facing more criticism today over his vulgar comments about immigrants from Haiti and Africa. Republican congresswoman Mia Love of Utah, Haitian-American said today on CNN's "State of the Union" she believes the president's remarks were racist. She spoke exclusively with our Jake Tapper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Your parents are immigrants from Haiti. You're the first Haitian-American elected to the United States Congress. How did it feel to hear these comments from the president?
REP. MIA LOVE (R), UTAH: Well, Jake, I can't defend the indefensible. You have to understand that there are countries that do struggle out there but their people are good people and they're a part of us. We're Americans. You have to understand that my parents, they came from Haiti. They worked hard. They paid their taxes.
When they pledged their allegiance to the American flag and became U.S. citizens they meant every word of it and they did everything they could to take on not just the benefits but the responsibilities of what it meant to be an American citizen. And you have to understand I'm a product of that. I am the American dream. That's who we are. Those are not just American values but they are certainly Utah values and they are values that we all hold dear.
So, it was really difficult to hear especially because my parents are such big supporters of the president. And I think that we have to do everything we can to make sure we are coming from a place of compassion and we are speaking from a place of kindness. I mean that is the at least minimal standard here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: It goes without saying that since the beginning America has been a nation of immigrants. Maybe what isn't known so often is that many of those immigrants paid the ultimate price in their service to their new home country. Private Emanuel Mensah, an immigrant from Africa was also an American hero, losing his life while trying to save others. CNN's Polo Sandoval spoke to his family about why the president's harsh words cut them so very deeply.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Long before Emanuel Mensah became a hero, he was a young boy in Ghana. The 28-year-old on leave from the Army National Guard died last month rescuing people from a burning building in the Bronx.
KWABENA MENSAH, FATHER OF EMANUEL MENSAH: As an immigrant I think he has been here for five years, almost six years and he has, you know, tried to -- especially New York. He loved living in New York City. He couldn't wait to come here.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): President Trump's reported comments about African nations aren't sitting well with Private Mensah's sister, Vanessa.
VANESSA MENSAH, SISTER OF EMANUEL MENSAH: I didn't like it because it really hurts my heart because we are all one people, you know. If you cut me right now, you'll see blood coming out. We are all God's people.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): For his part, Trump said he used tough language but deny saying anything vulgar. Also feeling insulted by the president's comments, New York City's Haitian community. Matthieu Eugene, NEW YORK CITY's first Haitian-borne city council member is furious with Trump for his reported comments about Haitians.
MATTHIEU EUGENE, MEMBER, NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: This is unthinkable, unbelievable that the president of the United States use such languages, such rhetoric to talk about Haiti.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): In a memorial service marking the eighth anniversary of Haiti's deadly earthquake Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams had even stronger words for the commander in chief.
ERIC ADAMS, PRESIDENT, BROOKLYN BOROUGH: He is sending a coded message that we want to return to the good old days of slavery, the good old days of water hoses, the good old days of German Shepherds biting people who were fighting for their basic rights, the good old days when you could not live on certain blocks, segregated and not able to participate in all aspects of the American dream.
[16:35:00] SAVIDGE: And Polo Sandoval joins me now. Polo, thanks very much first of all for bringing this story to our attention. Many members of the Haitian community clearly felt insulted by the president's comments, but talk to us about some of the mixed feelings you said you encountered while speaking to people in New York.
SANDOVAL: Well especially, Martin, when you speak to some of the recipients of this temporary protection status. We know about that the Trump administration ended it last November. It's that policy that allowed tens of thousands of Haitians to live and work in the United States as their country recovers. They have a unique perspective here, Martin. On one hand they are first to admit that they cannot paint a pretty picture of the situation back home.
They told me that their country still has to be improved before they can safely return back to the United States so, they are fighting to remain here in the United States. But on the other hand, some told me that they are truly proud to still have come from Haiti. It is their native country and of course they certainly were disheartened to hear that somebody would insult them or at least insult their country especially the president of the United States, Martin.
SAVIDGE: Yes. I have been to Haiti on a number of occasions there. Wonderful, wonderful people. Polo Sandoval, thank you very much.
Coming up, saving the coal industry was one of the cornerstones of the president winning his campaign. So, do Trump supporters in West Virginia, the heart of coal country, think he has made good on that promise? I went there to find out.
[16:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SAVIDGE: The Trump administration appears to be taking its coal policy directly from a coal CEO. A newly released memo written by Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray details the types of changes to environmental and coal policies he would like to see. Of his 16 suggestions, at least 10 have been fulfilled or are on their way to being so.
And Trump wants to take credit for those changes telling the "New York Times" quote, I'm the one that saved coal. I'm the one that created jobs. You know West Virginia is doing fantastically now, which raised the question is West Virginia doing fantastically, which is exactly why I went there to try and see.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): In West Virginia, they measure progress by the number of coal trains and coal trucks. And lately they're seeing more of both. Coal production is up 31 percent according to the state Chamber of Commerce, a welcome change after 2016 saw the state's lowest coal production in decades.
ADAM ROARK, COAL MINER: I left as soon as I graduated.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): A year ago, Adam Roark he had been laid off four times in 12 months.
ROARK: Now it's just booming.
SAVIDGE: So you're working full time.
ROARK: Full time, six days to seven days a week now.
ROARK: So as much work as you can want or handle.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): There are more mining related jobs than they are qualified people to fill them, at least according to the president of the West Virginia Coal Association. 32-year-old James DeHart was laid off from a mine in Arkansas. He came to West Virginia four months ago.
West Virginia you hear is hiring miners or at least there is opportunity for you.
JAMES DEHART, COAL MINER: There is a lot of things in the works to where there is a lot of jobs opening up.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): James got a mining job in less than a week. In 2016 in the town of Welch, things were so bad even the Wal-Mart closed. Today, small businesses are opening. There is a new barbershop. Talk at the restaurant without a drive through.
And this once boarded up building has become a thriving car repair with five full time and two part time employees. At Eva's House, the local bed and breakfast, they are seeing something unheard of, tourists.
SANDY BLANKENSHIP, OWNER, EVA'S HOUSE B&B: I would say it is doing really good. So many people didn't give us a chance to make it and we're making it.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): When I met Sheriff Martin West in 2016, he was laying off five deputies, nearly half his force due to budget cuts. Now thanks to increased coal revenues, he has got more money.
And what has that meant for your department?
MARTIN WEST, SHERIFF, MCDOWELL COUNTY: We were recently able to hire one deputy back and we hired our process server back so we feel that, you know, things is -- we are optimistic.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): So for this turn around who do you give the credit to?
DEHART: Donald Trump.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Everyone we ask says that.
DEVART: I can't take it personally enough.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Things may be better but life here is not all good.
LINDA MCKINNEY, RESIDENT: This stuff just came in.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Linda McKinney and her husband run the county food bank. Last year, they helped 16,000 of the county's roughly 19,000 residents and that is not the worst of it. Forty seven percent, is that what it is?
SAVIDGE (voice-over): -- of children in this county --
MCKINNEY: Are considered homeless. That means that 47 percent of the children are living without a biological parent in the home.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): In part because McDowell County ranks last for almost everything in West Virginia, it is second in the state for deaths due to drug overdoses, something Sheriff West, who is also a local church pastor knows personally and painfully.
SAVIDGE: So you know of these deaths. It isn't like these are just numbers somewhere.
WEST: I have conducted many of the funerals of overdoses, whole families. I have seen sister and two brothers, nephew out of one family.
SAVIDGE: There has been some improvement in the coal industry no question in West Virginia. There are some things that are still extremely difficult and painful. There is another grim reminder, too, of how the coal industry has picked up. In 2016 in the state, there were three coal mining related deaths. Last year, there were eight. And the experts say the reason for that is because there are more people back in the mines. It has always been a very dangerous job. Thanks to all the people up there.
Meanwhile, exotic animals roaming the planes. No, you are not going to be looking in Africa. This is the United States.
[16:45:00] Ranchers and hunters now say killing these giant trophy animals here could keep the creatures around longer.
SAVIDGE: You saw the promo during the break there, but CNN's new original film "Trophy" premieres tonight and it explores the controversial cross between big game hunting and saving wildlife.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have been a hunter my whole life. I lost my dad a few years ago and he was a hunter. And I think he would be really tickled to be able to tell the people back home at the coffee shop
[16:50:00] that his son is out hunting a lion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sparks (ph) of an international show is the largest hunting convention in the planet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crocodiles are really mean, besides I don't want a pair of boots.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Poachers will shoot every last one because there is a commercial-driven desire. People are confused how hunting and conservation go together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can just pick whatever animal you want from the menu that they offer you. You see the price and book the kill.
And that money will all go back into conservation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much for that sucker? $35,000? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have the recipe to save the rhino from extinction. Salons (ph) keep the rhinos alive. From the black market, the retail value of this one would be a quarter million dollars.
The operation is painless. It will take two years before he goes through the same procedure again. All I need is for it to be legal. Give me one animal that is not extinct while farmers were breeding it and making money on it. There is not one.
SAVIDGE: Just a taste of what is to come tonight. Joining me now to discuss, the director of the University of Minnesota's Lion Research Center, Craig Packer, who appears in the new film "Trophy." Thanks for being with us.
CRAIG PACKER, PROFESSOR AND DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESSOTA LION RESEARCH CENTER: You're very welcome.
SAVIDGE: So, let's start off by asking how dire is the situation for animals like lions, elephants and rhinos that are targeted in trophy hunting?
PACKER: The situation really is dire. We know that most of the larger species like elephants and lions and giraffes have declined quite precipitously over the last 25 years by at least half in some cases. This is largely due to the increased needs for land by the local population which is still growing quite rapidly.
SAVIDGE: The film sort of explores this idea and it does seem to have a logic to it, that trophy hunting can actually help protect animals, killing a small number of individual animals can help save the species as a whole. Does it work?
PACKER: Well, that's the big question. In theory it's a great idea that by bringing commercial value to these animals that it gives greater incentive for local people to tolerate them. One of the things to keep in mind is that elephants and lions inflict a lot of damage on local people who are very vulnerable.
Elephants can destroy their crops. They can crush people. Lions eat livestock and they eat people as well. So there has got to be some incentive for people to put up with it. On the other hand, the question is, does trophy hunting as an industry generate enough money to truly overcome these costs to local communities?
And that is where the real debate comes in because I think that there are most examples that this is a failure, that it doesn't bring nearly enough money to do this well meaning kind of effect, and that there are only a couple of places in all of Africa where enough money is actually generated to inspire people to look after the wildlife.
SAVIDGE: And I suppose the other question is it may generate money but then how do you know the money went back to the original cause? Corruption or anything else might have interfered in some way. Everyone remembers the case of Cecil, the lion who was killed by an American dentist a couple of years ago. But you say that the outrage over one lion can actually hurt the conservation cause. Why?
PACKER: Well, I think that in the case of Cecil there was so much of a focus on the single individual that people were really caught up in kind of the ethical issues. And while a lot of people are driven mostly by moral issues, there are others that say well, wait a minute. There is also the morality of are we going to protect the species by whatever means necessary? And there might be situations where the ends do justify the means and that may cost in terms of lives of a few specific individuals.
In the case of Cecil, I'm not sure that that was a good example of hunting protecting the species because the client who shot the lion only paid on the order of about $55,000 to shoot a lion whereas the conservation requirements for maintaining the habitat for an adult lion long enough so it can be old enough to be shot is much closer to a million dollars.
Now, if all million dollars had gone back to conservation protecting the habitat where Cecil was shot, then a lot of us would argue, OK, the end would justify the means.
PACKER: But in the case of Cecil I don't think the end did because very little of that money actually got back to conservation.
SAVIDGE: It's just the beginning of the debate. Craig Packer, thank you very much for joining with us to talk about it. And do not miss the CNN documentary, "Trophy." It airs tonight 9:00 p.m. eastern and pacific and of course, right here on CNN.
[16:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SAVIDGE: Tomorrow is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day when the U.S., actually all of us, celebrates the civil rights icon's legacy. Also happening tomorrow, the NAACP image awards, an event that honors outstanding achievements and performances of people of color. And our own Fredricka Whitfield is nominated for outstanding host in talk or news series or special. And here she is last night at dinner with actors Anthony Anderson and Laz Alonso. We are so very proud of her and wish her the very best of luck and break a leg, too in the actor parlance.
I'm Martin Savidge. Thanks so much for joining me. It has been a pleasure spending the afternoon with you. "Newsroom" with Ana Cabrera starts right now.
You are live in the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Great to have you with us on this Sunday.
[17:00:01] I want to begin with total recall, Washington edition. Two Republican senators who originally said they could not recall whether President Trump said African immigrants came from quote shithole countries.