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Kris Kobach Has No Problem Overseeing Recount of His Race; Judge Blocks Trump Administration from Deporting Asylum Seekers; Dad Says Unaccompanied Minors End Up in Hotel with Airline Employee; Rookie Officer Says He "F'd Up" in Deadly Shooting; Puerto Rico Had 1427 Killed by Hurricane Maria, Not 64. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 9, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I do have a question for you, Mary Katharine, separately from what we've been talking about, on this gubernatorial race in Kansas. Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, still locked in this too-close-to-call gubernatorial race. He is suggesting he will not recuse himself from his own recount. This is just another example, and we're talking about a few folks in the last couple of weeks, allies in the Trump world who are pretty swamp- tastic.

MARY KATHARINE HAMM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Just an ethical no brainer. Apparently, we have no brains ethically anymore. If you know, especially if you have been a secretary of state for a long time, and you have people in place who you know well can do their jobs professionally --


HAMM: -- part of your job is creating that environment. Let them handle it and handle it fairly. I think believe in all of the state's staff and secretary of state offices to do that, and especially the secretary of state.

BALDWIN: Mary Katharine, Raul --


BALDWIN: -- thank you very much.

While we were talking, just in, we were discussing immigration, and we now have news that a federal judge has blocked the Trump administration from deporting asylum seekers who are challenging the rules of Jeff Sessions.

Tal Kopan is on this. She's live in Washington.

Tal, what's the story?

TAL KOPAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, a bit of breaking news. We understand that a federal judge has just blocked the Trump administration from deporting a group of immigrants who have brought a lawsuit challenging some new rules established by Jeff Sessions that basically make it much, much more difficult if not nearly impossible for immigrants who have suffered from domestic violence, gang violence, that type of thing from qualifying for asylum in the U.S. What's particularly dramatic is that this lawsuit was filed only this week, but the American Civil Liberties association went to court and got the judge to order them not to deport immigrants during this lawsuit. The Trump administration had put one of those immigrants on a plane for deportation. And upon finding out about this, the judge was infuriated and ordered the plane to be turned around and not to deport any of these individuals who are challenging the administration even to give the judge time to weigh whether he can do more in this case. So a bit of a dramatic moment in federal court today regarding those rules that Jeff Sessions has put into place.

BALDWIN: Got it.

Tal, thank you for that.

Coming up next, a father's fight with an airline. His two kids flying across the country alone. But what exactly happened when their flight was diverted to another city and those two children were taken to a hotel by an airline employee? Dad says no one said a word to him. Let's get the full story, coming up next.


[14:36:33] BALDWIN: Imagine this as a parent. A concerned father clashing with a major airline disputing the airline's treatment of his two unaccompanied kids. He said his two kids boarded a Frontier Airlines flight headed for Orlando. The flight got diverted because of bad weather, so they stopped in Atlanta that night. The dad claims a Frontier Airlines employee, using her own personal car, actually drove his kids to an Atlanta hotel without letting their father know, and spent the night there.

The airline says they were in contact with the mother before taking them to the hotel. They added this, quoting Frontier, "In keeping with Frontier's policy, the children were attended to at all times by a Frontier supervisor placed in a hotel room overnight and provided with food."

So the next day, the kids flew on from Atlanta to their intended destination of Orlando.

Let's get to the bottom of this. We have the dad, Chad Gray, the father of the kids, along with his attorney, Alan Armstrong.

Gentlemen, good to see both of you.

And, Chad, first, on your emotions, talk to me about what it was like going through knowing that your kids, both under the age of 10 went through this?


You know, very good question. I think the emotions are obviously running very high, the frustration levels were running very high. Regardless of whether Jennifer and I should have put the kids on the plane as unaccompanied minors is really besides the fact. Once you decide to make that decision, and Frontier decides to take responsibility for these children, and then when they don't follow the protocol to let the parents know that, hey, here's what we're doing with your kids, we're actually going to take them off airport premises and put them in a hotel and we're actually going to drive them to a hotel in an employee's vehicle.


BALDWIN: Let me jump in. When did you first hear from the airlines what was happening with your kids?

GRAY: We never heard from the airlines whatsoever. So I think the statement said that the children were in contact with us. And that is correct. My son called me around 12:30 at night to tell me that they had been diverted to Atlanta and waiting do see what was going to happen. And then two and a half hours later, I heard from my son from another unaccompanied minor's phone stating the flight had been cancelled and they're trying to figure out what to do with the six unaccompanied minors.

BALDWIN: I'm hearing you say the kids' mother and to you, you heard zilch form the airline and you only heard from your kids because they happened to borrow a cell phone from one of the other kids on the plane. So you were not in contact with the airline?

GRAY: That is 100 percent correct, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Alan, to you, as the lawyer. This is what Frontier says, "Our records show that the children were in contact with their mother before being transported to the hotel and with their father the following morning before leaving on a new flight." And it goes on here. So Frontier says the kids were in contact with mom and/or dad before getting to that hotel. I'm confused. Were they or were they not?

ALAN ARMSTRONG, ATTORNEY FOR CHAD GRAY: I think the mother tried to contact the airline. I think that's the issue. I think the mother tried to contract Frontier at the Orlando facility and there was no information. So the issue is a lack of communication between the airline and the parents.

[14:40:06] BALDWIN: OK.

And, Chad, Frontier is also saying that you went to the media to complain about this happening to your kids before you went straight to the airline. Why did you do that?

GRAY: Well, for one, we actually tried to go through the appropriate channels first, when trying to deal with Frontier. Jennifer Carter's mother contacted them after the ordeal and they gave them a 1-800 number that only gives recorded messages. I did reach out to them on Twitter, and they gave me a recorded response. With the previous dealings we had had with them at the airport, it was clear they weren't taking the necessary actions they should to try to reach out to us. That's why we actually went to Alan. And then, from there, you know, we went to the network.

BALDWIN: I got it.

Alan, what is protocol for unaccompanied minors like this, when they're diverted to another city? Is protocol putting them in an employee's car and taking them to a hotel?

ARMSTRONG: No, it is not. There are no regulations promulgated by the FAA related to this situation. This is an ad-hoc situation being foisted upon themselves because there's no procedure in place to be followed.

BALDWIN: So when it happens and a flight is diverted, what do airline normally do with kids?

ARMSTRONG: They make it up as they go along, Brooke, which is exactly what they had here. With the exception of Delta Airlines. Delta Airlines actually has a policy and procedure for this situation but the other airlines don't.


Chad, last question. How do you want this to end? What do you want from the airline?

GRAY: I don't know that I want necessarily anything from Frontier in regards to an excellent or a statement. But I would like to see changes in policies and procedures being put into place. Like Alan mentioned, I think Delta is the only airline that has a strict procedure in place. Other airlines have come forward and said they have some type of procedure. Frontier does not. I don't think it's industry wide through aviation, but I would like rules and policies and procedures put in place so this incident doesn't happen again. So next time, if it does happen again, it may not end as well for the kids.

BALDWIN: I'm glad your kids are OK.

Chad, thanks so much for your time.

GRAY: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Alan Armstrong, nice to see you again.

Thank you, guys.

ARMSTRONG: Brooke, thank you.

BALDWIN: Best of luck.

ARMSTRONG: Thank you

GRAY: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, a rookie police officer was involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man, reportedly saying that he F'd up and didn't know what he was doing. We'll tell that story, next.


[14:47:35] BALDWIN: Four years ago today, Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. It set up weeks, really months-worth of protests. Now in Pennsylvania, a rookie police officer, a man by the name of Jonathan Roselle, who also shot and killed an unarmed man, reported admitted to another officer that he made a mistake. Prosecutors say Roselle told the other officer that he, quote, "F'd up," when he shot and killed Joseph Santos last month. That shooting happened after a driver told Officer Roselle that a man tried to get into her car.

CNN national correspondent, Brynn Gingras, is with me now with more.

F'd up?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT; Yes. And you mentioned Ferguson. This is the second officer in Pennsylvania that's been charged after a police-involved shooting of an unarmed man. I mean, to give you so perspective, Ferguson, you mentioned that.


GINGRAS: But let's go now to July 28. This happened in sort of a few hours outside of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. Like you said, this officer was a rookie. His name is Jonathan Roselle, 33 years old, was on the force for six months. He was in his patrol car and was approached by a woman who said a man was trying to get into her car. Goes further down the road and encounters this man, the victim, Joseph Santos, who then knocked on his door. According to the report, he appeared bloody. Was on the hood of his car. Was doing all these erratic movements. According to the prosecutors' report, Roselle calls in and says he might be dealing with someone with mental illness. The victim walks away from the patrol car but then heads back. At this point, Roselle is allegedly outside the car and says, "Get down on the ground." Apparently, it was heard on video where the victim says, "Don't do it," before Roselle fires five shots, fatally killing this man right there on the street.

So it's an unbelievable story. And what's sad about it and, I think, most tragic is that the D.A., after filing these charges, says this was not racially motivated, this is inexperience. And how many times have we heard about that?

But I want you to hear more about what the D.A. said.



JIM MARTIN, LEHIGH COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: There's no evidence that Mr. Santos was armed with any weapon and no evidence that he had committed or attempted a forcible felony.

I have approved the charge of manslaughter rather than murder in the third-degree because murder requires malice.

REV. GREG EDWARDS, RESURRECTED LIFE COMMUNITY CHURCH: We are thankful for today's decision, and we will continue to show up and hold D.A. Martin accountable, because we know an indictment in no way means a conviction.


[14:50:10] GINGRAS: Of course, you see there are protests there, counter protests as well.

I want to read a statement from the attorney of Officer Roselle, who is on administrative leave at this point. He says, "Officer Roselle believes now, as he did on July 28, that his actions were justified and appropriate based on the facts and circumstances evident at the time."

But, again, as you mentioned on your intro to me, right afterwards, according to records, he admitted to another officer that he F'd up and he didn't know what to do. It just brings to light how inexperienced these officers are in dealing with these encounters.

BALDWIN: Brynn, thank you. Thank you.

Next --


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've never seen anything like this.

What is your death count as of this moment? Seventeen?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sixteen people certified.

TRUMP: Sixteen people, certified. Sixteen people, versus in the thousands.


BALDWIN: That was 10 months ago. Today, the government of Puerto Rico is quietly admitting something unusual happened in the aftermath of that storm. And the death toll, the subject of great controversy, may be far higher than it first thought. A live report, next.


[14:56:58] BALDWIN: Nearly one year later, officials in Puerto Rico have not yet finalized the death toll from Hurricane Maria. They are now acknowledging that more than 64 people likely died as a result of that catastrophic storm. Here's a new estimate. More than 1,400 people died. This is outlined in a new report to the Congress that asks for billions of dollars in recovery funds. However, the official toll on books remains at 64.

Let's go to Leyla Santiago to walk us through this number. So, 1,400, that is quite different from 64. Why isn't Puerto Rico's governor updating that official number?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So the official response, Brooke -- and actually we just received a response from the governor of Puerto Rico on this -- is that they are waiting for the study they commissioned from George Washington University to be completed before they even touched that number 64.

Now, I want to read to you just one portion of this statement that they put out from the secretary of public safety, Hector Viskara, in which they say, "This is not the official number of deaths attributable to Maria." And they're talking about that figure, 1,400. Where does that come from? It comes from here, this reporter. It went out to Congress last night, in which, as you mentioned, they're asking for money for recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. And what they're acknowledging there, is that in the month after Hurricane Maria, if you look at the statistics, there's in excess of 1,400 deaths. But in that same report, the final report, they also said they are not prepared to tie that directly to Hurricane Maria. And that is why the number remains at 64. So until that G.W. report is done, they're saying, yes, we acknowledge there's an excess of deaths, we're not ready to touch the death toll.

So what's the problem with that? That report commissioned by the government of Puerto Rico, from George Washington University, was due in May to have preliminary findings. That didn't happen. Then in July, they did put something out about, but it was really more about the methodology they planned to use to study the death toll an what they need to move forward. So we haven't gotten what we expected to get from that report. According to the government officials I spoke to this morning, they are expecting to get some information from that study later this month. We'll have to wait and see when that happens.

But let's get to the bottom of why this is so important. You have heard me say this before, Brooke. Not only is this about closure from the families of loved ones that they have lost because of Hurricane Maria, but this is about understanding the numbers so you can possibly prevent it in the future. Any expert out there will tell you, if you don't understand who died, what, when, where and how, there's no way of preventing in the future. That's why those numbers are so important, especially right now as we're in hurricane season. And historically, September is the month in which Puerto Rico tends to see some of these stronger storms come along and do some damage. So the timing of this is important to understand how Puerto Rico can possibly prevent this.

One more thing I want to add in terms of timing. The government of Puerto Rico this morning, as I spoke to them, made it a point to say these numbers have been out there before. But these numbers came out a day after the judge order that the government of Puerto Rico had to release those numbers after CNN and the Center for Investigative Journalism sued them. So while there's sort of this tone that we've been transparent, these numbers are out there, many of those actions have been forced.

BALDWIN: Judge says, so now we know.

Leyla Santiago, thank you.

All right, we roll on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brook Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

[15:00:01] Here's what I've got for you at the top of the hour. The president's attorney, he's getting ready for a midterm showdown with the Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Rudy Giuliani, he's setting the stakes to as the Trump legal team decides if the president will give an interview with Mueller.