Return to Transcripts main page


Councilman Beats Prosecutor in Ferguson; Red Tide on Florida Beaches; GOP Could Benefit from Mueller Investigation; GOP Utilizing Trump for Midterms. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired August 9, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] WESLEY BELL, CANDIDATE FOR ST. LOUIS COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Going to create policies that will be ready and available to the public on day one. We're going to make sure that everyone knows what the score card is, what it looks like so they know exactly what we're going -- what we're doing before anything, God forbid, negative or bad happens. And so, you know, we just want to be more open. We want to be more transparent. And, again, and I think that's where you build trust and that's how you start getting more trust in your justice system.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Looking specifically at what did or did not happen in the case of Michael Brown, again, four years today, I know you've been asked a number of times how you would have handled it differently.

BELL: Yes.

HILL: One of the things that you have brought up, though, is appointing a special prosecutor. Why do you believe that was necessary in this particular case?

BELL: Well, you know, as people know, my dad is a -- and I have to correct you, he's a retired police officer. He reminds me of that every day.

But there's a relationship between the prosecutor's office and law enforcement. I, as a municipal court prosecutor, I work with officers all the time. Some of my best friends are officers. And so there's an inherent conflict of interest because if you tell me one of my friends committed a crime, I think anyone just naturally is going to disbelieve it.

And so we have to have some objectivity. We have to make sure that we're transparent. But also the appearance of impropriety. And so when friends are investigating friends, of course we're going to -- we're going to question it.

And so in cases involving police shootings, yes, there should be a special prosecutor. But also there should be a public policy that's created so that the public knows how we handle those kind of cases before, God forbid, something like that happens.

HILL: Four years on, just give us a sense. Right, we're sitting here in New York. You have such a better understanding and, obviously, on- the-ground knowledge of what the situation is today. What has changed in these last four years, not only in terms of, you know, involvement with the community, but how the community is doing?

BELL: You know, what I can say in Ferguson, and in the region, is that a lot of uncomfortable conversations have been had and people are much more comfortable with being in those uncomfortable spaces, if you will. And I think that's a good thing because many of the issues that we face as a society are for a lack of real discussion and education and that breeds ignorance. And so we have to be able to have -- talk about implicit bias. We have to talk -- be able to talk about cultural sensitivity and these kind of issues because that's the only way that we're going to move our region, our country forward in a meaningful way.

And so that's one thing that I'm proud about in Ferguson, but also in the St. Louis area, is that many people are alto more knowledgeable about these kinds of information -- about these kinds of issues. It doesn't mean we don't have more work to do, because we do, but those conversations are being had.

HILL: So much can begin with a conversation. We appreciate you taking the time to have one with us this morning.

Wesley Bell, thank you.

BELL: Erica, thank you. Thank you, Erica.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So red tide devastating Florida's sea life. Who or what is to blame? Look at these pictures. Our Bill Weir got a firsthand look. He joins us next.


[08:37:11] BERMAN: We have breaking news out of California, where crews are racing to contain wildfires burning across the state. In southern California, the fast moving Holy Fire has triggered mandatory evacuation orders for 20,000 people. Twenty thousand. The flames are burning dangerously close to homes. At this hour, the fire only 5 percent contained.

Meantime, Forrest Gordon Clark, who is accused of setting the destructive wildfire, is scheduled to appear in court today. He faces an array of charges, including suspicion of felony arson.

HILL: Scientists are searching for the smoking gun in a deadly red tide outbreak along Florida's Gulf Coast. It is the worst toxic algae bloom in recent memory, wiping out dolphins, sea turtles, other marine life by the thousands.

So could we be to blame? CNN's Bill Weir is live in Ft. Myers, Florida, with more.

I'm guessing that there's at least some culpability, Bill.

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, absolutely, and scientists are trying to figure out just that. And this is an economic problem in addition to an emotional one. Beaches like this are normally filled with European tourists. August is their holiday season. But just last week, this beach was covered with piles of dead fish, giant grouper, horseshoe crabs, eels stinking under the hot sun. They're cleaning up as fast as they can, but the big question is, is this the new normal thanks to the development and farming practices in the sunshine state?


WEIR (voice over): Normally a voyage like this is filled with relaxed anticipation, but these days a trip off of Florida's Gulf Coast brings only boatfuls of dread. Toxic algae is blooming like mad here and you can see and smell the result everywhere -- on shore and off. A dolphin sighting that would normally inspire wonder --

WEIR (on camera): There's two right there.

WEIR (voice over): Now only makes you worry.

WEIR (on camera): Well, there he is. He's right here. Look at this. Wow, you can really feel it in your -- in your nostrils, in your sinuses, in the back of your throat. It's like a mild pepper spray when this algae gets up in the air. And so if we can feel that discomfort, you've got to wonder what it's liking to be a dolphin in a red tide like this.

Oh, there he is.

Their blow hole is just inches beneath the surface.

WEIR (voice over): Ninety miles up the coast, they just found two dolphins that could not survive this epic red tide. But more shocking are the beaches with drift piles of rotting dead fish stretching to the horizon. A visit to the marine biologist at Florida Gulf Coast University is like a visit to the morgue, and these are just two of more than 400 sea hurtles found in this area alone.

BOB WASNO, FLORIDA GULF COAST UNIVERSITY: This one is able to bread (ph). This one here was just a little juvenile.

[08:40:01] WEIR (on camera): Makes your heart hurt, doesn't it?

WASNO: It -- you go through stages. It hurts, and then you're angry.

WEIR: This is the villain right here?


WEIR: This is the red tide?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And this one down here on the bottom.

WEIR: Yes.

WEIR (voice over): The algae that causes red tide occurs naturally in salt water, but human activity on land can make the situation much, much worse. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, they love nitrogen and phosphorous.

WEIR (on camera): Which are fertilizers? Yes.


WEIR: That's burning sugar or is that --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're processing sugar.

WEIR: They're processing sugar.

WEIR (voice over): Generations of sugar cane farming has altered the chemistry of Lake Okeechobee and the health of the Everglades. In wet season, Florida dumps a massive amount of water into the most delicate ecosystems, while in dry season that water is diverted to farms and cities, great for the economy, horrible for the environment.

DR. WILLIAM MITSCH, FRESHWATER EXPERT, FLORIDA GULF COAST UNIVERSITY: You have a natural phenomenon called red tide, as Mike said, but you have the nitrogen then coming in and giving it a booster shot.

WEIR: And now these scientists from Florida Gulf Coast University are testing water up to 20 miles offshore looking for the definitive proof that America's sugar habit is also making red tides worse.

WEIR (on camera): You're looking for the smoking gun?

MITSCH: I'm looking for the smoking gun.

DR. MIKE PARSONS, RED TIDE EXPERT, FLORIDA GULF COAST UNIVERSITY: I think -- I think we also have to realize that, you know, collectively, we got to this point. It took 70 years, 80 years to get to where we are now and it's going to take a while to work our way out of it.

WEIR (voice over): Back on a beach that should be full of tourists, I find only cleanup crews, many of them unpaid volunteers.

WEIR (on camera): You live in Tennessee.


WEIR: Did you come out here just to do this?

CANADA: Absolutely, I did.

WEIR: Are you kidding? Really?

CANADA: I did. I did, yes.

WEIR: Have you seen red tides that have been this bad before?


WEIR: And who's to blame, do you think? FORD: I think we all are to blame, to be honest. You know, I think we

all play a role in this one way or the other. I think it goes all the way up the chain and all the way down.

WEIR: Yes.

FORD: And I just think we just need to come together, figure it out and, you know, let the scientists do what they can do and, you know what, just try to get to the bottom of it.


HILL: You know, Bill, you're right, you see those pictures, it does hurt your heart. The question, obviously, the sugar industry, have they had any reaction to this developing situation that we're seeing there?

WEIR: Oh, yes. Oh, yes, Erica, they've devoted an entire website to pushing back to their critics saying we share in the frustration over the Lake Okeechobee discharges, the company said, we want to collaborate in finding solutions, but that these radicals are blaming a single company, U.S. Sugar, for systemic regional problems wrought by over 100 years of change is utterly ridiculous. They won't make many friends in the environmental community by branding them as radicals, people who do care about this marine life, but this is a company has enormous political clout down here. The Republican-led legislature, pro-growth legislature, very supportive of all their efforts there in the Everglades.

But to be fair, there's also a ton of fertilizer pouring out of the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico. And so this is a collective problem. We all contribute to this as that guy on the beach said there at the end, between the red tide here, the California wildfires, 90 degree temperatures above the arctic circle feels like the planet is trying to tell us something.

HILL: Yes, and using a pretty loud voice one might say.

Bill, great reporting, as always. Thank you.

BERMAN: Yes, Bill spanning the globe, South Dakota earlier this week, now down in Ft. Myers, Florida. We really appreciate it.

The family of a man killed in an officer-involved shooting in Nashville is now speaking out. The attorney for the family of Daniel Hambrick and his mother, they says newly released video shows deadly force was not necessary.


JOY KIMBROUGH, ATTORNEY FOR HAMBRICK FAMILY: They shot him in the back. The police officer fired four times, three of those bullets ripped Daniel apart. He fell to the ground.

VICKIE HAMBRICK, MOTHER OF DANIEL HAMBRICK: I'm very hurt about my son, and I just want justice. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: The video shows Hambrick running away from an officer, then going down after being shot from behind. Police say Hambrick emerged from a traffic stop with a gun. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says police were investigating stolen vehicles in the area at the time. They say Hambrick fled from police before during an earlier stop. Hambrick's family and the NAACP have asked the FBI to begin civil rights -- a civil rights investigation into the case and conduct a review of the Nashville Police Department.

HILL: Rudy Giuliani says dragging out Mueller negotiations will actually help the GOP in the midterm. This reporting coming to us from Dana Bash. She joins us with "The Bottom Line," next.


[08:48:53] BERMAN: So if negotiations over a President Trump's Special Counsel Mueller interview drag on, Rudy Giuliani says the Republican Party could benefit politically.

Let's get "The Bottom Line." CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash here with us in studio.

And since you're here, I have to ask, because you are a news machine, where are we this morning? You helped break some of this story yesterday and over the last few days. Where do these negotiations stand?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: They're -- now they're in waiting mode. And when I say "they," of course, I mean the Trump legal team. The last time the president's legal team sent over a counteroffer to Robert Mueller, they didn't hear back for weeks. So what we're hearing from Rudy Giuliani and others in the legal team about saying, like, let's do this about the September 1st date, is in large part an attempt to make sure that that doesn't happen now.

HILL: Right.

BASH: Although the reality is, that's the sort of public line privately, as you were alluding to, that Giuliani and certainly other members on the political side of the Trump team don't think it would be the end of the world if it dragged on.

HILL: No. Well, even -- and even actually not so privately because that's -- I mean that's in your reporting. This is what Rudy Giuliani is telling you, that this could be -- and I believe the quote was, it could be a great let's save the president moment if this does continue on. This only helps the president in terms of the base.

[08:50:12] BASH: Yes. And so -- so I was -- we were trying to figure out what was going on inside the Trump legal team. And the answer is, there's a split. I did this reporting with Gloria Borger and she actually was told that there certainly are members of the legal team who want this done. And there are others who have more of a political bent, a la Rudy Giuliani, and even Jay Sekulow, who see the bigger picture for the midterms.

And, you're right, Giuliani -- so I asked Giuliani about it and his response was quite candid, saying that -- he said when I first got involved, I would have told you not testifying would be the right legal strategy -- oh, you have it up there -- but not -- but then hurt politically. Now I'm thinking the continuance of the investigation would actually help because people are getting tired of it and the president needs something to energize his voters because the Democrats look like they're energized. Nothing would energize Republicans more than let's save the president.

You know, that certainly is something that is energizing for Republicans at a time when they are not even as close to as energized as Democrats. But, you know, it could have the -- the other side of that coin is that it could also energize Democrats even more.

BERMAN: How do you like the magic in television when we have up on the screen the very words you're saying out loud at the same time.

BASH: The crack NEW DAY team.

BERMAN: There is a one-sided nature to this supposed negotiation that's going on right now --

BASH: So true.

BERMAN: Which is Rudy Giuliani and the president's legal team say a lot in public very loudly. Robert Mueller's team says exactly nothing. And then yesterday there was this moment in -- I just think it's representative of the whole thing -- that one of the president's lawyers is interviewing another one of the president's lawyers on his radio show.

BASH: I know.

BERMAN: Jay Sekulow interviewing Rudy Giuliani about this negotiation. That just shows what this is all about.

BASH: It's so true, John.

BERMAN: This is -- this is one-sided theater here for a cause, to make a political point.

BASH: It is because they feel like they don't have any choice because they are in the political arena and Robert Mueller and his team are not. I mean they are working on an investigation and, of course, they're aware of politics because you have to be living under a rock not to, but that's the way that they're -- that's not the way that they're conducting their investigation.

But the idea of it being one-sided isn't just about the public arena. It's also what's going on behind closed doors. And that's another thing that the president's legal team concedes readily, that the Mueller team, they're the ones who have all the cards. They're running the shots here. And they control the question of whether there's going to be an interview. I mean let's just bottom line it. HILL: Right.

BASH: Whether or not this is going to be dragged out with a subpoena fight. The Trump team has no idea if there's going to be a subpoena. They're hoping not. They're betting not. But it's an actual gamble. Or whether Mueller is just going to write a report and say, you know what, I'm done, I'm not going to do this. They have no idea. They're operating in the dark and so they're doing the best they can.

HILL: They certainly are. It is -- it is fascinating. And trying -- and trying to figure out, obviously, what the Mueller team is doing is a bit of a lost cause. But that won't stop us from trying to so.

BERMAN: Right.

HILL: Great reporting, as always.

I'm curious too, as we move forward, we know that the president was very happy, right, Wednesday morning. Very happy with the way things turned out. He was touting it. There was a little pushback perhaps in the way the president was couching things. But this is a president who really wants to get out there. Who believes that he is really helpful and this is his happy place, right, to be out there stumping for candidates. Not everybody in his orbit, though, feels that way. How is that push/pull working out?

BASH: You know, it's actually -- this is about the most traditional push/pull that we've seen, right? I mean how many times in -- since we've been covering politics have we seen presidents want to get out or presidents not wanting to get out and candidates, depending on where the president is in popularity, like, oh, no, thank you, or please, please come.

HILL: Right.

BASH: In this case, though, you're right, unlike probably anybody we've seen since Bill Clinton, this president, it's his oxygen to get out and talk -- and talk and do these rallies and perform. I mean that's really what it is, and to feed off -- off the voters who are there and his supporters. So he has told -- my reporting is he has told his political aides he wants -- I mean he would be happy if he did multiple rallies a day. The question, to your point, is, where is he going go? I mean he can go to North Dakota. He can go where he won by double digits and there's a very intense Senate race. Same goes for West Virginia. Same goes for Indiana. But when you look at some of the House races where the control of the House is really going to be decided in some of these suburbs, what we learned from Ohio this week is that the suburbs are not a happy place when it comes to Donald Trump.

[08:55:09] BERMAN: Yes, it may be that Donald Trump helped be decisive for Balderson at the end. But the only reason it was close at all was because of President Trump.

BASH: You're exactly right.

BERMAN: And that's the conundrum for political advisers right now.

BASH: That's so right.

BERMAN: Dana Bash, great to have you here.

BASH: Good to see you guys.

BERMAN: Come every day.

HILL: You too.

BERMAN: Come back every day.

BASH: All right.

BERMAN: The Mueller probe looming large and --

HILL: That was easy.

BERMAN: Yes, that was the easiest negotiation every.

HILL: I like it.

BERMAN: Rudy Giuliani is saying, hey, can it be that easy for me?

HILL: He's taking -- he's taking notes.

BERMAN: All right, late night laughs, do it.


SETH MEYERS, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": That's right, Trump's lawyers have rejected Robert Mueller's terms for an interview. Apparently Mueller refused Trump's request for a phone a friend if he gets stuck.

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON": I heard that Donald Trump Junior called into a radio show the other day, but when they asked about his Trump Tower meeting with the Russians, his phone suddenly had technical difficulties, or as Vladimir Putin put it, you're welcome.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": CBS News has exclusive footage of Collins on the phone at the picnic. There he is in the circle, on the phone right there, presumably calling his son.

Now, while CBS News has acquired the video, "The Late Show" has acquired the audio.

Jim, enhance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello? Sell! Sell! Sell, sell, sell, sell! Sell! This is Chris Collins! Sell! Sell! No, we'll never get caught. Sell!

COLBERT: According -- according -- it's hard to hear, but I think he's saying sell.


BERMAN: There we go. There you have it.

HILL: We'll just leave that there for you, and you're welcome.

CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow picks up after this break.