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Aired August 12, 2018 - 18:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[18:00:17] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Top of the hour. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being with us today.

It was the clash of angry, passionate rallies that wasn't. Today in the streets around the U.S. capitol and the White House, white supremacist groups, their plan was to gather in Washington by the hundreds on the anniversary of that violent and deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. But their big rally was a flop.

Just a few people representing white supremacist groups showed up, most of them covering their faces. And they were largely outnumbered, even by the police officers who protected them. By contrast, crowds of counter protesters showed up to make sure the hate groups did not march without answer. Their voices and signs promoting peace, diversity, tolerance, and support for the people of Charlottesville.

CNN's Brian Todd and Sara Sidner are both on the ground in Washington.

Brian, are the people you were following feeling victorious, given the white supremacist rally ended early, it was poorly attended?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they really kind of are, Ana. The passion and the energy was really on this side of this whole dynamic today. We're standing in a place where just not long ago there were thousands of anti-fascist, antiracist protesters here just crowding this area of Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street northwest in Washington. They've just been asked by the police to clear the street and get back on the sidewalk over here. So some of them are just kind of walking away from this.

The fact that it's a driving rainstorm and it has been for about an hour and a half now is also kind of serving to disperse some of the protesters. But, you know, one of the big stories is, as you mentioned, the numbers were really on the side of the people on this side of the protest, the antiracist protesters numbered several thousands, the white supremacist protesters were maybe numbering around 20. That's kind of -- you know, just an uneven count there. But they were really just not much in attendance in this equation today.

They were kept over here just behind me, about 200 yards. And these antiracist protesters that were here were not allowed to get beyond this barrier. So that was the big story of today, is just the distance they kept, the two sides, from each other. They were not about to let these two sides get into a confrontation like they did in Charlottesville last year. They kept them several hundred yards away from each other at a given moment and really nothing flared up as a result of that. The D.C. Police taking every precaution here.

Until just a few minutes ago, they had two huge dump trucks and snowplows blocking this street here. This is again Pennsylvania Avenue. Again, trying to avoid a repeat of any kind of vehicular incident because of that horrible, horrible moment in Charlottesville last year. So that's again illustrative of what police were doing here. They didn't spare any measure to number one ensure that these streets were blocked off, keep vehicular traffic away from here, and number two, keep these protesters away from each other.

That really is the big story today. Of course along with the fact that the message of the white supremacists got completely drowned out by the antiracist protesters here -- Ana.

CABRERA: Let's check in with Sara Sidner because these white supremacists, you stay close by them. How did things go down where you are?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, got it right. White supremacists were outnumbered at their own rally. There were maybe two dozen white supremacists who came. Some of them said look, we're not white supremacists, we're not white nationalists, we are here because they felt that their civil rights were violated, they had a hard time articulating exactly what that was. But they were talking about Charlottesville.

Jason Kessler himself, we had a conversation with him, he is the person that asked for the permit. And he said it'd be one to 400 people that would show up far, far left. You are still seeing some of the counter protesters who are here but very few, that number is dwindling, too. The rain actually having an effect on that. And the rain having an effect on the Unite the Right marchers who came. They actually left. They did their rally very early and they left very early. They were taken out in vans. They came by foot by taken out in vans.

Police doing their job, keeping these two groups apart. There was a huge police presence here. And they will be criticized, some people saying why were so many police here, they were here because of what happened in Charlottesville. They wanted to make absolutely sure that that did not happen again, the violence that unfolded there and the killing of Heather Heyer.

CABRERA: Sara Sidner, Brian Todd, in Washington for us, thank you.

So you at home may be feeling a sense of relief seeing today's low turnout in Washington, but the reality is we have a long way to go. The number of hate groups in the U.S. is still on the rise according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Neo-Nazi groups have seen the largest increase, up 22 percent since Trump took office in 2017. [18:05:02] Joining us now to discuss the bigger picture, political

commentator Marc Lamont Hill, BET News host, also with us, Jonathan Greenblatt, the director and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, and Dean Obeidallah, filmmaker and contributor.

And I want to read you, guys, a portion of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's statement about today's events and this weekend, what it means. He writes, "Those torches carried by white supremacists in Charlottesville a year ago shown a light on an ugly truth but they also reawakened our commitment to fight back against that ugliness of racism and bigotry."

Marc, this ugliness that he speaks of being so out in the open right now in the U.S., it's not hiding at all. Does that make it easier to fight or push back on this type of racism and bigotry?

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, what it does is it dislodges us from this position of fantasy. Many people in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected, said we are in a post-racial moment, that racial animus and racial hate has dissipated, that America has turned a corner. And while certainly America turned some sort of a corner to put a black man into the office, what we've seen in the era of Trump and even in the era of Obama when the rise of hate groups also was witnessed, is that we haven't fully turned the corner, that there is still anti-Semitism, there's still anti-black racism, there's still homophobia.

And these things linger and so at the very least when we see this out in the open like this, we can say, hey, it's not going, we have to do something about it. Because for a long time people just pretended it didn't exist and those of us who raised the issue of racism were seen as people who were, you know, relics of the past and we were just trying to pretend something was there that wasn't.

CABRERA: There's a Gallup poll that I find interesting. More than half of Americans were satisfied with race relations six years ago in 2012, compared to in 2018. 29 percent are satisfied with race relations, 64 percent not satisfied.

Dean, how do you interpret that?

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, CNN.COM OPINION CONTRIBUTOR: I think things have changed and I think people are aware of it. They're awoke, they know what's going on. And I'll just share personally, I used to tell people, I would write articles about being Muslim pushing back against bigotry, and I'd get some angry hate mail. I never got death threats.

Now in the time of Trump that changed. Last year, last May, I wrote an article denouncing white supremacist terrorism. That was not -- but before Charlottesville there was an attack here in New York and there was another in Portland. And I said, Donald Trump, you use the term radical Islamic terrorism, use the term white supremacist terrorism. The response by Andrew Anglin on "The Daily Stormer," one of the biggest Nazi Web sites, was to fabricate tweets saying that I was involved in the Manchester bombing, and then write an article based on these tweets, telling their people to come after me. So I got inundated with death threats.

This is the country we live in today. And sadly, we have a person in the White House who used the terms like there's fine people on both sides, a man who re-tweeted white genocide, a Twitter handle white genocide during the campaign, and even beyond rhetoric. Even policy, using terms like chain migration, which I wrote about for CNN in the past, comes from white supremacist literature.

Their idea of chain migration is inherently bad. The same thing with Donald Trump. I wrote about last week. "Low IQ." His term, him using it over and over. It's not a common term. That again comes right from the 1990s through today, through race science of white supremacists with the idea that they're inherently smarter than black people.

Donald Trump is parroting them to the point where David Duke has said you're a traitor to your heritage if you don't support him and he's not the only white supremacist openly supporting Donald Trump.

CABRERA: You put a lot of the responsibility right now, and blame, it sounds like, on the president of the United States. But is that going to wake people up if they are on his side?

OBEIDALLAH: I'm not sure how you wake them up. Polls show that Americans right now, about 50 percent say Donald Trump is racist. A little below that says he's not. But when you break it down by race, it's close to 80 percent of African-Americans say Donald Trump is racist, about 60 percent of Hispanic Americans. When you get to white Americans, a majority say he's not. And those are his base.

I have people call my Sirius XM show, conservatives say, Donald Trump is not a racist. Tell me where he's a racist, and I go through the litany of things. They'll go none of that is racist. They'll go through a different -- a million mental machinations.

We don't even agree on a definition of racism in today's America or bigotry. And so I don't know how you reach people if they don't even agree on what is racist. I mean, that's part of the problem.

CABRERA: Well, let's talk about the fact and what we do know.

Jonathan, the -- you guys, the Anti-Defamation League, put out an extremist tracker. And we're showing it right now. As we take a look at this, what do you think this reveals?

JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO AND NATIONAL DIRECTOR, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Sure. So the heat map that we just published this week tracks hate, extremism, anti-Semitism, and terror. And what it shows us is that it is not a new phenomenon. Over the last two decades we have seen thousands and thousands of acts of harassment, vandalism and violence against people based on their race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation.

It is really a problem. I think what Dean is pointing out, that is a real issue, is the rise of extremist rhetoric and the rise of real world actions over the last two years. CABRERA: So you do feel like there is a heightened level of all of

this. How do you -- what do you attribute it to?

[18:10:04] GREENBLATT: Well, I mean, we know in part -- well, there are different phenomena that are driving the rise of white supremacy. So number one, the divisive state of our national rhetoric is helping to drive this kind of extremism. And you see it everywhere, from the mainstream we have the kind of terms that Dean just pointed out, to the fact that this year alone, in this election cycle, we have nine white supremacists running for political office. I mean, that's really unprecedented.

CABRERA: We have seen a social media crackdown, though, making it more difficult for hate groups to organize.


CABRERA: To recruit, to spread their hateful messages.


CABRERA: And we've also seen some companies like PayPal kind of shut down --


CABRERA: Some of these white supremacist groups, making it difficult for them to fund raise. Does that make a difference?

GREENBLATT: It does. The weaponization of social media has been one of their tactics because they can't typically get on channels like this or networks like this. So they've used Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit and 4chan and 8chan to organize, and to effect, you know, harassment and violence against people. So indeed those companies have responsibility. We're glad, at the ADL, that they're starting to take action.

CABRERA: Marc, a lot have been said about FOX News host Laura Ingraham's comments this week. Let's listen.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: In some parts of the country it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn't exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people, and they're changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don't like. Much of this is related to both illegal and in some cases legal immigration that of course progressives love.


CABRERA: She obviously felt those comments would be well-received by her viewers, Marc, what does that tell you?

HILL: Well, it tells you who her viewers are. But it also speaks to the idea that there is a sense in America, there's a slice of American life that does harken back or desire for a moment where whiteness was the order of the day. (INAUDIBLE) of course it still is, but I'm speaking from a demographic perspective. The idea that the America we knew and loved is directly tied to the number of white people who are here and that the America that we know and love is somehow being chipped away at every time a Mexican comes across the border, every time someone comes from South Asia or the Middle East, suggests that their vision of America is one that is only compatible with whiteness.

And so the fact that there's a chunk of people who feel like to make America great again we have to kick out the Mexicans, we have to -- not allow refugees, and if we not allow immigrants from the Middle East and Africa, that kind of a vision speaks to a very clear conception of white supremacy. And that kind of understanding of how America should work is directly tied to Donald Trump's campaign and definitely tied to his administration.

That's why we keep bringing Donald Trump back into this, not because he calls all of it, but because his world view resonates with theirs and it only stokes the fire.

CABRERA: Dean, real quickly, because I want to get to a happier note to end up this segment, when it comes to making progress, when it comes to trying to break through with people who would agree with what we just heard Laura Ingraham say, what can be done? Because some of these people have a genuine fear of other.

OBEIDALLAH: They do. And that's the hardest thing because it's palpable, it's real, as opposed to them saying Muslims want to impose Shariah law, which we're not going to do, that's a phantom menace.

Demographic change is real. It's happening in this country. I think it's hard to reach them. They have fear. You appeal to their empathy. I think that the real thing, though, to focus frankly, Ana, is on building alliances of other communities that stand together. The Jewish community, the ADL, the Muslim community, the African- American community, Christian groups, standing together united, and saying that we're against bigotry, we're against hate, and maybe then we can reach out and reach them.

Because Marc is right, what Laura played plays well. Tucker Carlson played a segment a few months ago not -- actually worse than that. And Jesse Waters just last week was saying, we don't want somebody's uncle from Zimbabwe here in this country. FOX News has become white nationalist television, some of these shows, not all of them of course, and it scares me because it's finding great traction and Donald Trump is not speaking out against it. I think he's part and parcel of normalizing and mainstreaming white nationalism in this country.

CABRERA: Gentlemen, thank you all for the conversation. Marc Lamont Hill, Jonathan Greenblatt, Dean Obeidallah, great to have you with us.

Meanwhile, we are also following a major reversal from the president's legal team. Today the president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, claiming the president never asked former FBI director James Comey to drop an investigation into Michael Flynn. Here is Giuliani. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: The president says he never told Comey that he should go easy on Flynn. Comey says the president did. He put it in his memo. If he goes in and testifies to that under oath, instead of this just being a dispute, they can say it's perjury if they elect to believe Comey instead of Trump.


CABRERA: This isn't what Giuliani said just last month.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: How is he a good witness for the president if he's saying that the president was asking him, directing him, in his words, to let the Michael Flynn investigation go?

[18:15:05] GIULIANI: He didn't direct him to do that. What he said to him was, can you give --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Comey says he took it as direction.

GIULIANI: Well, that's OK. I mean, taken it that way. I mean, by that time he had been fired and he said a lot of other things, some of which have turned out to be untrue.

The reality is, as a prosecutor, I was told that many times. Can you give the man a break? Either by his lawyers, by his relatives, by friends. You take that into consideration. But, you know, that doesn't determine not going forward with it.


CABRERA: To be clear, last month Giuliani said the president asked Comey to give Flynn a break. Today Giuliani claims Trump and Comey never even talked about Flynn, a significant reversal.

CNN white correspondent Boris Sanchez is in New Jersey where the president is spending the weekend.

Boris, this request could be a crucial part of Mueller's investigation into obstruction. How is the White House explaining this reversal?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Ana. Well, Rudy Giuliani essentially made the case that it was just a misunderstanding, that he was using a device in legal argumentation and that led to confusion. He says he was arguing in the alternative, though during that ABC interview from July he doesn't make that clear. He simply states that what the president asked of James Comey was to give Michael Flynn a break. He then goes on to argue that as a prosecutor he heard that many times from people and that he took it into consideration when making decisions.

He suggests that James Comey should not have taken it as a directive, essentially making the case that the president did not obstruct justice. Again, he did not make that clear when Jake Tapper on "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning replayed that sound for Rudy Giuliani, he said this. Listen.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: So you didn't direct him to, what he said was, can you give him a break? You said that, I mean --

GIULIANI: Yes, I said it. But I also said before that I'm talking about their version of it. Look, lawyers argue in the alternative. I know it's complicated. But my goodness, we've been over it long enough that -- I mean, why would I say something that isn't true? I mean, the president didn't say to him, go easy on Flynn or anything about Flynn. He's saying that. I am talking about their alternative. I'm saying the conversation never took place. But if it did take place, and here's the conversation that's alleged, it is not illegal to have said that.


SANCHEZ: Now, Ana, to be clear, it's not the first time that we've seen the president or his attorneys try to clarify and then re-clarify certain aspects of the Russia investigation or hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and other women. We've seen this happen before. This is part of the reason that Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani have suggested the president should not testify before Robert Mueller. They believe the special counsel is setting a perjury trap. And the reason not to testify, as Jay Sekulow put it, is because we're watching the facts develop -- Ana.

CABRERA: The facts develop. I thought facts were facts were facts.

Boris Sanchez in New Jersey, thank you.

Stunning claims from former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman. We'll play what she says is a secret recording of the moment she was fired by White House chief of staff John Kelly.

Plus a Republican congressman from New York ends his reelection campaign after being indicted for alleged insider trading. So is this seat once considered safe for the GOP now up for grabs? We'll discuss.


[18:22:36] CABRERA: Omarosa, the former reality star turned top White House aide, is now turning on her former boss. Not only has she written a tell-all book about her time in the White House, but she is sharing secret recordings she made while there, including one of a conversation she says she had with chief of staff John Kelly inside the situation room. This is the moment Omarosa was fired.


OMAROSA MANIGAULT NEWMAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: Can I ask you a couple of questions? Does the president -- is the president aware of what's going on?

JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Don't -- let's not go down the road. This is a nonnegotiable discussion.

NEWMAN: I don't want to negotiate. I just -- I've never talked -- had a chance to talk to you, General Kelly. So if this is my departure, I'd at least like to have at least an opportunity to understand.

KELLY: No. We can talk another time. This has to do with some pretty serious integrity violations. So I'll let it go at that. So the staff and everyone on the staff works for me, not the president.


CABRERA: Again, that tape, taken without Kelly's knowledge in what should be the most secure room in the White House, the situation room. Omarosa says she had good reason to do it, though.


NEWMAN: Unhinged. As you'll see in "Unhinged," I protected myself because this is a White House where everybody lies. The president lies to the American people. Sarah Huckabee stands in front of the country and lies every single day. You have to have your own back because otherwise you'll look back and you'll see 17 knives in your back.


CABRERA: We just got a statement from Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, and it reads, "The very idea a staff member would sneak a recording device into the White House situation room shows a blatant disregard for our national security and then to brag about it on national television further proves the lack of character and integrity of this disgruntled former White House employee."

With us to discuss, White House reporter for Bloomberg News, Toluse Olorunnipa, chief political correspondent for "Esquire" Ryan Lizza, and senior political correspondent for "The Hill," Amie Parnes.

Ryan, the fact that Omarosa recorded the chief of staff in the situation room, does this raise not just ethical issues but security issues?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It does. It's very unusual. There are rules against bringing those kinds of devices in what would surely be a secure area. So she seems to have not really cared much about that. And the White House seems not to have had any procedures in place to make sure that recording devices didn't go in there.

[18:25:07] But I don't know, for me, I'm personally much more interested in what this reveals about this White House than, you know -- one, are her stories true and credible. And the fact that she did record some lends some credence to other things, you know, the quotes in the book. And, you know, like the -- you know, like Michael Wolfe book which was problematic because it had some errors so you couldn't rely on anything, but at the end of the day it did reveal quite a bit about the White House.

So to me, that's -- you know, I'm very interested in what it tells about this White House.


LIZZA: And the fact that she knew Donald Trump for so long and now thinks a certain way about him.

CABRERA: I mean, when she was interviewed this morning she seemed to imply that she did these recordings for safekeeping because she almost saw it coming that her credibility would be questioned at some point. And Omarosa is saying that this is just the nature of the White House.

So, Amie, do you think other people could have recordings?

AMIE PARNES, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE HILL: I mean, this comes on the heels of Michael Cohen, keep in mind, Trump's personal attorney, who also was recording him. So I think this is kind of in the backdrop of that. And now two people who have been in Trump's orbit feel the need to record. And that kind of says something about who the president is and the fact that a lot of people around him at the time feel like he isn't lying and the only way that they can prove their case is if they are actually providing a recording. So I think that is problematic.

CABRERA: I wonder if it gives other people ideas going forward.

Toluse, Kellyanne Conway was asked about who is now the most high profile or high level African-American in the White House with Omarosa being out, and she seemed to struggle to answer the question. Let's listen.


JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Who is the most prominent, high level adviser to the president on the West Wing staff right now?


KARL: Yes.

CONWAY: I would say that -- well, first of all you're totally not covering the fact that our secretary of Housing and Urban Development and world renowned --

KARL: I'm asking you about the White House staff. I'm asking about the people the president is with every day.

CONWAY: Well, that's important that he -- well, the president works with Secretary Carson every day, he's trying to break the --

KARL: Who there is on the White House staff right now?

CONWAY: And we have Jaron, who's done a fabulous job.


CABRERA: Toluse, why was it so hard for her to answer that question?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Yes, well, from this White House, there's not really a good answer. There are no senior White House officials in the West Wing that would take the place of Omarosa that reflect the country the way that the White House believed that she did when she was there. It's really stunning to have such a lack of diversity within the highest echelons of the White House. And we've seen some of the negative implications of that with how the president has responded to the Charlottesville situation and how he's responded to the second version of Charlottesville taking place this weekend.

There aren't those people in the White House being able to advise the president, make those connections between the president and the black community. And it's pretty clear that Kellyanne Conway had a hard time explaining who that new person was, because there is no new person, there has been no replacement in a lot of those outreach efforts that Omarosa was in charge of and have been -- have not been taken up. And now we see the White House go on this full court press trying to discredit Omarosa, along with the RNC, in part trying to say that she's just a disgruntled employee and that no one should trust what she's saying.

But she was useful for the White House in presenting this image that this is not a racist presidency, that this is a presidency that cares about issues in the black community. She was very much at the forefront, helping this White House do that. And now that she's gone, they're trying to discredit her. And it really lends some credence to what she said about having to make tapes and make recordings because as soon as she's not playing the role that they wanted her to play, they are really trying to discredit her.


OLORUNNIPA: There have been two statements from Sarah Sanders in the last two days really taking her to task.

CABRERA: And the president calling her a low life as well.

OLORUNNIPA: That's right.

CABRERA: Let me turn to other political developments this week, and Congressman Chris Collins charged with insider trading, of course. He's now suspending his reelection campaign. This was considered a safe GOP seat.

Amie, does Collins now suspending his campaign actually put this seat into play?

PARNES: I think it does. But then you have a couple of people who are conservative running for the seat. And, you know, I think it could go either way. There are some Democrats who could cross over. But I think these two Republicans who are running aim to keep it safe and want to keep it in that -- in the Republican turf.

CABRERA: And real quick, Ryan, Michael Avenatti this weekend, I've got to get this one in, and he spoke in Iowa at an event that had a lot of other political contenders, so to speak, for 2020. He's talked about throwing his hat in the ring. Let's listen to him in Iowa.


MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: The Democratic Party must be a party that fights fire with fire.


AVENATTI: When they go low, I say we hit harder.


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Ryan, very quickly, any chance we see a Trump/Avenatti showdown in 2020?

RYAN LIZZA, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, ESQUIRE: Well, I don't -- after 2016, I don't make those kind of predictions anymore, Ana.


LIZZA: But I think the Democrats have a big, strong field of candidates that have been elected to office, from the mayoral level all the way up to governors statewide, senators, and it's going to be a big, crowded field.

And we're kind of in this silly season right now where not very many of those people are being outspoken, not very many of them are talking about running for president, although they're doing certain things. And Avenatti is sort of filling the vacuum right now.

But, you know, I think he's a very good advocate for his clients. I've gotten to know him because he's on T.V. a lot and I've talked to him several times. Nice guy, but I wouldn't bet on him being the Democratic nominee.

CABRERA: All right. Ryan, Toluse, Amie, thank you for joining us.

In New Mexico, it's just a disturbing situation as we continue to learn more about the 11 starving children who were rescued from a compound littered with ammunition, fuel cans, and dirty diapers. Residents there asking why the police didn't search this property sooner. The Sheriff responds next.

But, first, Wall Street will be laser-focused on retail earnings when the New York trading week starts -- the new trading week, I should say, starts tomorrow.

A number of big companies are set to report their latest numbers amid healthy consumer spending. Traders are also awaiting new data on the housing market.

CNN's Christine Romans has more. Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Wall Street watching retail earnings. Home Depot, Macy's, Walmart, Nordstrom, and J.C. Penny are among stores reporting results this week.

Despite the tough retail environment, Macy's shares have been on fire. You know, they're up nearly 40 percent over the past three months and more than 60 percent this year.

July retail sales data also due this week. Consumer spending surged in the second quarter. Investors want to see that trend continue, but what about the housing market?

In June, home building fell to a nine-month low. Housing starts tumbled more than 12 percent, and building permits fell too. On Thursday, the Commerce Department will release July's numbers.

Now, some economists say a slowdown in housing is a warning sign for U.S. economic growth. Home sales have declined in four of the past five months as prices rise but paychecks remain stagnant.

In New York, I'm Christine Romans.


[18:37:16] CABRERA: Welcome back. Today in New Mexico, the Sheriff who gave the go-ahead to raid that filthy compound where authorities found 11 children starving and living in squalor is defending his decision not to go in sooner.

CNN's Scott McLean pressed him on the timeline during an exclusive interview.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The children who lived on this squalid compound in New Mexico were homeschooled, but authorities say they were taught to become public school shooters.

Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe says the source of that allegation comes from 14 and 15-year-old kids who lived on the compound where the body of a small child was also found, buried under human waste inside of a 40-yard tunnel.


MCLEAN (voice-over): But tears are not enough for Jason and Tanya Badger who think law enforcement has bungled this case.

TANYA BADGER, OWNER OF THE NEW MEXICO PROPERTY: They were dragging their feet. They were taking too long. A child's life is at stake.

MCLEAN (voice-over): The Badgers own the property the compound sits on and say they alerted the Sheriff's Office as early as April after, they say, they spotted the missing child and his fugitive father there.

HOGREFE: It never came to me. I'll tell you right now, I never had credible information that would get me on that compound until Thursday when I wrote the first search warrant, and I will stand by that.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Deputies finally raided the compound on August 3rd and found 11 malnourished children and five adults who have pleaded not guilty to child abuse charges, charges that came only after weeks of FBI surveillance and even an in-person visit.

MCLEAN (on camera): There was a Sheriff's Deputy who went out to that compound sometime in June, correct, to serve court papers?


MCLEAN (on camera): And so at that time, seeing the conditions, should that Deputy not have come back and said, this is no place fit for a child?

HOGREFE: The Deputy didn't see a child.

MCLEAN (on camera): But you had the FBI who was surveilling the property since May. They saw children.


MCLEAN (voice-over): But still no action. The Badgers had given the Sheriff permission to search the property.

HOGREFE: We would not have had a valid right to be there, and therefore, the fruits of an unlawful entry would have come into play. And we would have lost anything that we could have possibly been able to criminally charge.

MCLEAN (on camera): But you might have been able to save a child, if he was still alive.

HOGREFE: Yes, thanks for reminding me of that. It's not like it's hard to live every day wishing that I could have got there quicker. But you got to get there lawfully.

MCLEAN (voice-over): A moment later, the Sheriff abruptly walked out of the interview.

HOGREFE: I think we're done.

MCLEAN (voice-over): But that's hardly the final question as to why his office didn't act sooner.

Scott McLean, CNN, Taos County, New Mexico.


[18:39:59] CABRERA: It's one of the worst red tides in recent years, toxic algae poisoning marine life. And now, carcasses are washing ashore in south Florida. We'll take you there after a quick break. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: Today, on Florida's Gulf Coast, instead of spending the day relaxing in the sun, hundreds of people came together hand in hand to raise awareness about the deadly red tide.

This summer has been one of the worst in recent memory. Toxic algae in the water has plagued paradise. It's killing thousands of animals. And now, their bodies are washing up onshore.

[18:45:07] CNN's Bill Weir went down to the Gulf Coast to find out what's causing it. And I have to warn you, some of what you're about to see is very disturbing.


BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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, onshore and off. A dolphin sighting that would normally inspire wonder -- oh, there's two right there -- now only makes you worry.

There he is. He's right here. Look at this.

Wow, you can really feel it 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 like to be a dolphin in a red tide like this. Oh, there he is. Their blowhole is just inches beneath the surface.

Ninety miles up the coast, they just found two dolphins that could not survive this epic red tide.

And a visit to a marine biologist at Florida Golf Course University is like a sad visit to the morgue. These are just two of the more than 400 sea turtles found in this area alone.

BOB WASNO, FACILITIES MANAGER OF THE VESTER FIELD STATION, FLORIDA GULF COAST UNIVERSITY: This one is able to breathe. The smallest one here is still a juvenile.

WEIR: It makes your heart hurt, doesn't it?

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

WEIR: This is the villain right here.


PARSONS: Yes, and this one down here on the bottom.

WEIR: Yes.

The algae that causes red tides occurs naturally in salt water. But human activity on land can make the situation much, much worse.

PARSONS: Well, they love nitrogen and phosphorous.

WEIR: Which are fertilizers, yes.


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

PARSONS: That's processed sugar. Processing sugar.

WEIR: The processed sugar.

Generations of sugarcane 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 of ecosystems, while in dry season that water is diverted to farms and cities. Great for the economy, horrible for the environment.

DR. WILLIAM MITSCH, DIRECTOR OF THE EVERGLADES WETLAND RESEARCH PARK, 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 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.

You're looking for the smoking gun?

MITSCH: I'm looking for the smoking gun.

PARSONS: 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: Back on the beach, it should be full of tourists. I find only cleanup crews, many of them unpaid volunteers.

You live in Tennessee?

ERIC CANADA, CLEANUP VOLUNTEER: Absolutely. It's a great place.

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

CANADA: Absolutely, I did.

WEIR: You're kidding? Really?

CANADA: I did, I did. Yes.

WEIR: Have you seen red tides this bad before?


WEIR: And who is 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. It goes all the way up the chain and all the way down.

WEIR: Yes.

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

WEIR: U.S. Sugar is pushing back at criticism from groups like Captains for Clean Water and others, saying in a statement, we share in the frustration over the Lake Okeechobee discharges. We want to collaborate in finding solutions, but that these radicals are blaming a single company for systemic regional problems is utterly ridiculous.

Sugar growers have huge political clout in this state, and it is a huge political football. The Governor blaming his competitor, and it goes back and forth. So who knows how much more destruction will happen as human beings fight onshore?

And there's no telling how long this could last. Many theorize that hurricanes are contributing to this, that a warming planet is making things worse. And many in the sunshine state worrying that this could be the new normal.

Bill Weir, CNN, Sanibel Island, Florida.


CABRERA: A special programming note, make sure you explore the wild ride of the 2008 presidential election that included a junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama. A new episode of "THE 2000S," "YES WE CAN," airs tonight on CNN at 9:00 p.m. here on CNN. We'll be right back.


CABRERA: Welcome back. A California jury has ruled that the most popular weed killer in the world, Roundup, gave a groundskeeper terminal cancer.

In this landmark case, the jury awarded Dewayne Johnson $289 million in damages, mostly to punish the agricultural company that makes this herbicide, Monsanto. Johnson's victory could set a massive precedent for thousands of other

cases claiming Monsanto's Roundup causes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

And this case was the first to go to trial because doctors said Johnson was near death. And in California, a dying plaintiff can be granted expedited trials.

Monsanto says it will appeal this verdict.

A terrifying moment in a Swiss town as a mudslide roars through the village. Look at this. Storms and heavy rain caused a river to expand and burst at the banks, triggering a massive mudslide.

[18:55:04] The mud raced through a track onto the streets. Some buildings were clobbered. Luckily no injuries were reported. Cleanup efforts are still ongoing.

One year after the violence in Charlottesville, White supremacists marched in Washington, D.C., just blocks from the White House. Thousands of counter-protesters outnumbered them. How is the President responding to this?

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: Just about 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 4:00 in the afternoon out West. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And on this Sunday, it was the clash of protest rallies that wasn't. Today, in the streets around the U.S. capital and the White House, White supremacist groups, their plan was to gather in Washington by the hundreds on the anniversary of the violent rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia.

[19:00:05] But their big White power rally was a flop. Just a few people representing White supremacist groups showed up.