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Trump Accuses Google Of Ignoring His Speeches; Puerto Rico Officials Revise Hurricane Maria Death Toll To 2,975; Former Texas Police Officer Sentenced To 15 Years For Killing Unarmed Black Teen; Mother Says Bullying Led 9-Year-Old To Commit Suicide. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 30, 2018 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That's after a year -- a year after the hurricane hit. So who will be held accountable for the thousands of deaths that were not originally reported?

Puerto Rico's representative in Congress joins us next.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's time for "CNN Money Now."

President Trump ramping up his criticism of Google, accusing the search engine of political bias.

CNN's Alison Kosik in the Money Center with more -- Alison.


President Trump slamming Google once again, tweeting this video. And what it's suggesting here is that Google promoted former President Obama's State of the Union addresses on its homepage, but not Trump's. Trump added the hashtag #StopTheBias.

Now, Google says the video is inaccurate. It says it has never promoted the first address to Congress by a new president -- not even Obama -- claiming it did promote Trump's State of the Union this year.

Yesterday, Trump accused Google of suppressing conservative voices.

And, Trump's economic adviser Larry Kudlow says the White House is investigating, but Trump says that doesn't mean regulations -- listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know what we want? Not regulation, we want fairness. If we have fairness we're all very happy.


[07:35:04] KOSIK: Now, Congress has already looked into social media bias, holding two hearings this year.

And execs from Google, Facebook, and Twitter -- they've already been asked to testify on Capitol Hill next week on the topic 'how can they protect the integrity of November's midterm elections'?

Facebook's COO and Twitter's CEO, they will attend, but Google didn't even offer anyone from its executive suite. Lawmakers aren't happy about that and they're threatening to put an empty chair in Google's place -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Alison. Thank you very much for that report.

So, the official death toll for Hurricane Maria is 46 times higher than the previous number that officials told us. Puerto Rico's representative from Congress joins us next.


[07:40:09] BERMAN: President Trump standing by his administration's response to Hurricane Maria a day after a new report raised the death toll in Puerto Rico from 64 to nearly 3,000.


TRUMP: Puerto Rico -- I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico. We're still helping Puerto Rico.

The governor is an excellent guy and he is very happy with the job we've done. We have put billions and billions of dollars into Puerto Rico and it was a very tough one. I think most of the people in Puerto Rico really appreciate what we've done.


BERMAN: Joining me now is Puerto Rico's representative in Congress, Republican Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon. Commissioner, thank you very much for being with us.

The very day that the official death toll from Hurricane Maria goes to 3,000, the president says that he thinks most people in Puerto Rico are very grateful for the administration's response.

Is that the right message to send?

JENNIFER GONZALEZ-COLON (R), RESIDENT COMMISSIONER, PUERTO RICO: Definitely, this is the first time ever we got more than $40 million in federal assistance.

But again, what we received this week was the new estimate of death tolls since the hurricane. I think the study from George Washington University -- what that implies is that there were a lot of deficiencies in the local government in order to count those deaths. At the time, it was more -- it was just 64 deaths that were directly related to the hurricane.

And again, it was a lot of people that suffered from not getting to the hospitals at the right time -- without electricity. People with conditions that were -- that passed away during that process and those deaths were not counted --


GONZALEZ-COLON: -- as part of the direct hurricane. And that was the main issue.

So the report of the governor of Puerto Rico commission to George Washington University that was released during this week elevated that death toll estimate to close to 3,000.


GONZALEZ-COLON: That number in that study reveals that the island was not prepared --


GONZALEZ-COLON: -- to manage a category four or five hurricane.

BERMAN: So the question is the number is what the number is. The estimate of deaths caused by Hurricane Maria and the question is is that a good news story as the president seems to indicate yesterday?

"We did a fantastic job" --


BERMAN: -- he said. "Everyone is thanking us," he said. It seems as if that message might be incongruous with the revelation from yesterday.

GONZALEZ-COLON: I think that there's two different stories here.

One thing is that the assistance -- the federal assistance that has been here on the island and is still here on the island -- FEMA was for the first time ever in our history before, during and after the two hurricanes here -- Maria. But again, in 100 years, the island was not receiving a category five or four hurricane, so that's one thing.

The other thing is that that toll -- and again, nobody can be happy about the amount of death. Actually, this is the deadliest hurricane ever in the -- in the nation --


GONZALEZ-COLON: -- even more than Katrina, and having those numbers is not something that you should be proud of -- proud of.

And there are a lot of lessons to be learned. One for local government to have protocols --


GONZALEZ-COLON: -- that can manage category four or five hurricanes.

Second, to have new protocols to the physicians on how to manage the CDC statistics on death tolls that need to be revised.


GONZALEZ-COLON: And again, the communications system.

So there are a lot of recommendations that need to be taken in place in order to face another kind of -- not just hurricane. We're talking about earthquakes --

BERMAN: I agree.

GONZALEZ-COLON: -- or natural disasters.

So this is -- this is something bigger than the --

BERMAN: I agree.

GONZALEZ-COLON: -- response and talking about FEMA or agriculture or all the federal agencies.

But at the same time, I think what the president was referring to is that this is the first time ever you got all cabinet members, you've got members of Congress, you've got the federal government -- even more than $40 billion to $44 billion to the island in a recovery process.

That's not going to be enough. We're going to need more --

BERMAN: I understand.

GONZALEZ-COLON: -- in order to recover.

But again --

BERMAN: I understand.

GONZALEZ-COLON: -- those are two different things.

BERMAN: I do, I do. I understand that. But it's not me.

GONZALEZ-COLON: I don't think they should be related.

BERMAN: It's not just me, though, saying that when you're --

GONZALEZ-COLON: I know, I know, I know.

BERMAN: -- talking about the death toll. It's not just me saying when you're talking of the death toll that that is a significant metric when measuring the response to the hurricane, it's President Trump. President Trump used the death toll as a metric to judge the federal government's response.

Let me play it to remind you.

GONZALEZ-COLON: At the time --


TRUMP: What is your -- what is your death count as of this moment, 17?


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

You can be very proud of all of your people, all of our people working together. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people.

You can be very proud. Everybody around this table and everybody watching can really be very proud of what's taken place in Puerto Rico.


[07:45:03] BERMAN: So he was basing his 10 out of 10 grade for himself on the response on a metric of 16 people killed. Well, we now know the estimate is closer to 3,000. That changes the scenario.


BERMAN: And you would think it would change his --


BERMAN: -- own assessment of everyone's response.

And I understand you talk more about the local response -- people focus on the federal response. Everyone's response could have been stronger as is evidenced by this new estimate.

And there's the issue of empathy. I didn't hear much of it yesterday from -- did you hear empathy from the president yesterday on the -- on the new death toll?

GONZALEZ-COLON: Yes, yes, and I think --

BERMAN: You did?

GONZALEZ-COLON: -- again, there is a lot of lessons to be learned.

You saw the FEMA report. Even the FEMA report says that there's a lot of things that need to be changed and some part of the response was slow at the beginning. So it is in the own FEMA report that there need to be a lot of changes, not just Puerto Rico but for the rest of the nation.

So, yes, I'm proud of the assistance we've been receiving because everything we've been asked to the president, to the White House, to the Congress has been approved -- everything we've been asking for.

But again, we're talking to magnitude four and five of a hurricane.


GONZALEZ-COLON: Nobody expected that to happen on the island. We were not prepared locally. I think the federal government, at the time, was not prepared even to that.

So there must be changes in the whole level, not just for Puerto Rico but for FEMA on how to handle that because remember, it was Harvey, then it was Irma --

BERMAN: Right.

GONZALEZ-COLON: -- and it was Maria. Maria being the worst hurricane in our -- in FEMA's history.


GONZALEZ-COLON: So again, we're still struggling and all of that death tolls --

BERMAN: Right.

GONZALEZ-COLON: -- is not something to celebrate. Some people are even --

BERMAN: Right.

GONZALEZ-COLON: -- calling to make celebrations for that. I think --


GONZALEZ-COLON: -- there's a sorrow on the people about that. There's a mental situation on the island that we need to have that empathy and how to -- how we fix that. I mean, how you can try to embrace those families and trying not to have the same situation happen again.

BERMAN: I think you're right.

GONZALEZ-COLON: Are we prepared for the -- for a next hurricane.

BERMAN: I think --

GONZALEZ-COLON: I think we need to focus and take those recommendations of the report immediately --

BERMAN: Right.

GONZALEZ-COLON: -- and have the CDC and the federal agencies and FEMA with the local government to make things happen.

BERMAN: You know, Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon, I think you're absolutely right. The future should be the focus here. To prepare for the future though you have to come to grips with the past, and I think that's what a lot of what's going on here as well.

Commissioner, really appreciate your time. Thank you.



The former Texas police officer who was convicted of shooting an unarmed black teenager has now been sentenced to 15 years in prison. The victim's family wanted more.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is live in Dallas with more on the story -- Ed.


Well, this is a significant development and a significant milestone in the cases of unarmed black men -- teenagers shot by police officers. That is the way it's being heralded by the family of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards who was shot and killed by former police officer Roy Oliver back in April of 2017.

Edwards and a group of friends were leaving a party where police suspected there was underage drinking. Gunshots were fired -- not at that location -- it turned out to be another location -- but in the mayhem of all of that situation where Oliver fired at the car that Jordan Edwards was riding in and killed him.

This is the bodycam footage that was shown to the jury that led to his murder conviction where he was found guilty just a couple of days ago and then that same jury sentencing this officer to 15 years in prison.




And so, Alisyn, the key part of that video is essentially showing that when Jordan Edwards -- when those shots were fired at Jordan Edwards, the car that he was in was moving away from the police officer. Roy Oliver's partner, the other officer, testified in this case Alisyn that he did not fear for his life in that situation and that's why shots weren't fired.

So, Roy Oliver sentenced to 15 years in prison. His attorney said they're -- his attorneys say that they're worried that this verdict and this sentence will have a chilling effect for police officers around the country. And, Oliver will be eligible for parole in about 7 1/2 years, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK. Ed Lavandera, thank you very much for following up on that story for us.

So, now to this story that so many of you are talking about. This 9- year-old in Colorado killed himself a few days ago. Now his mother shares her message with the country. She's next.


[07:53:25] CAMEROTA: We have a heartbreaking and shocking story for you out of Colorado where a 9-year-old boy committed suicide. Jamel Myles' mother says her son wanted to come out as gay to his

classmates, but just four days into the new school year she says Jamel took his life after being bullied.

That mother, Leia Pierce, joins us now. Leia, we are so sorry for your loss.

This story has just gripped the country. I can't tell you how many people have e-mailed me or wanted to talk about it in some way because it just seems that Jamel is just way too young to deal with such emotionally-challenging and painful issues. We're so sorry.

Can you just tell us what happened?

I mean, as far as we know the story, over the summer he came out to you as gay. He was worried about what your reaction would be but you immediately told him that you loved him and accepted him. And then I guess that perhaps gave him the courage that he wanted to come out to his classmates.

And then what happened?

LEIA PIERCE, 9-YEAR-OLD SON COMMITTED SUICIDE: It didn't end well obviously because I'm here, but I wish it could have been different.

CAMEROTA: We do, too.

Did you talk to him? When he said that he wanted to tell his classmates, did you and he have any conversation about that? Were you comfortable with his plan to do that?

PIERCE: He just said he wanted to wear his nails and be himself. And I said never be anyone else but yourself because nobody else could be you better than you.

[07:55:02] CAMEROTA: And when you say he wanted to wear his nails, he wanted to wear painted nails on the first day?

PIERCE: No, they were -- they were -- they were -- they were fake fingernails.

CAMEROTA: And so he went to school with fake fingernails and he wanted to tell his classmates. And then, do you know what their reaction was?

PIERCE: He didn't tell me. He just came home and acted normal.

CAMEROTA: So he acted --

PIERCE: Something broke his heart.

CAMEROTA: So he acted normal. Did you know -- did you have any indication that he was suffering?

PIERCE: No. If I did, I would have hugged him tighter. I would have told him it was OK so he didn't have to feel like that if I did. CAMEROTA: Yes.

How do you know that he was bullied at school?

PIERCE: He told me, his sister told me. They never called me about my son but I got a bunch of phone calls about my daughter saying about the --

CAMEROTA: Meaning -- hold on a second. I just want to -- I just want to make sure that we understand.

He told you last year that he was being bullied --

PIERCE: He told --

CAMEROTA: -- but not this year.

PIERCE: Yes. These first four days he didn't say nothing to me. He just acted normal.

CAMEROTA: But did he confide in his sisters that he was being bullied?

PIERCE: He went up and told his sister that the other kids told him to kill himself.

CAMEROTA: He told his --

PIERCE: And they told him --

CAMEROTA: -- sister that the other -- his classmates -- the other kids told him to kill himself?

PIERCE: Yes, and they -- he heard it a couple of times before but he would always get upset because he's -- he was just so sweet and sensitive so he hurts easy.

And we -- they told him -- they were like just calm down. They were like, breathe. They were like take a nap, chill out, and they were like when you wake up you'll feel better and what they said won't matter.

Whatever they said really hurt his heart because it matters a lot to him.

CAMEROTA: And then, did he take his sister's advice? Is that when he killed himself?

PIERCE: If he took her advice I'd still have him.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Have you been in touch with the school? Have you had conversations with the school about how all of this unfolded?

PIERCE: They finally called me Tuesday night around 5:00 and he just said they're looking into it and that they sent out a letter about suicide and bullying, and that was pretty much it. CAMEROTA: Here's their statement. I'll read it to you and to our viewers.

"At the Denver Public Schools, we are deeply committed to ensuring that all members of our school community are treated with dignity and respect regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or transgender status.

It is critical that our students receive all the support they need to learn and thrive in a safe and welcoming environment.

Our policies and practices reflect this commitment to ensuring that our LGBTQ+ students can pursue their education with dignity and joy -- from training to prevent and stop bullying to policies and guidance materials that fully respect gender identity (including use of preferred pronouns and restrooms)."

Leia, who do you hold responsible for what happened here?

PIERCE: Technically, taking in the whole situation and knowing everything I know, I do hold the teachers responsible because last year, one teacher dumped water on my son.


PIERCE: I don't know.

He got in my car crying. He was like the substitute teacher just walked up and dumped water on me. I was like, what? And my little daughter looks at me and goes he came out of his classroom wet, mom.

I called the school and I told them what happened and they just said they'll get back to me, just like they did over this incident. They'll just get back to me. They finally got back to me like four days later this time.

CAMEROTA: It sounds like Jamel has been struggling for a long time.

PIERCE: He didn't really have these problems until about a year ago. He's never had this problem until about a year ago. And he just wanted to stand up for his sister.

CAMEROTA: Because she was also bullied, you're saying.

PIERCE: They were really, really mean to her --

CAMEROTA: Why? What did --

PIERCE: -- and he got sick of seeing --

CAMEROTA: Why is she being bullied?

PIERCE: Because she's -- because black girls aren't supposed to have long, pretty hair.

CAMEROTA: And so, Leia -- PIERCE: So she chopped off all of her hair and now she has short hair and they pick on her and call her boys and they're mean to her.

And it broke my son's heart and so he started standing up for his sister. He started standing up for his sister because he got -- he got tired of seeing her hurt so he wanted to take her pain and his -- I'm sorry.