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Senate Trial Top of 'President's Mind During Holiday Break; One-on-One with Presidential Candidate Senator Cory Booker; One-on-One with Presidential Candidate Tom Steyer; Violent Weekend in America; Eddie Murphy Revives Classic Characters in Return to SNL Stage; Police Officer Donates Liver to Boy, Launches Fundraiser; NYT: Police Take Measures in Tessa Majors' Investigation to Avoid Missteps Made in Central Park Jogger Case. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 22, 2019 - 20:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Great to have you with us on Sunday, this first day of Hanukkah. Thank you for being here. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

President Trump is spending his first weekend as an impeached president in Florida. But the distance from Washington not dampening his frustration and defensiveness. Last night at a gathering of students in West Palm Beach, the president went after Democratic leaders in the House, in Congress, calling them the usual taunting nicknames and seemingly brushing off any concern about his upcoming Senate trial, insisting the Democrats, quote, "have no case against him."

Today no public events but the president took to Twitter maintaining his innocence despite being just the third president in history to be impeached a few days before. The top Democrat in the Senate, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke to reporters today and says if there are no witnesses called in the upcoming Senate trial, it won't be fair.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Until we hear from the witnesses, until we get the documents, the American people will correctly assume that those blocking their testimony were aiding and abetting a cover-up. Plain and simple. So I'll close by saying this, President Trump, release the e-mails. Let the witnesses testify. What are you afraid of?


CABRERA: More now from CNN's Kristen Holmes in south Florida tonight -- Kristen.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, ultimately it's not going to be up to the president even if he would like it to be. It's going to be up to the senators what exactly the trial looks like. And when we really break down it's going to be up to those Republican senators. You know, we have heard Mitch McConnell say time and time again that he's working in lockstep with the White House.

But we also know that Mitch McConnell has a different idea of what he would like this trial to look like than the president. President Trump had expressed behind closed doors that he wanted to have a big trial. He believed that this would exonerate him. He wanted to have a lot of witnesses. And Mitch McConnell and other Republican senators have really tried to steer the president in a different direction, essentially saying that the more that witnesses there are the more likelihood there could be problems for President Trump.

Now, earlier today we did hear from vice -- the vice president's chief of staff Marc Short who said that the president is actually looking forward to a Senate trial. Take a listen.


MARC SHORT, CHIEF OF STAFF FOR VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: He's frustrated what he finds to be a completely unreasonable impeachment. So sure, he's frustrated by that. But he's also anxious to get not just acquitted but exonerated in the Senate. So he's looking forward to his opportunity to have a fair trial in the Senate.


HOLMES: Now while Short says that he's looking forward to this Senate trial, if you look at the president's Twitter feed, you may not believe that. He spends the day tweeting at Nancy Pelosi, calling her crazy, slamming Democrats, bashing the process overall. But when it comes down to it this is where we are. You have Senate Republicans and Democrats and really overall Democrats and Republicans who really dug in their heels on this process. Democrats again wanting witnesses, Republicans not wanting a long trial. And now we have a Congress that's not back in session until early January -- Ana.

CABRERA: Kristen Holmes, thank you.

CNN senior political analyst David Gergen is here with us.

David, you were an adviser to President Nixon and Clinton so this isn't your first impeachment rodeo. Let's start with some of the verbal jousting we've been hearing between Democrats and Republicans. While Democrats have largely supported Nancy Pelosi's move to hold the articles of impeachment until she's ensured a fair trial in the Senate, Marc Short, the chief of staff to Vice President Pence, is calling that move hypocritical.


SHORT: How can you possibly justify the contrast to say this is urgent, to then say, well, we'll have to wait and see?


CABRERA: David, fair point or a cheap shot?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think it's such a cheap shot. I think they're going on the offensive as the Democrats are. What I do think we're dealing with here, and Nancy Pelosi has, as you know, been masterful in the past months dealing with these issues, but Nancy she's got to double what we might call a double-edge sword. On one edge of that sword she's arguing I think persuasively that the White House has shut down the possibility of getting documents, shut down witnesses, all the key witnesses.


And therefore it's not the full facts haven't come out and Democrats are entitled to have the full facts if we're going to have a trial. I think that's a legitimate argument. On the other hand there's the side of the sword, Ana, is that, you know, the Democrats have been arguing all this time, hustle up, hustle up, we have to hurry.


GERGEN: We have to get this done. And now that they've got the impeachment done, they're saying slow down, slow down, we want to -- we're not even sure we're going to send over the articles. I think you can maintain that for a short period of time. I do not think that's a sustainable position over a long period of time. It looks too cute.

And Marc Short had a point that a lot of other Republicans and independents will agree with, and that is, there's something hypocritical about saying, we will -- we want it quick, now we want it slow. And we were willing to do this without witnesses over on our side of the aisle. But now you guys have got to do it with witnesses on your side.

CABRERA: Well, as they --

GERGEN: So I think it's a double edge sword. It cuts both ways.

CABRERA: As they pump the brakes we have seen more information come out just since Wednesday's vote.


CABRERA: We learned that about 90 minutes after President Trump's July phone call with Ukraine, the one where he asked for the favor, a White House official e-mailed the OMB, Office of Management and Budget, and the Pentagon and asked for a hold on that military aid.


CABRERA: Do you think one of Pelosi's reasons for playing this waiting game is the hope that more incriminating evidence will come out?

GERGEN: Absolutely. And I think that's what the reason they want to if they could they'd subpoena the documents on the Senate side and force the issue. I think that memo just illustrates that the documents that have been withheld by the White House do contain information that helps to fill in the picture. That the missing pieces of the puzzle are being held back by the White House. They're in documents and then they're in heads of key witnesses who can come under oath and should be under oath to say what happened.

We're going through a momentous decision-making process. Both the impeachment and now the trial. And I think the country deserves and the president deserves frankly full disclosure. But you have to assume from his point of view he's holding things back partly because there are maybe some explosive things in there that he won't like.

CABRERA: Let's hear from Democratic Senator Doug Jones, who of course is one of these vulnerable Democrats because he's from Alabama.


CABRERA: Ruby red state. Here's what he said about wanting all the evidence in order to make a decision on removal from office. Watch.


SEN. DOUG JONES (D-AL): I think these are really serious allegations. I'm trying to see if the dots get connected. If that is the case and I think it's a serious matter, I think it's an impeachable matter, but if those dots aren't connected and there are other explanations and I think are consistent with innocence, I will go that way, too.


CABRERA: I mean, this sounds exactly what the president is hoping for. That withholding these documents, stone-walling on witnesses will prevent people like Senator Jones from reaching a conclusion. It ensures there are gaps in the story.

GERGEN: Well, I think it's a good point, Ana. And it's -- the gaps in the story are have so far helped the president because the information hasn't come out. And people are not sure. And so for Doug Jones to cast a vote of -- of finding him guilty without and on the face of it he doesn't have complete facts, you know, he can take that back home and go to the bank with it.

This is a very tricky situation. And I do think what's missing is a sense of trust and capacity to work across the aisle with both sides. What we saw in the Clinton days when Trent Lott, the Republican leader, worked with Tom Daschle, the Democratic leader, and they together came out and got a set of processes for the trial which passed the Senate by 100 to nothing. They had a unanimous support for a bipartisan approach to it.

And when the whole trial was over and people were assessing what had been done, the senators gave Trent Lott and Tom Daschle a standing ovation for having put together. That's the model. That's what we would like to see Schumer and McConnell push toward. But both of them are so caught up in the partisan war, the hyper partisan wars, that right now we're in a standoff and nobody knows where this is going. I think ultimately, though, I just -- I think there is going to be a trial. I'll be quite astonished if there's no trial and we just are left in -- a country left in limbo. CABRERA: I mean, it does seem like that's where it's headed



CABRERA: But meantime, the president --

GERGEN: Eventually.

CABRERA: The president is left a strew down in Mar-a-Lago for the holidays. I spoke to his former White House --

GERGEN: Yes. I'm sure he's angry.

CABRERA: I know, right? I talked to Anthony Scaramucci, the former comms director, about the conversations this president may be having about impeachment there.


Listen to what he told me.



ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: My life experience with him, he doesn't listen to anybody. There's nobody that he listens to. If anything he did something that which is counter intuitive. If you tell him A his first reaction will be to do Z, to prove to you that he can get it done by doing Z.


CABRERA: If he's not listening to anybody who should he be listen to?

GERGEN: Well, that's a hard question, isn't it? I -- you know, he does have some friends who are sort of scattered through the administration. But I -- you know, he's not exactly surrounded by wise men or wise women at this point. You know, he's tossed out people who would give him a more measured assessment and be honest with him, and he's got people now -- he's surrounded by people who are entirely dependent on him and are very much yes, men. And they will go along whatever the president -- his latest impulse will be.

So I think it's not healthy for the country. But, you know, Ana, we're also seeing that we ought to keep an eye on, other nations are now probing to see whether President Trump is weakened. That's particularly obvious with the regard to the North Koreans.


GERGEN: They are pushing and probing and doing things to test him out. People -- after a big episode like this, other countries want to know is the president stronger or is he weaker? Can we get our way now on things that he was opposing us? Let's try it, let's push him. And I think you -- this is a dangerous time in that sense. And that's why I think it's all the more important that the president have around him people who care about him but also care about the country.

CABRERA: David Gergen, I always appreciate your insight.


CABRERA: Thank you for being here.

GERGEN: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: And Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. I'll see you in the new year.

GERGEN: Merry Christmas to you, and love to all yours.

CABRERA: Thank you. You too.

Interstate emergency in Virginia. Look at this. Nearly 70 cars involved in this massive chain reaction crash. Dozens of people are injured. Tonight we have new information on the possible cause.

Plus Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer talks about the state of the race and his opponents including former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg. More from my one-on-one interview with him, as well as with Senator Cory Booker tonight, when we come back.



CABRERA: We're just 43 days away now from the Iowa caucus when the first Americans will make their pick for the Democratic nominee. So over the next few weeks it's all hands on deck. And all the candidates are out on the trail and on the air waves.

Tonight I had a chance to speak to two of those candidates, Senator Cory Booker and businessman Tom Steyer. First to Senator Booker who didn't make the cut at last week's Democratic debate, leaving Andrew Yang as the only minority on the debate stage. Here's part of our conversation on that.


CABRERA: Let's talk about the diversity factor here. I asked journalist Adam Serwer about why perhaps there was that lack of diversity. Here's what he thinks is behind it.


ADAM SERWER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: I think 2016 was kind of a traumatic election for a will the of Democrats and they fear that the -- I think they rightly see the election of Donald Trump as a backlash to the two terms of the first black president. And so they are thinking we need to pick someone who's going to seem less culturally threatening to the other side. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Do you think that's what's happening here?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I don't know who the commentator was but I've never heard such a wrong commentary just based on the facts. For example, we lost Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by about 77,000 votes. There was a massive diminution in African-American turnout. In fact in Milwaukee alone there's about 70,000 less African-Americans who came out.

Over all in the country, if Hillary Clinton got the same black turnout that Barack Obama did, she would be President Hillary Clinton right now. We need -- we're going to win, in fact the Senate even to win in -- we need to win in North Carolina and in Georgia, South Carolina. We need a person that can excite the fullness of our coalition. I know some people want to make it seemed like it was somehow white voters who turned against Hillary Clinton. But that's just too simplistic of an analysis.

We really had a massive fall-off of black and brown voters coming out, turning out for the Democratic Party. The next nominee better be someone who can excite the fullness of that Obama coalition, which involves all of our voters. From white voters, and particularly African-American voters and Latino voters, Asian Americans, the full coalition. And I'm the best person in this race. We've seen this in New Jersey.

When I'm on the ballot the turnout of black and brown folks in the state has gone way up. So I know as the nominee that I cannot only beat Trump and provide the kind of wave we need to send Mitch McConnell to the back benches.


CABRERA: Now to Tom Steyer the billionaire, who has already spent more than $100 million. Much of it on an ad blitz calling for President Trump's impeachment. Here's part of our conversation specifically on whether there's room for a billionaire let alone three in the race for president.


CABRERA: You're known as the billionaire businessman running for president, while calling for Trump's impeachment. The president has now been impeached and he's holding if not gaining if the polls as we laid out at the top there. A new CNN also poll finds 76 percent of American think the economy is good. Where is your lane to win this thing?

TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Ana, I think you're really describing what the Democrats are going to have to do whoever the Democratic candidate is, which is we know how Mr. Trump is going to run for president because he said it last week. He was talking to the Israel American Conference and he said you don't like me and I don't like you. But you're all going to vote for me if the Democrats win the White House they're going to destroy the economy in about 15 minutes flat.

So whoever is going to go up against Mr. Trump is going to have to take him on in the economy, is going to have to expose them as a fake businessman and a failed businessman, and actually a bad steward of the American economy, and as somebody who built a business over 30 years, he can never call me a socialist. And also I have the experience and the expertise to talk about growth, to talk about prosperity as well as economic justice.


And this is a man who took the most prepared candidate for American president ever, Hilary Clinton, and beat her. So we need somebody like me who can take him on in his supposed strength of the economy and expose him as a fraud.

CABRERA: I've got to ask you about last night's "SNL." They did a riff on the Democratic debate. But when they introduced the candidates they placed you with Mayor Michael Bloomberg who hadn't qualified for Thursday night's debate. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Businessman Tom -- wait, Mayor Bloomberg?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. It's the classic billionaire Switcheroo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Bloomberg, you did not qualify for this debate. How did you get here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, for $30 million PBS is now owned by viewers like me.


CABRERA: Do you think Bloomberg has come into the race and upstaged you?

STEYER: Look, I've said about Michael Bloomberg that unless he's willing to embrace a wealth tax, unless he's willing to be a leader of the Democratic Party in terms of equity and economic justice, that I don't think he's an appropriate leader for the Democratic Party.


CABRERA: Tragedy in Chicago. This weekend more than a dozen people shot at a memorial for a victim of gun violence. New details on the investigation next.



CABRERA: Scary moments on a highway in Virginia this morning when nearly 70 trucks and cars were involved in a massive pile-up. The chain reaction crash happened on Interstate 64 right outside of Richmond. Now police are blaming foggy, icy conditions. They say that some spots cars were so squeezed together that firefighters and emergency responders had to step from car to car to pull people out of their rigs. 51 people were injured. Thankfully luckily no deaths reported.

Tonight we're learning more about an overnight shooting in Chicago. It happened at a house party. Thirteen people were shot including a 16-year-old boy. Four of those people remain in critical condition. As far as what led to the shooting police say there was some sort of dispute before shots were fired and this disturbing detail the party was being held in memory of a man who was killed in April.

CNN's Rosa Flores joins us now.

Rosa, are there any suspects in custody?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, police say that they do have two suspects in custody but they're not identifying them. Here's what we know from police. Police say that shots rang out inside a house on the south side of Chicago overnight. Once people began to disperse, then more shots were fired outside the house including at a moving car.

When police arrived they found multiple scenes and 13 people injured. And as police investigate this case they are bracing for more violence.


CHIEF FRED WALLER, CHICAGO POLICE BUREAU OF PATROL: We're going to have more police presence in this area. Today all throughout this weekend we know that the weather is going to be somewhat warmer than it normally is during this time so we're going to have a lot more police presence in that area and in other various districts.


CABRERA: As for the two people in custody, one of them is wounded and recovering from a gunshot wound in the hospital. The other one when that arrest happened a weapon was discovered.

And, Ana, a little context is important because according to the latest statistics issued by the Chicago Police Department, shootings and murders year to date are down.

CABRERA: It's a violent weekend across the country, though. There were also shootings in Maryland and Minnesota. What are we learning about those?

FLORES: Yes, let me start with Minnesota. That shooting happened in a suburb of Minneapolis. Shots rang out in the parking lot of a restaurant. And when police arrived they found a 19-year-old dead and seven others injured. It's very early in the investigation and police say they don't have a motive at this moment and no suspects are in custody. But just an hour after that, shots rang out in downtown Baltimore

outside a lounge. Police there say that two suspects fired 19 shots hitting seven people standing outside in line. When police arrived they only found four people shot at the scene and they later learned that three others had walked themselves to the hospital. Again it's very early in this investigation as well and police are looking at up to four possible suspects.

But, Ana, they don't have anyone in custody at this time. And a little perspective is important here, too, because the latest statistics issued by the FBI about violent crime nationally including murders is down year-to-year.

CABRERA: OK. Rosa Flores, thank you.

Eddie Murphy returns to "Saturday Night Live." How'd he do? We'll discuss next.



ANA CABRERA, CNN NEWS HOST: Did you tune in last night for the return of Eddy Murphy to Saturday Night Live? If so, you were rewarded with Murphy popping up in every single sketch, except the cold open. Many of his classic characters showed up for the first time in 35 years, including Mr. Robinson and Buckwheat.


EDDIE MURPHY, ACTOR: Hello boys and girls, it's your old pal, Mr. Robinson. So much has changed since we last spent some time together. My neighbors have gone through so much. It's going through something called gentrification. Can you say gentrification, boys and girls? It's like a magic trick. White people pay a lot of money and then poof, all the black people are gone.

Take a mission.

Like a fool I went and stayed too long. Now I'm wondering if your love's still strong. Oh baby, here I am, dine, teal, dawibba, I'm yours.


CABRERA: You feeling it? Dean Obeidallah is feeling it. He is a opinion contributor. He used to work for Saturday Night Live. He also contributes to The Daily Beast and has his own show on SiriusXM. So, did Eddie Murphy deliver?

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, CNN.COM OPINION CONTRIBUTOR: He did great. If people have not watched, they should go not during the segment but after the segment, go online and watch the sketch. It really -- if you like Eddie Murphy, in the 1980s when he was on, you like SNL, you can't beat it. He brought back the reoccurring characters. He touched on issues of race which I think it was underappreciated first time in the 80s dealing with that, and even to the comedic shot at Lorne Michaels in one of his sketches which is really, sort of, pay back for something else that happened.

CABRERA: Explain the back story on that.

OBEIDALLAH: Sure. What happened is -- and I worked at SNL in 1998 to 2007 on a production staff. And I was there for the 25th anniversary show in 1999. And Eddie was not there. And we all asked. I asked and where is Eddie Murphy? And the story was, he was upset for two reasons.

One, there had been a joke a few years before that David Spade had made on this show about him, at a time when his career wasn't going great. And second, Eddie didn't work with Lorne Michaels. Lorne Michaels left SNL for about five years.


Eddie worked with other producers and felt, I think, disrespected by that joke and by Lorne Michaels. Turns out that was actually true because years later, we found that out in an interview Lorne -- Eddie went public in about 2011. And Lorne Michaels actually publicly stated later. One of his biggest mistakes was letting that joke all on air because Eddie is one of their own. So, it's a whole --

CABRERA: Hold your thought for just a second because we have it queued up, the part where he actually takes a shot at Lorne Michaels.


MURPHY: How the hell our people not going to know who I am? I'm Gumby. I -- let me tell you something, I saved this damn show from the gutter. And it's thanks to me. This is the thanks that I get for saving this show? Shame on you Lorne Michaels. Shame on you, NBC. Shame on you.


CABRERA: Pay backs.

OBEIDALLAH: That was -- it was playful, it was comedic. And you know, at the time, and he said it very honestly, Eddie Murphy, years later. He called David Spade and said, you wouldn't have a show. You're standing on my shoulders. And for anyone who's a fan of SNL, the show was almost cancelled in the mid-80s.

If it was not for Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo, but especially Eddie Murphy taking the show to new levels and transcending the first cast which was Bill Murray and John Belushi and Gilda Radner, the show may have ended, after Lorne Michaels was gone for a few years, so it's right.

But, you know, putting that behind everything, watching Eddie Murphy in the show and, to me, I love the closing credits called the Goodnights, when Eddie's there with three great African-American comedians.

CABRERA: I know.

OBEIDALLAH: They came on stage (INAUDIBLE)

CABRERA: I know.

OBEIDALLAH: Dave Chappelle, Tracy Morgan, and --

CABRERA: Chris Rock?

OBEIDALLAH: And Chris Rock voice who was Buddy. And Eddie, like, took it all in. And there's a moment he looked at the crowd and you realize all the bad blood. Any issues were gone. Eddie was home. And that's the home where he started. That's the home where he belongs.

So, I'm so happy as a comedy fan, as an SNL fan. He's back and I hope they see him more often because the reviews are fabulous. You have to check it out.

CABRERA: Yes. I mean, some of those people you mentioned who joined him have, you know, certainly been influenced by his work over the years. How do you see his influence in the work they do?

OBEIDALLAH: Eddie Murphy was the pioneer of the trail blazer before all those. I mean, he had a direct impact on Chris Rock's career. He helped Chris Rock very famously. But, you know, would there still be a Tracy Morgan and Chappelle? Probably. But did -- were there lives made easier because Eddie Murphy broke through? Yes.

I mean, Eddie Murphy was singularly the most famous black comic at the time in the 1990s with the -- 1980s and 90s in movies, T.V. It opened the door for many, many other comedians of color.

CABRERA: Who was your favorite sketch last night?

OBEIDALLAH: Mr. Robinson and the -- I love Gumby. Even though that may not have been the best one there, what I love that Mr. Robinson, though, is that years ago, he did one about white flight. Now, he comes back and does it 30 years later by gentrification. Like, things are changing. The sketch --

CABRERA: With the times.

OBEIDALLAH: -- went right with the time. So, it used to be, I move in the neighborhood and you all leave. Talking to white people. Now, he goes, in my neighborhood, you're coming back and taking everything. You know, all the banks are like, you know, all the little grocery stores are now chains.

So, I thought it made such great points. It was funny and had so much heart. You like SNL, you love Eddie, you have to watch it.

CABRERA: Dean Obeidallah, it's so good to have you here.

OBEIDALLAH: Thanks very much.

CABRERA: Thank you very much for coming in and --


CABRERA: -- and Happy Holidays.


CABRERA: I'll see you in the New Year.

OBEIDALLAH: Thank you.

CABRERA: Looking forward to it. And from comedy to music. Before Beyonce, before Lady Gaga. Linda Ronstadt was the first female pop icon. CNN film, LINDA RONSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE premiers New Year's Day at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN.

Generosity times two, a Colorado police officer donates her organ to a young stranger. And that's not all. Why the officer is now panhandling on the street.




CABRERA: How about this, for something you don't see every day? Thankfully, outside Detroit, green slime was found oozing onto an interstate. Now, officials say it contains a chemical, Hexavalent chromium, which is known to cause cancer and poses other serious health risks.

It was reportedly leaking from a local business. Officials say had it not been discovered, it could have ended up Lake St. Clair. The clean-up process is expected to take days.

Now, you might remember, Hexavalent chromium was the chemical featured in that popular movie, Erin Brockovich, starring Julia Roberts as the activist who helped sue a Californian utility over the chemical, leeching into water.

In Colorado, an 11-year-old boy in declining health, getting a second chance at life thanks to a police officer who went beyond the call of duty. She donated part of her liver. And her generosity didn't stop there. CNN Lucy Kafanov has the story.



LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are few 12-year-olds who know as much about aviation as Clyde Hoffman.

HOFFMAN: That's really beautiful. Just the curvature and everything. KAFANOV: But it's not just his knowledge of planes that makes him special.

HOFFMAN: Don't shoot this. This is a nuclear bomb, probably not activated though.

KAFANOV: It's the fact that he's standing here at all.

HOFFMAN: I was very thin and I was basically kind of yellowish, jaundice.

KAFANOV: Clyde was born with Alagille's Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the organs.

MELISSA HOFFMAN, MOTHER OF CLYDE: His liver was probably functioning only at 10 percent.

KAFANOV: How bad did things get?

MARK HOFFMAN, FATHER OF CLYDE: He could barely keep 200-250 calories down.

KAFANOV: In the summer of 2018, the illness nearly claimed his life. He had to be put on a feeding tube and Colorado's transplant waiting list. Without a new liver, parents Mark and Melissa, feared the worst.

MELISSA HOFFMAN: He would have died for sure.

KAFANOV: Wait times can often stretch into years. But a month later, a miracle, a match from a living stranger.

MARK HOFFMAN: I can remember the day of the surgery, and looking across the campus over to where I knew the -- that whoever this person was, was on a slab having their liver removed or a portion of it. And I've never met her. And there was a connection somehow.

CAROLYN BECKER, POLICE OFFICER, BROOMFIELD: I knew that there were kids out there that could use the help. And I'm healthy and have the means to be able to donate.

KAFANOV: That mystery donor, Broomfield, Colorado police officer, Carolyn Becker.

BECKER: We're never off duty. And when I'm wearing my uniform or nor, if I see somebody in need, I'm going to help. And that was true in this case too. I saw an opportunity to help somebody.


KAFANOV: You knew that you could save a life.


KAFANOV: Doctors removed a portion of Officer Becker's liver and transplanted it into Clyde. His improvement, almost immediate. C. HOFFMAN: My jaundice and my yellow eyes went completely away. And the first time I ate a meal, I ate all of it. And that was amazing.

KAFANOV: The story almost ended there. Until a special thank you note arrived in Officer Becker's mailbox, seven months later.

BECKER: Dear donor, thank you so much for my chance at a new life. I never could imagine this happening.

KAFANOV: After searching online, Becker learned that the Hoffmans who live nearly two hours away in Colorado Springs were saddled with huge medical bills.

BECKER: I knew there was more I could do to help.

KAFANOV: And what did you decide to do?

BECKER: Thank you. That will be so helpful for him. Thanks. Have a good day.

I decided to stand on the side of the road with a sign, much like panhandling.

Thank you. Hi.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What a wonderful thing you did.

BECKER: Thank you. I appreciate that.

KAFANOV: Raising more than $10,000. One donation at a time.

C. HOFFMAN: This is an EA-6B --

BECKER: This place is cool.

C. HOFFMAN: -- Prowler.

KAFANOV: So, Clyde and Officer Becker finally met more than a year after the surgery. The Hoffmans had a lot to be thankful for.

MELISSA HOFFMAN: Hard to have words for all of it. I think that's why, like, the first week, tears would come because it's a heartfelt decision.

C. HOFFMAN: And you can see there's just like a lot of piping and tubing.

BECKER: You want to tell people, yes, go donate, donate your organs, right? But now, I can truly say, go donate.

KAFANOV: You think she went above and beyond the call as a police officer and as a human?

C. HOFFMAN: Yes, I think so. I mean, donating an organ, that's pretty big.

KAFANOV: A big gift from a big-hearted stranger. Now, a friend for life. Lucy Kafanov, CNN, Broomfield, Colorado.


CABRERA: What a precious story. Two heartbreaking crimes with striking parallels. The murder of a while college student earlier this month is reigniting a conversation about race relations and criminal justice reform. And investigators are trying to avoid what happened decades ago during the Central Park Five case.




CABRERA: Welcome back. As police continue to search for answers in the fatal stabbing of college freshman, Tessa Majors, her family and friends held a celebration of life this weekend at her high school in Charlottesville, Virginia. We are also learning that officials are looking to question this 14-year-old boy in connection with the attack. Already a 13-year-old boy has been arrested and detained.

But this is a high-profile case that sounds eerily familiar. From the beginning, the Tessa Majors case has drawn comparisons to the Central Park jogger case, that infamous 1989 attack, after which five black and Hispanic teenagers were wrongfully convicted of rape and attempted murder.

And as this New York Times piece explains, officials are now taking specific measures to make sure they do not repeat the mistakes and inaccuracies made in that case. And with me now is the co-author of that piece, Ashley Southall, who is a law enforcement reporter for the New York Times.

Ashley, good to have you here. Your reporting is really interesting. What steps are police taking in this investigation knowing that not only is this a high-profile crime but, you know, there's this shadow, this long shadow of that infamous case?

ASHLEY SOUTHALL, LAW ENFORECEMENT REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, one of the first things police said was call the prosecutors to the scene right away. You have the police commissioner there, he's chief of detectives, he's chief of patrol. And so, there was a very high level of attention paid to this case, right from the start.

The other thing that they're doing is keeping the case details very close to the vest. There was a lot of rumor and suspicion around in Central Park Five case. And this time, they're playing it really close. Another thing, a very important difference here is that the interrogation of a 13-year-old was conducted with his uncle in the room.

And that is a difference from the Central Park case where some of the parents were in the building, but they were -- some of them were convinced to leave the room while their kids confessed to the serious crime. CABRERA: According to a New York police detective, the 13-year-old who's been arrested in the Tessa Majors case admitted to being involved in the attack and the legal group representing this teenager said in a statement, this, our client is a 13-year-old child who is presumed innocent with no juvenile record.

History is full of examples of high-profile cases tried in the media, rushing law enforcement to a wrongful arrest and conviction. It seems both sides of this case are aware of how eerily similar these two cases are.

SOUTHALL: Sure. And the police -- I mean, there's been a history in New York State and city of wrongful convictions. There are about two dozen cases from New York City that have resulted in exonerations because, again, of the rush to judgment on the behalf of investigators who are under pressure politically and publicly.

CABRERA: So, do you feel like the NYPD has been haunted by what happened in the Central Park Five case?

SOUTHALL: Well, I can't tell you what they're feeling but certainly, from that first night the case came up at the scene when they were there looking at what they had, and they knew from the beginning that they were probably dealing with black teenage suspects, that they already had a white victim. And those were two themes of the Central Park case.

So, there was room here for the case to be inflamed by racial bias and other errors that were committed in the Central Park case.

CABRERA: How has the rhetoric differed in this time around compared to back in 1989?

SOUTHALL: I mean, sure. When the Central Park Five came along, they were labelled the wolf pack. They -- the city hated these kids and it was part of the hysteria of the moment of rising crime. Here in this time, you have law enforcement officials, the public and everyone, asking the police to be very careful. These are kids. They're being referred to as kids and not monsters.

CABRERA: And is there a sense the city is, you know, changing anything, altering anything to this, going forward?

SOUTHALL: When you say altering, do you mean enforcement practices?

CABRERA: Yes, exactly.

SOUTHALL: OK. The city has said that it has learned from the mistakes of Central Park Five, although it doesn't really admit any. But you can see from the interrogation with the young people with their parents present, they're not out hunting these young men. They've given -- they're giving them opportunities to come into the police station.

So, they're taking it very slowly and they're being very careful because they want to get the right outcome. [20:55:06]

CABRERA: What about, you know, just crime in general in the city, right now, there was, you know, so much fear, that crime was getting out of control back in those late 80s, in that time period. Is that similar right now?

SOUTHALL: And certainly, crime back then was getting out of control. I mean, 1990, you had over 2,500 murders, so you're talking about this. But a lot has changed in the last 30 years. We have about 300 murders this year, a little more. But that's nothing compared to the 1990s.

At the same time, there's still this perception that crime and fear is rising, and certainly, in some of the crimes, murder is higher this year than last year. And there's a pervasive sense of New York not being safe in the publics' eyes because, in part, because you see more of it on social media.

CABRERA: This tragic case is really gut-wrenching when you're talking about a freshman in college, 18 years old, the age of the suspects. Do you get a sense that police are under pressure to get this case solved to, you know, get this done quickly?

SOUTHALL: Sure. They are under pressure in some way to get it done quickly. They don't want too much time to pass before they make an arrest. But at the same time, they're not rushing. They've taken their time throughout this entire thing. They could have gone and picked up another 14-year-old.

They didn't. There are so many different mistakes that they could have made at this point, but they are just taking it slow and aiming for the right outcome.

CABRERA: Ashley Southall, thank you very much for coming in and sharing your reporting with us. That does it for me. I'm Ana Cabrera. Thank you so much for joining me on this Sunday night. And thank you for your viewership all year long. I really appreciate it.