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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  August 9, 2019 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT

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everyone you speak to here remembers hillary clinton's words she would put a lot of minors out of work, but many people here say they want the president to stop with the political fighting and focus on what's important. erin? >> all right. thank you very much miguel and thanks to all of you, anderson starts now. good evening. we begin tonight by recognizing what a difficult week this has been for so many people and how tough the days ahead will be as more funerals are held in el paso and dayton. no moments for a parent or child or childhood friend to face the sadness of feeling the word is when it comes to a loved one gives way to was. my grandpa was. my child was. so many people are facing that now. so many who lived those moments already at sandy hook and park land are reeling them again because in many respects, there is sadly nothing new of weapons
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used, the first responders, heroes heartache. nothing new in the call for change or what feels like the endless, fruitless battle between the forces of gun control and gun rights. in someways we've really never seen anything like this. we've never seen the president offer vision to the hurdierding instead of unity and air grievances, some of them entirely made up or be the focus of questions whether his racist statements gave a hate-filled person another reason to kill. today the alleged el paso gunman made it clear admitting he was the killer and he specifically targeted mexicans. nor have we seen as has been reported tonight in axios a president's campaign official saying having the president of the united states called a racist could be politically good for him. that's where we are. that's how this week is ending. it's also ending with the president making claim that he's made before about action on gun restrictions. >> i think we can get something really good done.
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i think we can have some really meaningful background checks, we don't want people that are mentally ill, people that are sick, we don't want them having guns. who does? we'll see where the nra will be. but we have to have meaningful background checks. >> now keeping them honest, we've already seen where the nra says it will be against them they have said so. he said in a statement quote, the nra opposed the legislation that unfairly infringes. the president talked tough about his willingness to challenge the nra before and did it after the park land shooting including at a gathering and bipartisan lawmakers where connecticut senator chris murphy put the challenge to the president. >> it has to be you that brings republicans to the table on this because the gun lobby would stop it in its tracks. >> i like that responsibility, chris. i do. i think it's time that a president stepped up and we haven't had them and i'm talking democrat and republican
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presidents. they have not stepped up. they do have great power. you people, less power over me. some of you people are petrified of the nra. you can't be petrified. you want to do what's right. i really believe that. >> he alone could take on the nra was the message except he didn't and wherever you stand on gun regulation, that's a fact. talk is easy, doing something that might upset the powerful nra and some of his base perhaps that is tough. the president likes to talk about being tough and being powerful. he sure seems to shrink in size when the nra whispers in his ear. the president talked about tougher, stronger, meaningful background checks before. he is singing that song again only this time as it was during his trip to el paso and dayton, he's largely singing it in the key of me. >> they supported me early and that's a great decision. the nra made a great decision
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supporting me. they supported me very early, far earlier than anybody thought possible. >> this isn't about the nra. >> this isn't a question of nra, republican or democrat. i will tell you, i spoke to mitch mcconnell yesterday. he's totally on board. he said i've been waiting for your call. he's totally on board. >> and keeping them honest, he's not on board, not even a little. the senate majority leader said he'll take up the issue and only after the summer recess perhaps because that's when maybe anger over the killings in dayton el paso might have calmed when people might not pay such close attention. as for the president, he left town for his own summer vacation, the tahafr hamptons a president expressed optimism but couldn't stop digressing from the subject at hand to a note to
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himself. >> jump as you probably know. i said i can't believe it. you actually like something. he said not like, love. >> so much love for the president and his policies from schumer and people at dayton and el paso two rock star love according to some in the administration respect the office, love, flushed with that love, the president went on to say that he's quote winning and winning big unquote with china before getting back to background checks and the nice new letter and basically wherever you stand on gun legislation getting any legislation is hard enough. it takes persistence and focus clear determination to keep at it. today the president claimed he has all that and couldn't make it through a sentence without verbally wondering off to flatter himself, which is the week has gone is pretty much par for the course. some perspective now on the news and this whole week of news, cnn political analyst and white house correspondent maggie haberman. the president is saying meaningful background checks,
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not sure what that means but it is very reminiscent of the language from park land. >> he said his aids were there on background checks and the nra intervened. depending on which aid you talk to, he has been there all along for background checks and sort of got cold feet when he was talking to the nra in the last round. other aids suggestion he had a push to get there but he's been discussing it since saturday. again, to your point, we have been there before and not only have we been there before on background checks but legislation the president insisted there is an ap title for a deal on immigration and there isn't. so the proof is going to be in the pudding. could this be different? it might be but so far the signs that would require that such as mitch mcconnell bringing the senate back and having action around what just happened in texas and in ohio. that hasn't happened and so is there still going to be an appetite in a few weeks when the senate returns? we'll see.
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>> you can make the argument mcconnell is trying to slow walk this and push it to the time something else came up and people are no longer fired up about it. >> mitch mcconnell and the president spoke by a couple of people and they talked on this topic and basically mcconnell's view point is he will be -- do what his caucus wants but the president has to be the one that gets the votes and so far i understand he's had conversations with folks like lindsey graham but so far, there is not really a sense that he's dog t doing the arm twisting we saw on the tax bill in 2017 and until we see that, i don't think that will happen. >> it would -- i guess i shouldn't be surprised and stuff but it's normal when a powerful human being that's the president of the united states says something you're sort of supposed to believe what they say and has meaning and might follow through. when the president mocked the other congress members for being
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scared of the nra and said he's not and he'll take it on and they want to do what's right and does nothing and says it's not about the nra, i don't know why -- i mean, it's like we're rationally sitting here saying maybe this time will be different. we don't know. >> here is the reason the president said this will be different in terms of the nra. the nra is in a substantially weakened position that has an enormous amount of internal turmoil. so the president has privately said to advisors that he thinks the nra will go bankrupt and not going to be able to come at him the way that they might otherwise in terms of financial support and wouldn't be there to with hold the support anyway. they were a huge outside funder in 2017 in terms of being supportive. he thinks he's got the upper hand and he tends to look at things that way but what other advisors have said to him is he's misreading this, although i don't think they necessarily put it that way. they said the nra will remain
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powerful through the election and their members, many of them are your voters are. so they are still going to have a voice. when they start really -- the nra hasn't really come out pushing back aggressively yet. >> uh-huh. >> i'm told that is coming. if that comes, we'll see what the president is saying. >> there was reporting about a phone call from wayne la pierre from the nra. >> in the other direction. the president called wayne la pierre and he was talking about how it's time. we'll get this done, there is going to be a signing ceremony in the rose garden and la pierre was clear thatthatisnot something the nra is going to support just based on what they are describing. again, we have no idea what the details are. there is no legislation. >> again, he's saying meaningful background checks that could mean anything. >> the statement is not meaningful because we don't know what he's talking about in a sentence before he said that, he said we don't have specifics. the president also said he had spoken with la pierre several times this week as i understand they had only spoken on tuesday. there are a lot of things being said that don't check out, we will see where we are in a few
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weeks. this is all -- unless there superb to build support for this by the president and maybe there will be but unless there is, this is unlikely to move forward. >> i'm smiling because the phrase you used could be -- >> what did i say? >> the statement is because we have no idea what he's talking about. it's a fascinating -- it's true. >> the word meaningful. i was just saying. >> i know. it's accurate. >> it's -- look, i think that most of the president's crisis that he has dealt with in his administration and time as president have been of his own making. this was not one. this was one. i understand that pointing to the rhetoric and the manifesto that the alleged shooter in texas used that, people have connected to things that the president has said but in terms of just sort of being at the president's own hand, this was not something he did. this is something he's had to deal with and this is over the weekend when this was all developing, you know, 31 people at the time it was i think 29
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but 31 people dead in two different cities. this was a huge crisis and a lot of his advisors will privately admit this was a commander in chief moment that he did not meet in realtime. so i think -- >> in fact, he -- to your point, he ultimately made it a fumble of his own making. i'm wondering what you're hearing about what are people in the white house actually saying about, you know, the rock star tweet and the president talking about beto o'rourke and crowd size. >> he has the president, most aids will say the same thing they said after every single one of these moments, it's not like we're unusualed to hearing the president talk about himself or rally crowds. he does this in almost every setting he's in. he turns it into something about himself. it's glaring when it's something like this that's supposed to be about the victims and people suffering during these attacks. so his aids had hoped to get him in and out with sort of minimal
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contact with both the people he was seeing but also minimal opportunities to go off script. the press the not invited into the hospital at dayton and to be clear, press is often not brought into those kinds of settings, as you know. >> as they should not be. >> that was -- >> but there was reporting that the president was annoyed -- >> he was annoyed. he wanted them brought in. his staff had been working with the hospital and they had understandably not done that and then he either didn't know that or didn't understand it or -- there is a gap between what he thinks the media is supposed to be doing with his experience and reality television and business and raeeal estate and what bein president is and the responsibilities around that relate to. he just doesn't understand it. >> i actually was giving him credit when there weren't cameras because i thought oh, this is actually this is how it should be. he should be privately meeting with families and first responders and -- >> he wanted -- he has a thing about believing that he should
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get positive press for things he should get for moments like address that he gave on monday or he denounced white supremacy. or after charlottesville. >> all supremacy. >> right. every supremacy or after charlott charlottesville when he gave that speech. and then when he doesn't get the coverage he thinks he deserves, he lashes out and that is following that cycle. it's not a surprise but the volume of it i think was the surprise and degree to which he was ordering aids to push out positive images about himself and what he was doing. it was just jarring. >> maggie haberman, thank you. appreciate it. some of what we've been talking about with respect to the president's behaviors are having effects in the west wing. a conversation with a career service officer that quit. he says he left fed up with what he sees in the white house and being part of what he calls the complacent state that enables the president. the photo out of el paso
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that stirs controversy. the president and infant who is an orphan. that little boy whose name is paul, his parents were killed at the wall. the question of whether it's an appropriate photo, the president giving a thumbs up. we'll ask the father of a wounded survivor ahead. fact is, every insurance company hopes you drive safely. but allstate actually helps you drive safely... with drivewise. it lets you know when you go too fast... ...and brake too hard. with feedback to help you drive safer.
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as we reported the el paso shooter admitted quote i'm the shooter. that's according to the affidavit released today and reads quote the defendant stated his target were mexicans. two of his victims died protecting their 2 month old son and tonight a photo of the boy set off some controversy over what is appropriate and welcome presidential behavior and who is not. the photo was posted by the first lady's office on her official account yesterday shows her holding the 2 month old whose parents were taken from him, murdered at the walmart in el paso. president trump smiling giving a thumbs up gesture, something he
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does routinely. we should mention the little boy's family welcomed the president's visit. the baby's name paul was discharged from the hospital but brought back with an you can toll meet t -- uncle to meet the president. many of the wounded survivors said they did not want to meet the president. michelle grady daughter of pastor michael grady joins me now. it's good to see you again. first of all, how is michelle doing? >> michelle is doing well today. she had surgery earlier today. she came through with flying colors and so the doctor did a marvelous job with her hand and finger. she's not going to lose her fingers. we're grateful for that. the surgery went well. she's resting now and getting ready for the next surgery down the road. >> when you and i had talked earlier in the week, i think she had had a tube removed, which is
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painful and that hurts. is she able to talk more than she was? i don't mean necessarily about what happened but just talk to you and your wife? >> yeah, she's been communicating well. we've been with her all day and last evening when she returns from the surgery on yesterday. once she came out of the anesthesia, she was talking and laughing and feeling much better. >> that's great. >> so we're grateful for that. the doctors have been excellent at umc. they have done a marvelous job alleviating the pain caused by the assailant's bullet and we're praying and thanking god for the miracle. when she first came in it looked like she would lose the finger. now she'll have the finger and i think she'll have full recovery. thank you so much. >> i want to remind the viewers, your story is extraordinary. she was shot outside, michelle was shot outside walmart as the gunman walked in and she was able to call your wife on the phone and correct me if i'm
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wrong or face time, i think calling and your wife got in the car, drove to the walmart, got there in like six minutes, and got to your daughter and then you drove there, too. you got there and ultimately there was so many people in need you got your daughter into a cart with the help of someone else from walmart, wheeled her up to where the ambulances were and you-all had to use your preacher voice and get attention to -- i'm being polite there and get her into an ambulance. i mean, were it not for that, for the bravery of you and your wife and the quick thinking who knows what would have happened. >> yes. that's correct. michelle had the presence of mind after she had been shot to call her mom and stay on the phone with her mom until my wife arrived. then my wife called me on her
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way here and she was able to get a walmart employee to assist her in getting michelle on the cart and pushing her all the way down here to the -- >> incredible -- >> -- to the standing area. my wife did a marvelous job convincing folks michelle was not only necessary but necessary to get her the proper help. >> by the way, if -- i would like to get your wife's number because if i'm ever in trouble in any capacity, she's the person i want to call first. but listen, i want to ask -- >> i make sure i get it to you. >> i want to ask about your decision not to meet with the president. i'm wondering was it a decision you, your daughter struggled over and what was your thinking on it? >> it was not really any struggle whether we found out the commander in chief was coming to el paso, and might visit the university medical center. we made a decision as a family, we asked michelle about whether she wanted to see the president
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and she said no and we made a decision that we did not want to see him as well because i had already spoken out of my passion the night before. so it was a conscious decision that we would put a sign on our door do not disturb. i'm grateful we made that decision. i don't think it would have done any good and not have been healthy for michelle, definitely not healthy for us. i think it was a great decision to make. >> the photo that we showed earlier that's been people have a difference of opinion about it and the president and the first lady with paul, the 2 month old baby and the president giving thumbs up. i'm wondering when you saw that, what did you think? >> when i saw the picture, again, i thought about what i said a couple of nights ago again that words matter and now symbols matter because usually when you have a thumbs up, you're applauding or agreeing to something. i didn't see anything to applaud. i didn't see anything to agree. those children are orphans that
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lost both parents and shows a lack of empathy and sympathy in the situation and again, it shows that the commander in chief is more concerned about himself than the people of this nation in trying to heal and to restore us to a place of honor and dignity and be a blessing to that family. it turned out to be just another photo op, no seriousness about the real gravity of the situation. >> you know, the president is saying for the second time that, you know, he wants meaningful background checks, not clear what meaningful means in his mind. it's similar to what he said after parkland and then the nra seemed to have changed his mind. i'm wondering if you think there will be change and what your message is. you had a very strong message to the president earlier in the week. i'm wondering what your message is to him tonight in terms of what you have seen over the course of this week and how you're feeling and what you think needs to be done.
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>> again, i speak with clarity that i believe that president of the united states when he makes promises, i come from a faith works base mentality and the bible says faith without works is dead. so he can speck but until it manifests, he has no power. the challenges before this administration could not only be to legislate but model a real genuine concern for the safety of cities and the safety of those members of the united states from abroad perspective and so i'm not too convince that things are going to change because we've heard rhetoric before. but again, i'm from the show me state. i'm from st. louis missouri and i'm waiting to see rather than hear this response whether it will manifest any tangible change in the nation and how we deal with violence and weapons of mass destruction that are on our streets and communities, so i'm waiting to see if it's going to be real but at this point, i'm not convinced.
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>> well, pastor grady, appreciate your time. i'm glad to hear michelle is on the right road to recovery, and my best to your family and to your wife, thank you. >> thank you, anderson. thank you very much. >> you take care. a long-serving foreign service officer quits and made no bones about the reason in a very public way. coming up, i'll speak with him in his first television interview. most people think a button is just a button. ♪ that a speaker is just a speaker. ♪ or - that the journey can't be the destination. most people haven't driven a lincoln. discover the lincoln approach to craftsmanship at the lincoln summer invitation. right now, get 0% apr on all 2019 lincoln vehicles plus no payments for up to 90 days. only at your lincoln dealer. (burke) at farmers insurance,ts we've seen almost everything, so we know how to cover almost anything. even a "three-ring fender bender."
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in a scathing op ed the officer asked why he resigned in protest. his name is chuck park and spent ten years serving in various countries for the united states. he wrote in part i came into the government inspired by a president who convinced me there was still truth to the gospel of american exceptionalism. a child of immigrants i felt a duty to the society that welcomes my parents and allowed me and my siblings to thrive. over three tours, i work to spread american values, freedom and fairness and tolerance and found myself in a defensive stance struggling to explain to foreign people the contradictions at home. he goes on to say he never saw
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an anti trump deep state in the government or resistance. he calls what he saw a complacent state in a state where political appointees contributed to incompetence and policies that the president would sometimes change on a whim without any notification. chuck park joins me tonight for his first tv interview about his high profile resignation. so explain why you decided to resign. >> sure. so let me start off by saying this is absolutely a personal decision for me, really difficult for me. i don't mean to project my values on the entire federal bureaucracy. let me say there. there are thousands and thousands of employees that did not make the same decision i did and they are absolutely working to prevent this freight train from going off the rails and exploding. respect for them. but and i think this was the real kind of one of the core
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messages of my op ed. if you're a concerned american and you're hoping that some elected official somewhere or civil servant somewhere will resist this president and fight his policies from within the government, then you will be disappointed. >> you never saw any resistance or deep state. >> i certainly saw people's personal reservations. i never saw a deep state. that's right. what i did see was people kind of really weighing this thing. if i can use an analogy, working as a diplomatic foreign services officer feels like watching your home from a distance. even under the prior administration and i mentioned this in my op ed, i absolutely could see visible cracks in the walls, maybe the foundation of our nation our government at least. the past three years have felt like the house is on fire.
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and not only is it on fire but there is a man purposely lighting more fires and so, you know, when i see -- when i talk to my colleagues, it's not that they don't feel the same distress that i do. they absolutely do. it's not like they are not as concerned as i am about that house on fire. it's not that they don't have compassion for the people in that house who are being hurt. it's that they decide to keep their distance and hope that the house is still standing afterward, and for me, that is the definition of complacency. >> you in fact say there is no deep state, there is a complacent state. so explain. because look, foreign service officers are working for the american people, they are working representing america overseas. they are not representing any
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particular administration, there is an ambassador who appointed sometimes it's career foreign service person, sometimes it's some donor who knows nothing but given a lot of money. and yet, plenty of people serve overseas in administrations they don't like. they don't agree with the policies but they faithfully execute the policies as is their job. >> that's absolutely true. >> is that complacency or service? >> so let me come back to that particular question. what i'll say is i thought about this for a long time, at least two and a half years, not more than that. what i'll say is i rationalize to myself using the same words. i swore my oath to the contusion and serve the american people. i don't swear an oath to a particular president or particular party. and that's true but that's really abstract. so when you read the commission of a foreign service officer of a diplomat like me, you'll see that it's written there explicitly.
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we serve during the pleasure of the president and so what that means is the way we serve the constitution, the way we serve the american people is by working for the president that they elected. and right now that president is donald j. trump. >> so did you -- were there specific events or in the united states or specific policies that you just felt you could no longer essentially be the face of in a foreign land? >> you know, there is no single kind of straw that broke the camel's back. there is a slow buildup and maybe i'll call it moral distress with each successive tweet or action. i mean, it started with the muslim ban, the executive order in january 2017. and then defending white nationalist after charlottesville it will stand the separation. it was revelations about
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detention centers. was it just yesterday a federal agent kicking down doors and arresting parents on their children's first day of school. so what's different about this administration for me and i only worked under two but at least in my lifetime i've seen a number of presidents. what's different is kind of the naked unapologetic cruelty. that's the first thing. the second thing is, you know, the sheer kind of manager incompetence of this administration. the alrearollout of the muslim was disastrous. we had a docket of interviews. that was my last posting. our officers and all the employees had prescheduled interviews. that morning they -- many of them are caught mid conversation
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with people when the news came in via cable but even then there is no forewarning. we had no idea this was coming. we might have seen the white house statement and cable. i'll give you another example. you know, this is the experience i've had personally. i'm absolutely sure many of my colleagues did the same one. read our cable inbox of guidance straight out of state department headquarters drafted by at least cleared by with the direction of political appointees. and, you know, example cable will contain talking points for the day let's say on trade and i am tasked with memorizing those talking points and finding meanings with senior officials delivering beautifully those talking points. and it is happening to me that in a meeting with a foreign official kind of mid sentence that official that i'm talking to will pick up their cell phone and point to a tweet from the president that directly contradicts what i'm saying in person. so -- >> so talking points that
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administration -- >> state department sends to you in the morning, sends to the embassy in the morning and you go and do your duty and start having a meeting about it with a foreign official, the president tweets in the middle of that meeting coincidentally and the foreign official says you don't know what you're talking about. >> that's exactly right or, you know, it used to be the case that any pronouncement or public statement by the president or the secretary of state whether by twitter, facebook are policy. now under president obama. if i had saw press, statement on the white house website, i could repeat those. i didn't have to ask for permission. i knew that was my guidance. under this president, that is not the case. >> so when you're in a meeting like that and you are trying to maintain legitimacy and maintain that you are expressing your speaking for the state department, speaking for the united states, i got to say if i was in a et mmeeting with someb and that happened and i that was foreign leader, i would be like
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why am i wasting my time talking to you? >> exactly right. that's embarrassing. >> we'll take a quick break and have more with chuck park in a moment. if you have moderate to thsevere rheumatoid arthritis, month after month, the clock is ticking on irreversible joint damage. ongoing pain and stiffness are signs of joint erosion. humira can help stop the clock. prescribed for 15 years, humira targets and blocks a source of inflammation that contributes to joint pain and irreversible damage. humira can lower your ability to fight infections. serious and sometimes fatal infections including tuberculosis, and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened; as have blood, liver, and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure. tell your doctor if you've been to areas where certain fungal infections are common, and if you've had tb, hepatitis b, are prone to infections, or have flu-like symptoms or sores. don't start humira if you have an infection. help stop the clock on further irreversible joint damage.
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we're back with former service officer chuck park that resigned from the state department in a public way with criticisms of what is going on with the state department and this administration. look, plenty of there is a long
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and proud tradition of in democratic and republican administration of foreign service officers and others saying i can no longer stand by and do this job and i resign. it's rare that people then write an op ed and it's a public resignation in the way yours is. why did you want to write an op ed and send a strong message why you were leaving? >> so i've been asked a lot of times over the last 24 hours whether i'm calling people out. the answer, short answer is yes. i'm not calling out my former colleagues in the foreign service. i'm not calling out other civil servants in the federal bureaucracy. they are doing their jobs and working hard. i am calling out the american people. if you are concerned with what's
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coming out of this white house, if you're disgusted, dismayed by images of again children in detention centers, if you don't like your president using rhetoric that emboldened white nationalists, then it's up to you to resist. and you can resist by protesting, you can publish an op ed, you can run for office or vote and so i hope to do one or more of those things now that i'm out of the government. >> you were in for ten years. you were doing -- you knew what the job was. you knew that you might be working for an administration with different politics than your own and plenty of people work for administrations with different politics but if everybody resigned every time there was a new president, there would be chaos. >> i completely agree. i'm not advocating every
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president should bring in an entire new bureaucracy. that would be chaos. >> you would get people with no qualifications and no experience. >> that's right. >> as much as people deride career civil servants calling them burro cats, these are people that develop an expertise in what they are doing. >> absolutely. so all i can say is that i couldn't do it anymore more myself and to me, it felt like kind of this president and working for this president was an extreme kind of frustrating kind of outrage inducing experience almost on a daily basis. and i'm referring more to domestic policies than foreign policies. >> the president often says in the prior administration, people around the world was laughing at us. nobody is laughing at us now. is that your experience? because i hear -- in my travels
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overseas, i hear a lot of laughter and it's not like laughing with us. >> i'll respond to that. it's really -- i've been in meetings where people didn't know i was the u.s. diplomat in the room and it's really interesting to hear what other nations say about us. behind our backs when they think we're not listening and it's not all positive. there is a belief in america. let me reaffirm that. and kind of just to circle back to the core job of a foreign service officer, of a diplomat is to represent america overseas to explain it and to defend america. i'm not sure right now that there is a cohaerent america to project the world. there is an america i believe in and i came home to fight for it. >> chuck park, thank you for talking to us. >> real pleasure. thank, anderson. >> up next, exclusive reporting that ties an epa decision
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involving a copper and gold mine to president trump. discover card.
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trump is now directly tied to a controversial reversal on a major u.s. environmental decision. there's new reporting tonight by drew griffin detailing a conversation regarding a decision that could up end a decade of warnings. drew griffin has details. >> reporter: the meeting taopoo place june 26th. governor dunleavy met with president trump for more than a half-hour. bun lee vee has been moving for approval of a massive gold and copper mind, plans for the
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bristol bay watershed, come to breeding grounds for salmon fisheries. and after his meeting aboard air force one, dunleavy said this about the president. >> he believes in the opportunities in alaska. >> inside epa, the very next day, june 27th. top epa officials in washington held an internal video conference with settle and told the staff the epa was removing a special protection for bristol bay and clearing the way for one of the largest open-pit mines in the world. that internal announcement was a total shock to scientists because their concerns were overruled by appointees. it's regarded as one of the most important salmon fisheries.
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it's been protected since 2014 when after three years of study, the obama era epa used a rare provision to veto any mining that could pose a threat. the epa scientists writing a mine would result in complete loss of fish habitat that was irreversible. >> it's mind-boggling that it's been considered at all. >> christine today totd witman is a republican and opposes the mine. >> the opposition to it up there is amazing. over 80 miles of streams, thousands of acres could be damaged from this project. >> this is the second time during the trump administration the political appointees at the epa have decided to remove special protections for bristol bay to pave the way for this
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huge mine. in 2017, president trump's first epa administrator scott pruitt canceled the meetings. pruitt backed down and put the protections back in place. now, another private meeting, this time with the president himself has led to yet another win for the mine and removal of environmental protections for this pristine watershed. >> on the environmental side, this disregard of science, they're gutting science cross the agencies, cross the departments, cross the government. >> even if scientists are advising you, mr. president, this is very dangerous to the environment, to the fisheries, to the state of alaska, if the president decides that's the
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decision. >> that's the decision. >> reporter: and the only recourse is for environmental groups to sue. >> you'll have a host of lawsuits. >> reporter: alaska's governor is a huge trump supporter. he sent this letter to the president asking for a long list of epa reversals including the clean water 404 veto, a direct reference to pebble mine. a member of his staff used to work on the project in public relations. and at epa headquarters, andrew wheeler, the former coal company lobbyist, has a tie to pebble mine too. he has recused himself from decision-making because his former law firm represents the mine. >> just the -- even saying a former coal company lobbyist is
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running it, that says a lot. we've seen so many of these decisions that put these companies ahead of the environment. is this a done deal? will this mine be built? >> it must still have its permit approved. but it is basically a done deal. the epa says those obama era protections were outdated. anderson, the government scientists we've been talking to, don't believe that for one minute. they consider this mine dangerous for the bristol bay watershed. >> there's no doubt this was a decision by those trump appointees, not scientists, correct? >> yes. the general counsel for epa made this decision. at first the epa denied that this meeting the day after the governor's meeting took place even happened. not true. when we confronted the epa with our own evidence, they admitted this meeting did take place. it's in this meeting, one day after trump met with alaska's governor that those scientists
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were told the decision was made. as unepa official told us, we were told to get out of the way. >> they deny a meeting took place and then you show them what you have on it and then they're like, oh, yeah, that happened. >> that's right. >> drew griffin, glad you're doing this job. thank you. >> thanks. coming up, president trump takes hits from the 2020 candidates after his trip from el paso. mers bell] (burke) at farmers insurance, we've seen almost everything, so we know how to cover almost anything. even a "three-ring fender bender." (clown 1) sorry about that... (clown 2) apologies. (clown 1) ...didn't mean it. (clown 3) whoops. (stilts) sorry! (clowns) we're sorry! (scary) hey, we're sorry! [man screams] [scary screams] (burke) quite the circus. but we covered it. at farmers, we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two. ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪
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