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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Trump Tower Will Never be the Same; Truck Bomb in Baghdad Explodes, Killing 57; Sixth Child has Died from Tennessee Bush Crash. Aired 11:30-12p ET.
Aired November 24, 2016 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: We are looking at pictures from the Thanksgiving Day parade in New York that ended just a little while ago. The security was very tight this year after an ISIS magazine said the parade would make a good target.
And speaking of high security and crowds, the Trump Tower in New York will never be the same again, now that Donald Trump is president- elect. Residents of that building have mixed views on it.
CNN's Jeanne Casarez has all the details.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Trump Tower has always been a high- profile apartment and business complex. But now, with armed guards 24/7, there can be no doubt, this is the home of the President-elect Donald Trump, the country's next first lady, Melania and their son, Barron.
Celebrities have called Trump Tower home like Bruce Willis, Andrew Lloyd Weber and Christiano Ronaldo, also a music superstar, Michael Jackson. About 15 years ago, a couple leasing the tower's penthouse got a personal call from Trump himself.
GIAMPIERO RISPO, PRESIDENT, DOMUS ARBITER REALTY CORP.: Donald called the -- the wife of the tenant and says that do you mind me if I -- if I show your apartment to a dear friend of mine? She says, no, not a problem. It's -- that's fine.
So Michael Jackson arrives with his limousine in the separate entrance that the building has. My client said he was the nicest man around.
CASAREZ: According to the website, Trump Tower has over 60 floors and 263 apartments. Gianpiero Rispo has represented high-profile clients at Trump Tower for over 15 years.
He took us inside the building, 42 stories up, to see what your average multi-million dollar apartment looks like. Heading inside, golden burgundy walls, marble floors and apartment doors without letters or numbers so you need to know where you're going.
He says security at the building now is so intense, some of his prospective buyers are turned off.
RISPO: They said they (ph) feel that behind in a military camp, there are all kind of forces from SWAT teams, police. It's -- it's not very pleasant to get to the building.
CASAREZ: People who live in Trump Tower actually have to go through this security right here and then even more security beyond to get to the residential entrance. That increased security began on election night.
And it's not set to end for a long, long time. Residents are taking it one day at a time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most surprising thing is just how easy it's been. You know, the security is -- is clearly is -- is substantial.
But they just are all really good at their job.
CASAREZ: A logistical nightmare or not, Trump Tower may be setting an example for what's to come.
RISPO: If President Trump will run the country the same way that he runs the building, people will (ph) be quite active.
CASAREZ: Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.
BROWN: We have the breaking news out of Baghdad. A truck bomb exploded, killing at least 57 people at a gas station this morning. CNN International Correspondent, Phil Black, is live from Erbil in Iraq.
Phil, what do we know about this attack?
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So Pamela, the details are few but the indications are this was a large-scale horrific attack. South of Baghdad, near the town of Diwanir (ph), you arrive at a gas station there, a suicide truck bomb, we believe, was responsible for killing dozens of people.
The latest death count, we believe, is about 57 people. It blew up next to a couple of buses that were carrying Shia Muslim pilgrims.
Now, these are pilgrims that had recently attended a large annual event in the nearby town of Kabala. It's a huge annual pilgrimage for Shia Muslims.
Millions attend every year. It is a regular target in the context of this country's ongoing sectarian conflict.
The pilgrimage finished a few days ago. These were people we believe who were making their way home, many of them going back to Iran where they live, we understand, and had stopped at this gas station when this detonation took place.
And as I say, the -- the death toll around 57. It is expected to grow many, many more. And we don't have firm figures on this.
Many more have been injured. It really was, we understand, a huge explosion. Now, the SITE Intelligence Group, which is an online Jihadi monitoring group, say they have found a claim of responsibility from ISIS, in which they say they hope to spread the war that's taking police here in Northern Iraq to other parts of Iraq as well.
And that's the -- that's the bigger context here, of course, because ISIS is under real pressure here in the north as Iraqi forces backed up by a U.S.-led international coalition are trying to drive ISIS out of Northern Iraq, and in particular, out of the city of Mosul. And even as ISIS is losing ground here everyday, they are showing yet again that they still have the ability to project terror and violence in an unexpected location a long way away.
It's a classic ISIS tactic -- distraction to try and expand the given conflict. They have said that what they would like to establish here in this country is full-blown sectarian civil war.
This devastating attack is yet another attempt to try and achieve that goal, Pamela.
BROWN: Yes, certainly horrific. Phil Black, thank you very much for that. Well, no drugs, no alcohol, but he was off course. Investigators now trying to figure out why the Chattanooga bus driver was off his normal route when he overturned and crashed into a tree, killing at least six kids. Details ahead.
Plus, a white man charged in the shooting death of a black teenager who also called the victim trash, should not have had a gun, the stunning details out of West Virginia ahead.
BROWN: Well, a 62-year-old West Virginia man accused of shooting and killing an African-American teenager should not have had a gun at all. William Pulliam shot 15-year-old James Means after a verbal confrontation Monday night.
He is now accused of first-degree murder. CNN's Ryan Young has more.
So Ryan, the suspect -- suspect gave a jailhouse interview. What did he say?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he did give a jailhouse interview. And this is one of those stories you just got to keep looking at and try to unravel it because there are so many different details about this one, Pamela. The suspect says that he was walking to a Dollar General when he bumped into three teens, and that they exchanged some sort of words.
He then says in this jailhouse interview that the 15-year-old James Means produced a gun and was waving it around. He said he wanted to get away from that young man.
He went to the dollar store and on returning from that dollar store, he actually crossed the street to avoid this young man. He says then James Means crossed the street.
They had more words. And that's when he pulled his gun. Listen to some of the words he said during that jailhouse interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM PULLIAM, MURDER SUSPECT: I felt my life was in danger. I'm sorry, but I mean, I'm 62 years old. I'm not -- we're talking about folks (ph) beating me up.
I don't care if they're white or black. Nobody's going to do me like that. It doesn't make any difference if he's black.
Not everybody (ph) who lives around (ph) here is black. I get along with all of them. Ask them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG: And so that's the conversation here at this point, trying to figure out exactly what happened. Police say in their complaint that William Pulliam said to them, he took another piece of trash off the street.
That's actually in their criminal complaint. Now, he's saying he did not say that. We've obviously reached out to the police department to get their side of the story.
One of the things we also want to talk to them about is whether or not this 15-year-old was possessing a gun at the time when this confrontation happened. That's also not a part of the initial police report.
But one of the things that people are talking about obviously is what happened to put these two men together where he pulled out a gun and then according to police, went home, ate dinner before police arrived to arrest him. So a lot of troubling details here in this one, Pamela.
BROWN: Yes, that's disturbing. And the suspect wasn't even supposed to have a gun in the first place, is that right?
YOUNG: Absolutely right. Back in 2013, he pleaded no contest to a domestic abuse charges. And by federal law, he was not supposed to have a gun.
So obviously, he was walking around with that revolver at the time when he had this confrontation with the teen. He would face charges for that as well.
So of course, there's a lot to unravel here because if that teen had a gun, obviously, this changes part of the story and whether or not who was the aggressor and who was involved in this.
The teen's family has actually come out and said, they do not want anyone trying to take matters into their own hands. Of course, William Pulliam was also denied bond. So he's in jail at this point. And we'll continue to look at this
story to see what other details come out with this one.
BROWN: OK, keep us posted, Ryan Young. Thanks so much.
And let's bring in CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Danny Cevallos.
Danny, from what you just heard Ryan report, in your view, was this a hate crime?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: A hate crime, as a predicate, requires an underlying crime. So before we even start talking about hate crimes, which are any of these crimes like a murder that is motivated by some racial animus, we first have to find an underlying crime before there can even be discussion of a hate crime.
But assuming for a moment that this is a murder and that this defendant, there is probable cause that this was not a self-defense situation, then there would additionally have to be a showing of some racial animus. It's not enough that the victim is African-American and he was shot.
There has to be some showing by the prosecution or law enforcement that it was motivated because -- the shooting was motivated because of the person's race. And typically, that'll be done if there is some contemporaneous statements that, you know, I shot him because blank.
But those are relatively rare. It's going to have to be circumstantial. And again, I stress, there must be an underlying crime for there to be a hate crime.
BROWN: So apparently, in the police complaint, he -- he allegedly told officers, the way I look at it, that's another piece of trash off the street. Then you have this jailhouse interview where he says it doesn't make a difference whether he was black or white.
Will this jailhouse interview hurt or help his case?
CEVALLOS: As a general rule, defense attorneys have been saying this for centuries and nobody appears to be listening, jailhouse interviews, statements to police, no matter what, they will be used against you. And while you -- one person might say that the defendant in this video we're watching right now appears earnest, he appears to be candid, some other person or jury -- member of the jury might equally view that as dishonest.
So yes, those statements will come back. They will be used against him. And they'll be evaluated for their credibility.
And -- and obviously, they'll look at the word trash to decide whether or not that had some racial animus or it was just a general term used to say hey, these people, irrespective of their race or ethnicity, I think they were trash.
BROWN: All right. So a lot to uncover in this case. Danny Cevallos, thank you very much for coming on. Happy Thanksgiving to you.
Well, another child has lost his life in the horrific bus crash in Chattanooga. Investigators now trying to figure out why that bus driver was off his normal route. Details on that just ahead.
BROWN: Well, some sad news on that bus crash in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that killed five children. A sixth child has now died from his injuries.
His brother told CNN Keonte Wilson was a tough little boy. Officials say, the driver, Johnthony Walker, was not on his designated route at the time of the crash.
And the victim's family member says Walker's sister called him. Take a listen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She just reassured me that her brother was a good person and she said that he was terribly heartbroken at the, you know, by the accident. And she said that he was driving and -- and he hit a curb or something.
And he tried to overcorrect the bus and -- and caused it to flip over. I think he hit the gas pedal trying to self-correct or overcompensate and it caused the bus to flip over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So let's bring in CNN's Cara Kiner for more.
So do we know, Cara, why this driver took a different route?
CARA KNEER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, thanks, Pamela. You know, that's one of the questions we are trying to uncover right now.
The fact that he wasn't on his designated route at the time of the crash was released in the NTSB findings yesterday. What we do know is that Johnthony Walker was driving 37 students home from school on Monday, was traveling at excessive speed when he swerved off the road and plowed into a tree, killing six children.
Let's take a listen now to the Durham School Services CEO in a statement released by the company.
DAVID DUKE, CEO, DURHAM SCHOOL SERVICES: My responsibility now is to look for answers -- answers about why this tragedy occurred, and answers for how we can make sure that this never, ever happens again. I don't want to compromise that investigation.
I want to know what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KNEER: Such a tragedy, Pamela. And as you can hear, a community pulling together to find answers for these families. Also released last night at a press conference, police said, Johnthony Walker did not have any traces of blood or alcohol in his system.
And in addition, the NTSB said he had a second job and that sleep deprivation could be a factor. Five children are still recovering in the hospital.
And the driver currently faces five charges with a sixth charge pending with that latest death we've just told you about of vehicular homicide as well as reckless endangerment and reckless driving. The first lawsuit by one of the families has been filed against Johnthony Walker and Durham School Services.
But today, Pamela, when we are counting our blessings and feeling thankful for those we hold near and dear, the families of these six children are spending their first Thanksgiving without them.
BROWN: I cannot imagine what that is like to have that empty seat at the table.
Cara Kneer, thank you very much.
Plus, President-elect Donald Trump getting ready to carve some turkey at his Mar-a-Lago estate. But will he be stuffing more people into his cabinet today. New details on that transition. Stay with us.
BROWN: Well, legendary singer, Diana Ross, got a huge shout-out from President Obama when he honored her with a Medal of Freedom this week. That award is the highest civilian honor given by the White House. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: As a child, Diana Ross loved singing and dancing for her family, friends but not for free.
She was smart enough to pass the hat.
And later, in Detroit's Brewster housing projects, she met Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard, their neighbor, Smokey Robinson put them in front of Berry Gordy. And the rest was magic, music history.
The Supremes earned a permanent place in the American soundtrack. Along with her honey voice, her soulful sensibility, Diana exuded glamour and grace and filled stages that helped to shape the sound of Motown.
On top of becoming one of the most successful recording artists of all time, raised five kids, somehow found time to earn an Oscar nomination for acting. Today, from the hip-hop that samples her to the young singers who've been inspired by her, to the audiences that still cannot get enough of her, Diana Ross' influence is inescapable as ever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A daughter (ph)...
...a daughter of Detroit, Diana Ross helped create the sound of Motown with her iconic voice, from her groundbreaking work with the Supremes to a solo career that has spanned decades, she has influenced generations of young artists and shaped our -- our nation's musical landscape. In addition to a Grammy lifetime achievement award and countless musical accolades, Diana Ross has distinguished herself as an actor, earning an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe award.
With over 25 albums, unforgettable hit singles, and live performances that continue to captivate audiences around the world, Diana Ross still reigns supreme.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Congrats to the 21 recipients. Well, thank you so much for joining us here "At This Hour." And happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope you have a wonderful day.
"NEWSROOM" with Brianna Keilar starts right now.