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Biden Visits Afghanistan; Winter Storm Slams Southeast; What Palin Says About Shooting; Accused Assassin Speaks in Court; Tea Party Movement Reacts to Critics after Shooting; Accused Assassin Speaks in Court; Lawmakers Rethink Poisonous Words

Aired January 10, 2011 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Brooke, thanks very much.

Happening now, the accused assassin in court and breaking his silence in the deadly mass shooting in Arizona. Stand by for the newest information about his troubled life and why he allegedly targeted U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

The president and members of both parties joining together in silence, shock and grief. Mr. Obama offering new comments today about the tragedy. We're plugged into the debate over angry partisan politics and whether this shooting will change anything.

And one big question for so many lawmakers right now -- does this act of violence expose dangerous holes in America's gun laws and in security for government officials?

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


Twenty-two-year-old Jared Loughner now seems fully aware of the heinous charges he faces in the mass shooting in Arizona that killed six people and left a United States Congresswoman fighting for her life. Loughner appearing in an Arizona courtroom just a short while ago.

Doctors now say Representative Gabrielle Giffords' condition has stabilized but still is critical after a bullet store through her brain.

President Obama says Americans are pulling together after the shooting. He led a moment of silence today silence today for the victims.

We've seen reports that the shooting suspect, Jared Loughner, had not been talking to police. But it appears he broke his silence in court today.

CNN's Ted Rowlands covered the court appearance in Phoenix.

He's joining us now on the phone -- walk us through, Ted, what happened when he walked into that courtroom. TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, he walked in chains. Both his legs and his arms were chained. He was in a tan prison clothed suit. And he first looked up to the ceiling. His eyes were darting around. He seemed nervous. Then he sat with his attorney, Judy Clarke, for a while, before the judge took the bench. And you could tell that he was listening to what she was saying and nodding. So he was definitely -- you could tell early on that he was understanding the proceedings.

And then when the judge took the bench, it was very clear that he understood everything. And he was very succinct and very clear in his diction. He answered every question the judge had -- in fact, the first thing the judge said after he took the bench was, "Are you Jared Lee Loughner?"

And Loughner sort of paused and -- and leaned into the microphone. And then, in a very strong voice said, "Yes, I am Jared Lee Loughner."

From there, the judge went through all of the counts. And each and every time that Loughner was asked a question by this judge, he clearly answered it either a yes or no or whatever was appropriate.

At one point, he was asked did -- did Miss. Clarke, his lawyer, help him fill out a form. And he said, "Yes, Miss. Clarke did help me fill it out."

So, clearly, he understands what's going on. And we didn't know what to expect in court, but what we got was a very young man, head shaven, in shackles, answering very politely to this judge.

BLITZER: And you were only a few feet away, Ted. But you said earlier his -- what, his eyes were darting around, he appeared nervous.

Walk us through a little bit of what he looked like.

ROWLANDS: Well, I was probably about two feet away from him, because I was in the front row. So he -- when he came out of the entrance to the courtroom where there's a jail cell set up -- they'd opened the door and you could actually see inside. And I could see the jail cell and then -- and then they brought him in.

When they first brought him into the courtroom, he did look around a little bit. And he was darting his eyes back and forth very rapidly. And then he looked up sort of to the ceiling, until he was led to the chair, where he sat and sort of settled down.

I think it was just nerves, what we were seeing there, because after his lawyer sat next to him and talked to him, he seemed to settle down. He was very rigid throughout the whole process. But from there, he answered every question very clearly and to the -- every question the judge had.

BLITZER: And -- and you said he was -- he was bald, if you will, he had a shaven head?

Because the picture we've been showing our viewers shows he's got a lot of hair.

ROWLANDS: Yes, he was -- his head was shaved. He looked like he had some bruises, most likely from the scuffle following the shooting rampage, when he was pinned down to the ground for an extended period of time. But he -- yes, his head was completely shaven and unlike the photos that we've seen where, of course, he -- he had -- he had lots of hair.

BLITZER: Did -- and what was he wearing in this brief court appearance?

ROWLANDS: He was wearing the prison outfit. It was in -- it was a tan-colored prison outfit. And he had chains not only on his arms, but also on his legs. So he sort of shuffled around the courtroom. They first moved him to a table and then he had to move up to a podium when the judge took the bench.

One interesting note. When the judge went through all the charges -- and he went through them one by one, not only listing the charge, but also the possible penalty. When he listed the charge of murder in the first degree in the death of

John Roll, a U.S. district judge, to me, it seemed like this judge on the bench, Judge Anderson, paused rather dramatically to emphasize that he was announcing the death of one of his colleagues, another federal judge down in Tucson. And it was a very dramatic moment. And maybe I overanalyzed it, but that's what I took from being in the court out -- in the courtroom.

BLITZER: And so you didn't get any impression, based on this brief court appearance, of someone who was crazy or psychotic or a lunatic.

At least on the surface he seemed relatively normal, is that what I'm hearing from you, Ted?

ROWLANDS: Absolutely. Absolutely. He followed orders and -- and he conducted himself with courtesy, really, in -- in the courtroom. And we, of course, had no idea what to expect, because we had heard that he was not talking to authorities. And we had heard that he had disrupted his college classroom over the last few years. So we were really interested to see how he would handle himself. And -- and he not only understood what was going on, but he conducted himself in a manner which was much different than you might think somebody who was capable of what he did on Saturday -- or allegedly did on Saturday morning -- would have handled himself the way in which he did. It was a -- it was a little bit -- it was a little bit different than, personally, I thought we were going to see in court today. He seemed like a young man that definitely understood everything and was very clear in his answers to the judge.

BLITZER: Ted Rowlands reporting for us.

All right, Ted, thanks very much.

Let's get some more now on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her prospects for recovering from this horrific shooting. Our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is in Tucson, where they, earlier in the day, gave an update on her condition -- update our viewers, Jessica, on what -- what we know about her condition.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Congresswoman's neurosurgeon says that her condition essentially has not changed since yesterday. And that is excellent news. He explains that in conditions like this, you want the patient to remain in as good shape as she has been. And they say they do daily C.T. scans and they've seen no change.

And he made the point that she continues to respond to -- to commands.

Here's how he explains that.


DR. MICHAEL LEMOLE, CHIEF OF NEUROSURGERY, UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: What I don't want to do is get into the specifics. But as I've said before, when I say someone follows simple commands, it could be showing us their thumb, perhaps two fingers, gripping a hand, wiggling toes. All of those are simple commands that she can do, even though, for example, she has a breathing tube in place that would preclude more complex communication.


YELLIN: Now, Wolf, the biggest concern at this point, as we've reported, is the possibility of swelling in her brain. The doctors -- the surgeon said that she remains in danger of that at least through tomorrow, possibly through the end of the week. They have removed a piece of her skull to minimize the chances of brain swelling.

He said that they won't know more about any other effects of the gunshot until they remove that breathing tube -- for example, what kind of -- is her speech affected at all, sight, movement. But they say her family is with her. They do not know yet if she recognizes them, because the apparatus she's in doesn't allow them to.

But they hope to know more as soon as they remove the breathing tube, either later this week or next week, hopefully, they say -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And within the past hour or so, we heard from the Arizona governor, delivering what's called the state of the state address.

What is -- what was the basic point that she was making today, Jan Brewer?

YELLIN: Governor Jan Brewer delivered what most governors use to set the agenda for the next year. She said normally she would talk about job creation, education, tax cuts. But she said this is not the time. Instead, she addressed the tragedy.

Here's a little bit of Governor Jan Brewer.


GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: Saturday's events were not just an attack on those individuals we loved and lost, but an assault on our Constitutional republic, on our democracy, on all we treasure and all hold dear as citizens and public servants. Arizona is in pain. Yes. Our grief is profound. We are yet in the first hours of our sorrow. But we have not been brought down. We will never be brought down.


YELLIN: Now, Wolf, Governor Brewer, a Republican, has been something of a flashpoint for debate in this ongoing immigration battle here. But since this tragedy has happened, she has struck a very bipartisan tone -- a unifying tone, calling Gabrielle Giffords a good friend.

She invited to the event today that intern, Daniel Hernandez, an intern of Gabrielle Giffords, who was there at the site when the shooting occurred, who had medical training, rushed to take care of the Congresswoman. And many of the Congresswoman's staffers, credit Hernandez with helping to save Congresswoman Giffords' life. He was specially recognized at that state of the state today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jessica Yellin, stand by.

We're going to be getting back to you.

I want to show our viewers the mug shot of Jared Lee Loughner that was released today. Here it is. He was arraigned, as you saw. There he is earlier, pictures we showed you. He had a lot of hair. His hair has been shaven, as you can see. He's got a little smirk there from that picture, with a little smile, it looks like. That's the new picture -- the official mug shot of Jared Lee Loughner, just released. We'll show it to our viewers. There he is.

In the meantime, here in Washington, a lot of questions about whether angry political divisions in this country may have set the stage for the tragedy in Tucson.

CNN has learned that Congresswoman Giffords issued a new call for more civility in politics the night before the shooting. She sent an e- mail to the outgoing Kentucky secretary of State, a Republican, that included a remark about the need to, quote, "tone our rhetoric and partisanship down."

Let's bring in our senior Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash -- Dana, I take it a lot of soul-searching going on on Capitol Hill and elsewhere right now.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There is. No question about it. We should make clear that there's no evidence that the rhetoric that the Congresswoman talked about and other people -- people talk about -- motivated the alleged gunman to go after Congresswoman Giffords. But her colleagues here in Congress are using the tragedy to call an unofficial time out to poisonous politics. They delayed a health care repeal vote this week, replacing it with a resolution to honor the victims of the tadegy -- tragedy. And we saw a bipartisan event today.


BASH (voice-over): Hundreds gather on the Capitol steps for a moment of silence. Lawmakers and aides pay tribute to colleagues gunned down doing the same jobs they do. And a show of bipartisanship, rare in recent times, but in the last 48 hours, suddenly common.

Chiefs of staff to Republican House speaker, John Boehner, and Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, standing symbolically side by side.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bless these, God, your servants, who serve this nation.

BASH: Afterwards, a tearful Eleanor Holmes Norton.

(on camera): What does this tell you about ten (INAUDIBLE) should be a change in tone here?

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), D.C. DELEGATE: This reminds us that we are all bonded and we'd better always remember it when we're on the House floor and when we're in our districts.

BASH (voice-over): Republicans are striking the same chord.

REP. FRED UPTON (R), MICHIGAN: We can certainly disagree on issues without being disagreeable. And I think it sends the right tone as we -- we start the next two years.

BASH: It's a big contrast from rhetoric on the House floor just last week, from Republicans and Democrats.

REP. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Kill the jobs killing health care bill.

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D), CALIFORNIA: The repeal of it is actually a killer of human beings.

REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Do we have Democrats saying dumb things?

Every single day.

And -- and Republicans, as well.

BASH: Democrat Emanuel Cleaver is the new chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

CLEAVER: Hopefully, this is a transformative moment. If it isn't, it should be. Whether the shooter was inspired by speech or not to do his dastardly deeds is irrelevant.

BASH: Behind-the-scenes, he says colleagues applaud each other for poisonous rhetoric.

CLEAVER: What happens when you're toxic? Your colleagues walk up and pat you on the back -- boy, that was good. You called him, you called her such a good name. And that's celebrated. We've got to make it...

BASH (on camera): You see that happen?

CLEAVER: I see it every day here. And, you know, if you really are nasty to somebody, and if you had a hidden microphone so you could hear what people are saying, it's like, "Good job."

And we've got to stop it.


BASH: Now what Cleaver has said about both parties being responsible for this atmosphere is interesting, given the fact that over the weekend, we saw some of his Democratic colleagues not so subtly use this to go after Sarah Palin. And you saw conservatives fight back and say wait a minute, Democrats are playing politics with this tragedy.

But regardless, for the most part, by and large, we have seen members of Congress have a different tone here. They are being much more courteous to each other, much -- much more camaraderie.

How long that will last, that's another question -- Wolf.

BLITZER: That is another question, indeed.

We'll see.

Dana, thank you.

Doctors closely monitoring Congresswoman Gifford's condition minute by minute. Stand by. I'll be speaking live with the chief neurosurgeon on the case. We'll get the latest on her condition and what happens next.

Plus, the suspected gunman's attorney in this case never shies away from taking on high profile and widely hated defendants. We're taking a closer look at her win/loss record.

And the former House majority leader, Tom DeLay, sentenced for money laundering and conspiracy.


BLITZER: Security of members of Congress is on Jack Cafferty's mind right now. Jack is here with "The Cafferty File." Jack --

JACK CAFFERTY: In light of the tragedy in Tucson, and the attempted assassination of a sitting member of Congress, some lawmakers are taking matters into their own hands. They're saying now that they plan to carry guns in public in their home districts.

Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah tells CNN he's always had a concealed weapon license and often carried a gun, but he says now he may do it more regularly. Chaffetz says he's already gotten half a dozen death threats that have caused him to call the Capitol Police or local law enforcement after only two years in office.

He also thinks Congress ought to consider using the U.S. marshal service to provide security for lawmakers in their districts like they do for federal judges. Politico reports that Democratic Congressman Heath Schuler of North Carolina also plans to carry a gun more often and increased security in his district.

Schuler's encouraging staffers to get their own permits to carry a gun. He was the victim of a serious death threat a couple of years back. Other lawmakers are taking steps to tighten security in their offices. Some suggest local law enforcement could play a larger role at events like the one where Congresswoman Giffords was shot or at town hall meetings.

Other members of Congress don't plan to change their lifestyle at all, say they will continue to engage their constituents and offer full access. Here's the question then. What does it say about the United States that some members of Congress are now going to be carrying guns? Go to Post a comment on my blog.

BLITZER: Jack, thanks very, very much.

An angry, very angry party movement issuing a scathing new message to critics linking it to the massacre, why members now say they're, quote, "exploited and smeared." Stay with us. We'll have the latest on reaction from Tea Party Movement supporters.

Plus the Vice President Joe Biden makes a surprise visit to Afghanistan.


BLITZER: Just ahead I'll speak live with the chief neurosurgeon at the hospital where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is recovering.

But first, let's check some other important stories we're following right now. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that. What's going on, Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Vice President Biden arrived in Kabul to meet with top U.S. and Afghan personnel including President Hamid Karzai. A White House official says the purpose to assess progress toward the transition of security to Afghan forces. The United States is scheduled to begin withdrawing troops in July.

And a Texas judge ruled former House Majority Leader Tom Delay that he will serve three years in prison on money laundering and conspiracy charges. Delay you may recall was convicted back in November of illegally funneling $190,000 in corporate money to help re-elect GOP candidates to the state legislature. He told the court he doesn't believe he did anything wrong.

And the southeast is getting hammered with a rare blast of winter weather this hour. Take a look. Snow, freezing rain and sleet are wreaking havoc on travelers and thousands are without power. The weather system is expected to head northeast starting tomorrow. Wolf --

BLITZER: Looks like it's going to be bad.

SYLVESTER: Yes, it is.

BLITZER: People got to get ready, they had warning. No excuses.

SYLVESTER: Yes, if they have to get on a plane, they might want to check their flights ahead of time.

BLITZER: Good idea, Lisa. Thank you.

All right, coming up, I'll speak live with the neurosurgeon treating Congresswoman Giffords and I'll ask him if he believes she'll be able to walk, be able to talk, how she's doing with her recovery. Standby for that.

And we'll also hear what Sarah Palin is now saying about the Arizona shooting.


BLITZER: Let's get back to our top story right now within the past hour. The accused shooter in Tucson, Jared Loughner in appeared in federal court. Ted Rowlands was on the scene. You're only a few feet away from him. We're showing the mug shot that was just released. Update our viewers on how that went, Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you could see that he now has a shaved head. He came into the courtroom in shackles. He was a bit nervous at the beginning, but he understood everything the judge said. The judge and he had multiple back and forths throughout this 15- minute hearing, probably 10 separate questions that Loughner had to answer to the judge.

And each and every time he was coherent. He was succinct. He had a strong voice, leaned into the microphone started off by saying "I am Jared Lee Loughner" and then from there every single time, the judge asked him a question he was at the podium, leaned into it and answered coherently and very strong.

A little different than many people expected, because we had heard he wasn't cooperating with police. We weren't sure if he could come in and be silent. The judge at the beginning told him he could be or if he would speak or maybe disrupt the proceedings. We saw a young man who understood everything and answered everything he was asked.

BLITZER: Stand by, Ted. We're going to get back to you because we want more specifics on what happened in that courtroom, Ted Rowlands is on the scene for us.

Let's get to our strategy session, joining us our national political correspondent Jessica Yellin. She's in Tucson, our CNN political contributors, the Democratic strategist James Carville and Republican strategist Alex Castellanos.

Jessica, the Tea Party Express issued a statement saying it is quite clear that liberals are trying to exploit the shooting for their own political benefit and used deception and dishonesty to try to smear all of us and our beliefs. They are angry right now. Why?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I have spoken to Tea Party groups here, Wolf. They say it's because this suspect had nothing to do with them as far as they know. They've checked their own lists. They've gone through event video, and they say he is not attended their events or been affiliated and not mentioned their issues on his blog postings, et cetera.

They feel it's a rush to judgment to blame them for something where there's no clear connection. There is in fairness some politicians here, had talked about changing the tone in this town of political debate before this but the tea party activists say they do not belong in this discussion.

BLITZER: James, Clarence Dupnik, the sheriff in the county there in Tucson. He has been outspoken going back to the Saturday his immediate reaction, among other things he said this, listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.


BLITZER: All right. James, go ahead, when you heard him say that, he hasn't shied away, hasn't backed away from that since. What did you think of that reaction?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, you know, I guess, I have a lot of friends in Arizona. I was just out there and it's a state that depends, not totally, but a large measure on tourism and a lot of people invested a lot of money out there.

When you have the governor falsely claiming that people are being beheaded and that kind of foolishness, it goes against I think an image that people who have real skin in the game, have real investment I think it goes against their interests and I think the sheriff is frustrated.

I think some of the rhetoric out there gets mighty heated up sometimes. I don't think that their governor is a judicious person that thinks things out very well, if at all, and this probably adds to it, but there's a lot - it's unfair to smear a whole state on the basis of - and this guy, he was a real nutty. I mean, we've got nutty people in Louisiana. There's nutty people everywhere. This guy was one real, real nutty guy.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You're talking about the alleged shooter in this case, James.


BLITZER: You're not talking about the sheriff.

CARVILLE: Yes, who, by the way, had -- I think the tea party there's no evidence that links him to the tea party that I've seen. If somebody can produce some, I'd be willing to look at it.

BLITZER: Is Sarah Palin being recklessly criticized right now, Alex, for the comments she's made about reloading and having a bull's eye on her district in Arizona? Is that all unfair?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, FORMER ROMNEY PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN CONSULTANT: First, I think it's tremendously unfair. Look, I'm not a big Sarah Palin Fan. I think she's becoming increasingly irrelevant to the political debate. A leader has to lead. She's really offering nothing new of where the Republican Party should go.

Nevertheless, for anyone to say that Washington is doing such a great job that someone like Sarah Palin can't criticize it strongly and harshly and fight tough political battles to change the place, that's just ridiculous and to say that those Americans who are concerned about that somehow contributed to this tragedy is, I think, way overreaching, but that's what we've seen.

You know, we have the Ft. Hood shooting. The president stands up and says, let's be patient. Let's find out what happened. Let's not rush to judgment, but here in this case, 30 seconds later, let's blame Sarah Palin, and I think the Democrats are overreaching on that.

BLITZER: She was in that district, James, back on March 26th of 2010, and she was obviously campaigning for the Republican candidate for the tea party candidate. Listen to what she said then in Tucson.


SARAH PALIN, (R) FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: We know violence isn't the answer. When we take up our arms, we're talking about our vote. We're talking about being involved in a contested primary like this, and picking the right candidate, too, John McCain. We thank you for that. But this B.S. coming from the lame stream media lately about this, about inciting violence, don't let -- don't let the conversation be diverted. Don't let a distraction like that get you off track.


BLITZER: All right. James, she makes a fair point, do you think?

CARVILLE: I would point out Senator DeMint who is now the hero of the Republican Party said she's the most influential Republican since Ronald Reagan. She is the intellectual center of that political party right now. I think -- Jim DeMint, who Alex, as you know, is the most influential senator that they have say she's got more influence in Republicans than Ronald Reagan. I'm just going on what she said. I'm not the -- I'm not a Republican. I just think that some of her language, I think, is unfortunate. I bet if she had to do it all over again she wouldn't put cross-hairs on the congressional districts that they wanted to win. And some of her rhetoric is silly. I don't think the woman is for violence. She's got five kids, but sometimes, they can -- but Sharron Angle, the tea party is definitely tolerant of extremism and violence. Look what Sharron Angle said to tea party favorite that they would have to execute Second Amendment remedies against Senator Reid. There's no excuse for that. That's wrong, wrong, wrong. And the tea party just dumped money after her.

BLITZER: Jessica, in fairness, sometimes, the liberals, sometimes the left wing of the Democratic Party, sometimes they get go off on tangents and say things that are not necessarily well-thought-out.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And that's what a lot of conservatives and tea party activists are pointing to in particular comments president Obama made during the campaign when he said if they bring a knife to the fight, we'll bring a gun. Other comments, other Democrats have made, but you know the president said that once.

He didn't repeat it, and it was a quote from the "Untouchables" and what Democrats say in response to this in general because I'm being inundated with e-mail about this, Wolf, is that it's a false equivalency because in the view of liberals, they don't make these kind of violent parallels as much as the right does.

The right, of course, thinks that's totally absurd. The bigger question, Wolf, is, you know, President Obama has this opportunity to strike a post part as in tone. We saw all of those people unified in Capitol Hill this morning. How do you do it when the left and the right are this angry after an incident that would bring people together like this?

BLITZER: All right. Go ahead very quickly, Alex, wrap it up.

CASTELLANOS: Well, I think James is such a paragon of moderation in his rhetoric. Sarah Palin will certainly should model herself after him, and James you just said you don't want to smear the whole state but you just smeared the governor. I think we could all use more maturity in our political rhetoric.

CARVILLE: I did. I think that governor is vapid.

BLITZER: All right --

CARVILLE: Did you watch her? I think she's a vapid person. I'm not smearing the whole state. I think that --


CASTELLANOS: There's nothing wrong with being critical of the government in Washington and had nothing to do with what this crazy guy did in Arizona.

CARVILLE: There's nothing wrong with saying that Jan Brewer is vapid because she is.

CASTELLANOS: We'll put you down as undecided then James.

BLITZER: James has never been shy.

CARVILLE: OK. Put me down as -- OK.

BLITZER: All right. Guys, thanks very much. Jessica, don't go too far away. We'll get back to you soon.

The deadly massacre is raising new concerns about the safety of Congressional lawmakers. What some members are planning to do next. That's coming up.

Also, he helped bring down the alleged gunman even as a bullet grazed the back of his head. We'll speak live with an eyewitness who was there, a hero.


BLITZER: Doctors in Tucson treating Congresswoman Giffords say she is not out of the woods, not by any means. Dr. Michael Lemole is the chief of neurosurgery at the University Medican Center in Tucson. He's joining us now. Dr. Lemole, thanks very much for joining us. More importantly, thanks very much for treating not only the congresswoman but the others. Give us latest on her condition. How is she doing?

DR. MICHAEL LEMOLE, CHIEF OF NEUROSURGERY UNIV MEDICAL CTR.: The good news is that she's holding her own, and no change in her case is good for us.

BLITZER: Is she responding to commands?

LEMOLE: She's still doing that when we back of on the sedation sufficiently.

BLITZER: What does that mean? Like, can you give us an example, raise your hand, wiggle your toes? What are you asking her to do?

LEMOLE: Exactly that. Show us your thumb, squeeze my hand, wiggle your toes, all of those kinds of things we ask.

BLITZER: She can do all of those things?

LEMOLE: I don't want to go into her specifics, but she is giving us enough information to let us know that she's in there and she's able to respond to us.

BLITZER: Is she still, I assume, connected to all the breathing tubes, the IVs, the respirator, everything along those lines in intensive care, is that right?

LEMOLE: Everything is fully connected, and of course, that limits our examination and so what I'm giving you sounds like I'm being very vague, but to some extent, we're very limited in our ability to assess her.

BLITZER: Is she or is she not in what's called an induced coma?

LEMOLE: That's another way of saying sedation or anesthetic sedation. It simply makes her comfortable between the examination times. Breathing tubes are terribly uncomfortable. She's got to be feeling some pain from the surgery itself. And so, we want to make her as comfortable as possible.

BLITZER: So, when you put her in an induced coma, let's say, where you put it asleep, I guess, might be a little bit more, I guess, accurate way of describing it, she feels no pain at that time. The whole purpose is so that she doesn't feel pain?

LEMOLE: Correct.

BLITZER: We spoke the other night, at least I did, with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our CNN medical correspondent, who himself is a neurosurgeon. He says sometimes you do an induced coma to make sure the swelling in the brain doesn't go on, and it's a way of dealing with the issues that could complicate the recovery.

LEMOLE: And that's why I'm a little uncomfortable with the term "induced coma." Because we have something what we call barbiturate coma and that's actually for the purpose of knocking down the metabolic rate of the brain cells so that they don't require as much oxygen in those cases where we're having a hard time giving the brain oxygen. And that is a very specific type of coma. What we're doing here is not that.

BLITZER: I know I asked you if you could bring a diagram or a brain to show us a little bit of what's going on and I take it you have something you can show us?

LEMOLE: What I have here is a brain model, and I don't want to get into the specifics of her case, but what I can show you on this model is where the bullet didn't go and why she's doing so well, we think. If you look down sort of the geometric center of this brain model, right down in here, this is a critical relay center. This is where all of the information coming up from the spinal cord and the body has to pass through and be parceled out to the brain, and likewise, anything the brain wants to tell the rest of the world or any kind of commands it wants to carry out has to pass through that area.

So, if a bullet goes through there, it's a very different story. If a bullet goes through these fluid spaces, again, very -- and right there, it's sort of purplish. It's also a very, very poor prognosis because it's near those arousal centers, those areas that control your level of alertness. And if a bullet goes from side to side, meaning that is affected both sides, again, very poor prognosis. And I'm happy to say, in her case, none of those trajectories happened. And I think that's why she's doing so well.

BLITZER: And what you've said publicly, I don't want you to say anything that you don't want to say for obvious reasons is that it went from the back to the front on the left side, is that right? LEMOLE: Let me qualify that because our assessment was not forensic by any means, and all we can tell based upon the fracture on the front and the back is we thought that maybe it was going from the back to the front, but we're very quick to say we might be wrong on that. And I'm sure the forensic scientist will actually reconstruct the crime scene.

BLITZER: We're talking now, not this week, perhaps, months for recovery, is that right?

LEMOLE: I think that's fair.

BLITZER: And the prospect of her walking and talking and seeing and all of that, what are her chances?

LEMOLE: Without going into her case in specific, for these kind of injuries, the entire range is possible, from basically very poor recovery to very full functional recovery, and I don't think it's useful to prognosticate before we even have her awake and the breathing tube taken out and we can even fully assess her.

BLITZER: When she does awake and when you have a chance to speak with her, Dr. Lemole, go ahead and tell her that all of our viewers here at CNN in the United States and around the world were praying for her and we wish her a speedy recovery. And we thank you, Dr. Lemole, very much for doing what you're doing, your entire team at the hospital there.

LEMOLE: Thank you.

BLITZER: We appreciate it very much.

LEMOLE: You're certainly welcome.

BLITZER: All right. Dr. Michael Lemole is the chief of neurology at Tucson University Medical Center. He's a neurosurgeon. He's doing what he's doing, and he's doing it well.

There are new concerns about the safety of U.S. political leaders. Our congressional correspondent, Brianna Keilar, has more -- Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, congressional aides say their offices will work more closely with local law enforcement to make sure that security at events in home districts is adequate. They also say they'll develop more formal procedures for dealing with potential threats, that includes phone calls as well as e-mails but also posts on Facebook and Twitter.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that will be my number one goal.

KEILAR (voice-over): In Washington, top Republicans and Democrats in Congress roll up with the round-the-clock security details that also accompany them back to their home states and districts. But for rank and file members, there is no permanent security staff, and back home, there are parades to go to, town hall meeting to host, and constituents, lots of constituents to meet. Pressing the flesh, it's the bread and butter of politics, and lawmakers are constantly out in their communities, accessible to voters and that's just the way many members want it to stay.

REP. FRED UPTON, (D) MICHIGAN: For the most part, I think most of us would balk at additional security things knowing that's not who we are. We come from the communities we represent. You know, we're the same people that we were before.

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, (D) DC DELEGATE: I have never, for a very moment, in a very violent city feared for my safety and if I had to think about that, then it would be very difficult for me to be a member of the House of Representatives.

KEILAR: But some members of Congress say much more needs to be done. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican says, perhaps, the U.S. Marshal Service which protects federal judges should do the same for lawmakers. And he says, he's also taking his safety into his own hands.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, (R) UTAH: I was a concealed carried permit holder before I was in Congress. I've continued with that practice, and I will probably make it even more regular in my routine moving toward. It's just a personal security thing for me.


KEILAR (on-camera): Today, members are in their home districts where it's very different from the heavy police presence you see here at the Capitol, but many will return here on Wednesday for security briefing conducted by the United States capitol police, the sergeant at arms, as well as the FBI, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Brianna, thank you. Thanks, Brianna Keilar. Standby Jack Cafferty. We'll have more on the prospect of members of Congress carrying guns.

And what if, what if you found yourself in the middle of a shooting rampage? Would you know how to react? We're taking a much closer look at what some people who were on the scene in Tucson did, what they did right and what they did wrong.


BLITZER: A moment of silence today in Arizona, at the White House, the Capitol, even at NASA. Take a look.



"Amazing Grace"

BLITZER: Jack's back with the " Cafferty File " -- Jack. JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Question this hour, what does it say about our country that some members of the U.S. Congress are now going to be carrying guns in the wake of the situation in Tucson? We got this from Strom in Charleston, South Carolina. I think members of Congress carrying firearms might be going a bit too far, but the days of being able to directly meet with your constituents in the small public forums are simply over. It's just not safe.

Wade in Sacramento writes, it says the hateful rhetoric has left these leaders fearing for their lives. Who is going to want to serve the people if you can be killed because of the likes of Limbaugh, Beck, and Palin have inflamed people to become monsters? Sad.

Donald in Missouri, it implies the Second Amendment isn't so old- fashioned after all.

Steve in Virginia Beach, it says a lot of things. Our expectations of effective parenting and traditional American values aren't nearly what they used to be. It says our politicians ignoring the importance of the rule of law for so many decades wasn't a good idea either. And it says Congress is still addressing symptoms instead of the underlying problems.

C. writes, I'm surprised, actually, these guys aren't already carrying guns. For years, they've claimed to be advocates of pro-gun legislation to the point where they have written laws to allow guns into our national parks, our universities, our trains, and our political events. Now, things are so dangerous they have to protect themselves from lunatics who are armed. Thanks to their own legislation.

Lisa writes, ridiculous and selfish as usual. Instead of worrying about their own personal safety, how about tightening the gun laws in the U.S. so we're all safe from the crazies among us?

And Kathleen in South Carolina writes, this is just what we need, Jack. Instead of them calling each other liars, socialist, bigot, they can start shooting each other. This country is becoming more and more like a Banana Republic.

If you want to read more on this, you can go to my blog, -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you. Thanks very much. She's defended some of the most notorious killers in U.S. history. Now, the accused Tucson gunman, Jared Loughner, is her newest client. We're taking a closer look at this woman's possible game plan.


BLITZER: She's defended some of the most controversial terror suspects out there. There's no doubt about that. Now, Judy Clarke is representing the accused gunman, Jared Loughner. Mary Snow is working the story for us. All right. Mary, what do we know?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Judy Clarke is a defense attorney in San Diego who's requested because of her experience as a public defender in death penalty cases. While it's not clear yet whether the justice department will seek the death penalty, many lawyers expect that to happen.


SNOW (voice-over): Judy Clarke is a defense attorney who's never shied away from high-profile cases. She represented the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. A fellow public defender in that case calls Clarke a tireless worker who is one of the top, if not the top, legal defenders in the country. Kaczynski pleaded guilty in a deal that spared him the death penalty.

Clarke also assisted in the defense of confessed al Qaeda operative, Zacarias Moussaoui. He, too, is serving a life sentence in prison. Those cases posed a challenge similar to the case of 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner says CNN legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: How do you take a defendant who is obviously guilty of the crime charged and turn a death penalty case into a life imprisonment case?

SNOW: In Loughner's case, you've got the wrong guy is not a plausible option, says Toobin. A mental state defense is all that's left.

TOOBIN: The heart of the challenge to Judy Clarke is to persuade the prosecutors that he is so damaged, that her client is so psychologically impaired that no purpose, no deterrent purpose would be served by executing him and all that needs to be done is separate him from society for the rest of his life.

SNOW: There are some cases that didn't go to trial. In 1998, Russell Weston was accused of killing two Capitol Hill police officers. Barry Boss was his public defender.

BARRY BOSS, COZEN O'CONNOR: He was, you know, headed into the Capitol to try to seize control of this time control machine that he believed was at the Capitol and thought that he was saving humanity by doing it.

SNOW: Weston was deemed incompetent found to have no understanding of the proceedings against him. There's a different threshold for the mental insanity defense.

BOSS: The defendant has to prove by clear and convincing evidence that he didn't understand that he has a mental disease or defect and that he didn't understand or appreciate his conduct or understand the wrongfulness of it. So, that's also very difficult to establish.


SNOW (on-camera): As Jared Lee Loughner is likely to undergo a lengthy battery of exams by psychiatrists and psychologists in the coming months. They'll be hired by both the government and the defense, and their conclusions will go a long way in determining whether Loughner will ever face the death penalty -- Wolf. BLITZER: All right. Mary, thank you.