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THE SITUATION ROOM
FBI: Letter To W.H. Tests Positive For Ricin; President Obama Reacts to Gun Vote
Aired April 17, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: He's going to be joining us live this hour. He's coming over here to our location. We'll get the latest from him. Sources have told us there has been what they call significant progress in this investigation. Sources also say the investigators want to question a possible suspect who has been seen spotted on videotape.
Washington, meanwhile, has been rattled by official word that comes after a letter sent to President Obama and the U.S. senator have tested positively, at least initially, for the deadly poison ricin.
And we're just learning that President Obama will deliver a statement on the gun control measure that just failed in Congress. He will go to the White House Rose Garden this hour. We will have live coverage of the president deeply disappointed because they have failed to pass these, even these modified background check expansion regulations.
Meanwhile, authorities are supposed to come out fairly soon to brief us on the latest investigation in the Boston marathon bombings. We're getting conflicting word on when that might happen if, in fact, it will happen. But two sources do with knowledge of the investigation say authorities want to question a person seen on video, a person seen on video as a possible suspect in the attack.
Let's bring in our chief national correspondent, John King, our security analyst as well. They're here. Juliette Kayyem is joining us. She's going to be walking in momentarily. John, first of all, let's update our viewers on what we know right now as far as this criminal investigation is concerned.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We do know for a number of sources they believe they've made substantial progress described by some as a breakthrough in this case because of a video analysis much of it coming from the Lord & Taylor Department Store which is very close in proximity to the site of the second explosion on Monday.
I'm also told that some video provided by a Boston television station was part of this. They finally got what they were looking for. One of the sites of the explosion, I'm told, the video is very clear, shows somebody delivering a package, putting it down, right at the site of that explosion, and then, these sources say from the video enhancement of that, they have identified a suspect. And so, then, the question is from there this briefing was originally scaled at one o'clock today and moved to five o'clock today. Now, it's been postponed again. We don't know exactly how long. We're told it'll be sometime about it. A number of sources say that they've identified a suspect, and from there, our information, as you know, throughout the day, has been sometimes conflicting and sometimes murky as to whether they have a name for that suspect or just a visual identification of a suspect and where it goes from there.
BLITZER: And we will hear this hour, because he's coming here, the governor of Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick. He, I assume, has been fully briefed on every step in this law enforcement investigation.
KING: The governor is getting briefings constantly from both the state police and Boston police, the FBI. I know the mayor of Boston was briefed this morning. I talked to the mayor after I had been told there was a breakthrough in the investigation, and he wouldn't go all the way that far, but he did confirm that it was the Lord & Taylor video.
That his briefing from the Boston police commissioner about what they called, other sources called the turning point of the investigation. And he said that they were making progress and he was hopeful, he was hopeful, that there would be a definitive breakthrough quite soon, but that that was where the mayor stopped.
BLITZER: So, the governor will be here fairly soon. We'll talk to the governor as soon as he gets here, Governor Deval Patrick. Tom Fuentes is the former FBI assistant director, a CNN analyst. He's joining us right now. What are you hearing? You have good sources, Tom. What's the latest information you're getting on the status, the state of this criminal investigation into these two bombings at the Boston marathon that killed three people and injured nearly 200?
TOM FUENTES, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Hi, Wolf. I think what it shows is that it requires a great deal of meticulous work to put this together and that working with all of the still pictures, video pictures, security camera pictures, trying to put that all together into a chronological sequence to logically show who walked up to the places where those bombs went off, did someone set something down, do they have a clear picture of the person, where did they go afterward? How soon afterward did the explosion occur?
That is a very painstaking, deliberative process. I think the information then of significant progress is that they do have some pictures that do show faces fairly clearly, and I think that it's very important in helping them to try to track down the individual. Right now, as far as the delay of the press conferences from all the way from one o'clock in the afternoon, there are so many reasons having been in that situation, there are so many reasons that you may want a delay.
You think you're about to any minute have a significant, even more significant breakthrough and you want to wait and just hold off and be able to announce that, then it doesn't happen, then it takes longer so you could have that type of information coming.
There could be a discussion going on as well that if they've got very good still or video pictures of possible suspects, whether they go ahead and put those on the air with a law enforcement request, kind of a ball low (ph) as commonly used or an amber alert that type of thing where they're putting a suspect photograph out through the media to the public saying, does anybody know this person or know of that person?
Please call our tip line and let's go forward and we'll maintain your anonymity and security if you do that. You know, please help in this investigation and help in a more specific manner. Help find this person. So, those are all the different possibilities that are going on right now.
BLITZER: It looks like they're making significant progress, but, clearly, they are, by no means, there yet. Stand by, Tom. Tom Fuentes is going to be with us. Juliette Kayyem is here as well, our homeland security analyst. It takes a while.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes.
BLITZER: I mean, it's pretty amazing. What, three days, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday --
BLITZER: -- since this horrible tragedy occurred. So, it's going to take a while for law enforcement to find out what really happened.
KAYYEM: Right. I've been saying all day the most important -- since the event has already happened, the most important thing is that you preserve the evidence and you have a solid case, and then, you get a guilty verdict against the right person. That's all that matters right now to everyone involved on the law enforcement and national security side. And so, they're not on 24/7 time.
They're taking the long view because they know this will be a very long process. Even if you find someone within the next week or so, just imagine the trial is going to be, you know, maybe up to a year off. I mean, just looking at how these things normally work. And it will be a big deal trial. So, there will be lots of speculation.
I think, you know, part of the message from public officials here, you'll certainly hear from the governor is whoever it is and whatever is going on there just should not be this rush to judgment. And this is -- you know, this is a city that has remarkably sort of shown an ability to bounce back pretty well.
BLITZER: It certainly has. If you walk around only a few blocks from here, you see people going back into stores, coffee shops.
KAYYEM: Right. BLITZER: The city is alive despite this horrendous tragedy. And John, you're from Boston. You were in various parts of the city today. Just give us a little sense of what's going on in Boston.
KING: I think, without a doubt, most people are trying to get about their business. Most people also want some resolution of this which is why I think some of the conflicting information we're getting from sources during the day caused a sense of relief in Boston and first at some breakthrough that happened. Now, we've been told by sources -- you know, government officials we're talking to that that's not the case, that an arrest hasn't been made.
Clearly something big has happened in the investigation today. In terms of the city getting back to life, when I talked to Mayor Menino, he said he was certain the people of Boston and the surrounding communities would be resilient. They would move on. He's also already talking about a victim's compensation fund.
They spoke to Mr. Feinberg, Kenneth Feinberg, who worked post 911, also was in touch with some of the Gulf Coast communities about how do you compensate victims. They're trying to get that piece of it together.
BLITZER: Where would the money come from?
KING: Well, a lot of private businesses have contributed quite a bit, so far. I asked the mayor if he thought taxpayer money would be involved and he said, so far, they're getting a huge outpouring from the business community and their number one priority is to define victim. Who would be entitled to compensation? Obviously, the people who have lost family members, fatalities, and wounded will be -- who else?
Like business prospective. He said that was something they wanted to move forward with as quickly as possible so that those folks could know they would be taken care of. And he also said this crime scene area around here, it was 15 blocks. It is down to 12. He said very soon he expects it to go down to at least nine and he said he would like it because this is such a big part of the heart of the city to be opened as soon as possible.
But he also said, of course, especially given the new developments in the investigation that he would wait, do that, make that decision on trying to reopen the streets --
BLITZER: And Juliette, I just want to set the scene. We see this tank that was erected behind us and as big medical Red Cross sign on it. But what's going on inside there?
KAYYEM: Well, what we thought -- when you plan a marathon as we did when I worked in state government, this would have been down by now, of course, and it's a huge, vast room. It is just like a big tent with all sorts of beds on it and people would be taking care of for exhaustion or dehydration in a normal marathon. Immediately after, it was a triage tent. Everyone's been removed from there, of course. But there might be evidence in the tent and so that's what people are telling me is going on because, of course, if you were a victim, you are carrying shrapnel or whatever else to the tent. So, this will all sort of begin to, you know, get to the core moment when we have enough evidence that this can all be opened up and then people will start to, you know, sort of live in Boston as we used to.
This is, you know, this a huge part of Boston to be closed off. So, things are getting back to normal but not perfect yet.
BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, you've been involved in a lot of criminal investigations going back to your days as an assistant FBI director. What they have to do, any evidence that they find they have to keep intact so it's, at least, admissible in a court of law?
FUENTES: Right. That's true, Wolf. They have to maintain the chain of custody and show exactly where they obtain the evidence, how they found it, and who actually had physical control of that evidence every minute from the time it was seen at the crime scene until the time they'd take it into court and present it during the prosecution. That chain of custody is vital where else that evidence cannot be presented against the individual.
BLITZER: What is your sense now based on everything you're hearing, and I know you're pretty well-placed around the law enforcement community, the federal law enforcement community, Tom, on the state of this investigation right now.
Well, hold that thought, because Drew Griffin is standing by. He's got some new reporting for us on what's going on with this news conference. We were expecting it at the top of the hour from the FBI agent in charge. Drew, what are you picking up?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE UNIT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, just a little more confusion, but we're told it's going to be postponed. That's the official announcement. Jason Pat (ph) with the FBI just walked in to this very crowded room where we're all expecting the news conference to begin at five o'clock and told us that we are trying to make it happen now, Wolf, but we're not promising anything.
And this is a quote, "We're taking a little more time to prepare," and then, he abruptly left the room. That's a little different than what we heard earlier which was that the bomb scare at the courthouse kind of delayed this so we've been getting this postponed all afternoon, and now, we understand that they are attempting to do this news conference tonight, but we're not being promised one at this point -- Wolf.
BLITZER: So, basically, they're not saying when it will happen. They think they're going to try to make it happen. It could happen in 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or later tonight. Is that the impression you're getting?
GRIFFIN: Yes. Once we did learn it was going to be postponed, we were told 90 to 120 minutes, so you know, hour and a half to two hours. OK? Then Jason Pat (ph) comes in here from the FBI and, you know, puts in the possibility that it may not happen only that we are trying to make it happen tonight but quoting here again "taking a little more time" to prepare for whatever it is that they were going to release or announce.
BLITZER: Which makes sense. We want to make sure that when they release the information, they have adequate information to release. Important information we have been told that there have been some significant developments in the investigation during the course of this day as opposed to yesterday when they were saying the investigation was at its infancy.
All right. Stand by, Drew. Once you get more information on the timing of this FBI news conference, we're going to go back to you. We are going to be hearing, though, this hour from the governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick. He's coming here to our location. I'm going to be speaking with him. We'll get whatever we can from him. He's obviously been well-briefed. He's on top of this investigation as well.
So, we'll hear momentarily from the governor of Massachusetts, but, John King, Juliette, John, first to you. We shouldn't read too much into this either postponement or if it's canceled, the news conference, I would read something into that, but if it's just postponed by an hour or two, that stuff happens.
KING: Clearly, they've had significant breakthroughs in the investigation. Where they are exactly now is a little bit murky, but they were supposed to be at 1:00, then they moved it into 5:00. Now, it's indefinite. Clearly, that means they are trying to get their ducks in order.
KING: There's been some internal angst, if you will, over some of these leaks that turned out to be if the public statements are correct, then we have the justice department, the Boston police department, the FBI now saying no arrest has been made after there were leaks from federal law enforcement and local law enforcement officials suggesting the arrest had been made.
And so, they clearly want to get their own communications in order. The question is, you know, are they delaying this because of progress in the investigation? Are they delaying this just from a communication standpoint to make sure everyone is on the same page? That's what we don't know.
BLITZER: And the other possibility, Juliette, is that they don't want to say anything right now that could undermine a critical moment in this investigation.
KAYYEM: Right. Either the investigation or the criminal case. So, the government is not the government. There's a lot of different agencies with a lot of different interests. So, it's not uncommon to have an expectation that everyone is going to come forward and then you have to delay it to make sure that everyone is on the same page. That's important because everyone needs to work together for an eventual capture and prosecution.
But, also, to make sure that no one is sort of speaking out of turn which often happens in government as well. So, I don't make much of this. In fact, if it's much -- since so much has happened today, the fact that they are going to come out and sort of disclose, it just means they want to make sure everything is right.
And you don't want to say anything -- you don't want to say anything wrong in particular if there is a picture of an individual who everyone will be looking for. And so, this is a good kind of cautiousness, and we'll see what has to be said. It's just that, you know, we're hearing 60 or 90 minutes.
BLITZER: All right. We'll see what happens with that FBI briefing. So, that is temporarily on hold. We'll get more information. We are going to have a briefing right here in the SITUATION ROOM. The governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, he'll be coming over here. He'll brief us what he can say.
We'll ask him the questions. That's happening in the next few minutes. So, you'll hear directly from the governor of Massachusetts. He's coming here to the SITUATION ROOM.
The president of the United States, meanwhile, he's about to go into the White House Rose Garden to speak live. We'll have live coverage of that. He wants to speak on his deep disappointment on the U.S. Senate failing to pass an abbreviated background check piece of legislation. A major disappointment for him and a lot of other folks as well.
We'll have live coverage of the president in the Rose Garden momentarily. You'll see it here in the SITUATION ROOM.
You're also looking at a live picture of the scene of the second bombing here in Boston. Investigators still covering every inch for evidence. Stay with us. Our special SITUATION ROOM continues right after this.
BLITZER: We're here in Boston watching the fallout from the bombings at the Boston marathon earlier in the week. You're looking at a live picture of the second crime scene, the second bombing that occurred there. We're going to be speaking with the governor, the governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, momentarily, to get the latest on the criminal investigation.
The news conference with the FBI and other law enforcement authorities has been temporarily postponed, but we will get the latest from Governor Deval Patrick. He's coming here to our location momentarily.
Even as we await word from the governor, Washington was rattled by word that letters sent to both President Obama and a United States senator tested positive for the deadly poison ricin. There was a further scare today when reports of other suspicious packages led to a partial evacuation of a Senate office building up on Capitol Hill. Let's go to our chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. What's the very latest, Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the very latest, Wolf, is that although these letters did test positive in the initial tests, we are still waiting for the formal test that is coming from a lab in Fort Detrick, Maryland which is not too far from here in Washington. And our Terry Friedman (ph) over at the justice department is now reporting that we will not likely get those results until tomorrow.
The hope was that we would get them this afternoon, but it looks like it's going to push into tomorrow. The other thing that he is reporting is that the FBI insists that there is no arrest imminent or at least that they are unaware of any imminent arrest in this case.
Despite the fact that we were told starting yesterday by senators coming out of a briefing including Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri that law enforcement officials had at least a sense of who they might be looking at, somebody who had been harassing Senator Wicker from Mississippi before. The other thing that they are saying in this new FBI statement is that they want to be sure that they know exactly how many letters have actually gone out.
It's unclear. They say it's murky how many letters were sent by this individual. We know of two. Were there more? We just don't know. With regard to the letter, the other thing that we have learned from law enforcement officials is the substance of it. Of course, the reason why this is so controversial and questionable is because of the potential for a deadly substance ricin.
But in terms of the writing on the letter, I want you to look at what apparently these letters said, both of them, to Senator Wicker and the president. "To see a wrong and not expose it is to become a silent partner to its continuance." Then it went on to say, "I am KC and I approve this message." So, even though they didn't have a return stamp, they knew it was from Memphis, Tennessee. They're hoping that at least this message will give them more clues.
BLITZER: All right. Dana, we'll stay on top of this together with you. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here, our chief medical correspondent. Ricin is a deadly poison. I remember, what, in 2001, anthrax, another deadly poison wound up killing some people and those letters laced with anthrax. First of all, tell us what ricin can do.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Ricin -- anthrax is a bacteria and ricin is a type of protein, essentially. What it does, it sort of kills at the cellular level. So, if you put it into your stomach for example, it'll kill some of the cells along your stomach lining, your intestinal lining. If you breathe it in, it sort of does the same thing in your lungs.
It doesn't happen right away, Wolf. It usually happens within a few hours someone starts to get sick. If this is happening -- BLITZER: Can it kill you?
GUPTA: It can definitely kill you. It's a very lethal. It's very lethal if given in the right doses. One thing I'll point out, though, when you talk about breathing it in in order for it to actually get in your lungs and we talked about this with anthrax several years ago, but it has to be a very particular size. This is referred to as weaponizing it and it's a challenging process.
That part of it isn't an easy thing to do. You can find it because it comes from the castor bean. You can find it pretty readily but to make it into a situation where you actually breathe it in, that's not easy.
BLITZER: Why is it so hard to determine if, in fact, it is ricin, this letter laced with suspected material going to President Obama, going to Senator Wicker of Mississippi? Preliminary tests showed it has tested positive for ricin. They've sent it to Fort Detrick, Maryland, the nation's top lab to deal with. What takes so long in making this determination?
GUPTA: You know, I think part of this is just being very careful. I mean, this is obviously a big deal if, in fact, it is ricin. That would not be an accident. You wouldn't just accidently get ricin. So -- but I will tell you, I looked at the testing for ricin just as we looked at the testing for anthrax years ago. There's pretty good test out there. There are sensitive tests. There are specific tests.
So, my guess is they're double checking it at this point, but if they came back and said this was ricin, unless, just for some reason the tests were way off, my guess is what Dana reports tomorrow is going to be a confirmatory test.
BLITZER: Yes. It's my suspicion as well. We know it Fort Detrick, Maryland, that's where they sent those anthrax letters as well.
GUPTA: That's right.
BLITZER: All right. Sanjay, don't go too far away. We have other stuff to talk about. The victims, some of those at the hospitals. I know you've been spending some time there with the doctors and others.
BLITZER: The nurse who desperately tried to save a bombing victim, Krystle Campbell, wants to meet her family to tell them about their daughter's final moments. We're going to have that.
Also standing by for a statement from the president of the United States in a few moments. He's going into the Rose Garden. We'll have live coverage. You're watching a special edition of the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: We're awaiting an FBI press conference. You're looking at live picture. It was supposed to start at the top of the hour. It's been delayed. We don't know when it will happen. As soon as it starts, of course, we'll have live coverage of that. It may happen within the next half hour or hour or so. We don't know. It may not happen.
There's been a lot of confusion from various law enforcement sources over the past several hours. What has happened in this investigation, what has not happened in the investigation, maybe some of that confusion is causing the delay of the start of this FBI news conference. We'll hear what they have to say as soon as they come to the microphones.
In the meantime, the governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, he is coming here. He'll be joining us here in the SITUATION ROOM momentarily. We'll get the latest on the investigation from him. Our questions for the governor of Massachusetts. That's coming up very soon.
But there's been other important developments today in Washington, including a major defeat for the president of the United States and others who supported an expanded background check provision. The president is getting ready to go into the White House, the Rose Garden, right now, pretty soon.
And Jessica Yellin, our White House correspondent, is standing by with that. Jessica, set the scene and the key issue is this. If 80 or 90 percent of the American people according to all the most recent public opinion polls want more background checks, why can't the Senate approve it? I assume the president is going to get into that.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. I imagine that's exactly what the president will say when he comes out here. His press secretary made that point today. He called this a 90 percent issue, alluding to the fact that some polls have shown as much as 90 percent of the American public supports expanding background checks and then asked why can't the Senate then pass this?
I'm told the president when he comes out here and he's scheduled to be here in as little as one minute from now, although, I suspect it'll take longer than that. He will be joined by some of the families of Newtown victims, families who were up on Capitol Hill today when this amendment was defeated up there with Vice President Biden. So, he will be joined by those victims' families, no doubt, making his remarks that much more emotional.
I suspect he'll give very emotional remarks as he has to date. They will be probably 10 to 15 minutes. And you can expect the president to talk about the fact that this is an issue that matters to Americans and that he will not give up the fight. That this is not the time, there is no reason this issue has to go down now, and he will continue persisting on it. I believe the president was on the phone working this issue throughout the day today. And as you know, Wolf, he has really expended about as much political capital on this in the second term as on any other issues. Holding 13 different events, talking about it at dinners with Republican senators. And then, you know, flying Newtown families back on Air Force One here to lead them to bring to Capitol Hill for lobbying. He has really put elbow grease into it.
I'll tell you finally, I spoke to the head of the Brady Gun Campaign, an organization that once gave the Obama administration an F previously for its efforts on gun control. And that person said this issue wouldn't even be before the Senate if it weren't for the White House's efforts to date. So, it's an issue the president has personally championed. And this loss, he said, if there's a loss finally, it'll be a personal defeat for him, so he is going to continue to fight, Wolf.
BLITZER: We know the president, Jessica, is coming here to Boston tomorrow with the first lady to participate in an interfaith service here at 11:00 a.m. Eastern tomorrow morning. Do we anticipate when the president starts speaking now in the Rose Garden, he will also address what has happened here in Boston?
YELLIN: No. These remarks will not address -- he will not address Boston in these remarks. This will focus squarely only on guns. He did talk about Boston earlier today in a Wounded Warriors Event when he said unexpectedly, tragically, some of our own Americans became wounded citizens earlier this week in Boston. And that was the one public comment he gave on the Boston attacks earlier today. But no, don't look for him to talk about the Boston event in these Rose Garden remarks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Stand by. As soon as the president comes into the Rose Garden, we'll have live coverage of his remarks. We are also standing by to hear from the governor of Massachusetts, Duval Patrick, on the criminal investigation underway here in Boston.
Let's go to Capitol Hill right now. Dana bash once again joining us. What happened, Dana? so many Americans, according to all the public opinion polls, want background checks for gun purchases. Why didn't the Senate go ahead and approve this legislation?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, there are so many ways to answer that question. No one answer gives you the full picture. But I just have to say, it is really hard to remember the last time there was a 90 percent issue on anything, much less something that the Senate didn't then go ahead and agree with when it comes to public opinion.
But the fact that you had, at the end of the day, this vote was five short really was obviously a disappointment, but was also a big sort of shot in the heart to the people who were here actually in the Senate chamber, Wolf. You'll see family members with the president shortly, but they're also here for the vote.
In fact, our Ted Barrett was in the chamber. He reports that two women stood up very loudly, and all the senators heard and said "Shame on you." One of the women -- they were both related to recent gun violence. One was the woman who said she helped take one of the magazines away from Jared Loughner, the man who shot Gabby Giffords and others. And another was a family member of a Virginia Tech victim. So, that is the kind of emotion you're seeing still.
It didn't really seem - it didn't obviously seem to get these senators, the ones they needed to get across the aisle. The reason -- you got a whole bunch of different reasons from some of those who were being lobbied. Senator Heller, for example, of Nevada, said he thinks it is too much paperwork. That this really wouldn't get to the heart of what the goal, which was to be to curb gun violence. You saw Jeff Flake from Arizona, somebody who is very close with Gabby Giffords. They were lobbying him hard, and he said this goes too far. Some of those kinds of statements.
But let me also just tell you the raw politics here. And that is that there are a number of issues before the Senate that some senators are going to have to take tough votes on. Immigration reform, and maybe not a vote, but also just in terms of a position, gay marriage. And there is a feeling that some of these kind of middle-of-the- roaders on the Republican and Democratic side decided that this issue, this gun issue, there was too much risk and not enough reward to go ahead and defy the NRA lobby and earnestly from their perspective, the opinion of many of their constituents in their states, despite the 90 percent approval we've seen nationally to expand background checks.
BLITZER: We do anticipate some family members from relatives of the victims of the Newtown, Connecticut massacre will be with the president once he comes into the Rose Garden. I suspect the president is in the Oval Office right now, maybe meeting with family members. Maybe just reviewing his words. But momentarily he'll be walking out into the Rose Garden to make his statement.
Here he comes right now. Some of the family members, I suspect, are coming out first, yes, and then the president will walk out. These are the family members that will be standing behind the president once he delivers his remarks. This is an emotional moment for them, to be sure, and we see the former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords is there as well. Let's listen in.
(LIVE PRESS CONFERENCE COVERAGE)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And there the president comforting some of the family members of the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre. The president in the Rose Garden. Very, very emotionally powerful speech. Normally you don't hear the president speaking in these kinds of terms, as he did. He said flatly, this is a pretty shameful day for Washington, although he vowed this is only round one.
Even a compromise, even a watered-down background check expansion could not be passed by the United States Senate today. Even though 80, maybe 90 percent of the American people supported according to all of the most recent public opinion polls.
Gloria Borger, I don't remember a time I've seen the president as angry, as visibly shaken, yes, he got emotional when he was in Newtown, but this time he was just angry at -- when he said, 90 percent of the Republicans who voted against this in the U.S. Senate, he was clearly defiant.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, he was -- he was frustrated, Wolf. Look, this isn't a fight the president actually asked for. But after Newtown, it was a fight he decided to take on. And I think you heard how passionate he is about this. And the frustration with Washington, saying things like, who are we here to represent? And he was blindly referencing Senator Rand Paul who at one point made a comment this week that the Newtown families were being used as so-called props. And he sort of said, dismissively, are you -- are you really serious about that?
He committed to continuing this fight. He said that members of Congress caved to pressure. And by the way, don't forget, the president lost four Democrats in the Senate on this. He also said that the NRA and its allies, quote, "willfully lied about this bill." I mean, this wasn't somebody who was using diplomatic language, or trying to say, just hold on, we're going to come back another day.
He called people liars. He took on people very directly. He said that Congress was shameful, questioned why members of Congress were even here. So, you know, this is a -- this is a president who's clearly committed to this. We'll get back to this issue, yes, he understands the American public is on his side in this issue, but what we saw today in Congress was 7 out of 10 Republican voters, if you look at the polls closely don't want all of stricter gun control laws.
And so you saw the politicians really reacting to that. And the president reacting to the situation in Washington. I think you have to ask the question, after hearing the president on this, how is this going to affect possible bipartisan compromise on issues like immigration reform coming down the road.
This is a clearly disappointed, frustrated president who's asking a question about Washington, how can they ever get anything done if they can't do something that 9 out of 10 people in America want.
BLITZER: Very disappointing for the president. Very disappointing for those families from Newtown, Connecticut.
The governor of Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick, is here joining us right now.
I know you support the president on this. And we're going to have much more analysis later on what has happened in the United States Senate. But give us a quick thought. I assume you thought at least a modified compromise version of background checks would pass the Senate. But it failed.
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, Wolf, I think we all did. You know, not just people who follow politics in Washington, but the American people. And I think as your colleague described a disappointed and frustrated president, he was speaking on behalf of a disappointed and frustrated American people. And you know I am hopeful and I think he is, that the Senate will come back to this. The House will take it up and do the right thing. But if they don't, he's right. It's up to all of us as citizens to hold our elected officials accountable at election time.
BLITZER: As I said, we're going to have much more analysis on this sensitive subject coming up later here in THE SITUATION ROOM. But let's talk about your beautiful city. And it is a beautiful city, Boston. Your great state of Massachusetts.
PATRICK: It's a great place.
BLITZER: We were expecting a news conference from the FBI and other law enforcement.
BLITZER: Nearly an hour or so ago. It's been delayed. What's going on?
PATRICK: Well, mostly what's going on is the disruption over at the Federal Courthouse because of a bomb scare, I think.
BLITZER: Was that a real bomb scare?
PATRICK: Well, I don't know what -- I don't know -- I mean, was there a real device?
PATRICK: I don't think anything has been found. But they evacuated the building. You know there's a lot of chaos and a lot of -- a lot of misinformation flying around. I've been briefed on the investigation. There has not been an arrest. There is no one in custody. But the investigation continues to unfold. And they're making -- they're making progress. But it's going to take time.
BLITZER: Let's talk about the progress. Because we have heard earlier in the day that there was some significant progress. They've spotted a suspect, at least on one of the videotapes. Is that accurate?
PATRICK: Well, you know, again, I get my briefings confidentially. You can understand that, Wolf, and I want to let the FBI and all the law enforcement agencies that are working with them, let them run the investigation. I can tell you that it does seem to be that they are doing this in a very methodical way, very thorough way.
It's several blocks over there that they're covering a square inch at a time and piecing the story together. And I think making progress.
BLITZER: Well, let's talk about this suspect. No one has been arrested. We know that as a fact. There was conflicting information we were getting from law enforcement sources. (CROSSTALK)
PATRICK: I think the U.S. attorney clarified that.
BLITZER: Yes. The FBI has said no one has been arrested, the FBI presumably the lead organization. They would know what's going on.
BLITZER: You can confirm no one has been arrested.
PATRICK: That's right.
BLITZER: But do they have a suspect, do they -- do they have a name of someone they're looking for?
PATRICK: I can't -- I can't comment on that. Like I said, it's going to be slow. It's going to be methodical. It has been. It's very, very professional. And all the agencies are cooperating. And I take comfort from that. And I think the general public should as well.
BLITZER: Because of the confusion earlier, can you tell us that all the agencies that are involved -- the state, the federal, the local, all the -- they're all on the same page? Do they seem to be agreeing with each other, or is there a little tension going on there?
PATRICK: You know, there often is in large investigations, at least in my limited experience from back in the Justice Department, but not this time. People are really pulling in the same direction. They are working cooperatively under the lead of the FBI. The ATF is a marvelous partner in this, as well. Certainly all the state agencies with the state police at the lead and the local police as well.
BLITZER: What is the most important thing you need from the public at large who might be watching us right now? You say this investigation is making some progress. Yesterday, we heard it was from the FBI agent in charge, it was at its infancy stage. Right now, it looks like you've made some significant progress over the last 24 hours.
PATRICK: You know, it's funny. Somebody today was asking me how we deal with an investigation like this at a time when crime is solved in, you know, half-hour episodes of "Law & Order" or "CSI." This is going to take some time. A lot of time. And particularly given that there hasn't been an individual or group that's claimed responsibility, I think the things we need from the public are patience. Patience at a time when we are impatient for an answer. We need vigilance, which is enormously important. That is, people keep an eye out for suspicious activity or parcels, and let law enforcement know about that. And understanding that not everything at every minute about the investigation, with due respect to the curiosity of people and the media, can be disclosed. Because some of that may compromise the investigation as well. BLITZER: And certainly we don't want to do anything that will compromise this investigation. But the concern is, and certainly here in Massachusetts, your citizens of this great commonwealth, they know at least one killer is at large right now. And they want to hear from the governor. Are you any closer to finding that killer or killers?
PATRICK: Every hour we're closer. And I say that because we've got the very best professionals at every level working this. And working it hard. They are committed to finding the person or persons responsible for this, and bringing them to justice.
BLITZER: Based on everything you know, and you obviously know everything that the law enforcement authorities know, are you assuming it's one person, or multiple people --
PATRICK: I can't say.
BLITZER: --who caused this brutality?
PATRICK: I can't say that yet.
BLITZER: So, we haven't been able to determine if it's a so- called lone --
PATRICK: No, no, I know you'll ask me a few different times, but no, I can't --
BLITZER: You can't say that. You can't talk about it, but do you know?
BLITZER: You don't know? So, we haven't gotten that? And what about whether it's a domestic U.S. citizen or citizens involved, for whatever political purpose or whatever crazy purpose or foreigner?
PATRICK: I don't think anyone knows that. And it's because it's not that this is about fitting some pattern, or foreign or domestic and so on. It's about finding individual pieces of evidence and following that trail. And letting the facts lead us to the story rather than letting a set of suppositions lead us to something.
BLITZER: Have you seen the video of this suspect that has been apparently -- who is now at the fore. Have you seen the video of somebody taking this black bag or whatever it was and laying it on that sidewalk near the end of the Boston Marathon?
PATRICK: Wolf, I have been briefed about much of the evidence in the state of the investigation. But I haven't seen any evidence.
BLITZER: You haven't. But they haven't shown you the video? So you're not sitting in front of a TV camera, watching video.
Now this is a --
PATRICK: I know what that is. I'm a cook. BLITZER: Based on what you know, can we conclude at least one of those two bombs was placed in a pressure cooker like this one?
PATRICK: I can't answer that. I think -- I respect that you're asking the questions. I know that's your job. But you know, what I would just add -- what I would say and what I would ask of everyone is that we give law enforcement the space to do their work. When they are ready with a complete picture, they will tell us what that picture is.
BLITZER: And you're satisfied with the investigation right now?
PATRICK: Look, I wish that -- I wish they had nailed the perpetrator within minutes of this catastrophe. But I also understand from experience it's going to take some time. And in many, many ways, this is about sifting through, you know -- sifting -- it was like finding a needle in a haystack, as that old saying goes.
But I am so -- I'm so impressed by the thoroughness of their work, I'm pretty sure they'll find that needle.
BLITZER: And they've found, I assume, a lot of hard evidence --
PATRICK: They have.
BLITZER: -- that will be useful -- I mean, you used -- you and I have known each other for 20 years when you worked in the Justice Department during the Clinton administration. They have to put together a criminal case against one or more killers.
PATRICK: That's right. And that's another reason why the public, as hard as it is, all of us are going to have to be patient because sometimes when they get a break, they sometimes get a really promising lead, you don't want to tell everybody that yet, because you don't want to alert the perpetrator that you're getting close. Si --
BLITZER: You keep saying perpetrator. Can I assume it's a lone individual --
PATRICK: No, no, no, don't read anything into that.
BLITZER: Because you didn't say perpetrator or perpetrators.
PATRICK: OK, all right.
BLITZER: Am I being too -- ?
PATRICK: -- should have said, I don't know, no, no. Don't read anything. I'm not -- I'm really not being cute, Wolf.
BLITZER: No, I understand that.
PATRICK: I just want people to understand that I am patient with this for a reason. It is -- it has something to do with my own experience with large criminal investigations and my respect for the quality of this investigation and the thoroughness of it. BLITZER: Is this the biggest investigation you personally have ever been engaged in?
PATRICK: Well, it certainly -- it feels like the most pressing, of course anyone, at any one time, at any given time feels critical to the victims.
But we have all of us been victimized, all throughout this city, all across the commonwealth, and frankly, in the country. And it is important that we get to the bottom of this. But it's also important we get to it in the right way and in a way that sticks. And that's why some amount of patience is going to be required of us.
BLITZER: Do you know if we will have an FBI briefing today?
PATRICK: I don't know. I don't think so. But I don't know.
BLITZER: And you don't think so because of this little disruption at the courthouse?
PATRICK: No, exactly. Exactly. They just, you know, the -- a lot of the folks who are working at their desks, at their laptops and so forth, had to separate themselves from that for a little while, so...
But as soon as I know, you'll know.
BLITZER: You'll be there -- looking back, was there anything that, knowing what we know now -- and we're all a lot smarter after a horrible event like this -- is there anything that could have been done that should have been done, that potentially could have averted this tragedy?
PATRICK: I don't think any of us know the answer to that just yet.
BLITZER: Because we want to learn lessons to make sure it never happens again.
PATRICK: Absolutely. Absolutely. I made the point inside yesterday, you know, we've had 116 years of incident-free marathons. And after every one, there's been an after-event meeting where everybody has thought through how to make the next one better.
The lessons we will learn after this one have been tragic and bloody. But we will learn lessons from this to make sure that the next marathon is bigger and better than ever.
BLITZER: The president and the first lady will be here tomorrow 11:00 am for this interfaith service. You'll be leading it, you'll be there as well obviously.
What will you say to the president?
PATRICK: Well, I've talked to the president a couple times already. And his empathy and his instinct to comfort us has come through, and I think will come through tomorrow. And I think that's an important part of his leadership. And something we can use right now.
BLITZER: And you've met with some of the survivors?
PATRICK: I have. I have, with a number of them.
BLITZER: How painful is that?
PATRICK: It's extraordinary. You know, their lives are shattered in many ways. And yet the grace they show, the kindness they show, the gratitude to the medical professionals who have stepped in, the kindness of strangers that they respond to and are so inspired by is a source of inspiration for me, too.
BLITZER: Is there one story you want to share with our viewers right now, something that you were told by one of these survivors or a family member that really sticks out in your mind? Yesterday you told --
PATRICK: About Victoria and Tyler, right.
BLITZER: Have we found Tyler yet?
PATRICK: Today -- I don't think so. I think there was a -- there may have been a couple people who came forward, who were not --
BLITZER: Not the real --
PATRICK: -- actual Tyler who was --
BLITZER: And just to remind our viewers, Tyler was someone who really helped save the life of someone.
PATRICK: That's exactly right, and comforted someone who was understandably hysterical over in that medical tent right after the blast. So she had a shrapnel wound herself. And she remembered a man named Tyler, explaining to her that he had been an Army sergeant in Afghanistan, and he had survived a shrapnel injury himself and she would be OK.
I had a chance to visit with Bill and Denise Richard today, who lost their son, and whose daughter was so badly injured. They lost an 8-year old. And they've been wonderful supporters of my campaigns in the past and --
BLITZER: From Dorchester.
PATRICK: -- from Dorchester. And I had a chance to visit with them just quietly, the three of us, for a while in the hospital today. And you know, and my -- for them, and all the victims, my heart just goes out.
BLITZER: Well, good luck, Governor. Thanks so much for sharing a few moments with us. We'll stay obviously in close touch.
PATRICK: Thank you.
BLITZER: We know, Boston, Massachusetts, will be resilient. They will --
PATRICK: We absolutely will. We are -- we're going to stand tall. We're going to have a great marathon next year. And we're going to heal between now and then.
BLITZER: And you're encouraged by the latest developments in the investigation?
PATRICK: I am.
BLITZER: That eventually sooner rather than later, we will find a killer or killers?
PATRICK: Well, eventually. I hope it's sooner rather than later. But, like I said, I'm going to -- it'll be -- when I was traveling with my grandparents as a kid, and, you know, I'd say, are we there yet? Are we there yet? My grandmother would say, we'll be there when we get there. When this -- you know, in the context of this investigation, we'll be there when we get there.
BLITZER: I was about to ask -- we -- I used -- we used to say that as soon as we were pulling out of the driveway.
PATRICK: Yes, right.
BLITZER: Thank you.
PATRICK: Nice to see you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Hey, Governor, as usually, thanks very much. Appreciate it. Good luck to all the folks in your commonwealth.
PATRICK: I appreciate it. Thank you.
BLITZER: Appreciate it very much, Governor Deval Patrick, helping us better appreciate what's going on. And we got a lot of people over here standing; they're giving you a nice round of applause. We appreciate it very, very much.