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THE SITUATION ROOM
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Caught; Father Of Two Bombing Suspects Says He Is Coming To The States; Political Panel On How To Charge Boston Bombing Suspect, Failed Gun Legislation, And Mark Sanford
Aired April 20, 2013 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Two people you haven't heard much about in all these late-breaking developments, the 24-year-old wife of suspect number one, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and their three-year-old daughter. Her family issued a statement saying this. I'll read it to you.
"Our daughter has lost her husband today, the father of her child. We cannot begin to comprehend how this horrible tragedy occurred. In the aftermath of the Patriot's Day horror, we know we never knew Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Our hearts are sickened by the knowledge of the horror he has inflicted. Please respect our family's privacy in this difficult time."
Happening now, the surviving Boston bombing suspect hospitalized under armed guard right now, we are learning new details of his final dramatic gun battle with police.
Also, the investigation into possible terror ties and the mysterious six-month trip one brother made to Russia.
Plus, Boston strong. How the city is bouncing back after five truly extraordinary days.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in Boston. We want to welcome viewers in the United States and around the world.
You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
Boston's five day ordeal is over, but the investigation into the two brothers suspected of being behind it is only just beginning. Each hour is bringing new details and more information. Here are some of the latest developments we are following now.
Police have released the thermal images that led them to 19-year- old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, hiding, wounded and bleeding in a boat parked in the backyard of a suburban Boston at home. A senior U.S. official tells CNN, it was in fact Russia, Russia that asked the FBI two years ago to investigate the other suspect, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev who died in a shootout with police.
And the father of the suspects tells CNN he plans to come to the United States from the Russian republic of Dagestan. He says he doesn't believe his sons were involved in the Boston marathon bombings. Let's dig a little deeper into those thermal images right now that led police to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
CNN's Tom Foreman is joining us right now with a closer look.
Walk us through the thermal images to tell us how it works, Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, these are really an extraordinary testament to both the tenacity and the technology that officers brought to bear in this search for the suspects out here, particularly the final suspect.
Bear in mind what was going on all day yesterday. What they were doing was create ago cordon off around the whole area of Watertown, trying hold in anybody who is there and not let this young man slip away.
By 7:00 at night, it wasn't sure he was there or not. But, as they shut down the restriction that kept people inside, a man walked out, saw that his boat tarp was torn, saw blood on it, saw a person inside and everything changed. We zoom into the neighborhood here because that's exactly what hundreds of police officers did, rushing in to set up a line of defense around it while they rushed people away. And then, Wolf, they brought in the technology.
We are going to demonstrate what we are talking about here with this small model. What they brought was a thermal imaging helicopter. What that means, a helicopter that can look down to the ground and it can measure anything that's hot down there and see anything giving off any heat, including a human being in a boat in a backyard like that one there. And this is what they saw.
They had an image of someone in the back of that boat, just as the witness had suspected, and the person was moving around. While all we have are still images, they had real time moving video that told them someone was moving in the back of that boat.
A gun fight ensued. There were injuries to him, I believe he was hit two more times, threw flash bang grenades in there and then, everything got quiet as negotiators tried to talk to him.
So, what happened next? They brought in more technology. They had a robotic arm brought in on this vehicle which reached in and started tearing away the fabric so they could see inside and call out to him. After a period of time, about two hours overall, then, they brought in thermal imaging one more time. And this is what they saw in the final image. They were able to see he was collapsed in there, his feet here to the left, his head to the right, they had him stand up, show that he had no weapons. Too weak to resist any more, they say. And the arrest, Wolf, was finally made.
BLITZER: What a dramatic moment that was.
Tom Foreman, thank you.
We are also getting brand new information coming into CNN right now on the condition of the 19-year-old suspect. Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is outside the Beth Israel deaconess hospital, medical center in Boston.
Elizabeth, what are you learning?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, governor Deval Patrick said earlier today that the suspect, this is a quote from the governor, "I think is not able to communicate yet. I think not able to communicate yet."
That's really important, Wolf, because legal sources tell me you cannot arraign someone who is unable to communicate. And so right now, you know, there's no rush here, no rush to arraign him. But, he is in there, he's not going anywhere. But right now, they have to put that process on hold until he is able to communicate -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What's the security like there at the hospital? It must be pretty intense, Elizabeth?
COHEN: It is pretty intense. We've got five police officers just at this one entrance. And there are several entrances to the hospital. I have spoken to doctors in other cities who worked before with suspects, with inmates. They say that they think he is probably handcuffed to the bed, a guard at each side, and guard at the hospital door.
BLITZER: Elizabeth Cohen is at the hospital for us. Thank you.
We are also learning more about the two brothers, the two brothers and the early signs that brought one of them to the FBI's attention some two years ago.
Jake Tapper, the anchor of CNN's "THE LEAD" takes a closer look at the brothers' alleged path to terror.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wasn't much to him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a regular, normal kid if you will.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He came off like, you know, any other high school kid.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two Mondays ago he seemed fine.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, THE LEAD (voice-over): But one Monday ago, any normal see the Tsarnaev brothers do began to unravel. Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tamerlan allegedly killed four people this week and maimed scores more.
Here is what we know about them now. Nearly a decade before Monday's bombings, the brothers and their family, mom, dad, and two sisters, came to the U.S. from Dagestan.
ZUBEIDAT TSARNAEVA, MOTHER OF THE SUSPECTS (voice-over): My youngest was raised in America, and my oldest son, he is like really, really great in our house.
TAPPER: But that son, Tamerlan, killed during in a shootout very early Friday morning would never live to become a naturalized citizen here. His younger brother, Dzhokhar, now in federal custody, gained his U.S. citizenship last year on September 11th to be exact. A decade in America already, I want out, said a tweet from an account registered to him. But friends say U. Mass start with student appeared to live a content life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was just a quiet guy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is a bad driver, that's pretty much it.
TAPPER: As late as Thursday afternoon, this week, the same day the FBI released his photograph, Dzhokhar was on campus, and attending classes, even going to parties in the dorms, according to a university official. Shockingly normal behavior from a college student who raised few flags.
ERIC MERCADO, SUSPECT'S FRIEND: No signs of what you would see from a terrorist profile, you know, not a loner, he had a good group of friends.
TAPPER: Tamerlan, however, had a profile of a different sort. On its Web site, the FBI says it received information from a foreign country in 2011, that in the FBI's words he was a follower of radical Islam and strong believer and that he changed drastically since 2010. We now know that country was Russia and at Russia's request, the FBI interviewed Tamerlan, but apparently found so cause for concern.
TSARNAEVA: Tamerlan really got involved in the religion, you know, five years ago. So, he thought that following (INAUDIBLE) religious aspect and he never, he never told me that he would be like on the side of jihad. He was controlled by FBI like for five -- three, five years. They knew what my son was doing.
TAPPER: The aspiring Boxer was arrested in 2009 for domestic abuse. In years following, he quit school, wed a woman named Katherine Russell, and became a father. His wife's family releasing this statement.
Our daughter has lost her husband today, the father of her child. We cannot begin to comprehend how this horrible tragedy occurred. In the aftermath of the Patriot's day horror, we know that we never really knew Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Tamerlan's uncle also in shock.
RUSLAN TSARNI, SUSPECT'S UNCLE: He decided to take lives of innocent people, hurt innocent people. I may believe he has been full of evil, maybe he has been himself as evil, he turned to be an evil, even if there's speculation that there was some political views, no, there were no political views. I say there were no political based on what I know about him. And I know about that family.
TAPPER: Tamerlan and Dzhokhar's Russian father tells CNN he will fly to the U.S. in response to his younger son's capture.
Are you going to America?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
TAPPER: And despite his astonishment, family is still family. And it seems the 19-year-old who police say did the unthinkable will still get help from his uncle.
TSARNI: First I'll try to help him to relieve himself by seeking forgiveness from those who he put in suffering and anything else that he would need.
BLITZER: That report from our Jake Tapper.
Coming up, possible ties to terror groups, we dig deeper into Tamerlan Tsarnaev's mysterious six month trip to Russia.
And "sweet Caroline" gets a little sweeter over at Fenway Park here in Boston today. We have details of some surprise star power at the game.
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BLITZER: With the manhunt for the two bombing suspects now over, the hunt for intelligence on what might have led them to this point is on, significantly on.
Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has been some reporting, some investigating.
What are you learning, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Did the men have extremist connections to the Russian region of Chechnya?
Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is now calling for, quote, "contact between Russian and American investigators." Their uncle told CNN he believes others must have influenced Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older brother.
TSARNI: Who are mentors of all of it? And how possibly could he get involved and do this harm to innocent people?
STARR: Senior U.S. officials tell CNN so far there's no solid evidence of a direct link between the brothers and international terrorist groups, but the U.S. is assembling a web of information about the men's movement and who they communicated with.
It starts back in 2011. The FBI was asked then by Russia to check out Tamerlan Tsarnaev because that country thought he was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer and that he had changed drastically. The FBI interviewed him and checked its databases, but found no evidence of communication with radical groups. The other government didn't provide more information even when asked.
Last year, Tamerlan made a six month trip to Russia to visit his family, his father says. The U.S. wants to know did he travel somewhere else. Communicate with radical Islamic groups in Chechnya, or even get training in bomb making?
After returning home, he created this You Tube channel, including videos with radical preachers. There is no way to be sure if he posted the material himself.
CHRISTOPHER SWIFT, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: I think what you are seeing with this particular phenomenon is with this particular attack in Boston is a self radicalization process that's occurred as these two young men have tried to figure out who they are.
STARR: But just one problem. How did the brothers learn to make and detonate two bombs almost simultaneously, something that is not easy to do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That suggests either practice in the United States or training elsewhere or perhaps both.
STARR: Now Look, you can read a so-called recipe online about how to make a bomb, but these two men made and detonated two bombs, nearly simultaneously, not an easy thing to do, and with no prior experience. Some say it begs a question if they did have help and from who -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara Starr, thank you.
All right. We're just getting this in from Brian Todd. The first pictures of the boat and tarp where the 19-year-old suspect was actually found bloodied last night. Let's take a look at the tape.
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BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Officers converged on the scene in the dramatic moments Friday night. You see it now, fairly large boat, red and white in color, still an active crime scene. Agents are going to be combing over it probably quite some time.
Brian Todd, CNN, Watertown, Massachusetts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: There's the boat.
Let's bring in our national security analyst, Peter Bergen right now. Peter, we are seeing the boat, that's the boat where he was found bloodied. As the police chief of Watertown told me, he raised his shirt after 20 minute negotiation with the FBI when he finally gave himself up. He raised his shirt to show he was not wearing some sort of vest that could have had a bomb in it, suicide bomb or anything along those lines. Dramatic picture of the boat.
Let's talk a little bit about his older brother who died the night before. He made that six month trip to Russia where he went to Dagestan. We believe he went to Chechnya as well. How significant do you believe that six month visit to Russia was?
PETER BERGEN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: I think it is quite significant, Wolf. And I mean, picking up on what Barbara said in her piece. You know, we have people come to the United States who being trained in bomb making, for instance Faisal Shahzad, who is trained by the Pakistani Taliban tried to blow up an SUV bomb, you recall Wolf, in Time Square on May 1st, 2010. Even with training, he didn't pull it off.
So the idea that somebody without practice or training could pull off two simultaneous bombings within seconds with each other, I think, justifies common sense. And this trip to Russia reminds me, Wolf, a tiny bit of the trip that (INAUDIBLE) did made to Pakistan. He was a naturalized American who grew up in Queens, then moved to the Denver area. He was planning to blow up bombs in Manhattan subway in 2009. He got training on his trip to Pakistan in roughly a year before he planned to pull it off. Luckily he didn't succeed.
So, this trip to Russia, is clearly something that investigators will look at with great interest. And also, you know, were there practice runs in this country because it is one thing to get training in another country, but you want to be sure that these devices are something you could pull off here. So, I think they would also be looking for mysterious and unexplained explosions in the Boston area in the period leading up to the actual attacks.
BLITZER: What you're saying, he may have done a dress rehearsal.
And the other question that's very much out there, Peter, is where did he get the money, where did they get the money to buy these explosives, buy these e weapons, these guns, the hand grenades, if they did have training, who trained these individuals. To think there are only two people involved in this, that may be a little misleading, don't you think?
BERGEN: Certainly on the training issue I agree. On the buying of these types of things, I mean, terrorism is a fairly inexpensive form of warfare. 9/11 was expensive to organize a couple hundred thousand dollars.
But if you look at something analogist like the London subway bombings in 2005, that also cost about $8,000 and was basically paid for by the people themselves using credit cards. And my guess is we will see something fairly similar here, or potentially also they may have engaged in petty crime. We know that did so during the course of the attack and seen that pattern in other kinds of attacks.
BLITZER: And maybe that's where they came up with the money, who knows. I am sure the investigation is going to be very, very intense.
Peter, thanks very much.
Just ahead, will the Obama administration seek the death penalty for the 19-year-old terror suspect? We are taking a closer look into the political ramifications.
Plus, Boston's team spirit is back. One Boston Red Sox player didn't hold back when it came to showing it.
BLITZER: An emotional day in Boston, especially at Fenway Park. The Red Sox honored victims and heroes in an unforgettable way. They wore special Boston jerseys in honor of the city which will be those jerseys will be auctioned off to support the bombing victims.
Then, an unbelievable moment when Red Sox star David Ortiz expressed his Boston pride in a way that made the crowd go wild.
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DAVID ORTIZ, RED SOX STAR: We want to thank you mayor Menino, the whole police department, for the great work they did this past week. This is our (bleep) city. And nobody is going to dictate with us.
Stay strong. Thank you.
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BLITZER: And if that wasn't enough, there was also this.
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BLITZER: I love that, a surprise appearance by Neil Diamond. The Red Sox by the way won the game.
Up next, the big question in Washington now. Will the Obama administration seek the death penalty? We will discuss why the answer could spell political trouble for the White House one way or the other.
BLITZER: Welcome back. I am Wolf Blitzer in Boston. And while the terror attacks here in Boston certainly dominated the national conversation this week, there were some significant political stories unfolding in Washington as well.
Let's bring in our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.
Gloria, you have a terrific panel there. GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I do.
BLITZER: Take it away. Update viewers on what's going on.
BORGER: Thanks, Wolf. And thanks for all your hard work in Boston this week, we really appreciate it.
And we do not even know the motives of these men yet or how the suspect in custody is going to be charged, but this being Washington, the political fallout and even the second guessing around here is already starting.
As Wolf said, I am here with a great panel. But, before we get to them, if you watch the president carefully, it was a very revealing week for him as we went through this crisis.
Let's take a look.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this and we will find out who did this, we'll find out why they did this. This was a heinous and cowardly act and given what we now know about what took place, the FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism. Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians it is an act of terror.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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OBAMA: Your resolve is the greatest rebuke to whoever committed this heinous act. If they sought to intimidate us, to terrorize us, to shake us from those values that Deval described, the values that make us who we are as Americans, well, it should be pretty clear by now that they picked the wrong city to do it.
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OBAMA: Whatever hateful agenda drove these men to such heinous acts will not, cannot prevail. Whatever they thought they could ultimately achieve, they've already failed. They failed because the people of Boston refused to be intimidated. They failed because as Americans we refuse to be terrorized.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Jessica, you were at the White House every day during this crisis. At beginning of the week, the president did not use the word terror. By the end of the week, he was talking about the people in Boston who had been terrorized. Lift the veil a little bit. What are calculations at the White House as it chooses its words, and when the president should appear in this kind of a situation?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, after their clumsy public response to the terror attacks in Benghazi, they're very careful about how they react to these kinds of things. Look, they've had some trouble over the years. Firstm they were really criticized after they waited three days to react to the underwear bomber. Then after Fort Hood shooting, the president came out quickly, but he never called it terror. You remember after bin Laden, they came out, shared a lot of detail, but got some of it wrong.
So, they keep recalibrating and messing up in different ways. So, this time his response was I'd say quick, that decision was to be quick, frequent, and very, very cautious, especially when to use the word terror. They didn't use it three hours after the attack, and then they went quickly as soon as they were sure.
BORGER: I mean, some people say they were a little too cautious by not using terror. Obviously it was a terror attack.
KEVIN MADDEN, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER FOR MITT ROMNEY: Yes, well, they were discordinant first in those first three hours. But that's because there's a lot of different information coming back and forth, and they wanted to be very sure.
MADDEN: That's true, but I am not being partisan here. I am offering a rather clinical assessment on it. And I will also offer a clinical assessment in that the president was very -- he was at his best, and I think the White House communications team was at its best when they were very methodical throughout this entire week. Because most of the focus began, shifted back to law enforcement and actually looking for the suspects. And there wasn't a political play here. I think everybody on Capitol Hill took a step back, showed their unity with Boston.
BORGER: That's a rarity.
MADDEN: It is a rarity, right? But I think folks have taken -- I think folks did make an effort to offer a very methodical level of communication from the White House. And I think that helped the situation.
CORNELL BELCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I think we forget how important a president is in stuff like -- these moments that bring Americans together. We can get down in the weeds and start nitpicking things apart. But overall, you saw a president here. Look, kudos -- Reagan was very good at this, Bill Clinton was, I would argue up until this moment, the master of the healer-in-chief. I think this week, the president sort of overcame even Bill Clinton as a healer-in-chief. So, speaking to values, speaking to our American exceptionalism, and rallying Americans around the situation in Boston, I thought it was brilliant. The White House has been a little clumsy dealing with some of these issues, as you said. But him personally as president, sort of as healer-in-chief, he's been remarkable.
MADDEN: I think at one point - just one other point. The public does not look at these things through the political lens the way we here in Washington do.
MADDEN: We are very quick to automatically try to assess the politics of it. The public was looking for - they wanted to find some suspects and now they want justice. They're not looking at it through the lens of politics and policy.
BORGER: Well, the truth of the matter is that law enforcement here was unbelievable, did a fabulous job. And here we are at the end of the week, and you have the suspect in custody. But Dana, you know this from Capitol Hill, the questions are already how are we going to treat this suspect, is he going to be an enemy combatant, did the FBI miss a red flag that it should've seen?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And that's why I said it is already over. I guess it did last more than 12 minutes, so that's actually a record. But yes. Already right before we came on the air, we saw a press release from the Senate Armed Services chairman, Carl Levin, saying that he absolutely should not be tried as enemy combatant because he doesn't see any legal basis for it.
BASH: And the reason he did that is because you have the reaction that anybody who follows politics or Washington for more than five minutes knows, that you would see John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte, sort of the three amigos lately on these issues, coming out saying don't do anything to mess up the national security importance of this. Don't read him his Miranda rights and try him as enemy combatant. So, you're already seeing this fall completely along partisan lines in minutes.
BORGER: But I spoke with Susan Collins earlier in the week. She's a Republican senator.
BORGER: And even before the suspect --
BASH: And you're not unhappy about that, by the way.
BORGER: -- had been captured, she said if this person is in some way an American citizen, I do not believe that they should be treated as enemy combatant.
BASH: No, absolutely. And this is -- it's not - look. When I said it falls on partisan lines, actually, you'll probably also see sort of the Rand Pauls, the far right come around and defend this guys' rights and vice versa. But this is something that we saw fought over time and time again when George Bush was president. Ironically, these three Republican senators -- or at least the two, McCain and Graham -- they were defending more of the liberal point of view, saying don't torture.
YELLIN: The argument is, should the suspect be treated as part of al Qaeda and Taliban basically. I mean, it was authorization for the use of force. The question is does it even apply?
BORGER: -- and will it matter? And then the other question you're going to get to is if we had been warned by the Russians, of all people, I might add, about one of these suspects or the bomber that was killed, why didn't we red flag it? Why didn't we pay more attention.
BORGER: So, let me bottom line this around the table here. The question is what's going to cause the administration the most heartburn next week, do you think? Is it going to be --
YELLIN: The questions are going to be why didn't the FBI raise a red flag about these guys earlier if they had notice from Russia?
MADDEN: You know, I think these are existing differences. I don't think there's much to sway those that believe he should be defined enemy combatant to change their mind, and I don't think there's going to be much to dissuade the White House's mind. But granted, there's a lot we don't know because we're still in that early (ph) hour --
BORGER: Are you sure? Do you know what the White House is going to do? They're not going to do enemy combatant, that's for sure.
MADDER: We don't know. They're still learning because we're in the 48-hour window right now where they're using the public safety -
BORGER: Bottom line, what's going to cause some heartburn?
BELCHER: I don't think anything. Celebration, we caught the bad guys.
BASH: And I'll tell you there's a lot of shoulda, woulda, coulda already going on. Peter King, congressman from New York, and others are already saying they're going to write a letter to Robert Mueller, the FBI director and others, saying we want to know what the deal was, why didn't you question this guy, what do the Russians say, what were the circumstances around it --
BORGER: But that's their job.
BASH: And it is their job. But it's just like you said, clap, clap, clap, we caught him. There's some political danger there because law enforcement right now, they are the heroes. And you don't want to second guess them too much.
YELLIN: And we don't know what we don't know.
BORGER: OK, well, we will leave it at that.
BORGER: And up next, in any other week, this story would have been the lead.
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OBAMA: So all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.
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BORGER: The president lost a very big fight on gun control. So the question we now have is, can he save it and how?
And outside of Washington, there was a smaller, much, much smaller political story, but it was pretty interesting. A messy divorce, a charge of trespassing, and a former governor's political fate is on the line.
BORGER: This week, the White House lost a big one. A bipartisan effort to expand background checks on guns. And the president, if you listen here, was openly disdainful of Congress, including some of his own Democrats.
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OBAMA: The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill. They claimed that it would create some sort of Big Brother gun registry, even though the bill did the opposite. This legislation, in fact, outlawed any registry. Plain and simple, right there in the text. But that didn't matter.
And unfortunately, this pattern of spreading untruths about this legislation served a purpose, because those lies upset an intense minority of gun owners, and that in turn intimidated a lot of senators.
So all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington. But this effort is not over. I want to make it clear to the American people we can still bring about meaningful changes that reduce gun violence so long as the American people don't give up on it. Even without Congress, my administration will keep doing what it can to protect more of our communities.
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BORGER: So Cornell, you're a professional Democrat. Ninety percent of the American public said they wanted some form of gun control, expanded background checks, very, very popular. What does that say about the president of the United States, for whom you worked, that he could not get this done?
BELCHER: Well, the president actually doesn't have a vote in Congress.
BORGER: He does has a certain amount of -
BELCHER: No, he doesn't have a vote in Congress. He has a bully pulpit. He's been using that bully pulpit, which Republicans actually attacked him for using that bully pulpit.
BORGER: But he lost four Democrats.
BELCHER: Democrats aren't the reason why this failed in the Senate.
Look, this is going to be a campaign of the midterm election issue. And that's when it's going to get resolved. When you have 90 percent, depending on what poll, 80 to 90 percent of Americans wanting this, you have some - some Republican, mostly Republicans blocking, and a couple of Democrats -- the president was very sort of nonpartisan in this.
Look, Republicans, Democrat, whoever you are -- look, if you're standing in the way of this, there's going to be a political price to pay for this come this term. I am hoping -- just straight political guy on this -- I am hoping this will be an issue in the next election the way terrorism was for George Bush the Republican in 2004.
YELLIN: I just wonder if this is an issue that Republicans worry about, Kevin. Because I talked to a lot of Democrats close to the president who really think there really is no other play for him now. The next play is the 2014 midterms.
MADDEN: Look, the politics of gun control and the Second Amendment are very different than any national poll will lead you to believe. It is something that goes state by state. I learned that from one Gloria Borger. Gloria Borger makes this point.
MADDEN: But let me make my point -
BORGER: OK, I'll make the point, all the people up for re- election on the Republican side voted against expanded background checks except for one. Susan Collins --
MADDEN: Red-state Democrats are -- had a hard time voting against their constituents on this in their states. And that was the reason the bill didn't pass.
One last point real quick. This is a Second Amendment issue. That means it is a Bill of Rights issue. It is going to take a lot of time and a lot of effort to change the law on such an important issue.
BORGER: But there's no registry in it --
MADDEN: The president didn't touch this issue for four years. It is not going to get done in six months.
BASH: But can I just break it down and answer your question. You make an excellent point about conservative Democrats. Let's break it down.
Four Democrats crossed party lines. Three of those Democrats are up for re-election in 2014 in red states. Let's be honest here. The president, if he wants Democrats to retain control of the Senate, did not want them to vote in a way that could jeopardize their seats.
BORGER: Well, hold on -
BASH: Hold on. Mark Begich going home to Alaska saying I voted for any kind of gun control, that could put him in the cross hairs -- excuse me, of Republicans, could jeopardize him. And this way, he gets to go home and argue I voted against the president.
BORGER: This is a legacy issue for the president, don't you think?
BORGER: What it comes down to, members of Congress can't take more than one tough vote in a congressional session. So they've got immigration reform, they've got guns. Lots of them had to take a position on same-sex marriage, and they can't summon --
BELCHER: I'm sorry, guys, but when something is 90 percent support, it is not a red state or blue state issue. I'm sorry, it's not. When you have 90 percent support for something, is not a partisan issue.
BORGER: But it is, obviously.
BELCHER: Well, even regional, when something's 90 percent - look. There's also some Democrats in red states who also took a hard vote like Senator Landrieu from Louisiana. You have to look at your constituency. I'm telling you, this is going to be a top-tier issue this coming election.
BORGER: And how will that affect the rest of his agenda, though?
YELLIN: I think it is not necessarily going to affect the agenda yet. I think because the American people were with him on this, it doesn't show that he is a weak president because he couldn't get this done. But we will see what happens with immigration. The interesting difference is, the first term he picked issues where he knew he could win. Here, he picked an issue that he cared about, even though he could lose --
BORGER: He was handed this issue. He didn't pick it.
MADDEN: He never touched it for four years because he knew it was going to be political peril in his own re-election. And he's never had the coalitions or the support or the rapport with a lot of folks on Capitol Hill that he needs to get something this big done.
I will agree with Cornell it is actually a bipartisan issue. I think Mark Pryor summed it up saying I am not voting with what some group tells me to vote about. I'm voting with what constituents tell me to vote about. And that was why a Democrat in a red state voted against it.
BORGER: OK, let's bottom line this. Let me start with you, Dana.
BASH: I am going against the grain. I don't think this is going to be such a huge 2014 issue because I think that the politics are what they are, and it has to be a big 2014 issue if people really want it to stand out. Maybe I'll be wrong.
But the other thing, for it to change -- I talked to somebody very smart on this today -- the president has to do what he did on health care. Bring the gun manufacturers in and say let's make a deal. I'm going to protect you, and you have to --
BORGER: So, will he do it? Will he do it?
BELCHER: -- gun manufacturers in to make a deal sickens me to my stomach. This will be -- if Democrats let Republicans off the hook going into mid-term elections on this, shame on them.
BORGER: Before 2014, yes or no? Will they do it? I mean, you said -
BELCHER: No! It won't get done with this Congress, we need a new Congress to get it done.
MADDEN: I don't. I don't believe we will see any more.
YELLIN: I think he will bring it up continuously before then, but nothing gets done.
MADDEN: It's a political issue now. A political issue.
BORGER: He can do some executive orders.
BELCHER: It's a political issue now, not a voting issue anymore.
BORGER: OK, I forgot where it turns out. But I actually think he is going to continue to bring it up again, but won't get anything done, period.
OK. And up next, let's talk about something that Congress could actually get done: immigration reform.
And the story that provides some much needed comic relief this week. It is comic relief, the soap opera in South Carolina.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Don Lemon in Boston. Coming up at the top of the hour, new thermal images that state police say tracked down the surviving bombing suspect. He was hiding out on a boat.
Also, new information from the police that says the two suspects acted alone. But there's still plenty of questions about their motive. That and more coming up at the top of the hour.
BORGER: And finally, there's a juicy political story this week that basically went uncovered because so many more important things were going on in the world. But we're talking about the ongoing soap opera of former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, who wants a congressional seat.
OK, Jess, explain to us, the entire Republican political establishment, has now abandoned the man they were supporting, say, a week ago. What happened?
YELLIN: I'll try to do this justice. Former governor Mark Sanford running for Congress in South Carolina, who has proven to have a small problem with the truth in the past.
MADDEN: Why are you pointing at me?
YELLIN: Sorry! Because you're there. No, you're such a sweetheart of a husband. OK.
It has now been revealed that she violated court orders for trespassing on his ex-wife's property for two years.
BORGER: To watch the Super Bowl -- YELLIN: To watch it with his son, allegedly that's his version, that's his story. We have to keep in mind that this is the ex-wife who he publicly humiliated by hike hiking the Appalachian Trail with his Argentinian girlfriend -
BORGER: But he wanted to watch the Super Bowl!
YELLIN: In violation of court orders.
BORGER: And the ex-wife, who could have had the congressional seat at hello if she had wanted to run for it.
YELLIN: Anyway, these court documents came out, and now the Republican establishment is no longer backing his candidacy.
BORGER: So, what - why -- this is my favorite quote from the campaign committee. "Mark Sanford has proven he knows what it takes to win elections. At this time, the NRCC will not be engaged in the general election." So, he can do it on his own. What do they get from --
MADDEN: Well, he can do it. But the NRCC in the end here is going to have the last laugh. If he wins, he wins. If he loses, it's a special election. They're going to get another candidate and they're going to have a better candidate. And they'll get the seat back. And they'll have done it without investing a whole bunch --
YELLIN: Aren't there better candidates in South Carolina?
BELCHER: Guys, he won this primary he was in. Look, I worked for the DCCC, which is the congressional side of this. We would support a blind dog if he was going to support for Nancy Pelosi.
BELCHER: The fact that they're pulling out of says something about the numbers, says something about the numbers. They know something about either the numbers -
BORGER: That women may not vote for him?
BELCHER: Republicans have had a little bit of a woman problem.
BASH: OK, can I just bottom line this?
BASH: This is a lesson for everybody. If you decide that you want to resurrect your political career, and you decide that you feel so emboldened that you're going to bring your soulmate/ fiancee, the Argentine woman, and have her sit next to you, you probably shouldn't make your ex-wife mad. (LAUGHTER)
BORGER: Bottom line: win or lose? Sanford.
BASH: I'm clear. I'm not going to bet.
BORGER: Win or lose?
BELCHER: I think he's going to lose this one. Special election.
BORGER: I think he's got a good shot of winning.
MADDEN: It's a plus-ten district. I still feel like he can win.
YELLIN: Doesn't make it to the election.
BORGER: And will Jenny Sanford then step in and decide to go?
YELLIN: Go, girl.
BORGER: That's all we have time for right now. I'm Gloria Borger. Thanks for joining us. The news continues next right here on CNN.