Return to Transcripts main page


Navy Yard Video Released; Interview With Senator Rand Paul

Aired September 25, 2013 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The images are chilling. You can see Aaron Alexis running through the hallways of the Washington Navy Yard last week with a sawed-off shotgun determined to kill. Today, the FBI released the surveillance video along with new confirmation that Alexis was delusional and was hoping to end his torment.

Here's our crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns. He's taking a look at the pictures, the video that have been released.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Wolf, we now have pictures, we have video as well as search warrant information, all that sort of pieces together what we know about those times leading up to the shooting at the Navy Yard. But the bottom line is, we still don't know a lot about Aaron Alexis, because it doesn't make any sense.


JOHNS (voice-over): The FBI released gripping silent surveillance video of Aaron Alexis as he drives into the Navy Yard in his rented Prius. The cameras pick him up as he enters the front door of Building 197 ready for a rampage that killed 12 people before she was shot down.

VALERIE PARLAVE, D.C. FBI FIELD OFFICE: There are indicators that he was prepared to die during the attack, and that he accepted death as the inevitable consequence of his actions.

JOHNS: You see him carrying his bag, hidden inside, a sawed-off Remington 870 which he removed in the bathroom. Photos released today show the bag he left behind. And 22 minutes after he drove in, surveillance picks him up in the hall. He readies his weapon, hunting people. You see him move downstairs and make then his way along another hall, as people flee down a connecting hallway.

In the 10 days since the shooting, a sharper picture is emerging of what drove Alexis.

PARLAVE: There are multiple indicators that Alexis held a delusional belief that he was being controlled or influenced by extremely low frequency or ELF electromagnetic waves. JOHNS: The FBI released photos of his gun with an apparent reference to the magnetic waves carved into the handle, "my ELF weapon," on the barrel the words "end to the torment."

While the investigation into the mental illness that spawned the shooting will continue, agents said they found writings by Alexis that explained in plain language why he said he did it.

PARLAVE: A document retrieved from the electronic media stated -- quote -- "Ultra-low-frequency attack is what I have been subject to for the last three months. And to be perfectly honest, that is what has driven me to this."

JOHNS: Investigators don't believe he targeted specific people in his 60-minute killing spree.


JOHNS: We're told there's more graphic surveillance information than what we saw today, but the authorities decided not to release it.

Aaron Alexis was a computer technician for a company called The Experts, which was dropped today as a subcontractor by computer manufacturer H.P. We reached out to The Experts by phone and e-mail for comment, but they didn't respond -- Wolf.

BLITZER: That video was so chilling instead, indeed. All right, Joe, thank you.

On Long Island right now, a massive manhunt for a gunman who shot two people at a local business this morning, killing one of them. Police say the suspect was a disgruntled vender for the light manufacturing company where the shooting took place. He's believed to be armed and dangerous. A nearby shopping mall and area schools were put on lockdown.

In Chicago, the mother of a 3-year-old mass shooting victim says he's starting to recover, but he's still afraid. A bullet passed under Deonta Howard's ear and out of his cheek during the shooting with an assault-style rifle a week ago. Howard was one of the 13 people who were wounded. Police say four men are in custody on charges, including attempted murder.

We now have dramatic surveillance video during a terror attack in a mall in Kenya. You can see terrified shoppers trying to escape. At least 67 people didn't make it out alive, including a pregnant young woman with a connection to the former President Bill Clinton.

Here's CNN's Chris Lawrence.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Elif Yavuz had a brilliant career ahead of her, a baby on the way in two weeks until terrorists took it all away. Elif and her husband were walking in Nairobi's Westgate Mall when terrorists attacked. BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They were both killed, along with the child. I'm a little choked up, because I just got off the phone with her mother.

LAWRENCE: Former President Clinton met Elif last month when he visited some of the Clinton Foundation's programs in Africa.

CLINTON: This beautiful woman comes up to me, very pregnant. She was so pregnant that I assured her I had been a Lamaze father and could be pressed into service at any moment.


LAWRENCE: Elif graduated from John Hopkins University, worked for the World Bank, and then joined the Clinton Foundation. She was living in Tanzania, researching vaccines for malaria and HIV.

(on camera): What was she like as a person?

MATTHIAS MATTHIJS, FRIEND: I know they often say this when tragic things happen to people, how amazing they were, but she really was amazing.

LAWRENCE: Matthias Matthijs was friends with Elif from school. He remembers how excited she was about the baby and moving to Africa.

MATTHIJS: It's hard to think that so much good that could have been done that is never going to be done.

LAWRENCE: But her work is being hailed by a former president himself.

CLINTON: I ask you in your own way to remember this wonderful young nurse that we lost, the child that will never have a chance to live.

LAWRENCE: Ironically, Elif and her husband only came to Nairobi because it's supposed to calm, it had quality medical care, and was a good place to give birth.

(on camera): The unborn child was a girl. President Clinton says in speaking with Elif's mom, she still wants to name her granddaughter even after death. They are looking at Swahili words that mean life and love.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, the Pentagon.


BLITZER: A tragic story, indeed. Our deepest, deepest condolences.

Coming up, just days before a possible government shutdown, another deadline for Congress along with more doomsday warnings. I will ask Senator Rand Paul where he stands and whether all the stunts and the showdowns in Washington right now are all about the next presidential race.


BLITZER: In a huge battle over Obamacare and a possible government shutdown, Senator Ted Cruz got some important help from a fellow Republican, a Tea Party favorite. We're talking about Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

The senator is joining us now.

Senator, thanks, as usual, for coming in.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: So, when all the dust settles at midnight Monday night, will the government remain funded and will Obamacare remain funded?

PAUL: You know, I'm not sure what the answer is to that.

I think the government funding will go on. It seems to be a message sausage factory up here, but things seem to get turned down and government continues to go on. And some of that is good, because I think people depend on government and it would be disruptive to them all of a sudden to be without checks. But some of it's bad in the sense that we're spending a trillion dollars we don't have, we're borrowing from our kids' future.

So there's some good that we don't disrupt things, but some bad. The continuation of piling up so much debt is not good for our kids or our grandkids.

BLITZER: You're obviously a really smart guy. Do you believe that there's any way, any way between now and Monday night at midnight you can defund Obamacare?

PAUL: I think we fight on and we find out where the votes shake out on this.

I think Obamacare is a bad plan for America. I think it is going to raise insurance costs, cause a lot of part-time workers to lose hours, maybe even full-time workers to lose jobs. I think we should do everything we can do to defeat it. But we're against long odds. We're against the majority in the Senate that's Democrats who wants Obamacare. We're against the president. It's his signature issue.

So, what I have been saying all along is the president wants 100 person of Obamacare. We don't want any part of it. Maybe the in- between solution is we try to get rid of some of the worst parts of it. And that would be having some amendments, some discussion. But so far there's been no discussion from the Democrats and no indication that they will compromise at all.

BLITZER: But that is not going to be possible realistically between now and Monday night. That is going to have to wait another day. And that raises the next question. Assuming you continue to fund the government, assuming Obamacare goes into effect fully funded on October 1 next Tuesday, are you going to play the same card as far as raising the debt ceiling, which expires October 17, according to the Treasury Department? You're going to have to raise the debt ceiling. Otherwise, the U.S. will default.

PAUL: Well, that's true and not true.

Part of what you're saying is eventually we might default, but we bring in about $250 billion a month in revenue from taxes. Interest payment is only about $30 billion. So we would never have to default by not having enough tax revenue. Although we do spend about 30 percent more than we bring in, which leads to a large trillion dollar deficit, technically, we could balance our budget and continue on without raising the debt ceiling.

And some people think, well, gosh, maybe we should start only spending what comes in. The bottom line in all of this battle is, I think neither side gets everything they want, but really the discussion needs to be that the Democrats and the president appear to be refusing to negotiate even on things members of their own parties are saying are wrong with Obamacare.

BLITZER: I want you to listen to Senator Cruz and Senator McCain. We have got some sound bites from what they said over past 24 hours. And then I will want you to weigh in. Listen to this.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: If you go to the 1940s, Nazi Germany, look, we saw in Britain Neville Chamberlain, who told the British people, accept the Nazis. Yes, they will dominate the continent of Europe, but that's not our problem. Let's appease them. Why? Because it can't be done. We can't possibly stand against them. And, in America, there were voices that listened to that.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think it's wrong, and I think it's a disservice to those who stood up and shouted at the top of their lungs that we cannot appease, and that we must act, and we did act. And it's a disservice to those who did act.


BLITZER: How awkward was that comparison to the Nazis in this current debate over Obamacare, Senator?

PAUL: I ahead Obamacare about as much as anybody, but I'm not a real big fan of either Hitler or Chamberlain comparisons, because obviously war is a different subject.

And I am sensitive to people who are always trotting this up, and calling everybody this or that name from history. Obamacare is a bad thing, and we ought to discuss it on its own merits. But that's where I am. I think we ought to just stick to Obamacare.

BLITZER: I think you're probably right on that. You can discuss and debate Obamacare, but bringing in Nazis and Hitler and all of this obviously not appropriate.

One final question. Is a lot of this about 2016, this whole debate right now?

PAUL: Maybe, maybe not.

And going back a little bit to the Nazis, I have spoke for 13 hours, not 20 hours. So, I would also say that Senator Cruz deserves a little leeway when he's in his 20th hour of what he's saying.

BLITZER: That's a fair point as well.

All right, Senator, thanks very much. The debate continues. Let's see what happens midnight -- by midnight Monday night, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

PAUL: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, just days before a possible government shutdown, another deadline for Congress, along with more doomsday warnings. More coming up.


BLITZER: President Obama is facing a rather stressful October and the threat of a government shutdown is only part of it.

Let's bring in our senior White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar. She's over at the White House.

Set the scene. October could be a tough, tough month.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A convergence of events, Wolf, the shutdown, as you mentioned, the debt ceiling and then President Obama trying to raise awareness about Obamacare as it hits a milestone.


KEILAR (voice-over): Five days before a possible government shutdown, as the clock ticks on Capitol Hill, the White House is focused on selling Obamacare, as many Republicans fight to defund it.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: House Republicans elected and paid by the Americans they represent have chosen to spend an inordinate amount of time in office, you know, trying to roll a rock up a hill.

KEILAR: President Obama wants Americans to purchase insurance on a new online marketplace that opens Tuesday.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We got to get everybody to sign up.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everybody, sign up. Good to Thank you very much.

KEILAR: Yesterday, Bill Clinton helped the president kick off an awareness campaign in New York. Today, Obama briefed mayors and state officials on the phone and tomorrow he gives a campaign-style speech at a community college in Maryland.

The administration thinks a new report showing premiums under Obamacare will be lower than expected gives their message firepower, even as the president's signature health care program remains deeply unpopular and his approval ratings low.

A CNN poll of polls shows only 45 percent of Americans approve of how he's doing and 49 percent disapprove, his worst since October of 2011, right after his bruising debt ceiling battle with Republicans.

It could happen all over again. Today, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew alerted Congress that the U.S. will lose its ability to pay its bills on October 17 at the latest, sooner than originally thought. Many Republicans want more spending cuts in return for raising the debt ceiling. The White House's response? Absolutely not.

CARNEY: There's no negotiating over Congress' responsibility to ensure that we do not default. We saw what happened when that path was traveled in 2011. And the result was terrible.


KEILAR: You remember that, Wolf. The markets dipped. S&P downgraded its credit rating of the U.S. and it's hard with that at stake to imagine that at some point the White House won't engage with House Republicans, but that's what they're saying right now, that they're not going to.

BLITZER: It will be a tough, tough month in October. Brianna, you remember and a lot of our viewers remember when the debate over Obamacare was going on in 2009, the president repeatedly said over and over again that Americans shouldn't worry, that if they have health insurance, they like their health insurance, they will be able to keep their health insurance.

Let me play a clip from one of those town hall meetings in New Hampshire back in 2009.


OBAMA: If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.


BLITZER: All right, he kept saying that over and over again, but now we know there are a whole bunch of people who like their health insurance, but who are going to lose their health insurance, will have to go to these health insurance exchanges, if you will. What are the officials at White House saying about that?

KEILAR: Well, shortly after that, Wolf, this is what they point to, some of President Obama's comments where he said the government itself isn't forcing employers to change their insurance policies, but he said, obviously he doesn't have control over what employers do. I will tell you talking to officials here at the White House they feel that Obamacare is being unfairly blamed in some cases where changes they say would have taken place anyways, and so there's sort of the situation where it may be hard to discern exactly what the cause is, but they say in some cases it's unfair.

BLITZER: Brianna Keilar, reporting for us at the White House, thank you.

What happens if the government does grind to a halt in less than a week and there is a shutdown?

CNN's Tom Foreman has been looking into that?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Wolf, the first thing you may notice if there is a government shutdown is that there's not really that much to notice, because we're not talking about one big grand event.

We're talking about the start of a process, so if you were to go out to the airport, you would probably find it is business as usual, customs, immigration, the military, the federal court, the Postal Service, the banks all in operation. And, of course, all the local services paid for by local tax dollars, those will pretty much be unaffected, your schools, firemen, police departments, that sort of thing.

But "USA Today" did an analysis where they found about 41 percent of the federal government would shut down and it has to show up somewhere, so let's bring out the next layer and talk about that. If you go to a national park or a museum or a monument operated by the federal government, you may not be able to get in.

If you need a loan for your home or for your business backed by the federal government, you may find big delays in dealing with such a thing like that, or if you need a new passport or if you need a new gun permit, you may not be able to get that during a shutdown.

There could even be delays in government checks like Social Security, but don't worry too much about that right now, because usually lawmakers find a way to head off those cuts, because they know people are counting on them so much.

Then there would be the cuts that are immediate and definitely felt. Federal workers who are in non-time-sensitive work could very well be told, look, you just go home and wait until we call you back. They might get retroactive pay for that period of time they're off, but that's not guaranteed.

If you have to deal with a government office to sign up for something like Medicaid, with all those workers gone, you may just have to wait, and a lot of congressional staffers could be told they have time to go to the beach.

Time is really what this is all about. Most analysts say if you had a short shutdown, the vast number of us would remain back here in the green zone. We really wouldn't see it or feel it much, but the longer it goes on, the more the serious impact starts spreading out throughout the government, throughout our lives, and to a degree affecting the whole economy -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Tom Foreman, good explanation. Thanks very much.

And that's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"CROSSFIRE" begins right now.