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News Information How Massachusetts Teacher Killed by Student; Did Dick Durbin Misquotes Republican about Obama; Controversy over Politician at Underage Teenage Drinking Party; No Takers for Maryland Clinic Obamacare Sign Up
Aired October 24, 2013 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: In Massachusetts, to classes in Danvers High School. Students and parents are talking to grief counselors after one of their teachers was killed. The suspect, one of her students. 14-year-old Phillip Chism is charged with murder of the death of Colleen Ritzer.
Don Lemon is joining us Danvers, getting new information about the killing.
What are you hearing, Don?
DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's odd, Wolf. When you said there was no school today, I looked around, it's been awfully quiet today. There is no school. Kids came out a short time ago, meeting with grief counselors earlier today, the kids, staff members and their families.
We're learning new details about what led up to Colleen Ritzer's death and subsequently what happened after that. Sources told our Pamela Brown this morning that she tried to go to a faculty restroom, someone was in it, it was locked. She went to a student restroom on the second floor and Chism followed her into the restroom and hit her and used a box cutter to -- in her death, in her demise, and took her body and put it into a recycling bin and then removed that from the building and took her body and dumped it into the woods.
A source, just a short time ago, also tells me, Wolf, that the body, when they did find the body, it was not in the recycling bin. It was not buried or covered with leaves or anything, and that the recycling bin was dumped about 100 feet away over an embankment. And that the suspect did go to the movies, he did go to Wendy's. And then after that, police caught up with him in a neighboring town.
BLITZER: What are authorities saying about a motive?
LEMON: Wolf, no motive as of yet. They're still trying to figure it out. They're still talking to him. Authorities aren't saying much. They're being very careful. As I told you in our conversation yesterday, they didn't want to say much because not much was entered into the record. Prosecutors are seeking to charge him -- well, he is being charged as an adult, but they're not saying much about that, so they're not saying much about that.
But fellow students -- you spoke with one of them yesterday. Others we've been speaking to say, nothing out of the ordinary about a relationship between the two, as far as they know. He was a student in her classroom. He never relationally mentioned her and this was some isolated incident. But still no one knows why yet.
BLITZER: Is -- does he have a lawyer? Is he cooperating? I read that original -- that criminal complaint, and it looked like he was talking to police, basically acknowledging what happened.
LEMON: Yeah. Absolutely. And originally, they said they figured it out, and I think they went to look for her body -- I'm sure they went to look for her body because of the interview, the initial interview, and he incriminated himself in the interview.
According to the sources that we have, and what you have been reading, what I have been reading, yes, he appears to be cooperating. I imagine that investigators, at this point would know some sort of motive, if there is one, or if this was just some incident where he, you know, kind of lost it and went off on a tangent and then killed her. But, yes -- to answer your question directly, yes, he is cooperating with investigators.
BLITZER: Have you heard anything from his family?
LEMON: We -- I -- we went by the house this morning, knocked on the door, and there were people inside but they chose not to come out. A number of news organizations had left cards and had been there earlier. Pamela Brown went by just a short time ago and said there were people at home, and earlier, that they had seen some folks at the house. But nobody with the family so far is talking. The mother showed up at the police station yesterday and left, but did not say anything as well.
BLITZER: What a story. What a sad story, indeed.
Don Lemon will have more on this later in "The Situation Room."
Thank you, Don. Appreciate it.
Cries of foul are being lobbed at the number-two Democrat in the United States Senate after a post on Facebook. So what exactly did Dick Durbin do? Stay with us.
BLITZER: There's a pretty damning quote from the Senator Dick Durbin. The quote being, "I cannot even stand to look at you." He claims a Republican said that directly to the president, in the president's face, during negotiations over the government's shutdown. Now it seems Senator Durbin may have misspoken.
Our Erin McPike is looking into this.
It's a very weird story. What's going on? ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dick Durbin claims that it did happen but he was not in the meeting where it happened. It was related to him, apparently, by some Democratic Senator, but came from a White House official. So this game of he said/she said.
Now the Republican leader in the House, Speaker John Boehner, is defending whoever this Republican lawmaker is. And I want to read you a comment from Boehner's spokesman, Brendan Buck. He basically is saying, "It appears to have been invented out of thin air. The Senator should disclose who told him this account of events, retract his reckless allegation immediately and apologize."
BLITZER: What is the White House saying about all of this?
MCPIKE: Jay Carney just was giving his briefing and he said it was a miscommunication. We'll look at a comment from him right now as well. He says, "Well, the quote attributed to a Republican lawmaker in the House GOP with the president is not accurate. There was a miscommunication when the White House read out the meeting to Senate Democrats and we regret the misunderstanding."
Now, Jay Carney also said this was during the heat of the government shutdown when House Republicans shut down the government.
So it's clear that something happened but we still don't know what yet. We're trying to get further to the bottom of it, we'll have more.
BLITZER: The Republican Congressman, who supposedly made this comment, has he said something?
MCPIKE: Not yet.
BLITZER: We'll see what happens.
See you later in "The Situation Room."
Erin McPike, thank you.
A parent and a politician criticized for looking the other way during a house party. There was alcohol. Also, his under-aged son. Why didn't he stop the party or take his son home? That's next.
BLITZER: Responsibility is at the heart of a controversy surrounding Maryland gubernatorial candidate, Doug Gansler. Responsibility and this picture posted on social media. It has people asking if Gansler, also Maryland's attorney general, should have broken up the party.
Brian Todd in Baltimore, watching what's going on.
Brian, what happened here? Why is Gansler under fire?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he's under fire because at this party in June he was photographed - a picture posted to Instagram -- moving through a crowd of kids at a party at a beach-week party for a high school in Bethany Beach, Delaware, a party that appeared to have teenagers -- and their ages are unclear, but according to the "Baltimore Sun," and some accounts that the paper published, at least some kid as peered to be under age, drinking at this party. Legal drinking age in Delaware and Maryland is 21 years old. That he moved through the party of a lot of dancing and apparent drinking, and didn't do anything to stop it. And he is under fire for that, as not only a parent, but as a chief law enforcement officer of a state.
Again, he is arguing that he was not the chief law enforcement officer of Delaware. He is the chief law enforcement officer of Maryland. But still, he's being criticized because Doug Gansler has worked on programs against under-aged drinking, against substance abuse, done PSAs to that effect.
I asked him a short time ago whether it wasn't hypocritical of him to move through the party and not see it up after he had done that work for the public campaigns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUG GANSLER, MARYLAND ATTORNEY GENERAL: If I had seen anything that I thought was, you know, bad behavior, bad drinking, then I might have acted differently and maybe I should have.
TODD: Was there drinking going on?
GANSLER: Certainly, sounds like -- from what I understand now, there's certainly some drinking I guess going on. If you look at the picture, they're not -- not where I was, but some kids, one or two, holding red cups and generally -- you know, there could be Kool-Aid in the red cups, but probably beer in the red cups. I didn't go over stick my nose in and see and maybe I should have. That's all I can tell you about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Gansler said it was not even clear to them, that night, when he moved through the party, that kids were drinking. He says, looking back, it's a strong possibility they were, but he wasn't sure at the time that those kids were drinking. He did say that his mistake was -- his main mistake, was that he didn't investigate it further. There were other parents there who were chaperones. He says he probably should have checked with them and looked into it further to see what was going on at the very least -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Brian will have more on this story later today in "The Situation Room" as well.
Brian, thank you very much.
Coming up, a Milwaukee clinic is all set and ready for people to sign up for Obamacare but, so far, so far, no takers. Drew Griffin examines why the clinic has been unable to enroll people in the health care program.
BLITZER: Wall Street in an optimistic mood today thanks to a strong round of corporate earnings reports. The Dow, S&P 500 and NASDAQ all gaining ground. Investors are reacting to better-than-expected earnings reports from Ford, AT&T and the technology company, 3M. Let's take a look at the board. You see where things stand right now. The Dow up by 90 points right now.
A Milwaukee clinic that serves low-income residents is all geared up and ready to enroll people in Obamacare. But so far, no one has signed up. The clinic director said problems with the health care website are partly to blame and she's holding out hope that the health care law will eventually work.
Drew Griffin has details.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Milwaukee's Progressive Community Health Care Centers operates two clinics in some of the most low-income neighborhoods in all of Wisconsin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have an on-sight laboratory as well.
GRIFFIN: 8,000 patients a year come here for almost free health care. And they've been doing that for years. That's why workers here were so excited about the Affordable Care Act. Finally, low-income patients would be able to get health insurance, many for the first time.
The staff went through months of special training.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a good day, sir.
GRIFFIN: Prepared for the official rollout on October 1st. And since that day, how many patients has the center been able to enroll in an Affordable Care Act health plan? Exactly zero.
Though CEO Jenny Sevenich insists they have come close.
JENNY SEVENICH, CEO, PROGRESSIVE COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE CENTERS, MILWAUKEE: They get to the point where, yes, this is your tax credit. This is what you will be eligible for. And then the next step is going to be to actually pick your plan. But we can't quite get to that part of the site yet.
(on camera): So no one is actually enrolled in a plan.
SEVENICH: Because we can't get to that part in the system.
GRIFFIN: Because of the system itself? SEVENICH: Right.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Just look on Enrollment Specialist Tina Chang's computer screen. It's the message she has continually been shown why trying to register anyone.
TINA CHANG, ENROLLMENT SPECIALIST: The first week was kind of frustrating.
GRIFFIN: The center says it's not keeping track of the number of people who tried to enroll, and it's not just technical glitches.
Since October 1st, Chang and her other colleagues have helped 150 people sign up for Medicaid, but not one under a health plan sponsored by the Affordable Care Act.
One woman went through the system, looked at what she qualified for, and decided not to sign up, at least not yet.
CHANG: With that particular situation, the plan was about -- I believe it was a family of three, came to $820. Your tax credits were high, too.
GRIFFIN (on camera): Do you know what her out of pocket would have been?
CHANG: She didn't select a plan. We went and compared plans.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): That's another worry, the patients of Progressive Health Care Centers are not used to playing monthly premiums for insurance. It's not clear just yet if any premium under the Affordable Care Act will be deemed affordable at all to the lowest income consumers even with a big subsidy from the government.
SEVENICH: So yes, they are -- they're not used to paying an insurance premium.
GRIFFIN: Still, CEO Jenny Sevenich says not to worry. Computer issues, the process, the education will all get better. So will the idea about low-cost health insurance. She believes the law is good, no matter how bad the rollout.
(on camera): But do you wish, at this point in the game, what, three weeks in now, three weeks in now, we would have some people from this community signed up, under the Affordable Care Act, with a plan that they know they're going to get?
SEVENICH: Sure. Yeah, if I could wish something, I would wish that it would work. But you know, we have waited many years for something. And so three weeks seems like a short period of time. Even to the people who are trying to apply, you know, they've gone years without insurance. So they are being very patient. And they're willing to come back.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): For now, Progressive Community Health Centers is willing to wait, too, three weeks so far, waiting for its very first patient to sign up for coverage under the Affordable Health Care Act.
Drew Griffin, CNN, Milwaukee.
BLITZER: Let's check some other stories we're following now.
Lawyers for Michael Skakel are preparing a bailout method to get him out of prison. Skakel is the nephew of Robert and Ethel Kennedy. 11 years ago, he was found guilty of killing his neighbor, Martha Moxley, when they were both 15 years old. But yesterday, a Connecticut judge granted him a new trial, saying his defense attorney was inadequate. Prosecutors are planning to appeal.
Some other stories we're following. A U.S. flag oil-platform supply ship has been attacked by pirates. It happened in the West African gulf of Guinea, off the coast of Nigeria. A U.S. official confirmed two crew members believed to be Americans were taken off the ship by their captors. Their whereabouts and the condition of the ship are unclear right now. We'll keep you updated on this story as it develops.
The U.S. Navy's first super carrier has been sold. Get this. It's been sold for 1 cent. The U.S. Forestall (ph) is headed to Texas where it will be scrapped. It was called the biggest ship ever built when it was launched back in 1954. Tragedy struck in 1967 when stray voltage triggered a rocket to launch on the flight deck, striking a plane occupied by then-Lieutenant Commander John McCain. It triggered a chain reaction of explosions that killed 134 sailors. It was in service for almost four 40 years. It was decommissioned back in 1993.
This programming note. Tonight, CNN Films presents "Blackfish." The film follows the history of killer whales in captivity, leading up to the death of a SeaWorld trainer in 2010. Don't miss it later tonight, 9:00 p.m. eastern, only here on CNN.
That does it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer, in Washington. I'll be back 5:00 p.m. eastern in "The Situation Room."
NEWSROOM continues right now with Brooke Baldwin.