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THE SITUATION ROOM
Will Hillary Run?; New Court Documents Released in JonBenet Ramsey Case
Aired October 25, 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: Is it proof she's warming up for another presidential campaign?
And a former spy chief gets on a train and forgets to be stealthy, how Michael Hayden's phone conversation got tweeted to the world.
And secret documents released in a notorious child murder mystery. Who killed the 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey? We're going to tell you what we're learning today.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Right now, Hillary Clinton is throwing some new fuel out there on will she run speculation. The former secretary of state is giving her third speech this week raising her profile higher than it's been in quite a while. Her supporters are hanging on every word, listening for clues about her presidential plans in 2016. And you can bet her would-be opponents are listening closely as well.
CNN's Erin McPike is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. She's been listening to a lot of these speeches, the speculation.
What's the latest?
ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Hillary Clinton has said she will consider a second presidential bid. But, of course, she's also said that she wants to stay active and contribute her ideas to the national debate. So you can expect that this kind of hype and speculation will keep going for at least the next year.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Hello, Buffalo!
MCPIKE (voice-over): With three speeches in three days, it's starting to look and feel like another campaign for Hillary Clinton.
CLINTON: To make the case over and over and over again.
MCPIKE: Is she getting her campaign war chest ready? Well, liberal billionaire George Soros is jumping on the draft Hillary bandwagon. He will be a co-chair of the Ready for Hillary PAC's finances, a group independent of her, but a big get for a potential candidate who could be tested by the liberal left in the Democratic primary.
On Thursday, she went right before that crowd, delivering policy prescriptions at a wonky liberal gathering.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: If there is going to be anybody who could even give her a tough time, it would be somebody coming from more of a fringe of the party, something kind of a tangent of the party, either a generational argument or a populist argument.
MCPIKE: On Wednesday, a protester heckler her over that black mark on her record, the death of four Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Democrats and Republicans alike say it could be her biggest weakness if she becomes her party's nominee.
CLINTON: He has a vision for the commonwealth.
MCPIKE: Last weekend, she was stumping for one of her best friends, Terry McAuliffe, in his second try to become governor of Virginia. And tonight she will speak at Colgate University. It may seem like a lot for a woman who wanted some downtime, but she had to scrap plans for a series of high-profile policy speeches earlier this year when the debate over striking Syria dominated national news.
CLINTON: I'm not as interested in what the candidate looks like as what the candidate stands for and what the candidate really believes needs to be the agenda for America's future.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MCPIKE: But does she need to worry about Clinton fatigue?
BROWNSTEIN: Maybe they are trying to avoid the sense that she is kind of an imperial candidate who believes that this is hers by birthright or succession, she but she has, I think, engaged more politically than most people expected this year.
MCPIKE: Now, Wolf, we always like to try to find out whether these speeches are paid or unpaid to see what kind of tea leaves that we can read.
I understand from Clinton's spokesman she didn't receive any awards for these speeches, but we do know at least from the University of Buffalo speech, she did get some kind of compensation, but that will apparently go to the Clinton Foundation for some charities.
BLITZER: Erin McPike watching Hillary Clinton. I suspect in the next few months we will all be watching Hillary Clinton, as we have been doing for many, many years. Appreciate it very much.
The man who ones ran America's secret surveillance program has gotten a taste of what it's like to be the target of an eavesdropper. It began when Michael Hayden boarded a train and picked up his cell phone. His conversation wound up being tweeted around the world. Brian Todd spoke with the eavesdropper. Brian is joining us right now with more.
Brian, tell our viewers what happened.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as you mentioned, the irony here, the man who led the nation's eavesdropping program getting the tables turned on him. Now it's the political dish of the day.
TODD (voice-over): Tom Matzzie says he was sitting on the Acela train from D.C. to New York, listening for an hour and 20 minutes to a man speaking brashly on his cell phone.
TOM MATZZIE, FORMER WASHINGTON DIRECTOR, MOVEON.ORG: I didn't like what he was doing.
TODD: But it wasn't just any passenger. It was former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden, speaking to reporters, giving his take on the NSA spying scandal, insisting, Matzzie says, that he be referred to as a former senior administration official.
That's when Matzzie, a former progressive activist, started live tweeting what he overheard from the former spy chief. "Hayden was bragging about rendition and black sites a minute ago and Michael Hayden on Acela giving reporters disparaging quotes about administration. Remember, just refer as former admin, #exnsaneedsadayjob."
(on camera): Aren't you kind of throwing him under the bus with that one?
MATZZIE: I thought it was the wrong thing to do for an official of his stature to be making those sorts of comments and not taking accountability for them.
TODD: They weren't in the quiet car, and Matzzie claims Hayden wasn't trying to muffle his conversation. Matzzie was sitting here, Hayden here, two rows back. And Matzzie says Hayden was "the loud guy on the train."
(voice-over): In a statement to CNN, Hayden, a CNN.com contributor, said: "I didn't criticize the president. I actually said these are very difficult issues. I said I had political guidance too that limited the things that I did when I was director of NSA."
Matzzie admits his bias. He was previously with MoveOn.org, a left-leaning political group. Hayden was appointed by George W. Bush, but also served in the Obama administration.
(on camera): You will be accused of partisan mudslinging here. What do you say to that?
MATZZIE: If some people are saying that I'm doing partisan mudslinging, I think they would need to question, first, whether or not I'm saying anything that's untrue, but all of my comments that I made on Twitter and I have made subsequently are accurate.
TODD: Someone in Hayden's office apparently noticed Matzzie's tweets and called Hayden. Matzzie tweeted: "I think the jig is up." The two had a pleasant conversation and posed for a picture.
TODD: Matzzie says at that point Hayden offered to do an interview with him, but he told Hayden he was not a journalist -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What specifically did Hayden say that supposedly disparaged the Obama administration?
TODD: Well, according to Matzzie, Hayden said the Obama team should have known for a while that the NSA was spying on other leaders' cell phones, et cetera, because he said he, Hayden, had told the president early on that the president's own BlackBerry could be vulnerable to that, so what do they think the U.S. was doing to other leaders?
That's among the topics he said he heard Hayden discussing.
BLITZER: Should have been on the quiet car on the Acela, as opposed to the car where you can use your cell phone. All right. Brian, thanks very much.
Coming up, a murder mystery that's gripped the nation for two decades. Court documents just released in the JonBenet Ramsey case.
And a U.S. military academy makes the word God optional.
BLITZER: It's an enduring murder mystery. Many Americans vividly remember the JonBenet Ramsey case, and still wonder who killed the 6-year-old beauty queen two decades ago.
The demand for answers led a Colorado court to unseal grand jury documents today, documents that revisit old suspicions about Ramsey's parents.
CNN's Tom Foreman is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Tom, you covered this case back in the late 1990s when you worked at ABC News. Spent a lot of time there. Tell us what we learned today.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, not much is the answer, but this case has so fascinated people. When this grand jury sat down to consider the evidence, everybody in the country seemed to be on the edge of their seats to see what they were going to say.
We didn't know at the time. And now they have released just a few pages that give us a tiny hint of what they were thinking.
FOREMAN (voice-over): The new documents only add to the mystery of what happened to 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, found dead in her Colorado home the day after Christmas 1996.
The grand jury said both of the girl's parents, John and Patsy, did unlawfully, knowingly, recklessly, and feloniously permit a child to be placed in a situation which posed a threat of injury, which resulted in the death of JonBenet.
Furthermore the documents accuse each parent of helping someone suspected of the crime to avoid arrest. Whether that means they helped each other or another is unclear. But the Ramseys insisted the killing was the work of an unknown intruder.
PATSY RAMSEY, MOTHER OF JONBENET RAMSEY: There is a killer on the loose. If I were a resident of Boulder, I would tell my friends to keep -- keep your babies close to you. There's someone out there.
FOREMAN: Although at first the murder looked like a botched kidnapping, the Ramseys were suspected. Their daughter had been struck on the head and strangled with a thin piece of cord tightened with a broken paint brush from Patsy's hobby kit. A ransom note found inside the house contained little-known details of the family's finances and history and state investigators said they thought it was in Patsy's handwriting.
There were no clear signs of forced entry and tension between investigators and the family rose rapidly. John Ramsey would much later suggest he was not surprised by the police scrutiny.
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Why did they think it was you?
JOHN RAMSEY, FATHER OF JONBENET RAMSEY: Because the police always go after the parents. And we understood that.
FOREMAN: But prosecutors would not go after them, even though the grand jury apparently wanted to.
ALEX HUNTER, PROSECUTOR: We do not have sufficient evidence to warrant the filing of charges.
FOREMAN: Five years ago, authorities took the unusual step of clearing John and Patsy Ramsey of suspicion based on DNA evidence, even though she had already died of cancer and he had moved away.
FOREMAN: John Ramsey's attorneys opposed the release of these documents, basically saying, look, it's a partial release. If you're going to release anything, put it all out there, and give us a chance to rebut it. That didn't happen.
But in the end, these papers really change nothing, because there's still no clear answer to that question, who killed JonBenet Ramsey?
BLITZER: We still do not know.
Tom, stand by.
I want to bring Jeffrey Toobin into this conversation. Jeffrey is our senior legal another.
And like Tom, you covered this as well back in the late 1990s, spent a lot of time out in Colorado. What do you think? First of all, why did they release these documents today?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: There's a Colorado law that says actions of the grand jury, not necessarily their deliberations and their evidence, but actual actions that grand juries take should be made public.
That's why we just got this very partial release of the pages of the grand jury, what appears to be a draft indictment saying that the grand jury had voted to indict them, but no indictment is official until the district attorney signs up. And we now know that Alex Hunter, who was the district attorney at the time, refused to sign it on the ground that there was not enough evidence.
I think history has really vindicated Alex Hunter's decision.
BLITZER: They only released four pages today, but there were a whole bunch more. Right. Why only four, Jeffrey?
TOOBIN: Because those are the only pages that actually indicate the actions taken by the grand jury. The rest of it are more the deliberations, and as I understand it, it is still up in the air whether those will ever be released to the public.
BLITZER: The suggestion from the grand jury, Tom, was that there was some other person who may have been involved that the Ramseys were either covering up for assisting or whatever. That's the implication reading those four pages.
FOREMAN: It depends on how you read them. Yes, that is one way to read them.
And there's always been -- the Ramseys have always said somebody else was in the house. People have asked whether some friend or family member was involved. But you can also read it to say that this was a second layer of implication, that they were saying if you're John Ramsey, we think you helped cover up for Patsy Ramsey. If you're Patsy Ramsey, we think you helped cover up for John Ramsey, but it's quite unclear what those lines mean. That's just a possible interpretation.
BLITZER: Jeffrey, the documents that were released today, does that change anything?
TOOBIN: Not a thing. Not a thing. In a way, it's sort of unfair to the Ramseys. You can see why they wanted this kept secret, because here we see the grand jury wanted to indict them, but it's important to remember this grand jury did not have the DNA evidence in front of it. The technology had not been perfected yet.
That technology allowed the later district attorney in 2008 to clear them. So this grand jury that wanted to act against the Ramseys didn't have all the evidence that is now available. And now it's just as big a mystery as ever who did this horrible thing.
BLITZER: That DNA evidence insisted, and I assume you believe it's accurate, that whoever did the murder, and they did an autopsy on JonBenet Ramsey -- they said she was sexually assaulted -- whoever did the murder was not related, was not a blood relative, because the DNA was so different. Is that right, Jeffrey?
TOOBIN: Correct. That's right, although possibly sexually assaulted. That was never established with certainty.
Remember, a few years ago, there was that lunatic John Mark Karr who confessed to being involved in this case. He just turned out to be a crazy person, but this remains a possibility that there could be a cold hit. There could be someone arrested somewhere whose DNA matches the DNA found at the scene. So it remains an open case, but one that could still be solved.
BLITZER: Tom, I know you want to weigh in.
FOREMAN: Jeffrey, tell me if I'm wrong with this, though.
Here's the other part that's tricky about this, though. Even though they say the DNA exonerated the family, this was one of the issues all along. The question was, until you have a suspect, until you know where that DNA came from, it doesn't necessarily prove that somebody else committed the murder either.
That seems to me to be the enduring mystery of this. Even though they say the family is off the hook, that still doesn't answer the question, was there really someone else? Who else would this have been?
TOOBIN: I think it almost answers that question.
Remember, the DA went out -- the DA in 2008 went out of the way to say, no, this isn't simply that we are leaving the question open. We are exonerating the Ramseys. I think as much as we in the news media really went after them -- and, look, they were obvious suspects from day one -- I think the status quo, the current version of the evidence is that they did not do it.
And I think that's really what we have to stick with at this point. As for who did, it sure beats the heck out of me.
BLITZER: The mystery continues. Meanwhile, a killer is still on the loose someplace. All right, guys, thanks very much, Jeffrey Toobin and Tom Foreman.
Just ahead, a legendary NFL quarterback explaining why he was afraid for the first time in years.
And traveling the world with NBA superstar LeBron James. Our own Rachel Nichols, she is here and she's going to talk about that, her new program "UNGUARDED." It debuts tonight right here on CNN.
BLITZER: So there appears to be more urgency over the controversy of the Washington Redskins' nickname.
Let's talk about that a lot more with Rachel Nichols of CNN Sports. Her new program "UNGUARDED" debuts later tonight 10:30 Eastern only here on CNN.
I want to get to the Redskins in a moment, but first I want to play a clip from the new show, from the new show tonight. You're talking to LeBron James. The NBA season, as you know, starts this week. Here's the clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If I told the 10-year-old LeBron James that you would end up going to China more often than a place closer to Ohio, like Nebraska or Kansas, what would you have thought?
LEBRON JAMES, NBA PLAYER: He probably would have told you I'm not leaving Akron, Ohio.
NICHOLS: How adventurous are you when you travel in terms of trying weird food or anything like that?
JAMES: I'm not adventurous at all. I'm not. I'm not. I have never been. But I do use chopsticks, though.
What is something you could tell us that we don't know? I use chopsticks. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, Rachel.
NICHOLS: He's got to protect those shrimp, right, Wolf?
BLITZER: It's unbelievable.
Tell us a little bit about LeBron. What did you learn in a nutshell about this MVP?
NICHOLS: Well, two things you saw just there in that clip.
First of all, the seas of people that greet him everywhere he goes over there, we're talking tens of thousands in the streets. So it really speaks to the universality of sports and basketball, and just that you can have a group of people with really nothing in common with a group of people where LeBron is from, in Akron, Ohio. Yet they all love basketball, they al being in this moment with him.
The other thing we learned in being with LeBron in all of these environment -- and you saw that inside with him eating lunch. We had a bunch of those that you will see on the show tonight -- is that he is, in some ways, for all of this fanfare, a businessman overseas in China, halfway around the world, missing his kids.
He talks about how he messes up the time difference sometimes and makes his wife really annoyed, because he calls at 2:00 in the morning while he's over there. Not sure exactly what to eat sometimes. That's what we're trying to do on "UNGUARDED." We're trying to show you the candid, more unguarded side of some of these athletes, which, face it, really some of our biggest celebrities, whether you like sports or not, these are the people that people are fascinated by and want to know about.
And we're going to show you that on this show.
BLITZER: I can't way to see it.
Let's talk a little bit about the Washington Redskins. You know they're meeting and the NFL will be meeting with some Native American groups. A lot of pressure on Dan Snyder and the Washington Redskins to change the name. What do you think? What is going to happen?
NICHOLS: Well, this meeting was set a while ago in terms of the NFL promising to meet with the Oneida Nation, but didn't get scheduled, which led a lot of people to say, oh, yes, they're agreeing to it just to look good, but nothing is really going to happen.
Now it appears that next Wednesday, this meeting really will happen. When you speak with people from the Oneida Nation, we're actually going to have on our show tonight, we're going to have the director of the Smithsonian's American Indian Museum. We spoke to him earlier in the week as well, and saying that all they want to do is be heard.
They feel if they get in a room with Commissioner Roger Goodell and they state their case, they think their case makes so much sense it will be hard to ignore them. We will have to see what happens after this meeting on Wednesday. But they feel confident they will be able to make some inroads.
BLITZER: Another subject, Brett Favre, the former Green Bay Packer quarterback, 44 years old, and now acknowledging that all those hits he took, those concussions, he's now suffering from some significant memory loss. What do you make of this?
NICHOLS: He says he doesn't remember some of his daughter's soccer games, doesn't remember that his daughter played soccer, does remember her other sports team.
The question is, is this just the beginning of something more significant for Brett Favre or is this just a little bit of a lapse? No doubt that Brett Favre got hit in the head a lot. I was on the sidelines for more of his games than many people. I got to tell you, he had the mentality of just hey, whatever is wrong, slap a Band-Aid on it and get back out on the field.
It's what made him a great quarterback, it's what made him so respected around the league. He was willing to play under any conditions. However, what we might be seeing the start of, and we don't know, is, is that attitude what's going to make him have problems later in life? And it's the question facing so many of these NFL players right now.
BLITZER: So many of these NFL players are suffering right now years after they retired. They're suffering from all those hits
Rachel, we will be watching your show "UNGUARDED" tonight. Every week, we're looking forward to it. A little sports here on CNN is just what we need. Appreciate it very much, Rachel. Good luck with the new show, 10:30 p.m. Eastern.
NICHOLS: Thanks. Thank you so much, Wolf.
BLITZER: Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Tweet me @WolfBlitzer.
Thanks very much watching. Have a great, great weekend.
"CROSSFIRE" starts right now.