Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
New Ferguson Witness Speaks Out; Fighting ISIS; Ray Rice Terminated; NFL Star Fired, Suspended after Violent Video; Tension as Brown Body Lay in Street for Hours; Record Rain Triggers State of Emergency; Political Odd Couple: Bush & Clinton
Aired September 8, 2014 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN GUEST HOST: Plus, Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice is fired after shocking video surfaces of him punching his future wife. Is the NFL doing enough to punish players for domestic violence?
And a new witness comes forward about the shooting death of Michael Brown, explaining why the teenager's body was left on a street in Ferguson, Missouri, for hours.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
First this hour, a brazen taunt by some of the most savage terrorists in the world. It is a newly released video of ISIS fighters in combat. Most of it is too gruesome to show you. It comes as President Obama is about to announce his long-term plan to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria and protect Americans from a possible attack.
We have correspondents, analysts and newsmakers standing by with new details on the president's strategy and whether it can work.
Let's go first now to our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto.
Jim, we have really seen his message evolve over time here.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question.
Brianna, we have come a long way from ISIS the J.V. team last year, even last week, when there was still a question in public about whether the goal was to contain or destroy the group. The president now preparing the public for a sustained years-long campaign to defeat ISIS, one that will involve a broad coalition of nations as more of them come to see ISIS as a direct threat.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): A new ISIS video shows the terror group's threat in alarming detail. Filming from their own drones in the sky, ISIS takes a Syrian air base with military precision. Fearing the same success against the Haditha dam in Iraq, the U.S. military launched yet another air campaign to halt their progress. Now President Obama will outline on Wednesday a longer-term battle
plan lasting, U.S. officials tell CNN, as long as three years.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to be able to not just blunt the momentum of ISIL. We are going to systematically degrade their capabilities. We're going to shrink the territory that they control, and ultimately we're going to defeat them.
SCIUTTO: Phase one, airstrikes in Iraq against ISIS targets, a campaign already under way. Phase two, train and equip Iraqi and Kurdish forces to defeat ISIS on the ground. Phase three, eliminate ISIS safe havens in Syria. And the U.S. will attempt the build a broad coalition to combat ISIS, including in the region. Secretary Kerry visiting there this week to help recruit allies in the fight.
Already, Canada, like the U.S., is sending military advisers to assist Kurdish forces. The U.K., Germany and Italy are sending weapons to the Kurds. And Australia is providing airlift capacity. Together, it is an unprecedented campaign, unlike even the assault on al Qaeda, which is at 13 years and counting.
BEN CONNABLE, RAND CORPORATION: I.S. is fundamentally different. They have a military structure and organization, so they present more of a target. The question arises, what will happen after the military targets are destroyed, after the tanks are gone, after the armored personnel carriers are gone? Where do we take the campaign from there?
SCIUTTO: A new CNN poll shows American public support building for military action. Today, 50 say they are ready and willing for strikes against ISIS, up from just 34 percent a year ago; 90 percent of Americans see ISIS as a threat to the U.S.
It's that public support that may help President Obama pursue more aggressive action.
SCIUTTO: One question that's still open is what level of congressional support the president will ask for. The president said this weekend he believes that he has the authority he needs to protect the American people. But today listening carefully to White House spokesman Josh Earnest, he seemed to say that whether the president will seek additional authorization will depend on what additional steps the president decides on, including airstrikes within Syria.
The president said, Brianna, throughout this that they want buy-in from Congress, but they have yet to define exactly what buy-in is. Is it just consultation, will there be a vote? That seems to depends on what steps the president takes, including whether he decides to launch airstrikes inside Syria.
KEILAR: The White House kept it very foggy today. We did just hear from Secretary Kerry. He's on his way obviously overseas to get a little help from his friends, we have been saying. He talked about significant news out of Iraq that a new government has been put in place. What did he say?
SCIUTTO: He called it a major milestone. In fact, there is a new government. You have a new prime minister, one that all sides seem to be happy with. Now he's picked most of the posts for his cabinet, but unfortunately, not the two most important posts, the defense minister and interior minister.
Traditionally, the defense minister is a Sunni, interior minister is a Shia. These are the real negotiations in the past over these positions that have stymied previous governments. So not to have decided on those yet it shows that they have really got a long way to go to get the government the president wants to move forward with, with military action.
KEILAR: They have said a political solution is very important here, so this is definitely a part of the strategy for President Obama.
We have more now on the challenges that the president faces when he unveils his ISIS battle plan on Wednesday.
Let's talk now to our White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski -- Michelle.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna.
Yes, we just saw this poll come out today that showed 67 percent of respondents answered no when asked, does President Obama have a clear plan on defeating ISIS? The White House knows there's been confusion out there. They have been dealing with, is there a strategy or not a strategy problem for about two weeks now.
So it's possible why they're doing this presidential address on Wednesday, to lay out a plan clearly again. But even today after a lot of tough questioning, it was hard to see what exactly would come out of this address, because we have seen the White House repeatedly lay out its strategy, and the thing is, a big part of that strategy right now, at least in terms of moving beyond Iraq, still involves laying the groundwork for making a decision.
The White House was asked directly today, has a decision been made on airstrikes in Syria? And they answered only, well, the U.S. is willing to go wherever necessary to deal with ISIS. And the White House said this address would be a conversation with the American people. That's how they framed it, to talk about what is the best way forward and what tools are at America's disposal.
We just heard John Kerry say it would be a chance for the president to lay out this coordinated global strategy, Brianna.
KEILAR: What is the role here with Congress? What is outreach that the White House is doing there?
KOSINSKI: Yes. And Jim touched on this a little bit too.
We have been seeing there's been support for certain elements of the president's plan, at least what we know of it so far. There's support for having a tough stance on ISIS and the threat that many say it does pose to the United States. But then there's all this criticism that the plan needs to be tougher or that it needs to be laid out better.
Just today, in fact, we saw a Senate Democrat, we saw a House Republican put out their own legislation preemptively for authorizing force in Syria. The White House was asked repeatedly again today, what role is Congress going to play? Can you give us some sort of theoreticals or specifics? Is the president going to ask for Congress' authorization or permission in moving beyond Iraq?
And again they would only go so far as to sort of frame it all as close consultation with Congress -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Michelle Kosinski at the White House, thank you.
I want to bring our panel in now, retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. He's a CNN military analyst. And Robert Baer, a CNN national security analyst and former CIA operative, as well as Oubai Shahbandar, a senior adviser to the Syrian opposition coalition.
General, the idea of airstrikes, a series of airstrikes, a prolonged campaign of airstrikes against ISIS, is that going to be enough to degrade and destroy ISIS as the president says he wants to do?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Brianna, I think the president said four things that as a military guy I wanted to hear him say. He said he wanted to blunt the momentum of ISIS, he wanted to degrade their capability, he wanted to shrink their territory and then he wanted to defeat them.
All of those things will take on added dimension. I don't think we want to telegraph all the things he is going to do. We see the secretary of state getting multinational partners together to contribute to those areas.
I think we have got a very long campaign in front of us. Again, as a soldier too, the American people support it today. Will they support it a year from now or two years from now? This is going to be a very long campaign.
KEILAR: But you think more than airstrikes or airstrikes are sufficient?
HERTLING: Well, no, I don't think airstrikes are sufficient at all. But I think they will contribute certainly to what we're trying to do.
There will be many, many more ways to approach this. The secretary talked about other nations contributing. It could be the contributions of intelligence, the contributions of humanitarian aid. There will be a lot of things going into this fight from a lot of different, and airstrikes, both from the United States and possibly from some other countries, are going to be part of that.
KEILAR: The general was talking about this. How are the American people going to feel in a year, in two years, Oubai? "The New York Times" right now citing a senior administration official that says the ISIS mission could take at least three years. What is your thought representing Syrian rebels?
OUBAI SHAHBANDAR, SYRIAN OPPOSITION COALITION: Well, absolutely there's no question that the fight, the campaign against ISIS doesn't really begin in earnest until airstrikes against ISIS' positions in Syria begin.
That's the core for ISIS. Until the U.S. really launches in earnest the comprehensive campaign that includes supporting the ground forces existing in Syria today led by the Free Syrian Army that are fighting ISIS, then we really haven't even begun the fight to degrade ISIS.
KEILAR: But how long does it take? Does it take three years to degrade ISIS, to destroy ISIS?
SHAHBANDAR: It will take a long time. It will absolutely be a long campaign. The sooner that the U.S. starts by launching airstrikes, the faster that we can all conclude this joint mission to destroy ISIS.
KEILAR: Bob, when you look at this, I know there are some folks out there who think even though we're hearing no U.S. combat boots on the ground, that ultimately that's what this will necessitate. There are many people who say no and they say that's not going to happen. But do you think this mission could eventually lead to that?
BOB BAER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Brianna, I think it will lead to it if ISIS strikes the United States, especially within our borders or even American targets in Europe.
But what we're not looking at, is very important, is a unity government in Baghdad. I have been talking to the Sunnis from Anbar and Diyala provinces almost every day, and they see the negotiations in Baghdad occurring today as irrelevant. They said they're not coming back with a government there.
They want complete changes in laws. They want the same status as the Kurdish area. I think what we really need to do is drive a wedge between ISIS in Iraq and the Sunni population, which is nearly two million people, which we don't have an obvious solution for.
At the end of the day, there are 20 million Sunnis leaving between Aleppo and Mosul and we have to turn them against ISIS. I think they will do ISIS one day anyhow, but I would like to speed this up, so it's a combination of a political solution and airstrikes.
KEILAR: General, the president said he will go wherever is necessary. Today, during the White House brief, we heard from Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary. When asked this question, what does that mean, is this going to be airstrikes inside of Syria, he cited -- he wouldn't quite commit to an answer but he cited examples saying the U.S. wasn't afraid to go into Pakistan and get Osama bin Laden.
So should we just read that as the U.S. will be conducting airstrikes in Syria, this is definitely going to happen? HERTLING: I don't think we should read that as such, Brianna, but, thankfully, he didn't say anything, because, again, I go back to we do not want to telegraph every one of our moves.
There's an element of surprise. There's an element of overwhelming force that are all going to contribute to the fight against ISIS wherever they might be. Again, I go back to what the White House has said the campaign strategy is going to be. From a soldier's perspective, I like it. I can deal with it. And this is going to be a long campaign.
As Mr. Shahbandar said, he would like it to start in Syria. That might not be the best place to start. But I think the fact that we are actually executing a campaign is critically important.
KEILAR: Oubai, see a video today coming out from ISIS. We see that ISIS fighters have obtained a lot of weapons. They have seized weapons. How do -- if the U.S. is arming Syrian rebels, how do they prevent ISIS from just taking over those weapons that are being given from the U.S.?
SHAHBANDAR: That's a very important question. The balance sheet right now is in the favor of ISIS.
They have captured tons of military equipment from Iraqi military bases and from Syrian regime military bases. So the way that you really ensure that vetted and trained moderate Free Syrian Army rebels are able to effectively utilize American military aid is by insuring that military aid goes to those forces that are on the front lines fighting ISIS.
You're never going to have 100 percent guarantee, but there is a good news story here; 100 percent of the U.S.-origin TOW missiles, these anti-tank guided missiles have been used effectively in the field. None of those advanced American military systems have fallen into the wrong hands.
KEILAR: All right, Oubai, thank you so much. General Hertling, really appreciate you being with us as well. Bob Baer, thank you.
Now, this just in. The FBI confirms it's looking into an attack in which a U.S. air marshal at the airport in Lagos, Nigeria, was assaulted with a syringe containing to an unknown substance. The victim flew to Houston and after an on-scene screening this morning, was taken to a hospital for further tests.
An FBI statement says none of the testing indicates any danger to other passengers and the air marshal shows no sign of illness.
Still ahead, the shocking violence that cost NFL player Ray Rice his job. Did the NFL look the other way until this video surfaced?
And an owner of the Atlanta Hawks spoke out on this program about the Donald Sterling scandal. Now he admits that he also made racially charged remarks. Sports and controversy, after the break.
KEILAR: Breaking news. Dramatic fallout from shocking new video showing NFL running back Ray Rice punching his future wife and knocking her out cold.
This prompted the Baltimore Ravens to terminate Rice's contract and the NFL to suspend him indefinitely. A warning to our viewers, the video is hard to watch.
KEILAR (voice-over): The grainy video shows the vicious attack by the Baltimore Ravens' star on his then fiancee. The footage leaked to the Web site TMZ reveals in graphic, hard-to-watch detail the brutal attack unfolding.
Even before getting on the elevator, the running back and his now wife, Janay Palmer, seem to be arguing here at the top of the green. Then even before the doors close, he's in her face. Once the doors close, a brutal punch. She's knocked out cold. When the doors reopen, Rice drags her out.
Hours after the video is released, the Ravens fired Rice and the NFL suspended him indefinitely. But the league and team are under fire for not acting sooner, before seeing the new footage today.
L.Z. GRANDERSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: A lot of people are mad at the NFL and they're mad at Ravens. I'm mad at the judicial system that failed this woman and failed society at large, because here you have clearly an act of violence, clearly an act of violence. To give him a slap on the wrist, an opportunity to even have this wiped from his record just tells you how powerful money, fame and sports is in society.
KEILAR: The incident first came to light back in February, when released footage only had shown the scene of Palmer lying on the floor outside the elevator. Rice was charged with third-degree aggravated assault, but never faced jail time. In July, Rice held a press conference with Palmer by his side.
RAY RICE, SUSPENDED NFL PLAYER: Sometimes in life, you will fail. You know, but I won't call myself a failure. Failure is not getting knocked down. It's not getting up.
KEILAR: Tonight, the Ravens are also going to criticized for tweeting that Janay Palmer deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident. That tweet has now been deleted.
KEILAR: And let's get more now with CNN legal NATO Jeffrey Toobin, CNN's Rachel Nichols, the host of "UNGUARDED with RACHEL NICHOLS," and CNN anchor Don Lemon.
Rachel, we see Rice was just suspended. This has been seven months, and it only happened after this video surfaced. It makes you wonder if the Ravens shouldn't offer more of an explanation or an apology here.
RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We're expecting to hear from Ravens head coach John Harbaugh within the next hour or so and we will see what he has to say.
But, yes, if TMZ, TMZ hadn't released this video, Ray Rice would still be a Raven tonight at the practice we will hear from John Harbaugh at. TMZ should not be doing the NFL's job. TMZ should not be doing the Ravens' job. The NFL came out after this video was released and said, hey, we asked for the video and no one gave it to us.
I don't even know if that's true. There's been some questioning of the veracity of that. But let's just give them the benefit of the doubt say that is true. OK, couldn't you have done the same thing that TMZ did? Or, alternatively Ray Rice, as a defendant in a legal case, was entitled to discovery, the evidence in the case.
When Ray Rice came into the NFL offices, they certainly could have said to Ray Rice and his lawyers, you better bring that tape with you that we know you have a copy of, because we want to see it before we let you back on the field. There's a lot of ways they could have gotten to see that tape. They didn't do any of those, if we're going to believe them, and that's frankly just as bad as if they had seen the tape and ignored it.
Don, one of the things I think that surprised people might have been just how swiftly the Ravens and the NFL responded, because we have been seeing them let Ray Rice get away with this and others get away with not too different behavior for so long.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: You mean today?
KEILAR: I think it was today they responded quickly and we have seen them -- even Roger Goodell this summer said in a letter to team owners that he didn't get it right initially with Rice.
LEMON: I was surprised that it took so long after that video came out. I was having a discussion with my executive producer. We talked about it this morning in our meeting and we all came to the conclusion very early this morning that Ray Rice would no longer be in the NFL within a couple of hours.
It didn't happen until I think about 2:00 this afternoon. I called and said, you were right, Jonathan. He said, I'm surprised it took so long. Same thing. I'm surprised it took so long.
This is very simple for me. Ray Rice should be fired for what happened there. The NFL responded inappropriately for what happened. It's as simple as that. You know what? I know we're in television news and I know everyone thinks it's great video. I hate seeing that video of that woman getting pummelled on that elevator. It just disgusts me.
KEILAR: I mean, it's definitely disgusting. And so I don't know, it makes, I think, people feel so many emotions, especially women who are I should point out 45 percent of the fan base that you're talking about in the NFL.
LEMON: Anyone with common sense.
NICHOLS: You don't have to be a woman.
LEMON: You don't have to be a woman. Exactly. It's gross. It's disgusting. And it should not be tolerated.
KEILAR: But I think one of the things, Jeffrey, when you're talking legally about this, Janay Palmer did not pursue charges. In fact, she married Ray Rice and it appears she's not going to pursue charges. Could Ray Rice be charged?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: He has been charged. This ask a misunderstanding that I think it's very important to make clear.
When someone is a victim of domestic violence, it is not up to them to press charges. A crime of domestic violence is a crime against the community, not just against the victim. The victim doesn't have the right to decide not to press charges.
What's especially disgraceful about this case is that Atlantic County, which is the county of Atlantic City, did pursue the case, and then gave Ray Rice an appallingly sweet deal. He didn't even have to plead guilty to...
KEILAR: No fine, right, no time.
TOOBIN: He didn't -- time? He didn't even have to plead guilty to anything, to a misdemeanor.
NICHOLS: A grand jury indicted him on aggravated assault charges, and they put him in a diversionary program, right, Jeffrey?
TOOBIN: That's right. Right.
They put him in this diversionary program, which is the kind of program that kids get if they're caught like graffitiing the high school they're in.
LEMON: Scared straight.
TOOBIN: It is a tiny, tiny penalty that is an absolute disgrace. And they, the DA's office, doesn't have the excuse that, oh, we didn't see the video. They're the government. they can see anything they want. The DA embarrassed the country, embarrassed themselves, and Roger
Goodell did an appalling job then for the NFL. But the law enforcement was horrendous here.
KEILAR: Well, and the thing too Rachel that strikes me is, this is not just one incident. I mean, we saw 49ers player, Ray McDonald, who was arrested on felony domestic violence charges last week. He denies this. You want to say he should get the benefit of the doubt. He did pay a $25,000 bond to get bailed to get out of jail.
But then he goes ahead and is allowed to play in the season opener a week later. What message does that send?
NICHOLS: It sends a terrible message. The line when you need a football player on the field from these teams has been, hey, we're going to give him his due process.
You know what? In any other line of work in this country, if you are arrested on felony domestic violence charges, you're sat down. You're suspended in most places, especially public companies and places that are public facing. And they certainly could say we're still going to pay him, but we're going to sit him down. Under their rights, they could deactivate him for those games. They don't have to wait for the NFL to take any kind of initiative.
They could do the right thing here and they are not doing it. It is crystal clear to me at least.
LEMON: I think they're going to have now, though.
NICHOLS: Greg Hardy from the Carolina Panthers is in the same situation.
I don't know, because look at -- this was last week. This was while the Ray Rice situation was still simmering. He was on the field and even today after the video came out, Jim Harbaugh, who is John Harbaugh, coach of the Ravens' brother, who is coaching the 49ers and Ray McDonald's coach, after that video came out and everybody was outraged about it, Jim Harbaugh stood up at a news conference and said, hey, we're status quo with Ray McDonald.
I don't think they're going to feel obligated to sit him. And that's a disgrace to me. Felony charges. He has been arrested.
TOOBIN: This is a league that suspends players for a year for smoking pot.
KEILAR: For marijuana. We saw that.
TOOBIN: For smoking pot, which is legal in some of the states where they play football.
NICHOLS: I'm sorry. I don't mean to cut you off.
TOOBIN: No, I'm just making the point and look at what they do to people who beat up women.
KEILAR: Even Michael Vick, for example, admits he was involved in this dogfighting ring, and he is back playing. Certainly, he had a story of, I guess, forgiveness or something, but the idea being he faced a stiff penalty.
LEMON: People still hate him to this day.
KEILAR: They do. But my question is, it is obviously very sad when we're talking about the abuse of dogs. But do dogs rank above women when it comes to punishment in the NFL?
LEMON: No, no.
NICHOLS: This is sort of the slippery slope discussion that we got into with Donald Sterling. I keep hearing this argument in NFL circles that, oh, unless somebody has gone through the entire legal process, they have been convicted of crime, we can't do anything.
That is not true. If the police find enough evidence to arrest and charge you with felony level charges, that is specific. That is not, hey, gee, we're getting this out of thin air. That is enough for you to say, hey, there's a situation here that needs to be attended to.
TOOBIN: And, Brianna, Brianna, keep an eye on this. Ray Rice has had his contract suspended -- or his status is vague. This guy will be back in the NFL. That's how the system works. He's a 27-year-old running back who has been a Super Bowl champion. He's a superstar.
LEMON: I don't know about that.
KEILAR: You don't think so, Don?
LEMON: No, I don't.
TOOBIN: Watch. Oh, he will go to therapy.
LEMON: I think that may happen.
TOOBIN: He will have his wife sitting by his side.
LEMON: Well, his wife has already been sitting by his side. People are questioning why would she even marry a guy that would do that? But that's a whole other show.
But I think that, if enough women and enough decent people speak out and keep their feet to the fire, I don't think that he will be back. And I think that you will see another situation. I think that you're going to see Harbaugh. There's going to be changes when it comes to the McDonald's situation, as well. That's why I said stay tuned for that one. I think people are so outraged with this video, and by the way the NFL handled this, that I think there are going to be some changes. You may not see him back.
NICHOLS: You are more optimistic than me, my friend. I am jaded by the system, and I don't see it coming unless someone forces their hands.
KEILAR: You said, Rachel, if they can play, they get to play. And we will see if that is the truth in this case. Jeffrey Toobin, Rachel Nichols, Don Lemon, thanks to all of you.
LEMON: Thank you.
KEILAR: Now, just ahead, a witness to the shooting of Michael Brown speaks publicly for the first time about what he saw. Does it shed new light on the controversial police killing?
And breaking news: record rainfall triggering deadly flash flooding and a state of emergency.
KEILAR: We're learning new details of the very tense first hours after the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer. The man who removed Brown's body from the scene is now speaking publicly for the first time.
CNN senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns here with that story. What is he saying?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, one of the things that really poured fuel on the firestorm of anger was the image of Michael Brown's body dead in the middle of the street for hours in front of everyone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where's the ambulance? Why ain't nobody helping him?
JOHNS (voice-over): For the first time, the funeral director in charge of removing Michael Brown's body from the scene is talking publicly about why it took so long.
CALVIN WHITAKER, LIVERY DRIVER: There was times where we feared for our lives.
JOHNS: Rage spread through the crowd as it quickly grew around the unarmed teenager's body, who'd just been shot and killed by Ferguson Police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've just got him laying here.
JOHNS: The image of Brown's body left in the middle of the street for four hours brought the crowd to the boiling point.
WHITAKER: People that were just all over the place, the police could not control the crowd.
JOHNS: Calvin Whitaker, a licensed funeral director in Missouri, got the call to take Brown's body from the scene to the medical examiner's office.
WHITAKER: We could not do our job. It was unsafe for us to be here.
JOHNS: Here's how he says it all played out.
The shooting is first reported just after noon. Three minutes later, the first ambulance arrives. Paramedics find no pulse on Brown. Eight minutes in, other officers arrive and partially cover Brown's body with a white sheet. It's almost 2:30 when Calvin Whitaker arrives in his SUV to remove the body, just 20 minutes after being contacted.
WHITAKER: A police officer came over and said, "Stay in your vehicle. There is gunshots," while we were there. We do not have any bulletproof vests or anything like that to protect us.
JOHNS: Whitaker says the gunshots he heard from somewhere in the crowd terrified him, but there was no way out. His vehicle was stuck inside the crowd of people.
WHITAKER: The family of Mr. Brown was out there, and they were pleading with people, the crowd, they were pleading with them, saying, "Please, please step back. They will not pick up my son. They are not safe. They do not feel safe. Please step back and let them pick up my son."
JOHNS: Finally, more than two hours after the shooting, Whitaker delivers Brown's body to the morgue.
That four-hour period when Brown's body lay in the street helped fuel the fires for days and weeks.
JOHNS: Also in the search for supposedly impartial witnesses, "The St. Louis Post-Dispatch" reports that investigators have now interviewed a man from another county who was working at the scene at the time of the shooting. The witness said Police Officer Darren Wilson chased Michael Brown on foot and fired a shot at the teenager while he was running away and that Brown stopped, turned around, put his hands up and that the officer killed Brown in a barrage of gunfire.
KEILAR: Joe Johns, thank you so much for that report.
Let's get more on this now with CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin; CNN law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes; and Patricia Bynes. She is a Democratic committeewoman for Ferguson Township -- Township, I should say.
Patricia, to you first. What is your reaction to this "St. Louis Dispatch" witness account that Officer Wilson fired at Brown while he was running away and then when he turned around he was shot multiple times?
PATRICIA BYNES (D), COMMITTEEWOMAN, FERGUSON TOWNSHIP: First, I'm glad that more people are -- more witnesses are coming forward with giving their accounts of what they've seen. We really just want the truth to come out.
And this really corroborates the other witnesses' statements that had said they have seen the same thing. And even what gives it even more credibility is that he's not from the area. So it lends a voice to say this is what happened in this case.
KEILAR: Is that true, Jeffrey? So because this is someone who's not from the area, there may be more credibility?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: There might be. But you know, I really think it's important that we give the investigators time to assimilate all the information. If this is the only witness and if this witness is born out to be true, this sounds like cold-blooded murder.
But there are other witnesses. There are scientific tests that need to be done. It is potentially a very damaging piece of evidence. But again, there are going to be lots of eyewitnesses. And, you know, we need to see it all pull together before we or certainly any jury makes a judgment.
KEILAR: If you, Tom, as an investigator, are interviewing witnesses, what are you trying to do to really figure out what happened and are you thinking that you may not actually find out what happened?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it's true that you might not figure it out, but you want to know exactly what they heard, when they heard it, and have them take it through one second at a time during this event.
Now, I've read today the accounts of what these two new witnesses have told to "The St. Louis Post-Dispatch." And we don't know if that's the same thing they told the FBI and the other police investigators.
But what they told the reporters said that they heard a shot. They weren't watching. They heard a shot apparently from the car. When they looked up, they saw the officer chasing Brown on the street.
One of the witnesses also said that, when Brown stopped and turned around, then there's a little bit of confusion about what Brown did exactly at that point. But they said the officer was backpedaling as he shot, which would indicate if the officer wanted to just stand his ground and shoot him dead, why would he backpedal? So that's part of the confusion here.
We still don't know what happened at the car. We still don't know exactly what happened when Brown raised his arms and either surrendered or was aiming for the officer. We need the forensic work to be done, and compare it to all of the eyewitness accounts and try to, with all of the evidence, determine exactly, step by step, what occurred.
KEILAR: Now right now the grand jury is still hearing evidence. What is likely happening behind closed doors?
TOOBIN: Well, what the prosecutor has said is that he is going to put absolutely every piece of evidence before the grand jury. And that is what's going on.
But ultimately, you know, a grand jury is a way for prosecutors to hide. The prosecuting attorney is going to have to decide whether he thinks this is a crime that can be prosecuted in state court. And then the FBI, along with the U.S. attorney's office, is going to have to make a judgment about whether they think any federal crime took place here.
So I'm sure the evidence collection process is still going on. The forensic tests are still being completed. But it's all going to go before the grand jury. But ultimately, this is going to be up to the prosecutors and the D.A.'s office -- and the prosecuting attorney's office and in the U.S. attorney's office.
KEILAR: And to you, committeewoman, I wonder what things are like there in Ferguson. It seems as if things have calmed down. But at the same time, we're hearing reports that protesters may be closing down a highway to protest on Wednesday. What can you tell us about that?
BYNES: There is a planned demonstration to take place. And while things have physically calmed down, tensions are still high. You know, this is a very tension community issue. And people want to make sure that their demands are being heard and there's no momentum lost during this case.
The community does not want this to be another shooting that makes it in the news and goes away. There's a true cry for justice here. And people are doing everything. The activists are doing what they do. And it's my job to help mobilize the community to move forward in reforming -- you know, the government or ask the right questions. And that's what we're doing here right now.
KEILAR: Do you feel that there can be a better relationship between people in the community and this police department moving forward? BYNES: I do. I do, I honestly do. Because with the Department of
Justice looking into the Ferguson Police Department, and also into St. Louis County Police Department, I think that in the future, we are going to get somewhere, where the issues are laid out on the table. The findings are put out, because there may or may not be issues.
But there's obviously cause that's making our investigators go and look into these claims. So one way or another, we're going to get there. People just want the truth to come out. That's what the community cry is really about, for truth to come out and justice to be done.
KEILAR: Committeewoman, thank you so much for being with us. Tom Fuentes and Jeffrey Toobin, thanks to you three.
Breaking news next. Record-breaking rain and the deadly flash flooding, all of Arizona now under a state of emergency.
And an unlikely friendship on display as two former presidents share a stage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I admire my pal's ability to communicate and to lead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Breaking news next: record breaking rain and the deadly flash flooding, all of Arizona now under a state of emergency.
And, an unlikely friendship on display as two former presidents share a stage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: I admire my pal's ability to communicate and to lead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: We're following breaking news.
A state of emergency in effect right now in Arizona, where record rainfall is triggering deadly flash flooding. Let's bring in CNN meteorologist and severe weather expert Chad Myers. He's looking at all of this for us.
This looks very bad, Chad.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, this could go on for a few more days, more heavy rainfall days because of a tropical system that died in the Pacific Ocean, that ran over Mexico and right into the Southwest. Phoenix, over 6 inches of rain. Tempe, about the same. Chandler, Ahwatukee, some spots, over six inches, a foot -- half of foot of rain in just -- in 24 hours. And this is what it looked like by the time it all ended, there was flooding.
And a problem with this, Brianna, was that it happened in the dark. It happened before the sunlight and people were driving into it, and officially getting washed away in some spots here across parts of Phoenix this morning, out of their cars, cars flooded up to the roof, in some spots here around Phoenix, picking up that six inches of rainfall, all now getting down into one spot, those lowest elevations around the city.
No more rain in Phoenix right now. But I think that could change tonight into tomorrow.
The big story right now is the breaking news that's happening around Las Vegas. Yes, it flooded a little bit in Vegas. But the big story is up here in the Moapa valley. They picked up between four and six inches of rainfall in the past two hours and there are reports on I-15 of cars floating down the roadway, floating down the interstate. We don't have pictures of that yet.
We have crews and affiliates on the way but difficult to get there if all the roadways are closed in many directions. I-15 closed in many directions as well. This is going to be a breaking news story of the night. Remember, the water is going to go downhill. It's going to go on to Moapa Valley, eventually into Lake Mead. But that cause more flooding. We have pictures as soon as we can get them.
KEILAR: And the water is needed, Chad, but certainly not this much water.
MYERS: It certainly. I mean, Lake Mead is 100 feet below where it should be, less than 50 percent full. We can use the water. But people are in the way. This is a life threatening situation up there in Moapa Valley before the water eventually gets into Lake Mead. It's going to be a few more hours before that water recedes.
KEILAR: All right. And people certainly need to take precautions. We urge that and we will be watching as this progresses.
Thank you so much, Chad Myers.
MYERS: You're welcome.
Just ahead, a presidential odd couple talking about their friendship and the photo opportunities they can't avoid.
KEILAR: First Lady Michelle Obama is raising some eyebrows for a remark about rich kids while speaking to African-American high school students in Atlanta today. Listen to her comments about education during a pep rally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Are you all still fired up? Are you listening to me? Do you hear what I'm telling you? Because I'm giving you some insight that a lot of rich kids all over the country, they know this stuff, and I want you to know it too, because you have got to go and get your education. You've got to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Mrs. Obama spoke at the Booker T. Washington High School. It was the first public high school for African-Americans in Georgia.
And as political odd couples go, when former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush get together, well, you might expect things to be sort of awkward, right?
But as CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux shows us, that certainly was not the case today.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two former presidents, numbers 42 and 43 appear to be best buddies these days.
G.W. BUSH: First of all, he is an awesome communicator.
MALVEAUX: Asked to explain how their friendship helped launch their scholarship program, it was classic George W. Bush.
G.W. BUSH: Hi, mom! Anyway --
G.W. BUSH: Because we got a lot to offer.
MALVEAUX: It was a surprising light-hearted love fest between Presidents Bill Clinton and Bush, that had the audience made up of mostly staffers rolling.
When asked what the two former presidents admired about each other most --
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: You always want to be underestimated by your adversaries.
G.W. BUSH: You two have got great empathy for people, is that enough?
MALVEAUX: And both joked about how they spend their free time.
CLINTON: Taking selfies with people.
G.W. BUSH: At least they're still asking, you know?
CLINTON: Yes, that's right. MALVEAUX: Gone are pictures like these, when the Clintons and Bushes
offered cold shoulders. After all, it was Clinton who turned George H.W. Bush into a one termer.
But Clinton and Bush Senior later became close, publicly working together in tsunami relief and post-Hurricane Katrina as I witnessed firsthand.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: That I believe they ought not to be as upset, but I can understand why they are.
MALVEAUX: What they kept quiet was Clinton's growing closeness to the son, George W.
CLINTON: He used to call me twice a year in his second term just to talk.
MALVEAUX: Now, Bush is offering insight into what makes a president.
G.W. BUSH: We're just normal people who got caught up in the ambition and drive and circumstance and ended up being president. Man, these guys can do it, I can do it.
MALVEAUX: When Clinton responded, he was interrupted by a call.
CLINTON: There's only one -- yes. Only two people have this number and they're both related to me. I hope -- I'm not being told I'm about to become a premature grandfather.
G.W. BUSH: That's right, yes.
MALVEAUX: On that, Bush gave this advice.
G.W. BUSH: Be prepared to fall completely in love again.
MALVEAUX (on camera): Also noteworthy, in the audience was the former secretary of state and first lady, Hillary Clinton, who laughed when someone suggested, how about another Clinton-Bush match-up in 2016 referring to her and former Governor Jeb Bush running against each other. George Bush joked that the first one didn't turn out so well, referring to his father's loss to Bill Clinton in 1992.
Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Washington.
KEILAR: Great story. Remember you can follow us on Twitter. Just tweet the show @CNNSitroom. And be sure to join us tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can watch us live or DVR the show so you won't miss a moment.
Thanks so much for watching. I'm Brianna Keilar in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.