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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Baltimore Police Custody Death Examined; Hillary, Bill Clinton Arrive In New Hampshire; Feds: Six Americans Tried To Go To Syria; Demand Nearly Crashes Target's Website. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired April 20, 2015 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
QUESTION: Did the officer (OFF-MIKE)
The video which many of you have seen, a lot of you have seen, I have seen many times, doesn't depict, at least clearly to us, and we're working on getting those videos augmented, so that we can have a better view of what going on there, but it's difficult to see. I can't sit here and tell thaw I see a knee on Mr. Gray's back.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) the officer (OFF-MIKE)
RODRIGUEZ: No. No, absolutely not.
None of the officers describe, none of the officers describe any use of force. None of the officers describe using any force against Mr. Gray.
RODRIGUEZ: I'll tell you what I do know. And right now, there's still a lot of questions I don't know.
I know that when Mr. Gray was placed inside that van, he was able to talk. He was upset. And when Mr. Gray was taken out of that van, he could not talk and he could not breathe.
QUESTION: Considering the change in policy that the commissioner has outlined that's going into effect immediately and you have interviewed all the officers, did Mr. Gray request medical attention?
QUESTION: At what point?
RODRIGUEZ: That's what we're trying to specify now.
QUESTION: Who were the two officers (OFF-MIKE)
RODRIGUEZ: I never said they were officers. There's two -- two individuals from the fire department that we still need to interview. QUESTION: Do you think that either something happened in the van?
(OFF-MIKE) whiplash, or do you think this injury was responsible of another human?
RODRIGUEZ: Listen, I am deeply troubled by this.
We all want to know, but I can't answer what I don't know. I know Mr. Gray suffered a very traumatic injury, but I don't know if it happened prior to him getting into the van or while he was in the van. I don't know.
QUESTION: Was somebody in the van with him in the back?
Mr. Gray was the only one on that side of the van, and it wasn't until the very end that another suspect was placed in the van who we have interviewed. But that suspect was on the other side of a metal barrier with no contact with Mr. Gray. He could hear Mr. Gray, but he could not see him.
QUESTION: Is there video inside the van (INAUDIBLE) Mr. Gray was claiming he was asthmatic at the time and was having trouble breathing.
RODRIGUEZ: As I stated earlier, Mr. Gray early on asked for his inhaler, which he did not -- he did not have with him. He was asked that. So that is correct.
QUESTION: So at the time he asked for an inhaler, they did not request (OFF-MIKE)
RODRIGUEZ: That's correct.
QUESTION: Is there any video inside the van?
RODRIGUEZ: There is no video recordings. That's one of the things the commissioner has already changed. We're looking at a lot of things.
One of the things is to make sure that whenever an individual appears even in the slightest to be in medical emergency or medical distress that we immediately provide them with medical attention.
QUESTION: When you talk about having the officer made eye contact with Gray and maybe another individual on the scene, we still have not gotten anything. These court documents outlined a little bit, that he was running unprovoked, but what was the initial cause for the arrest? Has there been any developments there?
BATTS: The bottom line, too, is that we don't have an answer to it. As the reports states, the officers made eye contact and he ran, and officers pursued. Part of the investigation is digging deeper into that to see if there was anything more than that, that you have already.
TAPPER: All right, that was the police commissioner, the deputy police commissioner and the mayor of Baltimore asking a lot of questions, not providing a tremendous number of answers about the death of 25-year-old Baltimore resident Freddie Gray.
Let's bring in CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Jeffrey, it's something of a mystery here. We have -- you heard the deputy commissioner just say that none of the officers described using force against Mr. Gray. When he went into the van, he could talk and he was upset. When he was taken out of the van, he could not talk, he could not breathe, but he doesn't know when the injury happened, whether it happened in the van or before the van, and I have to say, this happened a week ago. How is it that they could not know?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It's eight days. It's a long time, by criminal justice standards, where you can do a thorough investigation, although one important piece of evidence is only being uncovered today, and that's the autopsy.
It's clear that the autopsy is not -- that evidence is not yet available, but the key question here is, how did he die? And did the officers play any role in his death, either through some sort of aggressive action, hitting him, or by withholding medical treatment in some way?
Those questions, which are central to the issue of responsibility for his death, I think are as unknown now as they were before this news conference.
TAPPER: Do you think that the police commissioner, the deputy commissioner, the mayor actually don't know the answers to these questions or are they just being very, very cautious, because there is obviously a question of legal liability and possibly, possibly, charges against somebody on that emergency response team, whether police, fire or whomever?
TOOBIN: I am convinced by their ignorance. I don't think they know yet, and I think in situations like this, it is always better to say nothing than be wrong and it's always better to wait for some sort of certainty, rather than say something off the cuff that turns out to be wrong.
And just as someone who has covered a lot of these things, when I was in law enforcement, I dealt with some things like this, it is often mysterious what happens, and it seems to be mysterious here what happened, and, you know, both the mayor and the police commissioner and the first deputy commissioner seem committed, both to just doing their own thorough investigation -- and I think it's very important also the police commissioner said after they issue their findings, there will be an independent investigation.
TAPPER: Right. TOOBIN: And that's always important in a circumstance like this,
because obviously you have the police investigating the police. And that has inherent problems. The independent investigation will be important.
TAPPER: Jeff, stay right there.
I also want to bring in Bernard Young, also known as Jack Young. He's president of the Baltimore City Council.
Councilman Young, thanks for joining us.
What's your response to that press conference?
BERNARD C. "JACK" YOUNG, PRESIDENT, BALTIMORE CITY COUNCIL: Well, my response is, there's no information that the public could really put their arms around, because, really, I don't think anyone knows exactly what happened.
TAPPER: Now, I agree, it's very difficult, although they did say that the autopsy suggested that there was no evidence of use of force, no physical bodily injury, no limbs broken, although there was some sort of major injury to his spinal cord that resulted in his death.
Councilman, what was your reaction when you first saw the cell phone video?
YOUNG: Well, when I saw the cell phone video, I was a little shocked at the way his feet was being dragged as he was getting into the paddy wagon.
But, you know, I'm concerned, because if he has a spinal injury, and he was talking before he got in the van, then what transpired between the time that he was in the van and that he got medical attention? I mean, that's the question that needs to be answered.
And I also want to say that I am encouraged that the police commissioner said that he's going to have an independent agency look at this whole thing, because that would give the public a sense of -- you know, the public would be a little more, you know, concerned if it's done by outside entity, rather than the police investigating the police.
TAPPER: Councilman, as I don't need to tell you, but maybe our viewers aren't familiar, the mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, once was in the City Council. Do you think that she or the police commissioner or the deputy commissioner have a better idea of what actually happened and they're not, they're just not telling us, perhaps because they want to make sure that the investigation is thorough, perhaps they don't want to get ahead of any sorts of announcements in terms of charges against somebody who might have done something, or do you think they really have no idea and they are as confused as the rest of us?
YOUNG: Well, I wouldn't say that they are confused, because I really don't know. I don't have the information that the mayor and the police commissioner and the deputy commissioner have.
You know, I'm getting this information just like you're getting it. I'm getting it today. But I think that they're really being cautious until the investigation is complete, because they don't want to prejudice an investigation with an outside entity. So I think they're really being cautious and not jumping to conclusions right now.
TAPPER: That's for sure.
Our thanks to both Jeffrey Toobin and Jack Young, president of the Baltimore City Council. Appreciate it. Thanks to you both.
In our politics lead today, she's arguably the reason Hillary Clinton won New Hampshire in 2008, the voter who asked the question that made Clinton tear up pushing her to unexpected emotions and an unexpected victory.
So, what does that same voter think of Hillary Clinton this time around? Well, we caught up with her to ask. We will have that and a brand-new CNN poll numbers about the presidential race coming up.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Our politics today: Hillary Clinton's Scooby-Doo campaign arriving in New Hampshire today with a lot to smile about. On Saturday, photographers -- a new CNN/ORC poll out today finds that seven in 10 Democratic voters support Clinton.
On the Republican side, it's a very different story. The field is very competitive. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has a slight lead over Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Senators Rand Paul, Marco Rubio. It seems nearly every Republican with a fleeting thought about possibly throwing a hat into the ring hit the Granite State this past weekend in what's been described as a cattle call of sorts.
Joining us now live from Keene, New Hampshire, to break it all down, CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny.
Jeff, Clinton, she's been suddenly or not too suddenly changing or evolving on some of her positions, trade, immigration, same-sex marriage. Did any of that come up today in New Hampshire?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jake. Perhaps not so surprisingly it did not come up, but what did come up for the first time since she announced her presidential campaign, she took a bit of a jab at her Republican rivals and her critics. With an air of confidence she said, I don't know what they would do if I wasn't in this race.
ZELENY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton in her New Hampshire debut, opening the second week of her presidential campaign just like her first, meeting voters in small and scripted settings.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm thrilled to be back in New Hampshire. I see some of nigh friends out there in the audience.
ZELENY: Among Democrats at least, excitement is building. According to a new CNN/ORC poll that shows 58 percent of Democrats are now enthusiastic for her candidacy up from 41 percent last June.
The poll also shows her in a commanding position winning support from 69 percent of Democrats. After meeting voters at a factory today in Keene, Clinton made her first comments about her Republican critics and the new attacks waged in a new book called "Clinton Cash." It shines a new light on foreign donations made to the Clinton Foundation.
CLINTON: It is -- worth noting that the Republicans seem to be talking only about me. I don't know what they'd talk about if I weren't in the race, but I am in the race, and hopefully we'll get on to the issues and I look forward to that.
ZELENY: For Republicans, it's a wide open race. Jeb Bush sits on top, but just barely. The large field of GOP candidate spent the weekend in New Hampshire trying to make a name for themselves at Clinton's expense.
SENATOR RAND PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm starting to worry that when Hillary Clinton travels there's going to need to be two planes, one for her and her entourage, and one for her baggage.
TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I could have sworn I saw Hillary's Scooby-doo van outside and then realized it wouldn't possibly be that because I'm pretty sure y'all don't have their foreign nation paying speakers, right?
ZELENY: But Clinton was all smiles today in New Hampshire where one of the most vivid moments of her first presidential campaign played out.
CLINTON: I see what's happening and we have to reverse it.
ZELENY: It was a rare sign of raw emotion.
CLINTON: This really kind woman said to me, well, how are you doing?
ZELENY: The woman is Mary Ann Pernald. We went back to Cafe Espresso and asked what she thinks of Clinton now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is having more fun. She is not stressed out looking. I don't think she has anything to prove anymore because she did a great job. Looks much more vibrant, more bouncier, fresher. I like her.
ZELENY: Now, we asked Mary Ann what she would like to see in this Clinton re-introduction tour. She said she likes to see that she's empathetic, likes her more human side.
We also asked her what questions she would ask for Clinton this time, and she said she has one, what role would Bill Clinton play in your campaign and your White House? We'll see if Secretary Clinton answers that question -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny in New Hampshire, thanks so much.
Now to some shocking news in our National Lead, just hours ago the FBI laid out details of a major undercover sting operation that led to the arrest of six Americans, all of them allegedly lured through a network of friends to travel to Syria to join the barbaric terror group ISIS by any means possible.
Two of the individuals were arrested in San Diego over the weekend. Four arrested in Minneapolis, which is, of course, an area long considered a hot bed in the U.S. for aspiring Jihadis.
Investigators say what makes this case different than some of the cases they've seen in the past is that in this case, they were able to track the movements of these terror suspects in realtime.
Let's bring in CNN justice correspondent, Pamela Brown. Pamela, first of all, how were authorities tipped off?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, we know that one of the friends in the group helped authorities in all of this as an undercover informant that he turned and helped the FBI recording his friends.
Authorities are saying the six men are part of a large group of relative and friends who have been meeting and conspiring with the single goal of trying to reach Syria. Even though they knew they were on the FBI's radar.
BROWN (voice-over): The six young Somali Americans allegedly part of a terror ring bent on joining ISIS in Syria, appeared in federal court today in Minneapolis and San Diego.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were not confused young men or easily influenced. These are focused men who are intent on joining a terrorist organization by any means possible.
[16:50:07] BROWN: According to this criminal complaint, the six men spent the last year trying repeatedly to reach Syria. Even after some were turned away by authorities, they recently concocted a plan to travel to San Diego from Minnesota crossed the border into Mexico and then on to Syria.
One of the men allegedly told his friend, turned FBI informant, the American identity is dead. Even if I get caught, I'm through with America.
ANDREW LUGER, U.S. ATTORNEY, DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA: One friend in this group decided to leave and to cooperate with the FBI. That cooperating witness agreed to record meetings of the co-conspirators.
BROWN: Helping the men with their plans another young Somali American who the FBI says successfully made it into Syria in 2014 and was actively recruiting his friends to follow.
LUGER: Nur and others are not done. There are more friends who will be subjected to peer to peer recruiting.
BROWN: Since January, U.S. authorities have made at least 26 ISIS- related arrests, including in mid-April, when the FBI charged a 20- year-old Kansas man with wanting to kill soldiers and an ISIS-inspired attack on the Fort Riley military base.
And just last week, authorities accused Abdikrahman Sheikh Mohamud, wanting to launch an attack in the U.S. after training with al Qaeda affiliate, Al Nusra in Syria.
BROWN: This latest case authorities say the men's overarching goal was to travel not launch an attack on the homeland. A law enforcement source I spoke with today says there will be more cases to come just like this one where we see groups of people.
And a separate law enforcement official says there are other ongoing investigations into recruitment and travel in Minnesota to Syria. More to come, Jake, as one official said, this is really only the beginning.
TAPPER: All right, Pamela Brown, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Coming up next, it looked like Black Friday. Hundreds of people lined outside Target for its latest designer clothes launch and things didn't go as planned. Why are so many rallying against the store today?
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. The Money Lead now, no need for North Korea to try and take down Target's website. Shoppers with a pension for pastels they nearly did it on their own.
The Lilly Pulitzer for Target line launched at the retail chain this weekend and within minutes was sold out in stores and online. So many people, in fact, flooded Target's web site, the web site nearly crashed.
Sending outrage to Lilly lovers to social media to bash the chain as is what happens on social media. But as CNN money's Cristina Alesci reports, what sounds like a PR nightmare, well, it might actually help Target hit a marketing bull's-eye.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Target clearly wasn't expecting it. Mobs flocked to its stores and the company had to restrict traffic to its website to avoid a crash. Customers were clamoring for favorite Lilly Pulitzer bathing suits, dresses, and accessories instead many walked away empty handed and angry.
Now fans know the label for its colorful and preppy resort gear and they are willing to pay a premium for it.
KEVIN MULLANEY, CEO, THE GRAYSON COMPANY: Lilly Pulitzer is an iconic brand and I think brilliant for them to go out this way because essentially they don't sell more than 10 percent of their sales west of the Mississippi.
ALESCI: Target announced in January it would tell a cheaper Lilly Pulitzer collection and when the 250 piece line finally went on sale on Sunday it caused a frenzy. Social media was littered with images of empty shelves, lines snaking around corners and internet personalities chiming in urging Target to quote/unquote, "stop humiliating its customers."
ALESCI (on camera): Take you through how Sunday actually went down. The first fanatics showed up around 5:00 a.m. across the country filling their carts to the brim. Within minutes of opening, inventory was gone. Those online didn't fare better.
The site quickly went down after going live at 3:00 a.m. on Sunday then customers who try to check out, found their virtual items sold out. Target apologized for web site issues, but it didn't make things better.
The retailer is known for using designer partnerships to build a buzz setting that's what set them apart from other big box retailers. Now limited edition merchandise sometimes sells out within hours, but is usually pretty orderly except in 2011 when the retailer teamed up with Missuni that was a similar mess.
At the time, analysts and retail experts braised the same question they are asking now. Is this a win for Target or a flop that turns customers away?
MULLANEY: Target created an incredible buzz offering product that people obviously loved and the demand far outstripped the supply. So I think Target did a good thing. Maybe should have planned a little more aggressively, but whenever something is so hot that it sells out, it's a good thing.
ALESCI (voice-over): Another factor that raised tensions with customers, items showed up on eBay for double the original cost. Now, we asked Target why it didn't impose purchase limits. The company says because it was a lifestyle collection, it didn't want to limit the number of goods any one customer could buy. Target has no plans to release any Lilly swag soon. Cristina Alesci, CNN money, New York.
TAPPER: And our thanks to Cristina Alesci for that report.
Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jaketapper and also @theleadCNN. Checkout our show page @cnn.com/thelead, video, blogs, extras, you can also subscribe to the magazine we have on Flipboard.
That's it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jake Tapper. Turning you over now to Wolf Blitzer, he's right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Have a great Monday.