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THE SITUATION ROOM
6 Americans Arrested for Trying to Join ISIS; New Crackdown on Insider Threats at U.S. Airports; U.S. Warships Sent to Yemeni Waters to Intercept Convoy of Iranian Vessels; Police Release New Video of Controversial Arrest; Clinton Breaks Silence on Controversial New Book. Aired 6-7:00p ET
Aired April 20, 2015 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[18:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Security crackdown. The TSA orders new measures to prevent terrorist attacks or other criminal activity by airport insiders. Why now?
New police video. Does it explain why a Baltimore man fell into a coma soon after his arrest and later died? Stand by for the newest information.
And another fatal police case that's causing outrage across the nation.
And Clinton on a roll. She's on another road trip and spiking in the polls. But will a new book parsing her record and her wealth bring her down?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in "The Situation Room."
Breaking now, more blood on the hands of ISIS terrorists as they expand their reach here in the United States and, indeed, around the world. We're following what could be the largest case involving ISIS recruitment in this country. Six Minnesota men now charged with trying to join the terrorist group in Syria by any means necessary.
Also tonight, U.S. intelligence officials are analyzing the latest ISIS video that appears to show the mass slaughter of Christians. Some are shot and others beheaded. I'll talk about that and more with Congress Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat of the House Intelligent Committee.
Our correspondents and analysts are also standing by with all the news that's breaking right now.
First, let's get the very latest. Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, joins us -- Pamela?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Minneapolis authorities said today these six men are part of a large group of relatives and friends who have been meeting over the past year with the single goal of reaching Syria, even though they knew they were on they were on the FBI's radar.
BROWN (voice-over): The six Somali-Americans allegedly part of a terror wing bent on joining ISIS in Syria appeared in federal court today in Minneapolis and San Diego.
ANDREW LUGER, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: They were not confused young men. They were not easily influenced. These are focused men who were intent on joining a terrorist organization by any means possible.
BROWN: According to this criminal complaint, the six men spent the last year trying repeatedly to reach Syria, but even after some were turned away by authorities, they recently concocted a plan to travel to San Diego from Minnesota, across the border into Mexico and then in Syria.
But one of the friends turned. The FBI revealing he changed his mind and decided to help the agency by secretly recording conversations with the men. One of the suspects allegedly told the informant, "The American identity is dead. Even if I get caught, I'm through with America."
LUGER: The cooperating witness provided an inside view into the thinking of the conspirators and the depth of their commitment to join ISIL.
BROWN: Helping the mean with their plans, another young Somali- American named Abdi Nor (ph), who the FBI says successfully made into Syria in 2014 and was actively recruiting his friends to follow.
LUGER: Nor (ph) 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 twenty year old Kansas man with wanting to kill soldiers in an ISIS- inspired attack on the Fort Riley Military Base. And just last week, authorities accused Abdul Rahman Sheikh Mohammad (ph) of wanting to launch an attack in the U.S. after training with al Qaeda affiliate al Nusra in Syria.
BROWN: And in this latest case, authorities say the men's overarching goal was to travel and not to launch an attack on the homeland. A law enforcement official I spoke with today said there are other ongoing investigations like this one and to requirements and travel from Minnesota to Syria. Officials say expect an increase in these types of ISIS cases -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Pretty shocking stuff.
Thanks very much, Pamela Brown, reporting.
Another terrorism crackdown. Tonight, the TSA is taking new steps to make sure U.S. airports are less vulnerable to threats from insiders.
Our justice reporter, Evan Perez, has been following the story for us.
What's going on, what are the steps and why now?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Jeh Johnson, the Homeland Security secretary is basically taking a look at this after this incident in December when the prosecutors in New York said there were these two former Delta aviation employees, employees that worked at the airport who apparently smuggled about 156 firearms over a period of months. And they were arrested. You see their picture up there, Wolf. These new rules that are taking effect at the TSA essentially making a new requirement for the TSA to do more criminal background checks of aviation employees. These are people who have access behind the scenes, everything from access to the airplanes and to the luggage that's going on there. And so the TSA has been doing more background checks, more random checks to make sure these people are not going anything illegal -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Is there a bigger problem. There were reports last week of the groping that was supposedly going on at Denver International Airport.
[18:05:06] PEREZ: Well, it does raise that question. The TSA has said they have a professional workforce. Obviously, they had to hire a lot of people and they're doing everything they can to make sure these people have all the checks they need to have. But these are -- airport screen employees are different, Wolf, then the people who work for the airlines.
BLITZER: Interesting stuff, important stuff.
All right, Evan, thank you very much to you.
And to Pam.
Also breaking right now, the war in Yemen.
Let's go our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto. He has more on what's going on there -- Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're just learning that the U.S. is now sending more warships to the coast of Yemen. The reason is that there is word of a convoy of Iranian warships, about seven or nine of them, running vessels I should say, rather. The suspicion being that they might be carrying arms to Houthi rebels in Yemen. Now there will be nine U.S. warships in total in that area, including "USS Theodore Roosevelt," which was moved from the Arabian Gulf. That carrier group is going to join an allied group of ships. These are Saudi ships, Egyptian ships and others. And I am told that those allies are prepared to board those Iranian vessels if they go into Yemeni waters, Yemeni territorial waters. That has not happen yet but they're making preparations to do so if they take that step. A very serious potential development there -- Wolf? BLITZER: There's a very serious development.
There's also this horrible new video that ISIS has released showing the beheadings of Christians, Ethiopian Christians in this particular case, only a few months after they showed that beheading of an Egyptian Christians in Libya right now, and it's awful video.
SCIUTTO: It is, no question. And these latest killing took place right on the shores of the Mediterranean in Libya. That is not by accident. That is making the point that this is facing the coast of Europe really. Europe is just a boat ride away, in effect, from the shores of Libya, another outpost of ISIS expanding its reach beyond Iraq and Syria, now to Libya, other countries, including Afghanistan. But these killings in particular, by targeting Christians, by being on that coastline facing Europe is a threat not just to Libya, not just to the region, but to the West as well.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): The ISIS executioners loom over their victims with eerie familiarity in yet another disturbing and slickly produced video. Two groups of Christian captives, one group beheaded, the other shot, all of them simply for their faith. And the voice of the main executioner, what appeared to be a Western accent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ISIS TERRORIST: You will have safety even in your dreams.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Today, ISIS has made Libya a new base for terror. And as it targets Christians and others, it is helping drive refugees into another danger, the high-risk crossing of the Mediterranean Sea Europe in boats like the one that capsized this weekend sending hundreds to their deaths.
ADRIAN EDWARDS, UNHCR SPOKESMAN: People are fleeing in desperation. They aren't fleeing out of choice. They're fleeing because their lives depend on them finding safety. And in those circumstances, you will see more people crossing the Mediterranean, more people in need of international protection, in need of proper help.
SCIUTTO: It has been nearly four year since Western allies, including the U.S., brought down the Libyan government of Moammar Gadhafi. The chaos that has followed has helped turn Libya into a haven for ISIS and other extremist groups, which now perched on the shores of the Mediterranean, threaten Europe and the West.
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Libya is where terrorist organizations can thrive. The challenge is you are now very proximate to Europe. You are just across a small body water to get into the boot of Italy and now you're into Europe.
What we see in Libya is tailor made for a terrorist organization like ISIS or the metastasis of any form of terrorism.
SCIUTTO: I spoke today to a U.S. intelligence official and the U.S. intelligence community, not particularly concerned that ISIS would attempt to enter Europe by boat, like these refugees. For one, the crossing, as we have seen is very dangerous, but more so, this fact, ISIS has so many foreign fighters with foreign passports, to the European fighters with European passports it would let them reenter Europe, to go home with these by other means. They could take a plane from the Turkish border with Syria, they can drive, et cetera. That's the real concern. But listen, as you see the ISIS expand its footprint to places like Libya, it shows how this have become not just a region problem but an international problem, and one that certain threatens the West.
[18:09:34] BLITZER: It seems to be getting worse by the day.
All right, thanks very much for that report, Jim Sciutto.
Let's talk about more of about ISIS, its recruiting here in the United States.
Joining me now, Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.
So far this year, about 26 suspects arrested, believed to be wanting to join forces with ISIS. Another six charged today in Minnesota. A lot of experts say this is just the beginning, get ready for a whole lot more. Your analysis?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, unfortunately, I think that's probably right. And most disturbing to me is this Ohio case of someone who did actually successfully get to Syria and successfully came back. One of the things obviously we have to look at is when did we know that he was coming back. And there was an interim period I think between December and February when state charges were leveled against him that he had freedom of travel. So that is a great concern.
But we can expect, unfortunately, to see more of this. The Minnesota case shows how diligent people are going to be about traveling to the war zone or trying to get there. And that's the kind of thing that keeps us up at night.
BLITZER: Here's an interesting new twist though. These six charged in Minnesota today of wanting to go to Syria to work with ISIS, mostly the Somalis, Somali-Americans in Minnesota, they used to be interested in trying to help al Shabaab, an al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia or elsewhere in Africa. Is there a new development here that I'm missing?
SCHIFF: I think the development that we're seeing -- and we're seeing it beyond Somalia -- is just the attractive power of ISIS propaganda. You see new ISIS forming in Afghanistan and Pakistan, competing with the Taliban there. That was never an issue before. And you see in other places, too, these terror groups in a very a synergistic competition with each other and ISIS coming out on top. And this is a very frightening development for us.
BLITZER: Is the U.S. doing enough to target ISIS right now because we know the U.S. has done a lot to target al Qaeda, AQAP, in Yemen and elsewhere, but ISIS, per se.
SCHIFF: We'll we certainly are in Syria and in Iraq, and even more so in Iraq. I think the strategy has been really focus on Iraq first, expel ISIS from Iraq before figuring out how we go after it in Syria. But we're also seeing this dangerous proliferation we've been talking about on your show today about Libya. Libya is a dangerous new ground. And probably the most important thing we can do there is try to get the legitimate government and this other government in Tripoli talking to each other and working together and resolving their differences because this vacuum, not unlike the situation in Yemen, is causing ISIS to thrive in Libya, just as it is causing al Qaeda to thrive in Yemen.
BLITZER: I want to get your reaction. Two videos that ISIS has released, first the beheading, the killing of Ethiopian Christians. There you see some. We're not going to show the video. It's simply too gruesome. But it follows the beheading of a bunch of Egyptian Christians. They are really trying to propagate -- use this as propaganda to show they are killing Christians. Why do they think that's good propaganda?
SCHIFF: It's a good question. But it does seem to be working. It does seem to be attracting people to come and ISIS, the attack they're making on other ethnic minorities, in particular, and Christians. One of the other things that's disturbing about this is the degree to which it appears, if these videos are authentic, and there's no reason to believe they're not, that ISIS in Syria and Iraq is exercising some level of coordination and control over these Libyan branches of ISIS. That was something we weren't quite sure had happened yet. But ISIS friends in Libya, we also see the increasing hand of ISIS from Syria and Iraq.
BLITZER: The narrator of this hour-hour video showing the beheadings of these Christians in Libya seems to have an American accent. Do you know -- you're a member of the Intelligence Committee. You're the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee. Is there a suspicion of who this American might be, if, in fact, the narrator is an American?
SCHIFF: I have heard the voice. It certainly sounds like it could be an American. There's nothing definitive that I can say here today but obviously this is something we're looking at intensively. We want to identify who this is, just as we have with those who have been part of the propaganda machine in Syria.
BLITZER: Because we remember the British accent, Jihadi John, Mohammed Emwazi -- his real name -- we remember that video. Now apparently this new narrator may be an American, so we'll watch that closely. A very different video released by ISIS today in Iraq showing
them dealing really nicely. But look at this. Young kids being brought to an amusement park in Iraq to show you, you know what, life is great under ISIS. You see some of the amusement park there. They're treating the kids great. This is another part of their propaganda?
SCHIFF: Absolutely. It's a big part of their propaganda. And I think it is vehemently at odds with the reality on the ground, which is what we're seeing and hearing within a lot of dissension within ISIS ranks. They're having to kill a lot of people who want to leave ISIS. I wonder if that recruiter that's affiliated with those Minnesota people that attempted to join the fight is sharing any of the experiences -- doubtful -- about people who are being killed because they want to escape this travesty that they've signed on to.
[18:14:51] BLITZER: All right, I want you to stand by Congressman. We have a lot more to talk about.
We'll take a quick break. The U.S. is moving an aircraft career battle group off the cost of Yemen as we speak right now. Much more with Congressman Adam Schiff when we come back.
BLITZER: We're back with Congressman Adam Schiff. He's the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
We're following the braking news, the U.S. military official telling CNN American warships with thousands of sailors and Marines onboard prepare to intercept as many as nine Iranian ships that are believed to be heading to Yemen right now. The United States is on alert for Iranian shipments to the Shiite Houthi rebel forces in Yemen.
As you know, Congressman, the "USS Theodore Roosevelt," the aircraft carrier, accompanies by the guided missile cruiser, the "USS Normandy," the entire battle group. There may, what be 6,000 or 8,000 sailors and Marines, dozens of warplanes, attack helicopters, fighter aircraft that are moving to that area of Yemen. Would you recommend using some of that firepower to go after these Shiite/Houthi rebels in Yemen?
[18:20:22] SCHIFF: Well, I wouldn't recommend that we get involved directly in the fight. We are certainly providing intelligence and logistical support to the Saudis, and I think we should. I'm not sure we want to have American air men and women risking their lives over Yemen in this proxy fight going on between the Saudis and Iranians.
It's a bold enough step, I think, at all to be providing this potential naval blockade. And that could lead to a confrontation with Iran. I would hope that these Iranian ships, if they're carrying weapons, will turn around. They're no match for the American warships but, nonetheless, there's a real danger of escalation.
BLITZER: We're told most of the weapons the Houthi received from Iran have arrived via ship. Iran is not that far away. They move their battleships to the coast of Yemen, they unload, and then they presumably move back. The U.S. trying to stop that.
SCHIFF: Absolutely. The Iranians are denying they're providing arms to the Houthies. They have provided them in the past. I don't know whether they're prepared to go this distance now and risk this kind of confrontation with the U.S. and the gulf allies in such a provocative step. I hope that's not the case.
You also have that there's no hothead on those Iranian ships that will start an altercation. They would lose that altercation but it would, nonetheless, be a major escalation if that took place.
BLITZER: I don't think you want to mess with the U.S. aircraft carrier battle group with a lot of Marines and sailors onboard with a lot of firepower as well.
As bad as the Houthi/Shiite rebels backed by Iran are in Yemen, AQAP, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, from the U.S. perspective, and correct me if I'm wrong, may be even worse.
SCHIFF: Absolutely. The Houthies don't have an ambition to attack the United States. They, at this point, may have an ambition to incur into Saudi Arabia and attack the Saudis, but AQAP has tried repeatedly to blow up our aircraft. They're one of the most external focused of the al Qaeda chapters, meaning they want to go after the West, after the United States, and they made repeated and sophisticated attempts. They have one of the premiere bomb makers in the world. So the ability of al Qaeda now to take over the fifth- largest city in Yemen, the ability to accessing resources from that bank and access weapons, this is of grave concern to us.
BLITZER: You want the speaker of the House, John Boehner, to let a vote come up to authorize the use of military force by the United States in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the region. What's the holdup?
SCHIFF: Well, Tom Cole and I have authored a bipartisan letter we're circulating to generate support for a debate and vote on this. The holdup, I think, has been congressional apathy. Before the elections, many said, well, we can't have a vote of this Congress. We should wait for the new Congress. After the elections, they said let's wait for the president to give us something. We got something from the president. There's no excuse anymore eight months into this. And to me, it's deeply ironic that you have such a crush to vote on the Iran agreement before there is one, but we're eight months into a war and we don't have a vote yet.
BLITZER: All right. Adam Schiff, thank you very much for coming in.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
BLITZER: Just ahead, new video of a controversial arrest in Baltimore. How did the suspect wind up in a coma and then die. We're getting new information right now. And another confrontation with the police, all caught on video,
but with a very different ending. Why did this police officer decide to hold his fire?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[18:28:24] BLITZER: We following the breaking news. Baltimore police have just released new video of a controversial arrest. The suspect, 25-year-old Freddie Gray, died Sunday after suffering an injury to his spinal cord.
Our senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, is in Baltimore for us.
What are you learning, Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we know a little bit more about the Freddie Gray investigation this evening. We know six officers have been suspended on administrative leave. We know he sustained a spinal injury. We know he asked for medical help, including asking for an inhaler because he said he was asthmatic.
What we don't know is much more about how he sustained that injury.
JOHNS (voice-over): Police released street camera video at the scene where Freddie Gray was first taken into custody but it only added to the mystery of how he ended up dead. The camera pans but shows nothing that looks like excessive force by police, at least up to the point that he was placed inside a police transport van.
UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: When Mr. Gray was placed inside that van, he was able to talk. He was upset. And when Mr. Gray was taken out of the van, he could not talk and he could not breathe.
JOHNS: Leaving Baltimore's mayor to conclude that Gray's injuries occurred not on the street but during his transport.
STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE, MAYOR OF BALTIMORE: It's clear that what happened, happened inside the van.
JOHNS: Police say Freddie Gray was stopped on suspicion of criminal activity, possibly drug related, but that doesn't explain all that happened here. Cell phone video and audio on the street at the time of Gray's arrest paint a disturbing picture.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: He's on the ground. He's screaming in apparent pain. He's being taken into custody, legs limp.
A woman is describing an apparent problem with his legs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His leg is broke, you're dragging him like that.
[18:30:02] JOHNS: He's taken to a hospital, where he went into a coma, and then he dies a week later. Question No. 1 is how long it took to get this man medical attention. The city's mayor pledged a full investigation.
STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE, MAYOR OF BALTIMORE: According to the time line as we know it took around 30 minutes.
JOHNS: Question No. 2, what precisely caused Gray's death? His family's attorney described severe trauma, and he's raising the issue of excessive force.
WILLIAM MURPHY JR., ATTORNEY FOR FREDDIE GRAY'S FAMILY: He was in good health when the police first contacted him, and he died of an 80 percent severed spinal cord and three broken vertebrae in his neck.
JOHNS: Court documents filed in the case say Gray was arrested without incident after an officer noticed a knife clipped to his pants. He was charged with having a switch blade. The family's attorney says the knife was of legally permissible size. Gray has a long criminal record, including more than 20 arrests.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No justice, no peace!
JOHNS: The case has sparked a public outcry here, including demonstrations. Over the last week, Baltimore's police commissioner has been measured in his comments about the case, citing the active investigation.
He did speak at an unrelated event today at Johns Hopkins University, where he talked about the community's lack of trust in the police.
JOHNS: Police are reviewing their procedures, especially for getting medical care for prisoners taken into their custody. The police commissioner says he wants to wrap up this investigation by May 1 -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Joe Johns, thanks very much. Let's get some more. Joining us the NAACP president and CEO, Cornell Brooks; our senior
legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin; the president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Cedric Alexander; and the criminal defense attorney, the HLN legal analyst Joey Jackson.
I want your reaction, Cornell, to what we just saw. Because it is pretty awful: the video, the screaming, the guy being dragged in, took 30 minutes to apparently call an ambulance.
CORNELL BROOKS, PRESIDENT/CEO, NAACP: Wolf, it's absolutely heartbreaking. I mean, the fact of the matter is we have a young man who encounters the police. It's not clear why he was arrested, and he ends up with three broken vertebrae, a spinal cord that's nearly severed, and in a coma.
Now there's much we don't know, but what we don't know here makes us all the more anxious about what we do know, which is all across the country we seem to be in the midst of this unrelenting series of tragedies at the hands of the police. We don't know all the facts here, but it's enough to be very troubling, very troubling.
BLITZER: Cedric, what's your reaction when you heard Joe Johns' report, when you see that video? I don't know if you had a chance to listen to the mayor and the police chief earlier in the day at the live news conference.
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, PRESIDENT, NOBLE: Well, I tell you, I certainly do agree with Mr. Brooks on a number of items that he brings up. But I think it's very clear, too, Wolf, that at this point there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. That community is very anxious for those answers.
And I think people around the country are anxious for those answers, as well, too. So I believe once all the evidence is in, witness statements, medical records, an examination, and forensics evidence, statements from officers, I think if we give that city an opportunity under the leadership of their mayor, who I've had the opportunity to be acquainted with during the last three months, being on the task force. And I believe between her and Commissioner Batts, they're going to get to the bottom of what actually occurred.
BLITZER: But is there any real explanation, Cedric, why it took 30 minutes to get an ambulance. Obviously, he was dragged into the vehicle, his legs were -- he couldn't even move his legs.
ALEXANDER: Absolutely not. At the point that he was not able to move, and he made that known to officers. And not attempting to Monday morning quarterback here, but probably, the best thing would have been for them to do is to seek medical attention for him right then at that moment, as opposed to drag him into the back of that vehicle, which just creates further problems and an optic that is not a very good one.
BLITZER: And Jeffrey, the fact that they really didn't release a whole lot of new information, the news conference. The mayor was there, the police chief, the police officer who's investigating, we didn't really learn a lot. We saw some grainy video. Does that surprise you?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Not really. Their ignorance seems sincere to me. The key issue here, of course, is how this injury took place, what went on in the van. They don't seem to know the answer.
One important fact that did come out of the news conference was that the city of Baltimore is going to have a police investigation, which will report by a week from Friday. But then there will also be an independent investigation. And I think, given the fact that here, you have an investigation now of the police investigating the police, it's a very good idea to have an outsider look at this whole investigation to see if the police do a thorough and fair job.
[18:35:07] BLITZER: Let me get Joey Jackson's reaction. The Baltimore Police deputy commissioner, Jerry Rodriguez, you may have watched that news conference. He says that he doesn't know if Gray sustained that spinal injury before being restrained in the police van or when he was in the van. Does any of this make any sense to you, Joey?
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, nothing makes sense about it, Wolf. There's a general reaction. Then there's a specific reaction. I mean, in general, we talk about bridging the gap of community trust between the police and the community. And when you have instances like this, certainly it doesn't further or otherwise assist in any bond between the two.
Now specifically, as it relates to this, we talk about it doesn't make sense. It never makes sense when you have a person who is otherwise healthy and is otherwise ambulatory, able to move, able to walk, able to run, clearly. Because that's apparently what he was doing.
And as a result of an encounter with the police, we now have him in an instance where he's, you know -- his spine is severed, and now he's dead. And so the critical issue becomes how did it happen? When did it happen? Why did it have to happen? And in their inquiry and in the investigation, they're going to have to. That is the police reconcile the police reports with regard to what they said, Wolf, with regard to how this happened, when it happened, why it happened and the actual facts of, you know, how it actually did happen.
And so I'm anxious, like everyone else, to see how this person ended up dead and what, if any, justification could there be.
BLITZER: Cornell, as you know, the Department of Justice, the federal government, they've already, long before Gray's death, the suspect's death in this particular case, they've been working with the Baltimore Police on training tactics, education. There are other problems in Baltimore, as you know.
So the question is who do you trust in an investigation like this? The local, the police, the people that the mayor may appoint, or does the federal government need to come in right now and do a separate independent investigation? BROOKS: Here we have a situation where we have $5 million in
settlements over recent years. A string of civil suits. Clearly, there's a problem, a concern. In these kinds of investigations, independence is critical.
Now whether or not the Department of Justice is the right entity it at this juncture for this particular case, that remains to be seen. But, given the problems that we've seen in Baltimore and the fact that the mayor seems to recognize that you need a transparent investigation, a rapid investigation, and we need independence.
We've seen this play out over and over across the country. And the fact of the matter is when you're trying to establish credibility with the community, you need a third party validator.
BLITZER: All right. I'm going to have all of you stand by, because we have more to talk about. We're going to come back. We're going to talk about this dramatic video. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your hands up! Get your hands up right now! Stop. Stop right there. I don't want to shoot you, man. I don't want to shoot you.
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[18:42:47] BLITZER: We're back with our panel. I want to show everybody some really amazing video, and I want all of you to give me your reaction to the video. It shows a police officer showing remarkable restraint in Ohio. Watch this video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do what you want. Do what you want.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shoot me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back. Get your hands out of your pocket. Get your hands out of your pocket, man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shoot me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, man. I'm not going to do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shoot me. Shoot me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop it right now! (EXPLETIVE DELETED) back up. Back the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up. Get down on the ground!
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Now let me go to Cedric first. What's your reaction to that? That police officer didn't shoot him. Eventually, the guy gave up. But he was running at him. At one point, he had his hand in his pocket. You don't know if he's got a weapon in there. It did show remarkable restraint. Here's the question, Cedric. If he would have shot and killed him, would he have been justified?
ALEXANDER: Well, let's look at the video there for a second. Under those circumstances there, he commanded him to take his hands out of his pocket, not knowing what he had in his pocket. He's a subject that's been looked at or they were looking for for a double homicide. So he was certainly a threat to that officer. That officer did use a great deal of restraint.
And in this particular case, it turned out that no one got hurt. However, I'm quite sure, and I've been in this business a long time, Wolf, that under many other circumstances, it may not have ended that way. And that officer very well could have been justified in his actions, considering the circumstances in which he gave the orders and made the commands.
BLITZER: Cornell, what's your reaction?
BROOKS: My reaction is that that video demonstrates the most powerful weapon an officer has is between his ears and not on his gun belt, namely judgment. The officer was in a very dangerous situation. He made a judgment call. It happened to be the right call, because it appears that this young man wants to engage in suicide by cop. He made a judgement call. Might have been the wrong call, but he made a judgement call. It demonstrates that that is the most important weapon any officer has.
BLITZER: I assume you agree, Jeffrey, that if that police officer -- and he was wearing a body camera, which by the way, his family provided him, not local law enforcement. If he had shot and killed the suspect, it would have been seen as justified, right?
[18:45:09] TOOBIN: I -- it certainly seems that way, based on what we've seen. You know, a phrase that has become widely used in the past few months as we've been dealing with these stories particularly in Ferguson and South Carolina is I was in fear for my life. That's what the police officers say, I was in fear for my life.
Well, this officer clearly was justified in being in fear for his life but he had the good judgment and the restraint to try to defuse the confrontation and he did. And, you know, everybody still alive.
BLITZER: Joey, what's your reaction?
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure, Wolf. You have to be impressed by this. We always talk about a use of force continuum.
The first thing is interpersonal communication. Can you speak to someone? And clearly this officer did everything he could in order to do that and you might see something, not here, but escalate to a taser or escalate to pepper spray or escalate to a baton. And I just think here when you have a gun and that gun can take a life
certainly discretion and judgment are so important. So I do agree had he discharged that firearm, there was an immanency of the threat upon that officer and certainly based upon the double homicide that Cedric Alexander spoke to, it certainly seems he would have been justified. What a good day in the officer preserving a life and using lethal force as an absolute last resort, this person lives and he will be prosecuted under the full extent of the law for his alleged transgressions.
BLITZER: Yes, the police officer deserves some sort of medal for the courage that he showed in had this particular case.
Guys, thanks very, very much, Jeffrey Toobin, Cornell Brooks, Cedric Alexander, Joey Jackson. This discussion will continue tomorrow.
Just ahead, Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail speaking out for the first time about a controversial new book. What impact will it have, if any, on her bid for the White House?
[18:51:35] BLITZER: A candid shot of a former possibly future first couple, Bill and Hillary Clinton, heading a walking trail near their home. Hillary Clinton is back out on the campaign trail. This time, she's in New Hampshire. For the first time, she's speaking out about a new book about her and her husband.
Our senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar in is New Hampshire, watching what's going on.
First of all, what's the latest out there with Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail, Brianna?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, she dismissed this book as politics. She spoke about it her in New Hampshire. It's an upcoming back that alleges pay-to-play between the Clinton Foundation, her family's foundation, and foreign countries while she was secretary of state. So, she dismissed that.
And she also put distance between herself and President Obama on the economy.
KEILAR (voice-over): Hillary Clinton taking her low key campaign to the first in the nation primary state of New Hampshire. As she met with several residents, to talk about small businesses, she distanced herself from the Obama economy.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to be sure we get small businesses starting and growing in America again. We have stalled out.
KEILAR: And for the first time, Clinton commented on the new book, "Clinton Cash", that details donations made to her family's foundation by countries with business before the State Department while Clinton was secretary.
CLINTON: We're back into the political season. And therefore, we will be subjected to all kinds of distraction and attacks. And I'm ready for that. I know that that comes, unfortunately, with the territory.
KEILAR: For Republicans, the book by a conservative author reinforced their argument that Clinton is not trustworthy.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And the question here is, are they skirting election law? Are they taking money and potentially getting influence bought by foreign countries to a foundation?
KEILAR: Clinton's front runner status makes her a huge target. Despite the recent controversy surrounding her use of personal e-mail to conduct State Department business, a new CNN/ORC poll shows Democrat's enthusiasm for Clinton is on the rise nationally. Up 17 points from June of last year, when she reentered the public spotlight with her book launch.
Clinton's visit here is a return to the scene of her sweetest 2008 victory. It came after this plea.
CLINTON: I see what's happening. We have to reverse it.
KEILAR: An emotional display that pushed into the lead after a brutal loss in the Iowa caucuses said. She was answering Marianne Pernold's question. More than seven years later, CNN's Jeff Zeleny caught up with Pernold who now sees a very different Hillary Clinton.
MARIANNE PERNOLD, PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE RESIDENT: She's having more fun. She's not as stressed out looking. I don't think she has anything to prove anymore, because she knows she did a great job.
KEILAR: It has been a slow ramp up in Hillary Clinton's campaign, now in its second week. Today, Wolf, it was the first time that we saw her engage in the political back and forth that you do see in a campaign. It was a brief Q&A that she had with reporters but certainly, it was more engaged in what she talked about than last week when she was in Iowa.
BLITZER: All right. Brianna Keilar reporting for us from New Hampshire, thanks very much.
Let's dig a little bit deeper now. Joining us, "The New Yorker" Washington correspondent, our CNN political commentator, Ryan Lizza, our national political reporter Peter Hamby, and the newest edition to CNN's political team, our CNN political reporter Sara Murray.
[18:55:08] Sara, welcome to CNN. Good to have you onboard.
Let me start with you, Ryan. This new book that's coming out, I haven't seen it yet. I don't think you've seen it yet either. But potentially, how much of a problem is there for Hillary Clinton?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Money and politics is going to be a defining issue in this campaign for both sides. And this is a pretty well-respected reporter who has got agreements with "The New York Times" and other respected outlets to pursue some of these story lines.
And she was part of the foundation, or her family was part of a foundation that was doing diplomacy, doing business while she was secretary of state. It's absolutely legitimate to ask if a foreign government was giving the Clinton Foundation money to influence policy in the Obama administration. So, I think she's going to have to answer some serious questions much more so than she did.
BLITZER: Let's go through the book, and we'll assess how serious the allegations are. What kind of damage of any it does.
Peter, this new CNN/ORC poll, she beats any Republican candidates at least at this stage nationwide by double digits.
PETER HAMBY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, I mean, she clobbers the rest of the Democratic field. That's not --
BLITZER: That goes without saying. She beats all the Republicans as well in a hypothetical match.
HAMBY: She does. She does. It's a little too early to read in too much to that.
But, look, she's coming off an announcement that was covered by an absolute media frenzy. So, she's probably, you know, buttressed a little bit by that.
But the Republicans do have to sort of go through this process, a lot of them have to introduce themselves not just to Americans, but to Republicans. Hillary Clinton is benefitting a little bit from the fact that people know who she is. She's certainly polarizing. People know who she is.
Republicans aren't there yet. Even, you know, Jeb Bush, for example. That's a familiar name to most people, Bush. But most Republicans don't know a lot about Jeb Bush. Scott Walker, national Republican front runner, a third of Republicans don't know who he is.
So, that's sort of why she's leading them, I think at this point.
BLTIZER: Speaking of Jeb Bush, in our new poll, Sara, as you know, he's still at the top -- it's pretty close among all the various Republican candidates. You see him there, he's at 17 percent, was at 16 percent.
But take a look at Marco Rubio. He went from 7 percent to 11 percent. He jumped nicely as a result of his announcement.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, this gives you an idea of just how open the field is right now. I mean, Marco Rubio has this are great announcement. He's able to almost double his numbers.
It was a great week for him. And also, if you're looking for an alternative to dynasty politics you are looking at Marco Rubio. He's as far as you could get from the Bushes or from the Clintons. The fact he came out and gave this speech how his parents came from Cuba. I think that was a great moment. You're seeing that in the polls.
HAMBY: People are taking him very seriously.
BLITZER: The Jeb Bush people?
MURRAY: Yes, they see Marco Rubio as a credible alternative to him if the Republican Party is looking for a fresh face.
What's also interesting about those numbers -- Rand Paul didn't get a bounce. You remember, he announced two weeks ago. He did not bounce like Rubio did.
BLTIZER: Well, he had an impressive launch, you got to admit it, Marco Rubio.
LIZZA: Rubio had a very good launch, probably the best of the everyone that's launched so far.
I think on -- if your name is Bush and you're only at that 17 percent and you're in the 30s against Hillary Clinton, I do think that that is -- it is very early for these polls to mean a lot, but he has almost 100 percent name idea. People know Bush, they know Clinton.
HAMBY: Among Republicans.
LIZZA: Among Republicans, I think with Americans, they know the name Bush. If you're not breaking through 40 percent in the general election matchup when another person who's got 100 percent name ID, I think that does tell you that there's some softness in his candidacy.
BLITZER: Sara, what are you hearing about John Kasich, the governor of Ohio? Because he's got a lot of experience, won by a huge margin the second term in Iowa, which is a key battleground state. No Republican has ever been elected president of the United States without carrying Ohio.
What do you hear about him?
MURRAY: And, man, John Kasich will remind you any chance he gets he is from Ohio. You need it to win.
I was in South Carolina with him last week. It is long shot for John Kasich. When you look at him in the polls, basically nobody knows who he is. He's pulling around 2 percent with Republicans. So, it's a really long shot.
That said, he is a governor. He does have a lot of experience. He is from an important state of Ohio. Now, he has launched this new fundraising operation, a 527. That will allow him to test the waters a little bit more, because all
of a sudden, he can take unlimited donations. And he has a vehicle to fund his travel, more easily to places like South Carolina and New Hampshire, and even Iowa if they decide they want to go there, and sort of have voters feel it out. I'm just going to say one more time, it's long shot.
BLITZER: It's a long shot. But he's a very smart guy.
I know what worries the Hillary Clinton people, very quickly. Jeb Bush, John Kasich, ticket. John Kasich the vice presidential running made, Florida and Ohio.
LIZZA: Republicans need those two states to win a general election. And in a primary, Kasich has one problem and that is Obamacare. He fought on the state side.
BLITZER: In the primary.
LIZZA: In the Republican primary, yes.
BLITZER: Maybe not necessarily.
All right. Guys, thanks very much. We'll stay on top of this story.
Sara, once again, welcome to CNN. Good to have you here on our network.
Remember, you can always follow me on Twitter. Please tweet me @wolfblitzer. Tweet the show @CNNsitroom.
Thanks very much for watching. See you tomorrow.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.