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THE SITUATION ROOM
Baltimore Police Department Investigated; Terror Threat Level Raised; Interview With California Congressman Ed Royce. Aired 18- 19:00p ET
Aired May 8, 2015 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And police under fire -- disturbing video released of a suspect kicked in the face, and racist texts revealed, threatening thousands of cases.
Tonight, America's law enforcement community facing more scandal, more scrutiny.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
The breaking news, we're learning more about why the U.S. military is now tightening security at bases across the United States right now. One factor, a tweet apparently sent by an ISIS recruiter linked to the terror attack in Texas. Stand by for details on that.
It's clear tonight that top officials are increasingly -- increasingly alarmed about possible attacks by ISIS and its sympathizers on U.S. soil that might target the U.S. armed forces. The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Ed Royce, he is standing by live, along with our correspondents and analysts. They're all covering the news that's breaking right now.
First, let's go to our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto. He has new information -- Jim.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, we're learning that the FBI's increasing its monitoring of suspected ISIS supporters here in the U.S. in the wake of last week's shooting in Garland, Texas.
Law enforcement officials telling our Evan Perez that counterterrorism investigators will how review they're keeping tabs on suspected extremists, whether more invasive monitoring is needed, more in-person interviews, door knocks, et cetera, this after the discovery by investigators that one of those Texas gunmen was having private encrypted contact with a known ISIS recruiter overseas in Syria.
FBI Director James Comey speaking to law enforcement officials around the country today delivering that message, and of particular concern now are U.S. military bases and installations around the country, 3,200 of them now under new security orders because of concerns by attacks by ISIS supporters.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): The U.S. military is raising the security level at every base across the country, as concerns grow over the threat from ISIS.
It was the shooting in Texas on Sunday that prompted the increased security measures, though the military says the step is not tied to a specific, credible threat, saying, "We have the same concern about the potential threat posed by violent homegrown extremists."
The security level has now increased to Bravo, a ranking signifying an increased and predictable threat of terrorism. U.S. bases generally have not been at this level since the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Not only do you have to secure the access to those bases. You have to ramp up security on the post itself. So this is going to be a big operation for the security forces of all of the services.
SCIUTTO: The Texas shooting is highlighting the threat from ISIS supporters hiding within the United States.
JEH JOHNSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Groups like ISIL or al Qaeda now are calling publicly for attacks in the West of people who they would have never recruited specifically, they have never trained, they have never even met. Someone could decide on their own to answer that call with little or no notice.
SCIUTTO: U.S. authorities are investigating hundreds of people in the U.S. who have some social media link to ISIS, a severe challenge for law enforcement to keep tabs on.
LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: It really is an expansion of how the Internet has been used, frankly, for several years now, both in recruitment and radicalization of young people to join terrorist groups.
SCIUTTO: Force protection Bravo, that's middle in the scale here, increased and predictable threats of terrorism, below imminent threat or Delta, which is really in place when there's an attack under way.
But it's only been a handful of times when we have had this level of security for U.S. military installations around the country, once in February of 2003. But that was not just for bases. That was also for other sites around the country following an al Qaeda threat, again the holidays of that year, same thing, U.S. military installations, but also shopping centers, other targets.
It wasn't until 2011, after the bin Laden raid, when had you bases under a similar threat situation, increasing the threat level, and then again it was at the 10th anniversary of 9/11. But in both of those cases as well, it wasn't just military bases that were considered under threat. This is particular, Wolf, to military bases.
As we said earlier, that's 3,200 installations around the country. It's an enormous response here. And we're already seeing some events canceled at some of those bases.
BLITZER: Yes, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, I think tonight, they have canceled a concert as a result of what is going on.
Thank you very much.
We have new information about the factors that contributed to the threat level increase.
Let's go our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She's getting more information.
What are you learning, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, military officials are telling me it's a range of things that has led to this.
You just mentioned the cancellation of events at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. There had been some reports of some security threats out there in recent days. It never became clear, we're told, whether those were credible or not. The bottom line, officials say, is there's been a continued threat stream, some of it specific, some of it credible, perhaps, but none of it specific and credible.
You put those two things together, that's when you have the major concern. One of the underlying factors about making this decision is the Garland, Texas, shooting and the jihadists that may have inspired that. There's a British jihadist that some weeks ago posted personal details about nearly 100 U.S. military officials, home addresses, other details about them.
That set off alarm bells. Then there was a posting of the home address of a very significant U.S. general, someone involved in the training of Syrian rebels, his home address appearing. Obviously, we're not going to offer any more details about that, due to security concerns for him.
But these things all together have made this situation one of concern, that ISIS is inspiring people, they are finding this information on the secure portions of the Internet, not credible, not specific, but that may not be enough to dismiss any of this, one official telling me, there's just too much going on out there. We think the temperature is rising -- Wolf.
BLITZER: They just want to err on the side of caution? Is that what you're hearing, Barbara?
STARR: Well, look, some of it's caution until, heaven forbid, something happens. But right now, what the U.S. Northern Command believes, the admiral in charge, Bill Gortney, he is a very cautious person, but he's also very deliberate.
He has seen the threat stream out there. He can't guarantee anything. So, he's got to put more security in place, at least for a while. One of the key elements here is unpredictability. There will be random measures, there will be unpredictable measures. If someone is looking at eyeballing a military base, they do not want that person to be able to predict the security measures and be able to plot and plan against that, so a lot of unpredictability, a lot of randomness.
We don't know how long this will last. That's what Admiral Gortney wants. He wants to put any potential attackers off their guard -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara, they're not saying why they canceled that concert that had been open to the public at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base tonight?
STARR: At this point, officials are not offering a lot of specifics. They're also stopping some museum tours there. Not a lot of specifics yet about why they are doing that, but they have been public about it. They have said it's due to the new security procedures and concerns in place -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Barbara Starr doing good reporting for us. Thank you.
Joining us now, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Ed Royce.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
Are you a ware of any specific threats, specific threats to the U.S. military in your district or elsewhere around the country?
REP. ED ROYCE (R), CALIFORNIA: No specific threats, Wolf. But we understand the nature of the ever-evolving situation here with ISIS, where not only in the United States, but worldwide across democracies, there are these increasing incidents of ISIS trying to -- trying to encourage attacks against institutions and against even civilian populations on an ongoing basis.
And it's the ongoing efforts of our Federal Bureau of Investigation, Scotland Yard and other intelligence agencies around the world that tries to put these down.
BLITZER: I assume you have a military base or two in your district out in California, in Orange County, right?
ROYCE: Right, we do. But we have not had any information of direct threats to those bases at this time.
BLITZER: We did hear the FBI director, James Comey, say that he knows there are other Elton Simpsons, Elton Simpson, one of those two gunmen who launched that attack outside of Dallas over the weekend. (CROSSTALK)
BLITZER: He said that there are other Elton Simpsons out there. Are you aware of other Elton Simpsons?
ROYCE: We are aware that the FBI is also monitoring other individuals with a similar profile.
This is one of the important functions that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other intelligence agencies take. And with the assistance of the Patriot Act, a lot of these attacks have been deterred. Now, as you know, the Patriot Act comes up for reauthorization and there will be an issue before the House, because it will expire on June 1, in terms of how we will amend the Patriot Act.
At this point in the House of Representatives, there has been a bill put before the Judiciary Committee that has reforms that will protect against bulk data collection of telephone numbers, but will still allow the telephone companies to hold these numbers. It will instead require that the intelligence agencies go through the FISA court in advance in order to get the details, so that they can continue to do the work in order to monitor against terrorists who attempt to basically with phone calls and other forms of communication commit attacks in the United States.
BLITZER: The FBI director, James Comey, also -- as you know, he is a very smart guy, very serious, but he's been very blunt in discussing the threat out there right now. Some people say, well, maybe he should be a little bit more discreet and not go so public, before, in effect, this gives a sort of propaganda victory to ISIS, some of these other terror groups.
Where do you stand on this?
ROYCE: I think he's doing the right thing, because part of the methodology here is to let people know that, if you know something, say something.
And when the director points out these facts, it makes people more cognizant that they should, when they're aware of something that might be afoot, allow the intelligence agencies or law enforcement to know about their suspicion, so at least it can be checked out.
BLITZER: Mr. Chairman, I want to you stand by. We have more to discuss about this ISIS, this terror threat hitting the U.S. homeland right now.
We will take a quick break -- much more with the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, right after this.
[18:15:44] BLITZER: We're back with the chairman of the House Foreign
Affairs Committee, Congressman Ed Royce of California. We're talking about the breaking news, the FBI now increasing its monitoring of suspected ISIS supporters, sympathizers here in the United States after the Texas terror attack.
And now the U.S. military is raising the security level at bases all across the country, more than 3,500, 3,400 facilities.
Mr. Chairman, you have said in the past you think the U.S. should be arming the Kurds directly in this fight against ISIS. Are you aware though of these threats coming from various Shiite groups, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq, who are threatening attacks against what they describe as U.S. interests if the U.S. were to arm those Kurds directly?
ROYCE: Yes, I saw that.
And the brazenness of what has been doing -- of these steps being undertaken right now by the Shia militia, where they're in fact saying, if they're not the principal military on the ground in the region, if some other minority group like the Kurds are given the capability to defend themselves, this is unacceptable to them, what we should recognize is that Iran and their allies, such as these Shia leaders in this organization that are making this statement, are setting the terms in which they say only the Iranian Quds Forces will operate with heavy equipment in Iraq, in Yemen, in Lebanon, in Syria.
And I think the aggressiveness of the Iranians right now and their allies in Hezbollah and in this particular organization is very, very evident. And the United States needs to push back on this. This is what our allies in the region are worried about, Wolf. This is what the Jordanians, the Gulf states, the Egyptians, Israel are all worried about in terms of the Iranians and their allies dictating the terms.
BLITZER: Well, what do you say? I assume you support the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Mac Thornberry's legislation that would allow the U.S. to go -- to bypass the central government in Baghdad and give weapons directly to Kurdistan, to the Kurds in Northern Iraq. The administration is opposing you on that. Where does it stand?
ROYCE: Well, I and Eliot Engel wrote original legislation to do that.
The concept here of course is, the Kurds are doing most of the fighting along that 600-mile border. But, most importantly, many minorities, Yazidis, Christians, other minorities, are behind the Kurdish lines being protected by the Kurds. But because of the influence of Iran, Baghdad right now won't give them the heavy equipment they need, neither the mortars, nor the artillery, nor the anti-tank weapons, to match ISIS on the ground.
So, of course, of course we have to find a way to get this into their hands. They have repeatedly been up on the Hill. The foreign minister from the Kurdish portion of the country has asked me repeatedly, please do what you can.
So I support this legislation. And when it goes through, I hope the administration will reconsider, because, so far, the Iranians and their allies have been able to dictate terms on just about every single negotiation that we are having in the region. And we cannot let them determine the outcome inside Iraq, where only, only their Shia allies have weaponry, only their militia have weaponry, especially when they have got their own Quds Forces, their own Iranian forces in the country right now.
BLITZER: Yes, because this Muqtada al-Sadr and his Shiite militias in Iraq, they say if the U.S. were to provide these weapons directly to the Kurds and identify Kurdistan as a country, for that matter, they would attack U.S. interests? If the U.S. were to do that to the Sunnis, to Iraqi Sunnis, they would attack U.S. interests as well. It's a huge problem right now.
One final question before I let you go, Mr. Chairman. The Iraqi military, it looks like they're losing control of that Baiji oil refinery, not far from Mosul, the largest oil refinery in Iraq right now, despite the help from the U.S. and the coalition and airstrikes. What happens if they lose that oil refinery to ISIS?
ROYCE: Well, that unfortunately also sends the message around the world to all of these ISIS followers that ISIS is still on the march, can't be defeated, this concept that, you know, their God is behind ISIS and ISIS is the -- is the wave of the future, the caliphate is on the march.
These are the reasons why we want to work with the Kurds, with the Sunni tribes and others who oppose ISIS. And if you allow the Iranians to dictate what you can and cannot do in theater because you're so anxious to -- the zeal for the deal, for a deal with the ayatollah on the nuclear agreement leads you to sidestep taking the decisive steps that need to be taken in order to get our other allies in the region together on defeating ISIS, you're going to end up undermining stability.
And that's been one of the key problems we have had over the last few months. You can hear it from any ambassador from the region. Now's the time to step up, arm the Kurds, work with the Sunni tribes. And we cannot allow, as I say, the proxies of Iran to dictate terms in terms of their entire Middle East.
BLITZER: All right. I know you have got to go, but yes or no, you still have confidence in that Iraqi military?
ROYCE: Well, I think, if we get the Kurds armed, if we get the Sunni tribes working with them, they can do it.
But if it going to be done only at the behest of the Shia militia, then we're going to have problems.
BLITZER: All right, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Appreciate it, Ed Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Just ahead: a new federal investigation into the Baltimore Police Department after the death of Freddie Gray. How are Gray's family members responding? I will speak with their lawyer, Billy Murphy. He is standing by. There, you see him.
And another disturbing police dash camera video showing an unarmed suspect kicked in the face. Now the officer has been indicted. Is there a solid case against him? Our legal experts are standing by.
BLITZER: Breaking news out of Baltimore.
We're learning about new legal action targeting the state's attorney, Marilyn Mosby, by the lawyers for the six police officers charged in Freddie Gray's death, this just hours after the Justice Department here in Washington launched a new civil rights investigation of the entire Baltimore Police Department.
CNN's Sara Sidner is in Baltimore for us tonight. She has the very latest.
Sara, update our viewers.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This shouldn't come as a surprise, because we already know that the police association has called for this.
But now the six -- the attorneys -- excuse me -- for the six officers who are charged in the case of the death of Freddie Gray are now asking and filing a motion to try and get Marilyn Mosby's office to recuse itself or remove itself from this case.
The motion is a lengthy motion. It cites several different things, including a conflict of interest, both a conflict with her husband, who is a councilman and who represents the district in which Gray was killed, saying that that could give her political gain or at least him political gain because that's what his constituents wanted to see, charges against these officers, and a conflict because they both very well know the attorney who is representing Freddie Gray, this all happening as the DOJ announces it's going to investigate the Baltimore Police Department.
SIDNER (voice-over): The probe announced by the Justice Department will look Baltimore Police Department's practices and procedures.
LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: This investigation will begin immediately, and will focus on allegations that Baltimore Police Department officers use excessive force including deadly force, conduct unlawful searches, seizures and arrests and engage in discriminatory policing.
SIDNER: This just weeks after the controversial arrest and death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray sparked huge protests and days of riots. The attorney general says it severed the trust between the community and police.
The six officers involved are now facing criminal charges brought by the state, but Baltimore's mayor wanted more to be done and on Wednesday asked for this investigation.
STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE (D), MAYOR OF BALTIMORE, MARYLAND: Such an investigation is essential if we are going to build on the foundation of reforms that we have instituted over the past few years.
SIDNER: The city's Fraternal Order of Police is firing back, a statement saying it wants the mayor to be part of the probe. "Mayor Rawlings-Blake is the leader of all city agencies, including the Baltimore Police Department, and we believe that her leadership of and involvement in the police department also deserves evaluation."
Attorney General Loretta Lynch and her team will be looking to see if Baltimore police had engaged in a pattern of civil rights violations.
LYNCH: If unconstitutional policies or practices are found, we will seek a court-enforceable agreement to address those issues.
SIDNER: Which means the Justice Department can change the police department's policies and procedures, the investigation similar to the one conducted in Ferguson after the death of Michael Brown.
SIDNER: Now, we do know that Marilyn Mosby has spoken to some of these charges, the breaking news that we just talked about, that the attorneys for the six officers are now saying that she should recuse herself or at least have her office get out of this and let an independent office look at this case.
She has been vehement in denying that there is any conflict of interest. We asked her specifically if there was any kind of conflict, all of these different conflicts that have come up in some of these motions. Basically, she is saying, "Look, I'm going to do my job. I'm going to do it with integrity, and I'm going to do prosecute with integrity. And I will not talk about any more of the details of this case."
We asked her details on Monday, and that is what she said, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Sara. Thanks very much.
Let's get some more now from the lawyer for Freddie Gray's family. Billy Murphy is joining us now from Baltimore. Billy, thanks again for joining us.
What do you say? These attorneys representing these six Baltimore police officers, they want her to recuse herself. And they say in part because of you, that you once represented her in some sort of legal matter. I assume you've heard of this. Tell us what's going on.
BILLY MURPHY, LAWYER FOR FREDDIE GRAY'S FAMILY: I haven't read the motion, and I'm not going to comment on the particulars of the motion until I've done that. And I think everybody can understand that.
But it is almost impossible for this motion to succeed. Because it really is an attack on Marilyn Mosby's integrity and impartiality. And there's no basis to make that attack.
And on the one hand, defense lawyers are doing their job, but on the other hand, Maryland represents a presumption that public officials will do their job correctly, at this level, at least. And you have to have evidence to show that she is not capable of doing the job. How do you do that? That doesn't strike me as something that's easy to prove at all.
BLITZER: So did you represent her in some sort of legal matter?
MURPHY: I have no present recollection of doing that. But I'm going to look. And if it's the case, I'll have to address it.
BLITZER: Because I know there are also these attorneys representing the police officers, saying that you gave -- gave her money in her campaign. I know in the past you said you didn't, but your son did, right?
MURPHY: Well, yes, but that's the same law firm, so it doesn't make a real difference.
BLITZER: It came from the -- go ahead.
MURPHY: Secondly, the F.O.P., their organization of police throughout the department, also gave a similar contribution to Marilyn Mosby. So under these circumstances, it's difficult to see any conflict arising out of that.
BLITZER: How is the family reacting to the news that the attorney general of the United States is now going to launch a full- scale civil rights investigation into the behavior of the entire Baltimore Police Department?
MURPHY: Well, they're delighted about that. And they're delighted, because this is a long-awaited move to shed detailed and fact-specific light on the practices of the police department over the last several years.
Everyone wants to know what the pattern and practice of their policing has been which gave them the audacity to injure Freddie Gray, ultimately causing his death, for no apparent reason.
And so we want to know whether or not these hundreds of police brutality cases that have been settled by the city, show a pattern and practice. On the face of it, they certainly do. I mean, what city settles, in four years, roughly 600 police brutality or police misconduct case without there being an extraordinarily serious problem with the department?
BLITZER: The mayor has welcomed this decision by the attorney general. The police commissioner of Baltimore has welcomed the decision. You're welcoming it, obviously, as well, right now, I know that Loretta Lynch, the new attorney general, she met with the Gray family. Can you share with us what she told them?
MURPHY: No, I'd rather not. Because that was meant to be a private conversation where she gave her condolences to the family. Beyond that, I don't want to comment.
BLITZER: Where does it all stand right now from your perspective, the legal case against these six Baltimore police officers, because as you know, there are a lot of legal experts out there saying that there are various elements of the case seem to be weak.
MURPHY: Well, I'm a fact-driven person. I want to see the facts before I make any comment about the strengths or weaknesses of a case. If I ever do. Because that's not my case. I'm not involved in that case. My case is the civil action that we may file as a result of our investigation, and that ought to be having the benefit of all the other investigations, as well.
[18:35:13] And my approach and the family's approach is that we will follow the facts wherever they lead.
The family is a very unusual family. They are not into finger- pointing and making allegations or commenting on allegations about any one of these officers in particular. What they do know, what we all know is that this man, Freddie Gray, was injured fatally while in police custody for no apparent good reason. And we all want to know, I think, nationally what was behind that.
And I think speculating about things, which is against my training, both as a lawyer and as a former judge, doesn't really add to the debate and may even detract from it. So we are hopefully waiting for full disclosure. We haven't yet gotten the autopsy report, for example.
And then and only then will we piece it all together and come up with what we believe represents the truth. And that's a lot of hard work, Wolf, and we're a long way from doing that.
BLITZER: One final question before I let you go. The knife, there are conflicting reports it was illegal in the city of Baltimore, but was legal in the state of Maryland. What can you tell us about the knife that Freddie Gray was carrying?
MURPHY: We haven't been shown the knife yet. We haven't had a chance to make our own evaluation of it, and right now it's just competing legal argument, based on facts that are not getting out into the public about the knife. So I can't comment on that. I hope to get that information and a whole lot of other information as soon as possible.
BLITZER: Billy Murphy, we will stay in close touch with you. Thank you very much for joining us.
MURPHY: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's bring in our justice reporter, Evan Perez; our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin; the HLN legal analyst, Joey Jackson; the community activist, John Gaskin.
Jeffrey, what's your reaction to this motion now filed by the attorneys representing these six Baltimore police officers charged in Freddie Gray's death? What do you think? Do they have a case?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No, I don't think they have a case. Remember, in the Ferguson matter, the death of Michael Brown, everyone was outraged that the prosecutor, Mr. McCulloch, had a conflict of interest, because he was on the same side as the cops.
I think these prosecutors, they are elected. It is understood that under certain circumstances they will -- that they will prosecute the police. They get campaign contributions from lawyers who have practices before, before them. That's just how our system is set up. Based on the facts that are available now, I don't see any conflict of interest that would justify taking her off the case.
BLITZER: All right. I want everyone to stand by. We've got much more to discuss, to assess. We'll take a quick break and be right back.
[18:42:50] BLITZER: We're back with our analysts in the breaking news. Lawyers for the six Baltimore officers, police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray have now filed a motion calling for the state's attorney, Marilyn Mosby, to be taken off the case.
Also tonight, another police department is embroiled in controversy, this one in Dover, Delaware. We'll get to that in a few moments.
John Gaskin, it's been, what, over two months since the Department of Justice here in Washington reported on what's going on in Ferguson, Missouri. You're close to that community over there. Have you seen any significant changes in Ferguson, the police department there? What's going on?
JOHN GASKIN, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: I think it's a little early to necessarily tell what those changes are. I will say this much, Wolf. The police department and the leadership of that city are certainly much more vigilant about the types of decisions that they make in terms of their policing.
I do know that some recent hires have taken place. There has been some effort, if you will, to make their force a little more diverse, as well as some key administrators at city hall. But it is a little bit early to tell what some of those major -- major steps have been yet.
BLITZER: Joey -- Joey Jackson, let's move from Baltimore and Ferguson, to this dash camera video I'm going to show coming in from Delaware, showing a police officer kicking a suspect in the face. And I want to warn our viewers the video may be disturbing to some of viewers. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There may be several others on the road, on foot, as well. In the area of that little trailer park back here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. You saw the suspect. The suspect put his hands up. Move towards the ground as ordered. Then the Dover police, the police officer went ahead, and we saw him kick -- kick this individual. What do you make of this, Joey?
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: I make that it certainly is troubling. I mean, police, we absolutely know how they have a very difficult job. There was a police officer buried in New York today. And that's certainly problematic. And everyone's heart needs to go out to them for the fine work that they do. However, when you look in an instance like this, where the person appears to be complying and appears to be getting down and gets kicked in the face, tough wonder whether it's excessive, whether it's necessary, whether it's even appropriate. We also know that apparently an initial grand jury did not indict and then another grand jury did decide to move forward to go after the officer. So, if anyone does things that is destructive that is criminal that is deemed in the law to be unacceptable, they have to be held accountable, whether they're civilian or a police officer.
BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin, we know that the suspect, who was kicked in the face, was not charged -- he was unarmed and was not charged with anything. What do you make of this?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Joey sounded very judge-like to me. Think it's sickening. I think it's an appalling video.
You know, I love cops, too. But you know, that just looks like a criminal act to me. And, you know, we are now in an age where cell phone videos are transforming American law enforcement and all I can say is good, because they don't lie.
BLITZER: I want to be precise -- the charges against this individual were dropped. There had been some charges but they were dropped.
Evan, as you watch what's going on, I want to remind our viewers what happened in New York today. There was a funeral for a New York City police officer who was shot and killed. And huge numbers of New York City cops came out to pay their respects.
Here's the question, based on what you're hearing right now, are there increased threats to police officers around the country based on everything we've been seeing over the past several months?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Officers do feel they're under more threat, Wolf. They do also feel that they are more instances in which people are confronting them, are trying to instigate things, to try to get a reaction out of police officers, I heard this last night meeting with a couple of law enforcement officials. They say they've heard it around the country, and it is a reaction they believe to all attention that is being brought to this issue.
And, look, I mean, part of the problem for the police, departments around the country is that there is some legitimate complaint here. And so, they need to react to it and they need to fix some of these problems.
BLITZER: And, Joey, I want you to weigh in on this. You live in New York. You saw the outpouring of support for this police officer today in New York City.
JACKSON: Sure. There needs to be an outpouring of support, because, you know, you certainly want to bridge that gap between community relations and the police department, so that there's a cooperative effort to make things better. People shouldn't be under unnecessary attack, they shouldn't be shot, they shouldn't be killed, and certainly they need to have the same respect for the community.
But whenever you see anyone's loss of life, particularly someone who is giving of themselves to make the community safer, it just is a gut-wrenching feeling and certainly your heart has to go out to the police, you know, in this instance, who is dead at the young age of 25, I should add.
BLITZER: Jeffrey, the San Francisco district attorney is also now broadening his investigation into police misconduct after it was revealed that sheriff deputies were gambling on forced fighting matches between inmates at a city jail. The news comes after recent disclosures of racist homophobic text messages exchanged between San Francisco police officers. What kind of case does the D.A. have in San Francisco?
TOOBIN: Well, again, that has been a police department that's been troubled for a long time. I wrote a story in the "New Yorker" almost ten years ago, about a scandal involving fajitas, it was known as fajita-gate in San Francisco.
So, even though it is known as a very liberal city, and it is politically, the police department has had many issues with the community. And you know, it's a big city and big cities have had these problems. And we're going to see more investigations and we're going to see more truth about what goes on in police/civilian confrontations because so many of us have phones now. BLITZER: Do you think this was all good, Joey?
JACKSON: I think it's very good. And what's very disturbing is we have to remember, when police are on the street, there's so much discretion, as a former prosecutor I can tell you the discretion that you have as a prosecutor should you charge, should it be a misdemeanor, should it be a felony? What kind of jail recommendation are you going to make?
But out on the street where you have officers enforcing policies, and -- you know, they're doing it, in this instance of the mindset where they have all of these derogatory text messages going out about African-Americans, about gay and lesbians, about Latinos. It's sickening, because it impairs their ability to operate in a law that needs to be fair and even for everyone and that's troubling.
[18:50:03] BLITZER: And, John Gaskin, this notion that these police officers were gambling on this what was described as these forced fighting matches between inmates at the city jail, that's pretty shocking.
JOHN GASKIN, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: It is. It's absurd. It's inappropriate and it's highly unprofessional.
Those types of things remind me so much of the scathing report that the Justice Department put out about the city of Ferguson. You know, when you hear habit these types of incidents that are taking place inside of police departments, people who are suppose to be upholding the law, that are supposed to be role models for our young people within our community, keeping order in our communities, those outliers within law enforcement make police officers and make law enforcement officers in this country look very bad and that's absolutely ridiculous to hear that.
TOOBIN: Wolf, can I add --
BLITZER: Go ahead.
TOOBIN: Can I add something about the outside investigations? One thing that's peculiar, particularly in Baltimore, about the mayor asking for this investigation, you know, she's the mayor. If she thinks something is wrong with the police department, she should just fix it. These outside investigations from the Department of Justice almost always come about because there's a conflict with the political authority in the jurisdiction.
But here, you know, the Justice Department is not out there just to help every police department to do a better job. They don't have the resources, they can't do that. If the mayor of Baltimore thinks that the police needs to be improved, need to do a better job, she should start doing it tomorrow, not pass the buck to the Justice Department which will take a year to do this.
BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin, Joey Jackson, Evan Perez, John Gaskin, guys, thanks very much.
To our viewers out there, to find out what you to do to help Baltimore rebuild after what's been going on, visit CNN.com/impact.
Much more news coming up right after this.
[18:56:57] BLITZER: New tonight: eye popping comments by the likely presidential candidate Jeb Bush after weeks of publicly trying to distance himself somewhat from his brother, we're told that a Republican event the other day he cited George W. Bush as one of his top foreign policy advisers.
Let's bring in our senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny and our CNN political reporter Sara Murray.
In your reporting, Sara, tell us what you heard about this event.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, people in the room said they were very surprised to hear Jeb Bush cite his brother as one of his go-to policy advisers on foreign policy on the Middle East. Obviously, George W. Bush's legacy still very divisive with a lot of Americans. People said it was kind of jarring to hear this remark.
BLITZER: What's been the reaction? And what are you hearing from this?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It's surprising that he would do this to voters in general. But among Republicans, there's no stronger Republicans supporter of Israel than George W. Bush. So that's perhaps why Jeb Bush was doing this because surprisingly some big donors like Sheldon Adelson and others do not think that Jeb Bush is sufficiently pro-Israel.
So, mentioning his brother's name in that regard is a good thing. Long term, I'm not sure.
BLITZER: This was an event in New York that had a lot of pro- Israel types, big money fundraisers there. Is that what it was about all about?
MURRAY: Yes, absolutely. The way that Jeb Bush staffers are trying to cast this as -- is Jeb Bush only talking about Israel. He wasn't talking about foreign policy broadly because as Jeff mentioned, yes, George W. Bush was a great ally of Israel.
That's how they're trying to cast it. Their pushback -- aggressive pushback to the idea that he was talking more broadly, though, about foreign policy, about the Middle East gives you an indication of how worried that they are about the storyline getting out, this idea that Jeb and George W. Bush hold the same ideas when it comes more broadly to foreign policy.
BLITZER: Good jobs numbers out today, 5.4 percent unemployment. That's the lowest, what, in seven years. Assuming it continues, a positive political ripple for Hillary Clinton assuming the economy stay strong? ZELENY: No doubt. I mean, there's no stronger gift that
President Obama could leave for her or for any successor than a strong economy. More important that raising money and campaigning. So, a strong economy is very good, and it's good for all Americans, of course, as well.
But one thing Hillary Clinton is trying to do is, you know, she's trying to talk about income and equality. She can't campaign as though everything is just fine because that's -- you know, she of course is trying to fix things. But, of course, if the economy is stronger, she'll be stronger.
BLITZER: The Republicans keep saying, well, there are so many jobs that people are simply given up looking for jobs.
MURRAY: And, of course, Republicans are going to find some dark news even in a bright jobs report. They're saying people have given up looking for work, they're saying even if you graduate from college right now, you're not guaranteed to get a job and, by the way, we're not seeing wages go up even though we're seeing the unemployment rate come down.
So, there's plenty of sort of storm clouds they can point to.
BLITZER: And assuming that the U.S. is not at war, it seems like the economy, stupid, right?
ZELENY: It seems like it would be. I mean, I have no reason to think that this will not be on the economy.
BLITZER: I'm not saying you're stupid. Just some expression, it's the economy.
ZELENY: Of course, Wolf. All about the wallet.
BLITZER: All of us remember the '92 campaign.
ZELENY: And she certainly does.
BLITZER: And James Carville said that.
Guys, thanks very, very much.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. Happy Mother's Day.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.