Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Live Anthrax Shipped; Texas Flooding; Interview With State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf; Cleveland Police Balk at New Rules Imposed by Feds; 19 Dead, 12 Missing in Southwest Flood Disaster; U.S. Charges Top Soccer Officials with Bribery Fraud; Sources: IRS Believes Date Theft Originated in Russia; Clinton Shadowed by the Other Woman in 2016 Race. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired May 27, 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: I will ask the top State Department spokeswoman about brazen challenges from two powerful nations.
And rising death toll. Crews search for the missing in miles of floodwaters, racing to beat more severe wither that could strike very soon.
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.
BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, a stunning mistake in the U.S. military's handling of a potential biological weapon that can kill with little warning.
CNN has learned that samples of live anthrax were sent to labs in nine states and overseas.
Also breaking, a new FBI bulletin about the ISIS threat here in the United States. U.S. military and law enforcement personnel now under alert that they're at greater risk of being targeted by terrorists. I will ask the State Department deputy spokeswoman, Marie Harf, about the ISIS threat and more.
And our correspondents and analysts, they are also standing by as we cover all the stories breaking right now.
First, let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She has the very latest -- Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, on this anthrax mistake, tonight, the Pentagon is insisting it doesn't know of anybody who is sick, but the scope of this mistake is growing by the hour. Here's how it all started last Friday at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, an Army facility.
A batch of anthrax was shipped out for research purposes. It went to nine states. It was supposed to be dead agent, not live anthrax. A lab in Maryland reports they got live agent from the Pentagon. Now they are looking at the samples across eight states. Agent also went to Korea, U.S. forces in Korea. They already have destroyed the sample they got because they believe it was likely to be live agent by mistake.
Anthrax on the Korean Peninsula, not the message the Pentagon wants to send. And one of the things that is so concerning about this, Dugway, the place that sent it out, has now gone back through the leftover that they had from the shipment and determined what they have back in their own facility. It too is live agent.
So where are we? The CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, and the U.S. military gathering up all of this, looking at it all very closely, one official saying they believe it's probably all live agent. Four workers at -- that were involved in this lab distribution, they're not telling us where they are, those workers getting post-exposure medical treatment for this. They're getting some prophylactic treatment. The Pentagon doesn't think they were exposed but this is a caution that is being done.
The lab was in Maryland that originally reported the live agent, a very, very sensitive situation for the Pentagon, because while they're saying that no one is sick, no one is absolutely sure, of course, until they gather up all of these samples across nine states and look at what really happened -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. And the vaccination period for anthrax, as we all remember from the original anthrax scare after 9/11 here in the United States, could be a few weeks. Why is the U.S. military even sending around anthrax? What's the military value of doing that?
STARR: Well, you know, there's a longstanding research program that does involve both live and dead agent, where they conduct a good deal of research, not just for potential future anthrax vaccines, but for biological warfare terrorism. They have to see how this agent reacts because there's so much concern out there that there at any point could someday be a terrorist attack using a biological agent like anthrax.
So, if you want to learn how to defend against it, you have to be able to work with the agent and see how it reacts and see what you need to do to be able to defend against it. But, you know, this time, it was supposed to be dead, essentially inert spores. They were not -- Wolf.
BLITZER: That's a major blunder.
All right, Barbara, let's turn to the battle against ISIS in Iraq. What's the assessment at the Pentagon about the Iraqi army's potential for retaking that city of Ramadi?
STARR: Well, they're looking at all the statements coming out of the Baghdad government, the city surrounded, that the Iraqis may be able to retake it at any time.
They are also looking though at what they see here at the Pentagon as the situation on the ground. Officials are saying, U.S. officials, that they don't see a big change in the battlefield so far. Iraqi forces, they say, have not entered Ramadi, they have not surrounded Ramadi. ISIS is still digging in, still reinforcing its bunkers, it booby traps, its car bombs, and still ISIS able to keep a supply line open from the west to reinforce, to bring in potentially fighters, supplies, and additional weapons.
It's going to be a very tough fight ahead for the Iraqis. The Shia militias are getting involved but there's a long way to go -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Barbara, thanks very much.
There are also growing concerns tonight that ISIS may be linked to more than a dozen threats to U.S.-bound international flights over the past few days. One of those calls prompted U.S. fighter jets to scramble and escort an Air France jetliner to New York's JFK Airport.
Reuters now reporting that investigators' leading theory is that ISIS sympathizers, sympathizers were responsible.
Let's get some more now about these ISIS threats here in the United States.
Our chief security national correspondent, Jim Sciutto, has been some reporting.
What are your sources telling you?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm told that the FBI is now tracing back those calls. I'm also told that there has been Twitter chatter in ISIS social media circles recently discussing how hoaxes can be nearly as effective as attacks themselves.
A U.S. law enforcement official tells me that the current posture here in the U.S. is -- quote -- "prudent and very concerned." And in another story, one sign of that concern is a new intelligence bulletin issued this weekend alerting U.S. military, law enforcement, and government installations and personnel of increased risk of attack on the U.S. homeland by ISIS.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): A new FBI joint intelligence bulletin warns that U.S. military, law enforcement, and government installations and personnel are at increased risk of attack by ISIS. The new warning, first obtained issued by FOX News and issued before Memorial Day, cautions that ISIS and other there groups often time their attacks to significant or symbolic days to heighten impact.
The terror attack in Garland, Texas, earlier this month demonstrated the threat from ISIS supporters hiding within the United States communicating directly with ISIS leaders abroad. After the shooting, the security level at every military base across the country increased to Bravo, signifying an increased and predictable threat of terrorism. U.S. bases generally have not been at this level since the 10th
anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. U.S. law enforcement is particularly concerned about ISIS' aggressive and successful online propaganda campaign. Thousands of people in the U.S. have shown interest in ISIS online and U.S. officials fear that some of them could be inspired to carry out attacks here.
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: Now the man believed to have been in touch with one of the Texas shooters is back online, encouraging new supporters, after having previous Twitter accounts suspended.
The British-born ISIS recruiter Junaid Hussain posted his contact information on Twitter for anyone who wants to -- quote -- "bake a cake," a well-known code phrase for building bombs.
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 have never recruited specifically, they have never trained.
SCIUTTO: This new intelligence bulletin says that it's been an enormous challenge for U.S. law enforcement, is the sheer volume of online communication and contact by known jihadis, suspected jihadis, and others on social media.
U.S. officials speak of thousands here in the U.S. who show interest, but that could be as simple as following someone on Twitter or Facebook. The judgment call becomes, Wolf, trying to figure out who among those thousands has real potential of buying a weapon, building a bomb to carry out an attack. And that's difficult.
And it's just impossible to have all the personnel you would need to monitor everyone. And it's difficult because then people fall through the cracks.
BLITZER: Yes. They're going to have to hire a lot more people, I suspect, in the coming weeks and months and years to deal with this.
SCIUTTO: Possibly, or just you have to almost settle with the fact that you're not always going to get it right, and that's a difficult thing to do.
BLITZER: Yes. All right, Jim Sciutto reporting for us, thank you.
BLITZER: Also breaking, the Obama White House pushing back at the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and his aggression in Ukraine, as tensions between the countries continue to ratchet up.
Our White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, is joining us.
So, some tough talk from the vice president today. What did he say, Michelle?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, tough talk on Russia, on Vladimir Putin from Vice President Biden.
But it is talk. Remember, the president still hasn't made a decision on whether to send lethal aid to Ukraine, while Russia keeps up these aggressive moves.
KOSINSKI (voice-over): The U.S. and its allies watch Russian troops building along the Ukrainian border, heavy arms still flowing in, and still more fighting, with more than 6,000 people killed since this conflict began just over a year ago.
The worry now, what exactly Russian President Vladimir Putin has planned next. Today, Vice President Biden went after him.
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Putin's vision has very little to offer. The sleight of hand that presents the bullying of civil societies, dissidents and gays as substitute for strong leadership and functioning institutions.
KOSINSKI: Calling out Russia's brutality, its aggressive repression, its hyperaggressive propaganda machine. President Obama also used that tough talk this week...
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The increasingly aggressive posture that Russia has taken.
KOSINSKI: ... meeting with the NATO secretary-general.
As NATO has expanded its cooperation, staging drills this week, Putin suddenly matched them, a gigantic air force exercise that NATO wasn't expecting.
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: They have used snap exercises as a way to mass troops on the borders of Ukraine and also to send troops into Eastern Ukraine.
KOSINSKI: And Putin's attempted tough guy antics continue, his near- constant digs at the West, especially the U.S., frequent Russian military flybys lately near other countries' airspace. No surprise that Western heads of state were no-shows to his huge World War II victory day parade this month.
But what to do about Russia remains the conundrum for NATO allies. Sanctions are wrecking its economy, but not changing its behavior. Lethal aid to Ukraine is still being considered, supported by some of President Obama's closest advisers. But the vice president would say only this today. BIDEN: That's a debate worth having and continues. My views are somewhat known on that. But more is needed to be done.
KOSINSKI: He made those comments today at the Brookings Institute. And you might remember it was that think tank and others, including former administration officials, who recommended back in February that the U.S. and NATO should arm Ukraine to deter further violence.
They said that this was the gravest threat to European security in more than 30 years and said -- quote -- "The West has the capacity to stop Russia. The question is whether it has the will" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Michelle Kosinski at the White House, thank you.
Let's get some more from the State Department deputy spokeswoman, Marie Harf. She's here with me in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Marie, thanks very much for coming in.
MARIE HARF, SPOKESWOMAN, STATE DEPARTMENT: Happy to be here.
BLITZER: Is the U.S. going to provide lethal aid, military equipment to Ukraine?
HARF: Well, as the vice president said, this is a conversation that's been going on inside the administration for some time.
Our views on that are known, that we don't believe what needs to happen is more acceleration in terms of more arms flowing into Eastern Ukraine. What needs to happen is the opposite, is de-escalation. So, it's a constant conversation. We're always looking at ways to do more, but nothing's changed at the moment.
BLITZER: Well, what's the downside of trying to help the Ukraine military with lethal U.S.- or European-supplied weapons?
HARF: Well, we have helped the Ukrainian military with training that we have done for some time, quite frankly, also with nonlethal aid. So, there are a variety of ways we're helping them.
BLITZER: But what's the downside of sending them lethal military equipment?
Because what we believe needs to happen is de-escalation and demilitarization of the situation. You have the Russians pouring arms, pouring weapons in. And what we believe needs to happen is implementation of the Minsk agreements.
I was with Secretary Kerry a few weeks ago when we were in Sochi. He met with President Putin. He met with Foreign minister Lavrov. They committed publicly and privately to implementing the Minsk agreements, which means withdrawing weapons, withdrawing troops, getting back to a border here that is respected. So they have a path to do that.
BLITZER: Has any of that happened since Sochi?
HARF: On the Russian side?
HARF: This is where it's been really challenging.
They haven't moved forward with their commitments. We need them to do so. There's a path forward here that they say they're committed to. And you heard from the vice president some tough talk today, because they haven't yet.
BLITZER: But you don't really trust Putin, do you?
HARF: It's not about trust. It's about having on paper commitments that we can measure a country against in terms of whether or not they live up to them.
And, again, as you heard the vice president and you have heard Secretary Kerry say, they're not doing that. You're going to see more tough talk. We have put in place a lot of sanctions in order to change their calculation.
BLITZER: If the Russians continue to intensify their operations inside Ukraine -- and you believe that they are sending in Russian soldiers into Ukraine right now -- what's the U.S. going to do about it?
HARF: Well, we have continued to impose consequences, as they just mentioned on the previous report. Their economy in large part is in such dire straits due to the really significant sanctions we have put in place and we will continue to look at options.
But we have always said there has to be a diplomatic off-ramp here. There has to be a way, if the Russians mean what they say publicly, for them to de-escalate here. But until they do, there will be increasing costs.
BLITZER: You have seen these reports that Russia has deployed mobile crematoriums to Ukraine to dispose of bodies, including Russians -- Russian soldiers who may be killed, so there's no evidence that Russian soldiers are there. Are these reports true?
HARF: Right. Well, I have seen them, and we can't independently verify them. But what we do know is there are Russian soldiers in Eastern Ukraine, there are Russian soldiers who have died in Eastern Ukraine, and that the Russians have tried to cover up the fact that there are Russian soldiers there, whether it's removing the insignia off of their gear they wear into battle, whether it's stripping off the markings on a tank, for example.
They have tried to hide their presence their. But on that report, we just can't confirm.
BLITZER: All right, Marie Harf, I want you to stand by.
We're going to move to ISIS in Iraq, lots of questions unfolding right now.
Much more with the State Department deputy spokeswoman when we come back.
BLITZER: We're back with the State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf.
We're following the breaking news in the fight against ISIS, a Pentagon spokesman saying there's no indication that Iraqi forces have entered the captured city of Ramadi, despite their new military offensive to try to drive these ISIS terrorists out of Anbar province.
Let's talk a little bit about what's going on.
I was surprised to hear your boss, Secretary Kerry, say the other day, after Ramadi fell to these ISIS terrorists, he said, "It is possible to see the kind of attack we have in Ramadi, but I am absolutely confident, in the days ahead, that will be reversed."
Where does he get that optimism?
HARF: Well, I think what we have seen over the past 24 hours is Iraqi troops regrouping on the outskirts and counterattacking ISIL around Ramadi.
You're right, they're not in Ramadi yet, but this is how you start a counterattack. And we're helping them do that. The coalition, including the U.S., is supporting with airpower, with airstrikes in Anbar to help them on this counterattack. But it could take some days. That is true.
BLITZER: But, mostly, this offensive, it was launched by the Iraqi Iranian-backed Shiite militia, not the regular army. It was announced by the Shiite-backed militia. They gave it a code name which is really hateful to the Iraqi Sunnis who live there in Anbar province.
This is not necessarily an operation that the Iraqi military is in charge of.
HARF: Well, I would be a little cautious on that. Prime Minister Abadi came out, announced the counterattack. We're encouraged by that sign.
He's been working with these provincial forces to get them all under Iraqi command-and-control. We believe that's very important and that's something we will be watching.
BLITZER: You trust these Iranian-backed Shiite militia to get the job done? Because they have basically -- we know what they want to do in Iraq. They want Iraq to be basically a wholly owned province of Iran.
HARF: Well, I don't know if I would make sort of sweeping generalizations about some of these forces. I think they're all probably a little bit different on the ground.
But what I would say is, we have been very clear with the Iraqis that it's important to us certainly that any of these other provincial forces that are working are under Iraqi command-and-control, that the Iraqi armed forces are the ones in control of these offensives. Obviously, that's what we have been focusing on.
BLITZER: Does your boss, the secretary of state, John Kerry, who served in Vietnam, remembers that war very well, agree with the current defense secretary, Ash Carter, who told our Barbara Starr the other day that the Iraqi forces who were in Ramadi in his words showed up with no will to fight?
HARF: I think what I would say, Wolf -- and I know there's been a lot of attention on this -- is that when these Iraqi forces are trained, when they're equipped, when they have support, that we have seen them have the will to fight.
They are facing in ISIL an incredibly complex enemy, an incredibly well-equipped, well-armed, well-trained enemy that has, for example, more resources than al Qaeda in Iraq ever had. And if you remember how long it took U.S. and others to push al Qaeda in Iraq back, it took many, many months, and indeed years.
So, the Iraqi forces have been fighting and really contesting Ramadi for many months. We knew there would be setbacks like this. But we have seen that they do have the will to fight. We're helping equip them, we're helping train them. It's going to be a long fight, though.
BLITZER: But they didn't have the will to fight in Ramadi, and they certainly didn't have the will to fight in Mosul a year ago.
HARF: Well, I think Mosul and Ramadi are a little bit different.
And what we saw in Ramadi is that, for months and months, the Iraqi forces were contesting ISIL there. Mosul fell quite quickly, question, so that was a little bit different. And we have talked about that a lot on your show.
But when it came to Ramadi, they contested it for many months. They fought valiantly. ISIL threw a ton of resources, a lot of firepower at the situation. And, unfortunately, we had a pretty significant setback. But they have started to counterattack around Ramadi and we are confident that eventually Ramadi will be retaken.
BLITZER: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, she's a Democrat. She was with me earlier today. She basically -- she served in Iraq, two tours.
HARF: She did.
BLITZER: She basically said, forget about this unified Iraqi government, it's a myth, it doesn't really exist, you have got to have what she called a three-state solution, Kurdistan, the Sunnis, the Shiites. That's the only way this is going to be resolved.
HARF: Well, we have been very clear in this administration that we believe a unified Iraq under a central government is what's best able to push back on threats like ISIL, what's best able to keep the country together, and what's best able to really put as many resources as they can into the fight against ISIL.
That doesn't mean the Kurdish fighters can't be a key part of this. They certainly are. We have seen that many places, including in the fight in Ramadi. But we really do believe that a central government, a unified Iraq, is best able to defend itself and defend its borders and defend its territory.
BLITZER: Let me quickly get your reaction to Jim Sciutto's exclusive report the other day on what's going on in China, these manmade islands where the U.S. believes they're building military equipment -- military equipment.
The Chinese have formally protested to the United States, complained about these Poseidon surveillance spy planes flying over, taking pictures. "The Global Times" newspaper, which is a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, warning -- and I will put it up on the screen -- "A battle between China and the United States in the south China Sea is inevitable," those words.
What do you say?
HARF: Well, that's interesting, because I was with Secretary Kerry during our recent trip to China, and he had many meetings with leaders at all levels where we talked first and foremost about a number of areas where we work together on things like the Iran talks, on other issues, on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
But he also raised in every single meeting our concern about the pace and the scope of their land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea. And, to be clear, that's not about the U.S. That's about the fact that those kinds of activities raise tensions with their neighbors. They could lead to miscalculation and miscommunication. And that's something that we think they need to resolve with their neighbors.
It's not about the U.S. And our planes operate in international airspace, and they will continue to do so.
BLITZER: We just -- we're wrapping it up, but we just want to congratulate you. I understand, starting June 1, you have got a new title over at the State Department. [18:25:03]
HARF: I do.
BLITZER: Senior adviser for strategic communications to the secretary of state.
But we will still welcome you back here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
HARF: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
BLITZER: Marie Harf joining us here today.
Just ahead: tough new reforms for the Cleveland Police Department. Tonight, officers are steaming about the measures imposed on them by Washington.
And the search for the missing in Southwestern flooding -- the crisis could get worse in the hours ahead, with the threat of more thunderstorms and tornadoes.
BLITZER: Tonight the city of Cleveland and the Justice Department here in Washington, they're moving forward on agreed changes to the local police force.
[18:30:10] The newly-unveiled reforms are designed to minimize racial bias and the use of excessive force. But some police officers are warning that their ability to enforce the law may suffer.
Brian Todd is working the story for us. Brian what are you finding out?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we've been speaking with people in Cleveland's police union and others in the law enforcement community. They all understand that policing in Cleveland had to change.
But tonight, many of them fear the new rules are going to hold police officers back at critical moments on the street. And they say the criminal element knows that.
TODD (voice-over): Two unarmed civilians killed in a hail of police bullets. After an officer's acquittal, protests in the streets.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want justice!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want justice!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want justice! TODD: It follows what the Department of Justice found was a pattern of excessive force by police in Cleveland. Now Cleveland police are going along with tough new measures imposed by Washington. Community leaders say it's about time.
REV. JEWANZA COLVIN, PASTOR, CHRIST INSTITUTIONAL BAPTIST CHURCH: Over time, we can only change culture. By changing culture you change behavior. Changing behavior, you can change how institutions are perceived and how institutions actually operate.
TODD: But tonight, a top police union official in Cleveland is already chafing.
STEVE LOOMIS, PRESIDENT, CLEVELAND POLICE PATROLMEN'S ASSOCIATION: No, it's not all stuff that we can live with.
TODD: Under a new agreement, the Justice Department says Cleveland police have to file a report whenever they unholster their guns to aim them at suspects. The police union says that holds back police too much.
LOOMIS: I'm afraid that officers are going to be hesitant to pull their gun in an appropriate situation, because they don't want to do the paperwork that's going to be associated with having to pull your gun.
FOREMAN: The agreement says in confrontations where officers choose not to fire their guns, they can't use a firearm, quote, "as an impact weapon" just to subdue someone. Former Redlands, California, police Chief Jim Bueermann says that's not realistic.
JIM BUEERMANN, FORMER REDLANDS, CALIFORNIA, POLICE CHIEF: The reality is in some circumstances if that's the only thing that you have available to you while you are on the ground fighting with somebody, it is better to use that as an impact weapon than to shoot somebody with it.
TODD: Cleveland Police are also banned from neck holds, the controversial tactic used by the NYPD in the Eric Garner case.
The new rules are imposed as Cleveland enters another potentially combustible period. The city is waiting for a decision on whether the officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice is going to be charged. Rice was holding only a bullet gun when he was killed in November.
Officials are concerned that, if there is no indictment in that case, there could be more unrest in Cleveland.
TODD: And there are concerns about the longer-term effect on police work. What Jim Bueermann is worried about in Cleveland and any city where these rules are implemented, is that police might resort to what he calls depolicing, that out of concern for their own safety or maybe out of resentment, they might not respond to a certain call proactively. They'll just arrive and take a look at something but won't apprehend someone acting suspiciously. They won't try to prevent something from happening. He says in cities where that happens, crime rates almost always go up.
BLITZER: Yes. There's fear that's going on right now even in Baltimore, as we've been reporting. Could there be some give and take, Brian, on these rules?
TODD: Probably, Wolf. You know, Jim Bueermann says the Department of Justice is very often reasonable in these situations. His hope is that whoever's overseeing the Cleveland police will make allowances for some unexpected occurrences in policing, where the police officer had to do something that might not be consistent with this new policy. Something like ramming a car, firing a warning shot, for example.
BLITZER: All right, Brian, thank you. Let's bring in the attorney, Benjamin Crump. He's representing the family of Tamir Rice in Cleveland, the 12-year-old who was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer. Also joining us, CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, and former ATF agent Matthew Horace.
Matthew, this agreement spells out that every time a police officer in Cleveland unholsters his or her gun, it has to be documented. What do you say as a former law enforcement officer? What's your reaction to this? Because as you heard some are saying this could have very negative ramifications.
MATTHEW HORACE, FORMER ATF AGENT: Well, you know, Wolf, after 27 years in law enforcement, I understand our culture all too well. And while I'm very proud that I've carried the gun and the badge, I do understand that there's going to be some pushback.
What has to happen here is Chief Williams is going to have to lay out a plan of expectations to his command staff that's going to promulgate down throughout the department. It's going to have to be made very clear what he expects, what the community expects, and what the conditions of the consent decree are.
Now, all he has to do is look a couple hundred miles to the south to Cincinnati, for instance, and see that officers initially were hesitant. But in long-term, long range, the Cincinnati Police Department is now a model of community policing.
BLITZER: All right. Tom Fuentes, you're former assistant director of the FBI. What do you think?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think I agree with Horace about that, that Cincinnati has made the improvements and that the police are doing fine with it, you know, in terms of following those guidelines. I think that the rule about making reports necessary for just unholstering might be a little bit too much. But I think as they discuss this they can find an accommodation.
[18:35:08] BLITZER: Benjamin, you're representing Tamir's Rice's family, the 12-year-old who was shot and killed by a police officer. Have you gotten reaction from the family to what's going on now? This agreement with the Justice Department to impose some new restrictions on what police in Cleveland can do?
BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR TAMIR RICE: What the family and what the community in Cleveland, is looking at, Wolf, is how will the spirit of this consent decree really affect reality? And we're going to know that real soon with Tamir Rice.
Because remember, his case, they said he was responsible for his own death because he should have been more cautious. And they said even though that surveillance video is there, they said they told him to put his hands up three times and drop his weapons, which seems to be impossible. And so we want them to tell the truth and be transparent. And hopefully, now with this consent decree, they will do that in Tamir Rice's case.
BLITZER: Well, do you think Tamir Rice would be alive today if this consent decree, this limited use of force rule were in effect then?
CRUMP: I want to believe he would, especially with better training and better supervision and better hiring procedures. I think Tamir Rice would absolutely be alive, happy. His birthday is coming up on June 25. He would be turning 13 years old.
BLITZER: Well, let me get reaction from Tom and from Matthew. Tom, go ahead.
FOREMAN: I agree with what Mr. Crump just said. But truth in advertising, I consult to a company that does police screening, and it's critical. And you wonder about these departments.
Cleveland hires this officer who was in the process of being fired by the last police department that he was with. So you wonder, what did they do in the selection process? If police departments don't hire good officers, with, you know, the right intentions and the right character, all the training in the world and all the rules in the world won't undo what they're liable to do on the street.
BLITZER: Let me get Matthew's reaction, as well. What do you think, Matthew?
HORACE: Same point. You know, at the end of the day, Wolf, hiring, screening and recruitment -- and we haven't talked enough about that, going way back a year ago to Ferguson, and to now. We screen officers for their drug use, for their past, for their activities. No one ever asks what kind of biases you have or if you've ever had bias toward a certain group.
And then let's talk about training. Go back to the rendering and the court decision on Saturday. Many of us know, and as Tom knows and I know, none of us in federal law enforcement or state and local law enforcement have ever been trained to jump on the hood of a car and shoot into a vehicle. We have on occasion gotten into shooting incidents at ground level. But that was never trained by anybody that I'm aware of in any organization.
So the consent decree is going to address a lot of those issues. Hiring, recruitment, screening, training, conditions. And the police officers in Cleveland are going to have to get used to it, and Calvin Williams is going to have to lead transformationally, right now into the future.
BLITZER: Benjamin Crump, let's talk about Baltimore for a minute. Because you know these six police officers who have been charged in the Freddie Gray death, they've asked for a change of venue, to move the trial, if there's going to be a trial -- presumably there will be a trial -- out of Baltimore. They don't think they can get a fair trial in Baltimore right now. You're an attorney. What do you think?
CRUMP: Well, I think that the judge will have to make a decision. But you want to be able to say, the same way the people who are arrested in the community that Freddie Gray lived in, when they broke the law, you want it to be the same for everybody so people see that it's fair and transparent. You want due process.
Now, if they can't get a fair trial, at the end of the day everybody will agree they're innocent until proven guilty, and you want them also to get due process under the law.
BLITZER: They deserve, those six police officers -- obviously, they're innocent -- as Ben says, they're innocent until proven guilty -- they deserve a fair trial. The question is can they get a fair trial, based on your experience, Tom, in Baltimore, or should they move that trial someplace else? Let's say in Maryland?
FUENTES: I would think they can still get a fair trial in Baltimore, because there are going to be people in that community that say, "Wait a minute. These police, the thin blue line protecting us from hoodlums on the street that have killed over 700 people in the last two and a half years." So, you know, not everybody is anti-police. Not everybody is against the aggressive tactics that they use.
They are against racism and, you know, killing somebody that's innocent. But they're not against the police taking that, you know, extra step to get guns off the street, to get the shooters off the street that are gunning down and killing one person a day in Baltimore.
BLITZER: Very quickly.
CRUMP: We're not against good police. We're against bad police.
BLITZER: Ben Crump, thanks very much for joining us. Tom Fuentes, Matthew Horace, thanks to you, as well.
Up next, the death toll climbing in the southwest. The flood disaster there, with a dozen people still missing as the area braces for more torrential rain.
Plus, a massive theft of data from the IRS, and it's now being traced to Russians.
[18:39:35] BLITZER: There's breaking news: 19 people now confirmed dead in the flooding that has devastated parts of Texas and Oklahoma. With 12 people still missing, the death toll expected to climb. Our meteorologist Jennifer Gray is in the hard-hit area of Wimberley, Texas. That's right near the capital of Austin.
It looks awful. What's the latest, Jennifer?
JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Wolf, people here are cleaning up. Crews have been here. Family members, friends, neighbors. Anyone willing to pitch in a helping hand. And they have been hauling off trees and cleaning out the cabin.
[18:45:03] This is actually a camp site where we are. About 400 people were here during the time of the flood. Luckily they all evacuated. All of them are safe and sound.
The people that run this camp site say they heard that there were flood warnings, they heard the water rising, they knew what to do. So people here are very lucky.
But you can see the river still raging behind me. That's the Blanco River. And you can see the water crashing over what actually is a bridge over there. It looks like it's just a waterfall but that is actually a bridge.
Of course, things are definitely bad in Wimberley as people continue to clean up.
GRAY (voice-over): Tonight, more devastating images out of Texas, as some residents were hit with yet another round of severe weather. This dam southwest of Dallas facing what authorities warn could be an impending failure. The homes downriver have been evacuated.
Meantime, search and rescue crews are racing to find victims, including a mother and two children swept away in their home. She managed to call her sister as it was happening.
JULIE SHIELDS, LAURA MCCOMB'S SISTER: She called me and said, "I just want you to know, the ceiling has caved in and the boat -- the house is floating down the water. And tell mom and dad that I love them. I love you, and pray."
It is somewhat comforting because she would never leave her babies. And the fact that they are together is very, very important. She was a good wife. She was a loving mother, and her kids were her life.
GRAY: In Houston, highways flooded. The mayor describing a scene of cars littered all over the city.
As the waters recede, the search continues to make sure no one was trapped inside of those vehicles.
GRAY: And we are still out here in Wimberley where the cleanup is going on. You can see all mattresses stacked, beds, they're trying to get as much of this done as they can because more rain, Wolf, unfortunately expected for the end of the week and the weekend -- the last thing that this area needs.
BLITZER: Certainly is.
All right. Jennifer, thanks very much.
Now to a scandal involving the world's most popular sport. Tonight, the United States is accusing international soccer officials of committing brazen acts of bribery and corrupting the World Cup selection process. The Justice Department revealed the indictments today along with a vow to investigate the organization known as FIFA.
Lets get some more from our justice correspondent Pamela Brown -- Pamela.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is a massive U.S.-led operation with 14 indictments handed out to officials tied to FIFA around the world. And the U.S. is vowing this is only the beginning to rid the nonprofit organization in charge of the most popular sport in the world of corruption.
BROWN (voice-over): It's the largest governing body for the world's most popular sport, soccer. And now, FIFA has enough people indicted for corruption to start its own team, one the Justice Department says is organized, widespread and criminal.
LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: They were expected to uphold the rules that keep soccer honest and to protect the integrity of the game. Instead, they corrupted the business of worldwide soccer.
BROWN: Hours ago at this luxury hotel in Zurich, Switzerland, authorities arrested seven FIFA officials as they gathered for their annual meeting. In total, the Justice Department indicted 14 people.
LYNCH: All of these defendants abused the U.S. financial system and violated U.S. law. And we intend to hold them accountable.
BROWN: Among the charges, racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering.
RICHARD WEBER, DIRECTOR, IRS CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION DIVISION: This really is the World Cup of fraud. And today, we are issuing FIFA a red card.
BROWN: Events like the World Cup help FIFA bring in more than $2 billion a year.
The international event draws top players, top tourism and top publicity for the host cities and sponsors.
Now, the Justice Department says FIFA officials have used that allure to earn a cool $150 million in bribes for more than two decades. In exchange, it allegedly provided lucrative media and marketing rights to the World Cup and other tournaments.
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: FIFA worldwide has extraordinary power. This is uber power. We could make the case this is the biggest sports bust in history today. This is historic. This is monumental.
BROWN: So, who's among FIFA's least trustworthy team of executives.
Vice President Jeffrey Webb is directly accused of using his position to solicit kickbacks. And according to the IRS, top committee member Charles Blazer has amassed $11 million in unreported income.
Accusations of corruption have long shadowed FIFA, including controversial decisions to hold future world cups in Russia and Qatar instead of the U.S.
BRENNAN: It was absolutely shock when Qatar beats the United States, except then we took a breath and everyone thought about the oil and the money and the fact that you could open up another part of the world. And everyone kind of shook their heads and said, well, of course.
[18:50:10] BROWN: FIFA's provocative president Sepp Blatter avoided charges today and is up for reelection to the post on Friday. But U.S. officials made clear today this is just the beginning.
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: The work will continue until all of the corruption is uncovered and a message is sent around the world that this conduct will not be tolerated.
BROWN: And today, in response to the corruption allegations, FIFA president Blatter said in a statement that "such misconduct has no place in football and we will ensure that those who engaged in it are put out of the game." FIFA said its investigation found no corruption by the way, did an internal investigation, Wolf, and it says it had no reason to reopen the bidding process, that was back in December -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Pamela, what a story that is, thank you.
CNN also is learning new information about where the cyber breach that compromised thousands of tax returns here in the United States came from.
Chris Frates of our CNN investigations broke the story.
What are you learning, Chris?
CHRIS FRATES, CNN INVESTIGATIONS: Wolf, the IRS believes the data breach originated in Russia. And that's according to sources I talked to who were briefed on the breach.
The thieves took the tax turns of more than 100,000 people. And they used personal information they had gotten elsewhere, things like Social Security numbers, addresses, and used that information to pull down the tax records from the IRS Web site.
Once they had access to tax returns, they used that information to file $50 million in fraudulent tax refunds. The IRS' criminal unit is investigating as is an independent inspector general. The IRS also notified the Department of Homeland Security about the breach.
And the security of taxpayer data has been a problem at the agency since at least 1997. This past October, the inspector general called it the agency's number one challenge.
And this latest breach has lawmakers on Capitol Hill demanding answers. Republican Senator Orrin Hatch announced today he plans to haul the IRS commissioner before his committee next week to explain what happened and who's to blame -- Wolf.
BLITZER: They've got to find answers quickly.
All right. Thanks very much, Chris Frates, for that.
Just ahead, can a Republican rival steal Hillary Clinton's thunder? The two women in the presidential race so far, they stake their ground in the South.
BLITZER: Women in the presidential race, they're competing on the same turf. Both Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Carly Fiorina, they're campaigning today in South Carolina.
Fiorina seems determined to cast a shadow over the other party's front-runner.
CNN's senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny is Columbia, South Carolina.
So, what happened, Jeff?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Carly Fiorina was trying to steal or maybe borrow a bit of Hillary Clinton's spotlight as she tries to break out of that crowded Republican field. But today, it felt a little like a game of follow the leader.
ZELENY (voice-over): As Hillary Clinton swept into South Carolina today, she had company on the campaign trail.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People running for president give a lot of speeches --
ZELENY: Carly Fiorina stepped directly into her spotlight. Fiorina, more than most Republicans, is fighting to be seen as Clinton's rival. She hopes it elevates her from the crowded GOP pack.
It started when Fiorina's announcement video featured Clinton.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm running for president.
ZELENY: And continued to the campaign trail. From Iowa --
CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm criticizing Hillary Clinton because I come from a world where a title is just a title. And talk is just talk.
ZELENY: To New Hampshire --
FIORINA: Hillary Clinton must not be president.
ZELENY: To South Carolina --
FIORINA: Unlike Mrs. Clinton, I never did photo ops. I had real meetings.
ZELENY: Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard and one-time California Senate candidate, has never held public office. But she's hoping to make a name for himself at Clinton's expense. She says Clinton is too secretive.
FIORINA: Anyone who runs for president, anyone, regardless of their party, needs to answer basic questions about their record, about their positions, about their finances.
ZELENY: Secretary Clinton didn't mention Fiorina, but accused Republicans of standing in the way of equal pay laws.
CLINTON: What century are they living in?
ZELENY: Across town, Fiorina painted a different picture as she spoke to a crowd of Republican women. She's trying to make the uphill climb through her own primary so she could one day take on Clinton.
(on camera): Would you relish the idea of being on a debate stage with her?
FIORINA: I would relish the idea of being on a debate stage with her. Hillary Clinton really wants to run as the first woman president. So she wouldn't be able to do that.
ZELENY: But Clinton gave a different reason to elect a woman. To end the streak of presidents who turn gray.
CLINTON: I have one big advantage. I've been coloring my hair for years. You're not going to see me turn white in the White House.
ZELENY: It was Hillary Clinton's first visit back to South Carolina since 2008. Wolf, she said she'll be back again.
BLITZER: I'm sure she will be. All right. Thanks very much, Jeff Zeleny, reporting.
Remember, you can follow us on Twitter. Please tweet me @WolfBlitzer. You can tweet the show @CNNSitroom.
Please be sure also to join us tomorrow right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always watch us live, or DVR the show so you won't miss a moment.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.