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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Kitchen Manager Gave Away Meals To Hungry Students; Sources: Victim's Blood On Suspected Killer's Shoe. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired June 3, 2015 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:30:05] ED DAVIS, FORMER BOSTON POLICE COMMISSIONER: But he's facing a bleak circumstance right now. You have a demoralized police department, and you have a significant number of drugs, particularly OxyContin, that was stolen from these pharmacies, and they're out on the street right now.
We are going into the busiest time for any urban area. Shootings and homicides always go up in the summer months. And so Tony has his work cut out for him.
I'll tell you, he's a colleague, a friend. He's one of the most progressive chiefs in the country, very well-spoken and respected by his colleagues. But you can't change years of difficult practice in just a short time that he's been at the city. He's been there for three years now. It's going to take many more years to fix the problems that have developed in Baltimore.
TAPPER: All right, Commissioner Davis, Miguel Marquez, thanks to both of you.
Coming up: He jumped the fence and made it all the way into the East Room of the White House. And now, for the first time, we're seeing the arsenal of weapons he had stashed in his car, which was parked just a few blocks away. What else was he planning?
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
He suffered from post-traumatic stress, from paranoia, hallucinations. And he got past the front doors of the White House with a knife before the U.S. Secret Service took him down.
Now prosecutors warning to lock him up in jail for nearly two years, and today more evidence indicating why and just how dangerous White House fence-jumper Omar Gonzalez could have been, photographs showing row after row of ammunition, enough bullets and magazines and knives and even a machete to equip a small platoon.
Let's bring in Sunlen Serfaty. Sunlen, it's shocking, just how much ammunition and how many weapons
this man had in his car.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely is, Jake, especially because at the time of the incident, police said that there were some weapons found in his car, but we just didn't know how extensive his arsenal actually was until these new photos were revealed this week.
SERFATY (voice-over): It was disturbing when Omar Gonzalez made it over the White House fence and across the lawn, then through the front door into the East Room carrying this knife.
But adding to the danger, when law enforcement found his parked car just one mile away from the White House, these new photos show Gonzalez had an extensive arsenal of weapons stashed in his car, including hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a machete, tomahawks and multiple other knives.
According to the court filing this week, federal prosecutors argue he endangered White House occupants, Secret Service officers and civilians.
DAN BONGINO, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: The actions, combined with this arsenal of material in the trunk, creates a situation where there's potential for a serious disaster.
SERFATY: Gonzalez, a U.S. Army vet, has a history of mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress. Just a few months before he jumped the fence in July of 2014, police found another arsenal in his car in Virginia, this time with four high-powered rifles and several handguns.
The U.S. attorneys say he's had a long history of encounters with law enforcement, exhibiting paranoid delusions, and has brandished or been in possession of multiple firearms and other weapons, creating dangerous situations.
BONGINO: This is a zero-error environment. And one error is too much. And this was a catastrophic error.
SERFATY: The incident, among others, set off a tidal wave of scrutiny on the Secret Service, causing a shakeup at the leadership and prompting permanent upgrades to the White House fence, the installation starting just last week.
SERFATY: And federal prosecutors are recommending for Gonzalez to spend 21 months in prison. That would be followed by three years of supervised -- supervision. And, Jake, he is expected to be sentenced next week.
TAPPER: All right, Sunlen, thank you so much. Now for our politics lead, as the old saying goes, time heals all
wounds. And for former President George W. Bush, new CNN poll numbers out today prove just that; 52 percent of respondents said they have a favorable opinion of our 43rd president. This is his highest approval rating since 2005 and far above when he left office nearly seven years ago with an anemic 33 percent approval.
Things look even rosier for Bill Clinton with 64 percent of respondents having a positive opinion of the former president.
Let's go right to the White House to CNN's Michelle Kosinski.
Michael, obviously, presidential poll numbers tend to go up when presidents are out of office out of the thick of the fight, but these two guys, this could have implications for 2016, especially if those challenging Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush want to fasten President Clinton and George W. Bush's baggage upon them.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right.
We have already seen interesting poll numbers on the candidates and not quite yet candidates for 2016, namely Clinton and Bush. And they have each had some struggles there, too. But now this new poll on the present presidency could also be telling for them.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am running to live again at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KOSINSKI (voice-over): If 2016 ends up being Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush head to head, they have to be both now looking at the latest polling with great interest and maybe worry, suddenly today, for President Obama, a slide. It was only weeks ago he saw good news in the polls, finally a higher approval than disapproval rating, Americans carrying a rosier view of how things are going in this country than ever before in his presidency.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America is stronger than it was. It is safer than it was.
KOSINSKI: But now 52 percent of Americans disapprove of how the president is doing his job.
And what's more, the current favorability rating for former President George W. Bush is higher than President Obama's, at 52 percent to 49 percent.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: For a long time, after Obama first took office, most Americans blamed George W. Bush for the mess in Iraq. Now, in this new poll, it's about even. They blame both men, Obama and Bush, about the same.
KOSINSKI: So, what does that mean for Jeb Bush? The latest polling on him showed that his family connections make most Americans, 56 percent of them, less likely to vote for him. He's had to address it.
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I'm proud of my family. I love my mom and dad. I love my brother. And people just are going to have to get over that.
KOSINSKI: Some analysts say it's merely distance that's making the heart grow fonder for his brother, who at the end of his presidency had dismal approval ratings, but now comes off as more relaxed, jovial, unwilling to criticize President Obama.
His father, George H.W., now has a huge 64 percent favorability rating, as high as former President Clinton. But that doesn't mean it's helping or will help Jeb. It is every candidate for themselves on the warp speed obstacle course that is the campaign trail.
CLINTON: I'm not running for my husband's third term and I'm not running for Barack Obama's third term.
KOSINSKI: Hillary Clinton's campaign says it's not getting too worked up about these latest numbers or her polling, with 57 percent of respondents saying she is not honest and trustworthy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Clinton is outperforming every opponent on the Democratic side and on the Republican side.
KOSINSKI: For President Obama, though the economy is healing, that and other points are still hurting Americans' outlook. Only 32 percent approve of how he is handling ISIS, only 36 his work on immigration, and 41 percent on climate change.
KOSINSKI: The White House today responded, acknowledging that there's more work to be done, though there's been progress in a number of areas.
And on ISIS, they said the public is understandably concerned, and they harked back to something that President Obama said commemorating the Normandy invasion -- and I quote -- "In this age of instant commentary, the invasion would have swiftly and roundly been declared, as it was by one officer, a debacle" -- Jake.
TAPPER: Michelle Kosinski at the White House, thanks.
Coming up: She was fired for giving a crying, hungry first-grader a free meal, she says. But this school lunch manager still says she would do it again. She will join me live next.
Plus, crucial new clues in the murders of a family and their housekeeper in Washington, D.C. Why police want to know who the father's driver was talking to in the weeks before the murder, that's also coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DELLA CURRY: I had a first-grader in front of me crying because she doesn't have enough money for lunch. Yes, I gave her a lunch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. That was Della Curry talking with our Denver affiliate, KCNC. She says she was fired for giving away free meals to hungry students. She used to work at an elementary school in Cherry Creek, Colorado.
She admits she did not follow the rules when she repeatedly gave away lunches and even paid for meals out of her own pocket. Della Curry joins me now on the phone. Della, thanks so much for joining us now.
You tried to do a good deed, but you did break the school rules, right? You don't think you should have been fired.
DELLA CURRY, FORMER SCHOOL KITCHEN MANAGER: Jake, I'm a mom, too. Sophie, don't answer the door, please. Tell them to come back later, please. I'm so sorry, Jake. I will be up in a minute. OK, I apologize.
TAPPER: Go ahead. It's quite all right. I have two little kids myself. Tell us what happened.
CURRY: OK, long story short, it is against policy to ever give free food away. And I knew that it was against policy because our food is donated by the Department of Agriculture. We're part of the federal reimbursement program.
Because of that, it's considered theft. So I was terminated when my superiors were made aware that I had given away food without charging for it.
TAPPER: You had done this before? This wasn't the first time, right?
CURRY: Yes. No, I've done it all year.
TAPPER: Now, the school might argue that they have ways to pay for this and you shouldn't have been doing what you were doing, you should have figured out a way to work within the system. What would your response be to that?
CURRY: My response is that I took every chance I could to work within the system. If the kids went negative and kept going negative, I called parents, I talked to guidance counselors, I talked to the teachers. I did every route I could to get them into the system, tried to get them on free and reduced.
But there are kids that it just didn't happen for. There are kids that -- their parents made too much money so they didn't qualify, but they still didn't have money for lunch. So I only gave away food when there was no other option.
TAPPER: We see your kitty cat behind you, too, FYI.
CURRY: My 15-year-old cat likes to be on TV.
TAPPER: All right, good. Cherry Creek school officials made it clear after your story aired on the local CBS affiliate, they do provide hot meals to students, the first three times that they don't bring in lunch money. After that, students get a cheese sandwich and milk. They say no child goes without food. You were the kitchen manager. Is that true?
CURRY: Technically, if you consider a slice of American cheese and a hamburger bun, food, they do give out food. I would like to clarify that the three-meal limit, as far as I know, only applies to elementary school, that there are different rules for middle school and high school that they're not allowed to. But again, I don't know, I never worked in a high school or middle school. But technically, yes, they're right.
TAPPER: The reason that we found your story so interesting is I was talking to some people from the group "Share Our Strength," which is a group that is working to eradicate child hunger in the United States.
[16:50:10] And it is astounding how many children go without meals, especially in the summer because they don't have school, but also how many would not be able to eat if it were not for these school programs. But you're saying even with these school programs, sometimes there are issues.
CURRY: There are lots of issues and that's part of the problem is that, yes, the kids in poverty, there's programs set up for them. Free lunch, reduced lunch, summer programs, for the working middle class, for the lower middle class, for those of us who don't make a lot of money.
There's not -- there are no programs for them and these are kids that rely on school lunches a lot of times because they didn't bring a home lunch or for whatever reason. They're coming through my line and they don't have money.
And in a country like America, for us to not take a simple solution to make school lunch a part of public education just blows my mind.
TAPPER: Tom Mustin from CBS is the one -- the local affiliate was the first one to interview you. We're approaching the summer months when 4 million students we are told can get free meals through a national program, but many live too far away to get those meals. Have you talked to any of the families who you were helping out about what they're going to do this summer?
CURRY: I've been in contact with a lot of parents. A lot of the kids were devastated when I left. I was devastated when I left. So they're behind me 100 percent. Unfortunately, a lot of the kids that I helped out on a regular basis, I was not able to contact their parents for various reasons. So I don't know what they're going to do. I do know that there are a lot of kids that are going to be hungry this summer.
TAPPER: Della Curry, thank you so much for talking with me. We appreciate it. The issue of child hunger, very important and obviously you lost your job because of it. Thank you so much.
CURRY: Thank you.
TAPPER: Coming up, direct evidence tying Darren Wint to the murders of a family and their housekeeper right here in Washington, D.C. what police found on his shoe that could connect him to the killings. That's next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Our National Lead now, new clues making it harder to dispute who may have brutally killed a wealthy D.C. family and their housekeeper, now it's not just the DNA taken from a pizza crust left behind, but also two law enforcement sources telling CNN blood found on Daron Wint's shoe links him to the murder.
So far Wint is the only person charged in the crime. The only person prosecutors say was inside the house when the Savopolous family and their maid were tortured and killed. We are now getting hints into what may have motivated the killings as investigators begin to comb through the family's home.
CNN's Joe Johns joins me now. Joe, I'm surprised I have to say that Wint remains the only person that's been arrested for this.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It is going a little slowly I think. There were some other surprises today in these newly released court papers in the case of Amy and Savvas Savopolous, their son, their housekeeper.
At first authorities suggested there was no break-in at their home in upper northwest Washington, but newly released papers say police did in fact find evidence of forced entry.
JOHNS (voice-over): The latest clues made public in the D.C. mansion murder case point directly at the only suspect authorities already have in custody, even though police had said 34-year-old Daron Wint had to have help to pull it off.
Two law enforcement officials tell CNN's Evan Perez and Pamela Brown that traces of blood found on a shoe Wint was wearing matched the blood of at least one of the murder victims.
HARRY HOUCK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That's very significant evidence. It puts him in the house. It puts him with the victim.
JOHNS: Also new detail in court documents shedding new light on the investigation, suggesting the crime may have started with a break-in. It said the doors have a single broken window pane, the door is broken near the lock and a shoe or boot print is visible on the exterior suggesting forced entry.
The documents also publicly identify J.T. Jordan Wallace, the Savvas Savopolous assistant who dropped off $40,000 in cash at the house while recounting examples of when he changed then recanted to police specific details about the money drop on the front seat of a car in the garage.
Police got a court order to retrieve Wallace's telephone calls from his cell phone. They also got court orders to retrieve calls of Mr. and Mrs. Savopolous and the phone of the housekeeper, Vera Figueroa, all of which police say have not been recovered. Still unclear who may have helped him commit these crimes.
HOUCK: I'm sure the police have some other suspects involved that they believe are involved in this case and they are trying to track information down to link them to Wint.
JOHNS: Underscoring that, the search warrant information released today says police do believe all four victims were held captive by Daron Wint and others until the money was delivered to the house and they were not killed until after the drop occurred. A lawyer who has represented Wint in the past has said Wint did not do it.
TAPPER: All right, Joe Johns, thank you so much. Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jaketapper and also @theleadcnn. And check out our show page on CNN.com/thelead for videos and extras. You can also subscribe to our magazine on Flipboard.
That's it for THE LEAD. I am Jake Tapper. Turning you over now to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, Boston terror plot, court papers say the suspect in Boston plotting with others to kill police officers in Massachusetts and plan a beheading in another state. We are getting stunning new details.
Anthrax accident, the Pentagon now says 51 labs in 17 states --