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THE SITUATION ROOM
Dennis Hastert in Court; Excessive Force; New York Manhunt; Police Officer Resigns after Pool Party Incident; New Pressure on Putin as Fighting Intensifies in Ukraine; Interview with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Aired 18-19:00p ET
Aired June 9, 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: Happening now: evacuations. Bomb threats force power players to flee parts of the White House and Capitol Hill. Why wasn't the president moved as well? Tonight, new security questions in the nation's capital.
On the loose, the manhunt for two killers closing in on a small town near the prison where they escaped. We're at the scene tracking the search and the fear.
Ex-speaker in court. Dennis Hastert is swarmed as he faces charges of lying about hush money and widening allegations the former House speaker sexually abused former students.
And new beating video. Did police in California use excessive force on a man who reportedly shoved his own mother into a busy street? Even the police chief calling the images horrific.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following two breaking stories this hour. Police are scouring a small town in Upstate New York in an active manhunt for two murderers who escaped from a nearby maximum security prison. Two suspicious individuals were spotted in the area.
Tonight, a source tells us the fugitive killers are believed to be on foot.
Also breaking, an evacuation at the White House after a bomb threat targeted the Press Briefing Room. It happened just steps away from the Oval Office, but the president was not moved. We're getting new information about that and a separate bomb threat at a U.S. Senate office building here in Washington.
Our correspondents, analyst, and newsmakers, they are all standing by as we cover all the news breaking right now.
First, let's go to our senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns. He's up on Capitol Hill with more on these latest threats -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, investigators are trying to determine if the threats are linked to each other or to a series of recent threats against airlines.
JOHNS (voice-over): Sources say the dual threats called in within two hours of each were specific enough to cause police to evacuate senators.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In an orderly fashion, please exit as quickly as possible.
JOHNS: And parts of the West Wing at the White House. The first threat came in just after 12:30, ironically enough, during a Senate Homeland Security hearing during testimony about the concerns about safety of TSA screening at airports, causing senators, staffers and witnesses to flee the room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to evacuate the Press Briefing Room.
JOHNS: Less than two hours later, just after 2:00 p.m., as the White House press secretary was answering questions from reporters, more chaos, reporters being told to leave immediately.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Evacuate the area.
JOHNS: As CNN and other networks covered the evacuation live, Secret Service agents with bomb-sniffing dogs could be seen sweeping the press Briefing Room, until someone covered TV cameras. Within a half-hour, the all-clear was called and the briefing resumed with few answers.
Tonight, the White House says the president was never in any danger, but has yet to explain why neither Mr. Obama nor his staff were evacuated, especially if the threat was serious enough to clear out part of the West Wing.
JOHNS: Tonight, U.S. Capitol Police say they do not know whether there is a tangible link between the threats that occurred today between Capitol and the White House, but we do know from other federal officials, it is part of the investigation -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Joe, thank you, Joe Johns up on Capitol Hill.
Let's go to the White House right now. And correspondent Michelle Kosinski was one of the reporters evacuated from the Briefing Room in the West Wing of the White House.
You're getting news about the president, the first family's location specifically during this evacuation. Michelle, what are you learning? MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right.
The White House just said where the president was and in fact was in the Oval Office just yards away from the Briefing Room where the threat was centered. That surprised many people, that he was not moved from that location.
Also, when you look at the layout of the White House, and you have the Briefing Room there in the West Wing. Just beyond that are the offices of the White House Press Department. Just beyond that is the Oval Office and the office of the White House press secretary.
So, the staff was asked to go into the press secretary's office just across from the Oval Office, so you had the president and those staff members in those two rooms. At this point, you could only assume that the Secret Service made the call that they would be safer in place in those offices than they would be if they moved.
But there's, you know, still a question surrounding that. I mean, not only are they yards away from where the threat was centered. They're in the same building. They're only, you know, a few rooms away from where everyone was evacuated. So there's that question as to the safety of those who remained in the building, if this was such a serious bomb threat that some people needed to be evacuated.
Also, if the nature of the threat was such that somebody could have, say, brought a bomb into the Briefing Room, then all those people in the Briefing Room, myself included, were moved together into a small space. That doesn't feel great to be in that position either.
Another question is, if this was called into the police department and then, 20 minutes later -- it was 17 minutes later that room was evacuated. What about that time frame? Why this 17 minutes before that one room in the West Wing was evacuated at all, Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Michelle, thank you very much, Michelle Kosinski. A lot of questions that still need to be answered on that story.
But I want to get to another story that's developing right now, that manhunt for those two fugitive killers in Upstate New York. This hour, police are focusing in on a small town not very far away from that maximum security prison where the two convicts pulled off a daring and cunning escape.
We're getting new information about a woman who has been questioned as a possible accomplice.
Let's to go CNN's Polo Sandoval. He's joining us live now from the scene with the very latest.
What are you learning, Polo?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a source close to the investigation now saying that Joyce Mitchell, an employee at the correctional facility here in Clinton County, continues to be questioned.
And now new information surfacing just over the last few minutes here, Wolf, that some phone calls were made with Mitchell's cell phone to individuals potentially related to one of the suspects here, Richard Matt.
Now, I should point out that source not able to tell us exactly who made those calls or when. However, we have heard from Joyce Mitchell's family, who are essentially defending their mother, saying that she would never take part in an escape like this. And, of course, now the main question is, exactly how were these two individuals able to pull off such a daring escape? And at least two of the people who have the key answers to that remain on the lam at this hour.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Despite significant planning and execution of an elaborate escape plan, it appears there was one flaw, a getaway ride. According to officials, no one was there to pick up fugitives Richard Matt and David Sweat outside the maximum security prison Saturday night.
Tonight, an active search is under way in Willsboro about 40 miles south of the prison where the two are believed to be on foot. Matt and Sweat were reportedly seen overnight walking down a road in the middle of the storm. As a car approached, they took off.
Police are creating a perimeter, searching in farm and fields for the two murderers. A man who claims to have confronted the fugitives in his backyard near the prison the night of the escape talked to ABC News.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were looking around a little bit. As soon as I came across, they ran out of my yard.
SANDOVAL: The resident said one of the escapees sported a buzz cut, wore a T-shirt and even carried what appeared to be a guitar case over his shoulder. A female prison employee who worked directly with both inmates in the facility's tailoring shop has been questioned by police.
She is described as being -- quote -- "somewhat cooperative" after being interviewed. Authorities are trying to determine if she provided cell phones, money or even tools to the inmates. But, so far, police have not said if she played any role in the escape. What we do know is that the prisoners were allowed extra freedoms for good behavior and that included being part of an honor block, where inmates are allowed to go outside every day and congregate together inside in the evenings.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Getting in the honor unit was an orchestrated plan. Sometimes, in the honor units, what they will do is maybe we overlook certain things. OK, well, you got the tool back to me late or whatever.
SANDOVAL: Back out live in Upstate New York, where again much of the attention has been focused on Joyce Mitchell, an employee at the Clinton Correctional Facility here.
And now this news breaking just within the last few moments, a source now with detailed knowledge of the investigation telling CNN's Deborah Feyerick that her cell phone was used to make phone calls to individuals connected to at least one of the suspects involved in this very daring escape, but, again, very important to mention this, Wolf, that those investigators and those sources not able to say exactly when or really who made those phone calls, or if Mitchell was even aware of those, still a very fluid situation here in Upstate New York, Wolf, as that manhunt continues.
BLITZER: Certainly is a major manhunt indeed.
All right, thanks very much, Polo Sandoval, reporting from the scene.
Let's bring in our law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes. And joining us on the phone at the same time, we have Darren Darrah, a resident of Willsboro, about 30 miles, 35 miles or so from that prison. That's where authorities are now searching for these escaped convicts.
Tom, let me go to you first.
This Joyce Mitchell, this woman, a prison employee, authorities say she's been somewhat cooperating in this investigation. Her cell phone was used supposedly to call people connected to one of the fugitives, Richard Matt. What does that say to you?
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's not that unusual, Wolf, for people in that situation to end up in either a romantic relationship or just a close mentoring-type relationship, that she took a likeness to one or both of them, wanted to help them, and, maybe if they wanted to make phone calls, give them her phone to do it.
Whether she is involved in bringing tools to them or was arranging for transportation once they escaped, that's another matter. So it may be a matter of degree, how close she was to them, how much cooperation she did give them.
BLITZER: I assume sometimes prisoners will speak to employees and say, when you go home, could you call my uncle, my mother or my friend, or whatever, just pass along some information? That's probably not all that unusual. Right?
FUENTES: No, I think it happens and I think it is something they worry about in all these prisons, especially where you have sexual relationships begin with people that have been locked up a long time. So it is not impossible. It happens. What degree that's true in this case, we don't know.
BLITZER: Well, we don't know if this woman has any sexual relations or any relationship at all.
FUENTES: No, we don't know.
BLITZER: But we just know that she is cooperating, somewhat cooperating, according to these authorities.
All right, let's talk a little with Darren.
Darren, police were hunting for these escaped convicts on your street first thing this morning. How scared were you when you saw this, the possibility that these two killers could show up literally at your doorstep?
DARREN DARRAH, NEIGHBOR: Well, at first, when you see a bunch of cop cars outside your house, you really don't know what's going on.
Then, two and two together, you finally realize what it is. Headed off to work, and the phone in my pocket started ringing. And I told my boss, I need to go home. My front yard and my house is on the front of every news channel and every newspaper that you can think of.
BLITZER: And so then what happened, Darren? What happened when you got home?
DARRAH: When I got home, I had to go through the roadblock and tell them I lived here. And there was more troopers, state police, sheriff's department, U.S. Marshals, Department of Corrections, busloads, literally busloads. They convened on Willsboro like there was no tomorrow.
BLITZER: So what do you and your friends in the community there -- it's not a big town. What are you doing? I assume most of you are pretty nervous right now.
DARRAH: Well, extremely nervous.
It is a community of less than 2,000. There's tweets already going out from our local government telling us to stay inside tonight, keep your doors locked. Don't go anywhere. It is very scary. It is a real situation that you don't ever think that would approach you.
BLITZER: And it is pretty rural out there, a lot of forest, a lot of trees. Right?
In fact, we are surrounded by forest, farmland and a big swamp. I feel for these guys, our law enforcement, that had to tromp through what they tromped through today. And from what I understand, they're still going through it.
BLITZER: Basically, the bottom line in all of this, Darrah -- and I just want to be precise, Darren. Your last name is Darrah.
Darren, the bottom line in all of this is that you haven't seen these two suspects. No one, as far as you know, has seen them among your associates or friends, right?
DARRAH: Well, I personally have not seen them. But my direct next-door neighbor is the one that phoned in the call this morning or late last night stating that he did in fact see someone in his backyard. So...
BLITZER: One person or two?
BLITZER: And did your friend describe to you what that person looked like?
DARRAH: He said there were two individuals, and one of them was carrying something over his shoulder. You know, something like that middle of the night in your backyard, of course you're going to call in the authorities, and especially in a situation like this, where you're on a heightened alert.
BLITZER: Did your neighbor get a good look at the face of this individual?
DARRAH: Not that I know of, no. There were two individuals that he stated. So, that's what...
BLITZER: And your neighbor is the one who called 911, right?
BLITZER: All right.
BLITZER: Stand by for a moment, Darren. I want to get Tom Fuentes' reaction to that.
What do you make of that eyewitness account?
FUENTES: I don't know. I have a question with the timeline of all this.
If people saw these suspicious characters that night and reported and, it then four or five or six hours later, when they discover that they are missing from the prison, why wasn't this manhunt immediately initiated in this town, thinking, hey, maybe that call was those guys?
And I think everybody made the assumption that they're only 25, 30 miles from Canada, that that would have been the direction. But when these guys came out of the tunnels and whatever ride was supposed to pick them up was missing, they may have decided, let's go south, instead of north, because they won't be looking for us in that direction.
BALDWIN: Darren, you want to add anything?
DARRAH: I agree.
My first thought would be they were heading north. But we're two miles from a ferry to Vermont. It's very rural in this area. Maybe they had second thoughts. You can't get in their heads.
BLITZER: We don't even know for 100 percent that these are the two guys.
BLITZER: But, certainly, the search continues. And there is a massive manhunt under way right now.
Darren Darrah, thanks very much.
Tom Fuentes, thanks to you as well.
Just ahead, the former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert emerges from hiding to enter a plea on charges he lied about hush money. Does the judge in the case have a conflict of interests, though?
And shocking video, more shocking video raising new questions about the use of excessive force by police. Was this violent response really warranted?
Plus, we're awaiting a news conference involving the police officer caught on video responding to a call at a pool party in Texas. And we're just learning that this police officer has resigned. Stand by.
BLITZER: A chaotic scene as the former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert goes to court in Chicago.
The breaking news tonight, Hastert has pleaded guilty to all charges that he lied about paying millions of dollars to cover up past misconduct. This is the first time we have seen the Republican since reports surfaced that he sexually abused former students decades ago, when he was a high school wrestling coach.
Joining us now, our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, and Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for "The Chicago Sun-Times."
Jeff Zeleny, he pleaded not guilty today. Walk us through what happened.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: He did plead not guilty. We saw that scene there.
He has not seen such a crush of cameras since he was the speaker of the House and certainly this was under a much different, different circumstance. But it was a routine procedure, less than 20 minutes' long. He was very polite and very brief in this. But he was released on his own recognizance, $4,500 bond. Had to surrender his passport and give a DNA sample, which I found interesting.
But he is due back in court soon. He pleaded not guilty, but did not talk about how he intends to defend himself. We thought we might hear from his lawyer, but we didn't, so all that is still to come.
BLITZER: And he has got a pretty well-known attorney, a defense attorney, Jeff Toobin. What happens next?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the -- there is a discovery process, where the defense will get access to the information, but I think this is a case that screams out for a plea bargain; 73-year-old men generally don't to go trial.
This is a case that with a plea could end without a jail sentence. And perhaps most importantly, if Dennis Hastert avoids a trial, he avoids public testimony from Individual A, who, if there is a trial, will testify about what the prior misconduct back in that high school really was.
BLITZER: Do we have any indication, Lynn Sweet, who this Individual A is?
LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": No one has publicly identified him.
BLITZER: And so the statute of limitations, though, based on all your reporting, that has gone away. So they really can't file sexual abuse charges against the former speaker.
SWEET: They can't do that. But the way the indictment was written, as we all know, certainly was a back doorway to surfacing these allegations.
BLITZER: The political fallout, Gloria, from this is pretty devastating.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it is.
And I have spent some time on the phone today with people who were in the House Republican leadership staff at the time. And they're kind of scratching their heads, because they're looking back, of course, to the Mark Foley scandal, when he sent some inappropriate texts to pages at the time. BLITZER: He was a congressman from Florida.
BORGER: He was a Republican congressman from Florida.
And, at the time, Hastert came under a lot of criticism for not acting quickly enough on it, for not being outspoken enough on it. And so I spoke with one former staffer who said to me today, some people are now looking back on the way Hastert reacted to that Foley stuff through a completely different lens and we're trying to understand. Maybe there was an extenuating circumstance we did not know about.
BLITZER: Lynn, you have just been doing some reporting on the judge in this particular case, Thomas Durkin, who -- apparently, he made some contributions to Dennis Hastert. Right? And so the assumption is someone who has been involved like that would recuse himself or herself from a high-profile case like this.
SWEET: Another only in Chicago. Of course, the judge has a lot of political connections. He is a two-time donor to Denny Hastert's congressional fund, a $1,000 donation, a $500 donation.
His brother Jim is the top Republican in the Illinois House. Thomas Durkin has given other Republicans donations. His brother ran for the United States Senate against Senator Dick Durbin. His brother contributed to his campaign.
And Senator John McCain backed his brother. And it is a political situation the judge talked about today at the trial, but interesting, he didn't just flat out recuse himself. What he said is, if anyone has -- if the two counsel, the defendant and the prosecutors, have a problem, let me know next week.
ZELENY: He was randomly assigned to the case, and he basically acknowledged that if either side has an issue with this, tell me by Thursday. So, I do not expect think, I do not expect the judge will be on this case very long.
BLITZER: All right, let me get Jeffrey's analysis.
TOOBIN: Well, I just think it is outrageous that he even presided over the arraignment.
BORGER: I agree.
TOOBIN: This is -- he gave money to the defendant.
I mean, I'm not saying there was anything improper about giving money to the defendant. Judges before they go on the bench give campaign contributions all the time. That is -- there is nothing wrong with that. But you can't sit in judgment of someone you gave money to. He should have been gone well before the arraignment.
BLITZER: All right. All right.
BORGER: I can't believe that it wasn't even raised, I mean, earlier.
BLITZER: We will see what happens. All right, guys, thanks very much.
Just ahead: growing fears that ISIS is gaining ground by using massive new bombs to win important military victories against Iraqi forces. So, what can the U.S. do to prevent these attacks?
And we're just learning that the police officer caught on video pulling a gun at a pool party is resigning. We're standing by for a news conference with the police chief. Stand by.
BLITZER: Breaking news tonight in that Texas pool party incident all caught on videotape.
[18:30:27] A lawyer for the white police officer who pulled a gun on African-American teenagers says his client has now resigned. We're standing by for a news conference by the mayor of that town and the police chief. We'll go there once it starts.
In the meantime, we're joined by our law enforcement analysts Tom Fuentes and Cedric Alexander. Also joining us, the HLN legal analyst, Joey Jackson.
Cedric, I want to show you some very disturbing video. We'll show that video later. But let me get your quick reaction, Cedric, first of all, to the -- to the resignation now of this police officer. We're about to hear specifically from the mayor and the police chief. The police officer resigned.
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I'm quite sure that, in the last couple of days, that officer has given it some considerable thought, considering the magnitude of that particular case and what he found himself involved in. So his decision to resign is probably one, I'm quite sure, he's making in his own best interests.
But I think it would be important to notice well, too, when he resigns, Wolf, he probably will keep his Texas certification as a police officer. I just hope that, should he decide to go somewhere else, some other department makes sure that they do a thorough background investigation to be aware of any -- anything in his past that might be of concern for them.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by for a moment, everyone. Because I want -- also as we await this news conference, I want to show our viewers some rather disturbing video from Salinas, California, where even the police chief is now admitting the video alone is horrific and inflammatory. And anybody who looks at it, the police chief says, that video without context would have grave concerns, because it looks terrible.
This man being beaten was reportedly high on methamphetamines, had assaulted his mother moments before the video started rolling.
And let me to go Tom Fuentes first. You'll see this video. Does it seem as if the officers who are beating this guy right now, does it appear to you that they responded appropriately?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No, Wolf. That seems excessive just looking at the video. You know, again, we don't know the whole context. We hear that he was high on methamphetamine.
But when they're clubbing somebody like that, high or not high, that's just not going to accomplish what you want to do, unless you're trying to make him unconscious and figure that's the only way to handle him. And of course, that's not the right way to handle him. So it just appears to me to be just a terrible situation that they're all in, trying to subdue him.
BLITZER: Yes, but you see him on the ground. He's being held by several police officers. And then you see one guy, basically hitting him over the head and the body. Joey Jackson, what's your analysis?
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: It's as follows, Wolf. I mean, certainly, we don't know exactly what occurred. But on the face of it, it's very troubling. I mean, do we believe our lying eyes?
The fact is that officers certainly need to use force in certain instances where there's an immanence of the threat. If you feel threatened and you have to respond accordingly. But if someone is on the ground, not seemingly fighting back, and to strike blows at them gratuitously seems to be not in keeping with departmental protocol and perhaps worse, you know, with regard to a district attorney investigation as to the force used here and its appropriateness. It doesn't appear, on the face of it, that it's appropriate at all.
BLITZER: Cedric, what's your reaction?
ALEXANDER: Well, I'm going to tell you the truth. To be perfectly honest with you, Wolf, regardless of whatever the context of what brought them to that scene, that piece of footage that we all are looking at there is very, very disturbing and is very hard to watch.
I mean, they're holding him down. And you have one police officer there that's just wailing on this guy. It just really doesn't make any sense from where we sit. And I don't think it will make very much sense to anybody who looks at it, as well, too. That's real disturbing in terms of what['s going on here. And then you later see the other officer come up and commence the
wailing on this guy, as well, too. He's not fighting any of them. So I don't know where they're going to be able to find such justification in this. But it will be interesting to see what happens going forward there in Salinas.
BLITZER: Yes. All right, guys. I want all of you to stand by. We're awaiting this news conference from Texas on this Texas pool party incident. There you see the microphones. We'll hear from the mayor and the police chief. The officer involved in that incident has now resigned. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:37:56] BLITZER: Let's go to that Dallas suburb of McKinney
right now. The police chief is making an announcement on that pool video.
CHIEF GREG CONLEY, MCKINNEY, TEXAS, POLICE: ... the video of the disturbance at the community pool are indefensible. Our policies, our training, our practice do not support his actions.
He came into the call out of control and, as the video shows, was out of control during the incident. I had 12 officers on the scene, and 11 of them performed according to their training. They did an excellent job.
Our citizens called us to a fight in progress and general disturbance at the community pool. We responded. I do not condone the actions of those individuals who violated the rules of the community, showed disrespect to the security person on the scene and to the officers who responded.
However, we as a department are held to a high standard of action as we do our jobs. I support the fine men and women of the McKinney Police Department who, day in and day out, do an outstanding job on behalf of all of our citizens.
I've had a number of meetings with local community leaders, and we agree on this. McKinney is a wonderful city. It is a great place in which to live, work and visit. We are committed to keeping it that way. We will continue to work together in the days ahead, to strengthen relationships with all who call this great city home.
I'm encouraged by the support of our local community. Our residents met with me and said, "Chief, we will hold you accountable, but we can take care of our own house." To all the citizens of McKinney, I say to you, thank you for your support, and I look forward to working together with you to keep this city one of the best communities in America to call home.
At this time, I'd like to introduce our mayor, Mayor Brian Loughmiller. He has a statement.
[17:40:05] MAYOR BRIAN LOUGHMILLER, MCKINNEY, TEXAS: Thank you.
Over the past few days, my primary goal and responsibility has been to monitor and to reassure our residents in our community that we are going about this investigation in a proper way, in a quick way, and that most of all, that -- to make sure that we have a peaceful response to the actions that took place.
Over the past several days, I've been meeting with residents, as well, and representatives from our community to reassure them that we were following that investigative process and that it would be an open and fair process that is legally required. I received many e-mails and many phone calls, and I think it's important to point out that, while Friday's incident demanded and received our fullest attention, it is not indicative of McKinney as a whole.
We have good law-abiding citizens throughout our community, including our Craig Ranch neighborhood. We have good public servants in our police department and our fire department. The actions of any one individual do not define our community as a whole.
I appreciate the efforts of Chief Conley during the investigative process and the willingness of our community to peacefully express their views regarding this instance while we work through this.
We will continue to evaluate these events and continue to reach out to community members throughout our city to help move our community forward in a positive manner.
As I said in the past and I said initially when this all happened, our expectation as a city council and as our city management is that all city employees act professionally with an attitude of service to our community. I believe our employees strive for this and will continue to do so.
I also want to thank our religious leaders that I met with last evening. And their willingness to work with us as we work through this process and their willingness to continue to work with us and all of our residents from all over the community so that we can move forward together in a positive manner.
Thank you all very much.
BLITZER: All right. So there you have it. The resignation of the police chief [SIC]. We heard from the mayor. We heard from the police chief there. Let's get quick reaction. Cedric Alexander, that do you think?
ALEXANDER: Well, first of all, I'll say this in regards to Chief Conley. I think he did an extraordinary job in explaining that their policies and their practices were only going to be done one way, and that's the right way. And he made that very clear.
And he showed a considerable leadership in making sure that this investigation was done in a timely manner, because there's no need to drag it out.
And also, I have to give kudos to the mayor, as well, too, who demonstrated his leadership coming behind his chief and stating to that community, and the rest of this country, that we have a great community here, and we're going to uphold the law here. And we expect the best out of our community, and we're going to deliver leadership to them.
So kudos to the both of them in terms of their response to this.
BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, your reaction.
FUENTES: I agree completely with Cedric.
BLITZER: You totally agree?
BLITZER: And what do you think, Joey Jackson? What happens to this police officer right now, the one who resigned? The one who's seen doing that stuff to those young teenagers on that video?
JACKSON: Sure. It's the absolute right thing to do, Wolf, I think. I mean, there are consequences to actions. You're the adult. You go on a scene. You're certainly out of control. What example do you set?
And there's protocols. You don't draw a weapon because you could. There has to be some justification for it.
You know, my dad -- may he rest in peace -- was a police officer and always told me the most powerful tool he ever kept when he was on duty was his interpersonal communication. You diffuse the situation. You don't escalate it.
And so now this officer has to deal with those -- that situation and has to deal with the consequences of his actions, however he does. But it will not be as a part of that force.
Final thing, Wolf. Twelve officers respond; 11 did the right thing. And so certainly, they deserve the trust and they deserve the respect of the community. The mayor, the police chief making clear that one person is not going on blemish the fine work of the other officers in that community. Trust restored, they move forward.
BLITZER: All right. Joey Jackson, Tom Fuentes, Cedric Alexander, guys, thanks very much. The breaking news, that police officer has now resigned.
Just ahead, we're going to get updates on two breaking stories. That intensifying manhunt for escaped convicts in New York state and new information about a possible -- repeat, possible -- accomplice. And the bomb threats that forced evacuations in parts of the White House and Capitol Hill today.
[18:48:05] BLITZER: Let's turn to another story breaking right now. The Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is here in THE SITUATION ROOM with us as world leaders are threatening new sanctions on Russia as war rages between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels.
But even as diplomatic pressure intensifies, so does the bloodshed, and there are now new fears that the Russian President Vladimir Putin has his sights set on additional targets in Ukraine.
Let's get some back ground from our national security correspondent Jim Sciutto. He has the very latest -- Jim.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, today alone, eight Ukrainian soldiers killed in the fighting in eastern Ukraine, a cease fire really on the ground really in name only. And as Russian and Russian-backed soldiers solidified their hold on territory in eastern Ukraine and in Crimea, the concern in the region is that Russian territorial ambitions do not end there.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): These are the front lines of the war in Ukraine today. Ukrainian troops locked in battle with Russian-backed rebels. The 4-month-old cease fire, the second attempt to end the fighting here, looks meaningless.
President Obama is placing the blame firmly on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Does he continue to wreck his country's economy and continue Russia's isolation in pursuit of a wrong-headed desire to re-create the glories of the Soviet Empire, or does he recognize that Russia's greatness does not depend on violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of other countries?
SCIUTTO: Like this Russian fly-by of the U.S. Navy destroyer in the Black Sea last week, Russia moves inside Ukraine, increasingly a direct challenge to the U.S.
U.S. forces are now training Ukrainian troops against Russia's wishes, and NATO war planes are now on rotation in the region. But despite the show of force, large parts of eastern Ukraine and all of Crimea remain under Russian control.
[18:50:04] The 2016 presidential race heating, soon-to-be- candidate Jeb Bush blames failed U.S. policy.
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: While Mr. Putin is a ruthless pragmatist, he will push until someone pushes back and I believe that's NATO.
SCIUTTO: Increasingly, some of Russia's European neighbors, including NATO allies, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia fear they could be next.
MICHAEL SINGH, THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: I don't think we can assume that Putin's plan start and end with Ukraine. I think we have to assume that we may see threats like this elsewhere in the future. (END VIDEOTAPE)
SCIUTTO: The U.S. ambassador at the U.N., Samantha Powers, traveling to Ukraine tomorrow. She's going to meet with Ukrainian leaders, also express support for Ukraine, its economy, its defense. But let's look at the map, Wolf. This is really the best measure of the effect of the U.S. and E.U. policy so far.
This is the map eight months ago, around the time the sanctions started. Red areas, under Russian control and these are Russian military positions and weapons systems inside eastern Ukraine. Let's look at the map today, eight months later, Russia extending its control further, controlling more of the border along here. And again, more Russian weapon systems and units inside Ukrainian territory. Based on this map metric, that policy, Wolf, is not working.
BLITZER: Certainly doesn't seem to be working at all. And Crimea, of course, remains occupied at the same time.
Let's discuss what's going on with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who's here with us in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Mr. Prime Minister, thanks very much for joining us.
ARSENIY YATSENYUK, UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER: Pleasure.
BLITZER: What needs to be done to reverse what you regard and what the U.S. regards as Russian aggression?
YATSENYUK: Well, you know, Putin is fighting not just with Ukraine. He's fighting with the entire free world, and he's fighting with the United States and the European Union. And I truly commend the efforts that have been taken by the G7 member states and this very strong and bold statement.
But the thing is that Putin never plays by the rules, he plays with the rules. We did a lot in order to deescalate the situation. Not sure American viewers knew the roots of this conflict, but, you know, 20 years go, Ukraine relinquished its biggest power arsenal. And it was so-called notorious Budapest Memorandum when we were granted and guaranteed territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.
BLITZER: Just to go back a little bit in history -- the president of the United States, Bill Clinton, signed that Budapest Memorandum. Did the United States betray Ukraine?
YATSENYUK: No, the problem is that, you know, this memorandum is more of a political document. This is not legally binding document. But we do understand that everyone has not only moral but public obligations to defend the world and to defend peace and stability, and it seems that the U.S. is doing everything to support Ukraine, and the U.S. (INAUDIBLE) in terms of sanctions and in term of strong and bold positions against the Russian aggression. BLITZER: The U.S. is not doing everything you want. You want
weapons, lethal aid from the United States to fight these Russians, right?
BLITZER: You're not getting that.
YATSENYUK: Look, what we are asking for, as I already told, we are not just talking about the Ukrainian case. This is the threat to the entire globe and mainly to the E.U. So, Ukraine is like a bulletproof jacket for the European Union. We ask for the defensive weapon in order to deter Russian --
BLITZER: What's the response from the United States when you say to the president or the vice president or the secretary of defense or secretary of state, we need weapons to defend Ukraine because Ukraine is a big country, and Russia is taking over increasing parts of it. What is their answer to you?
YATSENYUK: Ukraine is the only country fighting against the regular Russian army. The answer is that the U.S. already sent American soldiers to train Ukrainian National Guard. They sent some electronic warfare. But we definitely need to get more, mainly the defensive weapon to deter and contain Russia.
BLITZER: So, when you ask for that and they say no, what's their reasoning?
YATSENYUK: Well, they are considering and contemplating this option. The reason is quite simple. They believe that this could escalate the situation in Ukraine. But it's already escalated. Russian supplied hundreds of tanks, hundreds of howitzers, modern artillery and SA-11, SA-15, and SA-22.
BLITZER: But you know the Russians deny that?
YATSENYUK: Well, they --
BLITZER: They deny there are any Russian troops in Ukraine now. These are all Ukrainian -- they say these are Ukrainian forces who may be loyal to Russia but these Ukrainian citizens who are fighting your government.
YATSENYUK: I want to be very clear. More than 10,000 Russian military boots are on the Ukrainian soil. And in addition, about 30,000 of Russian-led terrorist trained by Russian PSB and Russian army.
BLITZER: So, what's it going to take to get rid of them?
YATSENYUK: Well, we expect these so-called Minsk deal could be a good way how to deescalate the situation, and we still believe that this is the only solution. But in order to make this solution viable and in order to implement the Minsk deal, we need to underpin diplomatic efforts with the strong, durable Ukrainian military.
[18:55:06] And we need to retain unity between the E.U. and U.S. and to act boldly, wisely and in concert against the Russian-led aggression.
BLITZER: Because yesterday, we heard President Obama say in this news conference in Germany that the sanctions are working and the Russian economy is in deep trouble right now as a result of those U.S., those European sanctions and he said he's willing to go further and escalate the sanctions if the Russians don't retreat.
But Putin is showing absolutely no sign despite the painful economic response in Russia of responding to those sanctions.
YATSENYUK: Well, mainly, Russia was affected by the huge slide in oil prices and in addition by sanctions that have been imposed by the U.S. and by the E.U. The ultimate goal of Putin is to resume the Soviet Union. He wants not only Crimea, Donetsk or Luhansk. He wants the entire Ukraine,
And this is up to the free world to deter Russia, to stop the Russian-led aggression and to make Russia to pay the price and to obey the international law and order.
BLITZER: Do you fear some members of the European Union are weakening resolve on these sanctions because it's -- in effect, it's hurting some of their own economies?
YATSENYUK: Yes, that's what Putin expected. Putin expected to split the E.U.
BLITZER: Had he succeeded in splitting the E.U.?
YATSENYUK: Not yet.
BLITZER: But you fear that?
YATSENYUK: Well, this could happen but I strongly believe the E.U. sticks to the values but not to value.
BLITZER: Ukraine is not a NATO ally, like Estonia or Lithuania or Latvia and Poland.
YATSENYUK: And this was a huge mistake in 2008. You remember --
BLITZER: Of course, we remember all of that when there was that possibility. But do you believe, and you're an expert in this area and you're on the front lines in Ukraine, that Putin and Russia would do to a NATO ally under treaty obligations with the United States and other NATO, allies what it has done to Ukraine?
YATSENYUK: Never. And the thing is that we missed the chance. You remember in 2008 in Budapest -- in Bucharest, sorry, during the NATO meeting, we were not allowed to join membership action plan with NATO, and what happened next? Russia just invaded and in a few years, Russia didn't pay the price illegally annexed Crimea and invaded the east of Ukraine.
So, Russia pulls a threat to the free world and to NATO member states. Look what Putin is doing. He's constantly intimidating the E.U., NATO member states, sending his jets (ph) and submarines to your borders.
So, we need to realize that Russia possess the threat to the U.S., to the E.U., and to the global order.
BLITZER: While you're in Washington I'm assuming you're meeting with top administration members of Congress, what's the bottom line message you're bringing to the United States right now? I assume you want lethal military equipment, based on everything I'm hearing, the U.S. doesn't want to do that. But what's your bottom line request?
YATSENYUK: To send a strong signal the Ukrainian nation is united, that we want to succeed, that we've been fighting for the European values for our freedoms and liberties. That's everything that the United States stands for it. So, we have to do it jointly to make this world better and to make Ukraine a success story.
BLITZER: And tell our viewers here in the United States and North America why this should matter to them right now.
YATSENYUK: This matters to the globe. You are the leader of the free world. The United States is a country of real democracy, of real freedoms and liberties. So, you are to defend the world and you are to protect the world and you are to support Ukraine, as we stick to the same values and to the same ideas as you are --
BLITZER: But you don't expect U.S. troops to be dispatched in a serious way to Ukraine that can go there to train Ukrainian military personnel, but you really don't expect what we call boots on the ground combat forces to be deployed to Ukraine, do you?
YATSENYUK: You know my answer? We don't expect military boots on the ground but what we expect -- we expect to have business shoes on Ukrainian ground.
BLITZER: What does that mean?
YATSENYUK: Investments. American business to invest in Ukraine. We passed through difficult painful reforms, but we want to make this country better. And we want to improve our investment climate and having American investors being in Ukraine is another protective shield and this is a way to boost our economy and make Ukraine a success story.
And the best way to respond to President Putin, to show that Ukraine is a successful and flourishing European state that is supported by the United States.
BLITZER: Arseniy Yatsenyuk is the prime minister of Ukraine -- welcome to Washington, welcome to the United States, Mr. Prime minister. Good luck to you.
YATSENYUK: Thank you, sir.
BLITZER: Good luck to all the people of Ukraine.
YATSENYUK: Thanks to the American people. Thank you.
BLITZER: Thank you for joining us. Don't leave yet.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. If you want to tweet me, go ahead and tweet me @wolfblitzer.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.