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THE SITUATION ROOM
Possible Sightings and Other Clues Lead Authorities to Tighten Search Perimeter for Escaped Murderers; Sheriff: Female Prison Worker to be Arraigned; Democrats Revolt, Obama Loses on Key Issue; Sen. Joe Manchin Interviewed; Prison Worker in Escape Case Arrested; NAACP Leader's Race Comes Under Suspicion. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 12, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:14] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Thank you, Jake.
Happening now, growing conspiracy of possible sightings and other clues lead authorities to tighten the search perimeter for two escaped murderers. The woman who allegedly helped them break out is about to be arraigned and her husband is now being questioned about his possible role.
Too close for comfort. Russian jets are buzzing U.S. warships, coming as close as ten feet to U.S. aircraft. The tensions are already high over Ukraine. Why is Russian's president Putin upping the ante?
Legacy killer. President Obama pleads with Democrats to back his agenda, but he's rejected by his own party. Now, the biggest free trade deal in history looks like it could be no deal.
And black or white, an NAACP leader is accused of faking her life history and her racial identity. Now, she has been ousted by her white family for passing herself off as African-American.
Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: We have breaking news. The woman who allegedly helped two convicted killers escape from a New York state prison by provides hacksaw blades and drill bits, is about to be arraigned. In a stunning new twist, she's now said to have a relationship with both convicts, and the district attorney said her husband is also being investigated.
Searchers may be closing in on escaped killers. There's been a possible sighting, dogs have picked up scents, and other clues are turning up.
Our correspondents, analysts and guests are standing by with full coverage on this and other top stories of the day. And we begin with CNN's Brian Todd.
Brain, an extraordinary turn of event here. BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna, tonight a
clearer picture emerges of an allegedly deeper involvement by Joyce Mitchell in the escape of these two killers.
TODD (voice-over): Joyce Mitchell had a relationship with both the escaped killers, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation. She provided hacksaw blades to Richard Matt and David Sweat as well as eyeglasses with lights on them and drill bits, purchases that occurred in just the last few months. That from two law enforcement sources.
A former prison warden tells Mitchell, who worked in the prison, would probably have had to go through metal detectors to get to work. But likely would not have been searched. How could she get those items through?
PERCY PITZER, FORMER PRISON WARDEN: Through a lunch box, through a purse, equipment she may bring in to work in the tailor shop.
TODD: And tonight, the Clinton County district attorney says Mitchell's husband Lyle worked in the maintenance department at the same prison tailors shop where Joyce Mitchell work with the two inmates. He tells CNN's Randi Kaye, Lyle Mitchell is being investigated in connection with the plot.
ANDREW WYLIE, CLINTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We have information that's coming through, through interviews on our investigation that he possibly could have been involved, or at least had knowledge of what was happening.
TODD: Joyce Mitchell had previously been the subject of a complaint inside the Clinton correctional facility for a relationship with one of the two escaped inmates, but it's not clear which inmate she favorite according to a source. Mitchell told police inmate Richard Matt had made her feel special. Her son and daughter-in-law denied that she was involved in the escaped and say she wouldn't have had an affair. Her former brother-in-law told us Joyce Mitchell nickname Tillie, cheated on her former husband and sought out danger.
THOMAS PIERRO, JOYCE MITCHELL'S FORMER BROTHER IN-LAW: She likes the wild side of people, I guess, always looking for the once that are a little bit in trouble.
TODD: Psychiatrist Daniel Lieberman, who has worked with violent inmates says killers like Matt and Sweat are masters of manipulation.
DR. DANIEL LIEBERMAN, PSYCHIATRIST, G.W. MEDICAL FACULTY ASSOCIATES: They probably got her to talk about herself. And they learned some of her deepest secrets and they found her weaknesses. These are dangerous, violent human beings that everybody fears. When they come up to somebody and they smiled at them and they say you are our friend, that can be very seductive.
(END VIDEOTAPE) TODD: Dr. Lieberman says as a civilian employee of the prison, Joyce Mitchell may not have had the same training as correction officers get, training on how to see through that kind of manipulations. Still, Mitchell could be facing charges like promoting prison contraband and accessory to escape. And she could eventually serve significant prison time - Brianna.
KEILAR: Her cooperation has really been essential here. How forth coming has she been?
TODD: Well, as of this morning, as of a few hours ago, the threat of prosecution had not stopped her from being what the DA said was, quote, "extremely cooperative." The DA Andrew Wylie said as of this morning she had not retained an attorney and had been quote "voluntary seeking them out every morning, coming in and providing very critical information."
Now, of course, that could be now changing now that she's being arraigned. We'll see if he gets an attorney and what happens from here. The pressure could be changing for her a little bit here.
[17:05:15] TODD: Yes, fascinating developments.
Brian Todd, thanks so much.
And after possible sightings and new clues, hundreds of personnel have narrowed their search perimeter. I want to turn now to CNN's Miguel Marquez. He is in west Plattsburgh, New York near the search.
Miguel, give us the latest.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The heavens have just opened up here, so it's not going to be easy for the searchers or for anyone trying to escape them, raining extraordinarily hard right now. Some 800 searchers now on the job here. And we have had reports throughout the day just west of where we are in west Plattsburgh, very intense periods of searching with helicopters, personnel on the ground, aTVs, every sort of tool that law enforcement can bring to bear looking for these individuals.
This is not too far from the place where they believe they had bedded down a few nights ago. Law enforcements authorities also looking through surveillance video of a gas station nearby where the two escapees may have been dumpster diving looking for food, where a subway sandwich shop was, so all these clues leading authorities to believe that they're in the right place narrowing in, focusing in. I can tell you people across this entire area hope that this is the end, that it comes to an end one way or another - Brianna.
KEILAR: Certainly, they're under really a shutdown there.
Alright, Miguel Marquez, thank you so much.
The escape of these two dangerous killers, this massive manhunt that is going on, it is turning life upside down for area residents.
Joining me now, we have Bernie Bassett is the supervisor of the town of Plattsburgh, New York.
Bernie, thanks so much for being with us. And we are hearing from police they have more than 700 leads, probably a whole lot more that are very real and you have Joyce Mitchell who said to be arraigned on unknown charges. Do you know what might be announced on this press conference that we're waiting for?
BERNIE BASSETT, TOWN SUPERVISOR, PLATTSBURGH, NEW YORK: No. I can't say that I do, but you're right, an awful lot of activity today, and we're certainly hoping it comes to an end.
KEILAR: And Bernie, there's a lot of activity, but we've been hearing from our reporters on the ground who are watching, police officers who are talking to officials. There seems to be a level of confidence that they're really zeroing in on these killers. Why is that?
BASSETT: Well, the reports we've been getting, and probably very similar to what you are hearing as well from the people on the ground, the people in the homes who have been watching law enforcement in their yards, seeing the shifting, the changing of numbers, concentrating on a certain area, certainly would be logical for us to assume they are closing in, especially of that report this morning of a sighting. But again, it's been a long seven days, and we really need to wait to hear from the troops.
KEILAR: Is this search potentially expands? Have you considered or are you considering ordering a lockdown for your city?
BASSETT: We have haven't done that, no. From the beginning we have taken a look at what our responsibilities are, making sure buildings are secure, making sure our maintenance people, the early ones out in the morning, they're not doing things alone now, stay in touch. But you know, our working community is very concerned about their family. And as you're well aware, the school closings is certainly is everyone working together, waiting, trying to do what is needed. Law enforcement is doing a great job. All the agencies and, you know, work here for whatever they still we need to do.
KEILAR: They are going -- law enforcement is door to door to check, especially because you have a lot of whether it's vacation homes that people may not be living in, or even sheds behind their homes that perhaps they don't go out to that often. As you have more law enforcement going door to door, do they ever really complete that work? Or is it something they repeat in case the killers have spot shelter and maybe even a new shelter?
BASSETT: Well, my understanding, it is repeated, as the reports come in, and there's a sense that they're moving about in that area, but it's a large area. And, you know, there are a lot of homes to cover. When you look at the maps, it looks like a lot of woods in there, but in there we've got long driveways, people who have built their homes, they wanted it private, so it may be in the middle of five acres. And it just takes a great deal of time.
KEILAR: We're learning now that Joyce Mitchell, this employees at the prison had some sort of relationship, we don't know exactly what, with both of these inmates, and that she provided them material help. Hacksaws, things they could use to escape. Knowing that, how upsetting to know there are members of your community -- her husband is also implicated at this point. How upsetting is it to know that members of your community may have been involved in this?
[17:10:09] BASSETT: You know, as there have been a lot of interviews with psychologists, criminologists, et cetera, the passengers seems to be following patterns that have happened before. Obviously, there's a need to go back, look at procedures, find out where decisions were made that weren't good ones, might be part of the screening process, the ongoing training to make sure the community is not exposed to this kind of event again.
KEILAR: To citizens there are, what are they telling you? Do they feel safe? Do you think they're safe?
BASSETT: Well, you know, that's a tough one also. It's yes to both. Certainly seeing the enormous presence of law enforcement does bring a degree of comfort that on top of this, and they're protecting us, but I don't think there's anybody, myself included, as you know, I hear the helicopters going over my home, which is -- where we believe the escapees are. When you hear the helicopters, see the troops and see armed guards on your lawn, there's a reason to be very concerned about your safety and security. So, you know, it's a mixed blessing, but right now we're all waiting, watching, we're going to be optimistic that this comes to an end and we need to get our lives back to normal because this is not normally the way (INAUDIBLE) all of us live our lives.
KEILAR: No, certainly not. It's a beautiful place. It is a place that's certainly a very still place as well, and it is very disrupted by this.
Bernie Bassett, thank you so much for joining us.
And we have a whole lot more on this manhunt for these two convicted killers. We'll give you more breaking news after a quick break.
[17:16:34] KEILAR: Our top story, the woman who allegedly helped two murderers escape from a prison in Upstate New York is about to be arraigned, according to a local sheriff. The D.A. says her husband is now being investigated. There are new clues, there's possible sightings in the manhunt.
And joining me now to bulk all about it, we have CNN law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes. We have Matthew Fogg, I should say, a retired chief deputy U.S. marshal, and former ATF special agent in charge, Matt Horace.
Thanks, guys, for being here to talk with us about it.
Matthew, authorities, at this point, this is sort of interesting. They believe these guys are still together, the two of them have not gone off in separate directions. Is there a certain reason to believe that? Is it just because they think they're such in a small space?
MATTHEW FOGG, RETIRED CHIEF DEPUTY U.S. MARSHAL: The bottom line is because they don't have any other information that they're separated, and I think that's where we would think, and then, of course, with the bloodhounds that picks up on scents and so forth. So, the last thing they have is they were together when they escaped.
KEILAR: OK. That's the last thing they have, make it just makes sense to them, and certainly they hope to find them together, I would say they would hope that.
Tom, yesterday, we were talking about some of the buildings. We got really a close look at just how many buildings there are in this area. You're talking about vacated vacation homes. There are even ones we sort of zoom in and look, there might be shedding in the backyards of some of these homes that certainly overnight these guys could hide in.
Officers are going door to door, but what's that process like? Even though there's so many officers, 800 officials searching, can they really cover all of this?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No, the problem, Brianna, is once they've gone to a residence, and they checked the outer perimeter of it, the doors are secure, and locked, the windows are locked, no damage, and they move on, it doesn't mean they're not inside. People sometimes leave these homes open so other guests of theirs can show up and use the house, or they hide a key somewhere where it's obvious and these guys could find it.
So, you know, the question is, are they going inside, getting ahold of the owners and somehow arranging to check the inside of these residents? And, also, once you check it on a given day doesn't mean after you move on that they move in afterwards. So that problem for that 330 homes and buildings and other shedding we pointed out yesterday on the wall, that's still a problem. It's a problem to have ma manpower to keep rechecking.
KEILAR: Yes, it's a lot, a lot of effort.
OK. Matt, so we've got investigators. They're saying now they know Joyce Mitchell, this worker at the prison, she provided all kinds of alarming things, hacksaws, special glasses with lights on them. Would those have been enough for them to escape? It sounds like she didn't provide the power tools.
MATTHEW HORACE, FORMER ATF SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Well, maybe not, but clearly she's been talking to police for almost a week now, so they have been gathering information day by day by day. And even though it appeared she was helping police and giving us information we needed to further this investigation, she was also hurting herself. So, at some point, the natural course is going to happen, and I think you're seeing that.
KEILAR: Matt, do you think they had a plan for once they got out? Or was all of this just putting just getting out and then they didn't really have a plan once they got out? FOGG: Absolutely, I think they had a plan. These guys have a lot of
time to think about this. When you cut through pipes and go through an elaborate process they went through, yes, they had a plan. I believe they probably said, OK, two things, we either find a getaway car or we have a particular location we won't go there.
[17:20:05] We believe this spot is pretty much has already been laid out.
And I believe somebody's helping them. They probably have food and water. That's the reason why you don't have any real sightings of them. These guys have hunkered down somewhere, either together or they're either out of the area.
KEILAR: We've seen proof they did hunker down with some food, but the wrappers were from the prison commissary. They're leaving like a trail of bread crumbs. That's not that smart.
FUENTES: Yes, or they're doing it on purpose. Are they that stupid?
KEILAR: You think that, OK.
FUENTES: Here's the other possibility. Maybe they had Joyce help them, and promised Joyce, we're going to leave on Sunday, you pick us up, we're going to take you to Shangri-la, and maybe they used her phone, called somebody else, and said, pick us up Friday night and just left her high and dry. Maybe that's why she's being so cooperative, because they dumped her before they even got out of the prison.
KEILAR: Interesting. We don't know that's why --
FUENTES: We don't know any of it.
KEILAR: But they're master manipulators and you can't put it past them.
KEILAR: OK, all right. Thank you so much. Matthew, Tom, Matt, thanks to all of you.
Coming up President Obama is trying to look on the bright side despite a Democratic revolt. It's really the only way can you describe it up on Capitol Hill, that threatens to derail an issue that he really considers crucial to his legacy.
And then later, is she black or white? And does it really matter? A nationwide debate erupts over the identity of an NAACP leader.
KEILAR: We're following some breaks news.
Despite President Obama's last-minute visit to Capitol Hill, a Democratic revolt this afternoon handed him a stinging defeat on an issue that he considers very key to his legacy, a potential trade deal with nations around the Pacific Ocean.
I want to get the latest on this now from CNN's senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta.
And, Jim, it sounds like, you know, behind the scenes the White House, might be very concerned. But publicly, they're playing it cool.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's what they're trying at this point, Brianna, but no question about. This was a huge and humbling defeat as President Obama's trade agenda was nearly wiped out by his fellow Democrats. The president's last-minute trip up to Capitol Hill earlier today that you mentioned, for an appeal behind closed doors, that backfired as several House Democrats told reporters afterwards that they were offended by Mr. Obama's remarks.
So, led by House Minority Nancy Pelosi, Democrats voted against a proposal they would normally support, a bill providing relief to workers who lose their jobs to outsourcing. Democrats did that to neutralize a second measure that would give the president authority to negotiate trade deals like that one you mentioned that he wants with 11 countries around the Pacific, Democrats believe those kinds of deals kill American jobs. And so, this loss comes after a huge White House push for passage that included a presidential trip to the congressional baseball game last night, but White House insists the president's trade agenda is not dead just yet.
Here's what they had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I would acknowledge there's differences of opinion, but there are far more many areas where we agree than where we disagree. And I think this is the hallmark of a legislative procedural snafu. I think we know it when we see it snow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now, the White House says the president and other top officials will be spending the weekend making calls to Democrats to see if there's a path forward and potentially a chance for one more crack at these trade items in the coming days. The president is even hosting a congressional picnic at the White House next week, Brianna, as White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said earlier today, that should be a lot of fun. Which it was not exactly the way I think it's going to unfold. It might be just a bit awkward, especially with the House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
KEILAR: Oh, I hope you get to go to the picnic.
KEILAR: That will keep you at arms distance.
All right. Jim Acosta, thank you so much -- reporting from the White House for us.
And joining us now to talk about this is one of the many Democrats who split with President Obama on the trade issue. We have Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. He voted against the deal when it came up in the Senate.
So, Senator, tell -- why did you disagree? I mean, obviously, there's a lot of concern here from trade unions, from labor. Do you just really see their point of view, or is there something that could change the mind of Democrats like you who have really not sided with the president en masse?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Well, it would be hard to dispute the facts of all the jobs lost in America. Just in my beautiful state of West Virginia, Brianna, we lost 31,000 manufacturing jobs. They told us NAFTA would be the cure-all of all cure-alls. Twenty-two years later, Mexico still has less than a dollar an hour minimum wage. I think they're at 80 cents or so.
Seven of these 11 countries we're supposed to be doing this trade deal with have minimal wages of less than $2. United States of America has more separation, disparity, inequality, if you will, in pay than we've ever had before.
We have not seen the uptick from the average working people, from the communities around West Virginia that should be enjoying more of a robust economy. We don't see that. We have the largest economy in the world, and we're going to make deals -- try to make deals and have to do them in secrecy, because we're afraid they're going to walk away from the deal if somebody knows that they're basically negotiating?
[17:30:12] KEILAR: But, Senator, aren't all trade deals -- all trade deals are negotiated in secrecy, right? I mean, that's how it goes, and then it's -- you get to vote yes or no later. And that was part of what would have been decided today if the House had gotten to this --
MANCHIN: But there's no --
KEILAR: Giving this president this fast-track authority?
MANCHIN: Brianna, there's no changes. We have no -- we have no input, though. They want to vote on TPA as it is, exactly what they have decided. They're going to make final results after and we have 60 days to review it, but we can't have input to change. And if there's unfairness in there, if there's an imbalance, what are we going to do? Live with it?
KEILAR: Well, can't you vote no? You can vote no on it.
MANCHIN: And the trade deal that I do not --
KEILAR: You can vote on it if you don't like it.
MANCHIN: I did. I voted no on the TPA. I don't like abdicating my responsibilities to have input basically on a deal or trade deal.
Brianna, this deal here, I went down to the secured room. This is more secured than the Iran nuclear deal. It's more secured I couldn't even take my staff in. I don't know what's in there that they're hiding. I don't have a photographic memory to memorize every part of this --
KEILAR: Well, so let me ask you this --
MANCHIN: -- so I've said let us evaluate it.
KEILAR: This is a deal the president is negotiating. And I know certainly you put distance between yourself and President Obama. This could really be a hit to his legacy and at the same time he and the White House are really trying to say that, you know, there are more protections for workers than there are under NAFTA.
I mean what do you say -- what do you say to your Democratic president who this is such a big legacy item for and he's trying to give reassurances to you and others? Do you not believe him?
MANCHIN: First of all, you know, we keep worrying about the Democrat and Republican. The president is the president of Democrats, Republicans, independents. He's the president of the United States, so I don't look at this as a partisan issue. It's not a party line issue. Never has been with me. You show me something that makes sense, I can come home and explain to West Virginia, I'm fine. If it doesn't, I can't do it.
This doesn't make sense for me not to be able work on a piece of legislation that's going to basically control how we do the largest trade deal in the United States of America's history. And you're going to tell me that it's going to pay dividends down the road? I can only judge by the past performance of other trade deals, starting with NAFTA. It has not been good for my level state. I don't think it's been good for the manufacturing of this country, hasn't been good for the working people of this country.
Now it's good for Wall Street, I will agree on that. They've done excellent. It's going to open up markets for international corporations that's able to go, take advantage of a low-priced, low- waged market, sell their products back unencumbered. I'm sure they're going to do well, but I'm looking out for America, West Virginia. I'm concerned, I really am. I would like to have more input. That's all.
KEILAR: OK. You'd like to have more input. Well, I know the White House is listening to you and to a lot of other Democrats, and also Republicans as well. A real defeat he got from both parties today.
All right, Senator Manchin, thanks so much for being with us.
MANCHIN: Thank you.
KEILAR: And we do have some more breaking news ahead. Yes, thank you, Senator.
There's a source now that says the prison worker who's accused of helping the New York escapees has now been arrested. We have details straight ahead.
[17:38:05] KEILAR: We do have some breaking news now. The prison worker accused of aiding the escape there of those two convicted killers, she's about to be arraigned. And the source says that she's actually already in custody. So I want to bring back in now Brian Todd and we have CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, he's also a former FBI assistant director. And there near the scene of the search we have Miguel Marquez.
So, to start with you, Brian, let's get the latest on this. We know that she'd been cooperating and giving a lot of information.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
KEILAR: But now it looks like the cuffs are on, right?
TODD: It looks like they're closing in on her as far as possibly making a case, Brianna. What we're just told -- a source with knowledge of the investigation telling our producer Shimon Prokupecz that she has been arrested and that she is now in police custody. We had heard just a few moments ago that she was about to be arraigned on unknown charges.
Now the charges that we were told earlier today that she could face -- could face, this from the DA Andrew Wiley, promoting prison contraband and accessory to the escape. Those are possible charges for her. Not clear if those are going to be the exact charges, but earlier today, the attorney -- the district attorney, Andrew Wiley, said that those were possibilities for her, and if she is booked on those charges and convicted she could serve up to seven years in prison on those charges.
TODD: We do know that she had been very cooperative, as you said. Very cooperative.
TODD: According to the D.A., she had sought them out every day, she had not retained an attorney. She had been giving them very critical information regarding the search. They were afraid that they may not want to charge her earlier in the week for fear that that might end her cooperation.
Now the question is, where did that cooperation go? Did it take a turn today? And -- as a result of that, did they say fine, let's charge her? We'll see about that.
KEILAR: Did it take a turn or is it possible they got all the information they could out of her?
TODD: They could.
KEILAR: And do you think that maybe they're going to take it easy on her because she cooperated?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, they'll still have that decision to make, but I think, Brianna, you're right. I think they -- that it couldn't necessarily take a turn, but they've been talking to her for a week, and they've got all her phone records and Internet records. And the phone calls that they made with her phone, so they have pretty much all the information that they might be able to get out of her.
[17:40:13] But a second thing is, maybe she wants to be in protective custody and not out lose if she's afraid of them.
KEILAR: Miguel, how confident -- you're there, you're on the ground, you even just see police walking around. I know it's raining, I know the search is tough, but what's your read there, talking to officials and seeing these guys walk around on how confidence they are that they're close to getting these escapees?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, their confidence level hasn't changed at all. On the arrest of Joyce Mitchell, I can tell you that people across this area are either scratching their heads as to how and why she could do this up to just absolute sort of frothing anger over somebody and that they would actually help two individuals like this. Searchers here on the ground there have been very intense periods of searching today, just a few miles west of where we are.
We are right in between Dannemora and the farther -- the easternmost edge of the search area, it's about a five-mile square search area that in total that they have blocked off, but they've been searching in much, much more refined areas, sort of near Highway 3, and Bucks Corners Road and also Trudeau Road in there. Very, very intense moments, lots and lots of police, dogs, ATV and an army of troopers in there as well, going through everything trying to find these individuals.
It takes them a lot of time because they have to grid everything off, go house-to-house, go and make sure that they know where they've searched, what is secure, and where they have to go from there, so it takes time, but they seem to be on the right path. Everybody we talk to hoping this comes to an end very soon. Her arraignment which we believe now is in Dannemora near where the prison is, and there'll be a press conference in Saranac as well, because of the rain is so hard, it's been tough for authorities to put all this together to get information out there -- Brianna.
KEILAR: OK. So, Miguel, and just to loop in our viewers on this new development here, Joyce Mitchell, that prison worker there where these two convicted killers escaped from, just to be clear what the charges are here because she is going to be arraigned, we understand. The New York state police arrested her and they arrested her for providing material assistance to both Richard Matt and David Sweat. So that is what they are facing right now, assisting them in escaping from the Clinton Correctional Facility there.
What do you make of this, Tom? Do you think that this is a woman -- especially considering how cooperative she's been. She didn't lawyer up. Do you think that she just sort of -- was maybe a vulnerable type of person, personality and got swept up in this? What do you think? What's your read?
FUENTES: I think that dealing with psychopaths like that, that they played to her weaknesses and charmed her and how important she is to their lives, and -- you know, and then she suddenly caught up in this thing, it's swept up. And again we don't know if she dumped to them and didn't show up to pick them up or whether they dumped her and made other arrangements without telling her, and that led --
KEILAR: Meaning that in a way whatever plans they made with her was just to throw --
FUENTES: Just to help get them out.
KEILAR: -- police off the scent?
FUENTES: And then have somebody else. They may not have wanted to take her with.
KEILAR: Sure. But then what about these wrappers that were found, Brian? Because isn't that -- I mean, these are wrappers that are from the prison commissary --
TODD: That's right.
KEILAR: -- that were found in this search area, right?
TODD: Leading you to believe that maybe she provided them some other things, too. Possibly.
KEILAR: They stowed food.
TODD: Right. They stowed food. They could have really gotten that anywhere. So we don't really know what she provided them as far as when they were out. What we do know is, according to sources, she provided them with hacksaws, eyeglasses with lights on them, drill bits. It's unclear how she got all that into them. You know, one prison -- former prison warden told us she would not be searched on her way to work. She might have to go through metal detectors. But we do know from sources that she provided those items to them. Also we're told today that she had a relationship with both of them.
KEILAR: With both of them.
TODD: Right. Didn't know --
KEILAR: Not sure what that means exactly.
TODD: Right. And didn't know which one she favored in that relationship, so, as Tom was saying, and we're hearing this from former marshals, from psychiatrists, they guys very likely played her, manipulated her.
KEILAR: OK. Sure, and we've heard they're master manipulators. Just to be clear, Mitchell has been charged now, we're told, we're learning this from the New York state police, with promoting prison contraband, first degree, that goes to what Brian just explained that she brought into these guys, and criminal facilitation, fourth degree. Both of these are felonies. And I will tell you, we are waiting for a press conference that is coming up very soon from that region.
The district attorney is going to be leading that. There will be questions -- there are going to be many questions hopefully that are answered. We'll bring that to you as it begins.
And there are questions about the race of an NAACP leader. She says she's black. Her parents say she's white. And other parts of her story just don't add up.
KEILAR: Now we are following some new developments in a story that is sparking a passionate debate really taking over social media. Rachel Dolezal, she's the president of the Spokane, Washington, chapter of the NAACP. And she says she's African-American but her estranged parents say she's actually white and her mother is accusing her of being, quote, "dishonest and deceptive" with her identity.
CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reports.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you African-American?
[17:50:01] RACHEL DOLEZAL, PRESIDENT, NAACP SPOKANE, WASHINGTON CHAPTER: I don't -- I don't understand the question.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It all came crashing down for NAACP Spokane president, Rachel Dolezal, who has been portraying herself as a black woman for the past 10 years. Confronted by a reporter, her parents are now calling her out. Ruthanne and Lawrence Dolezal say their 37-year-old daughter is white.
LAWRENCE DOLEZAL, FATHER: We are her birth parents. And we do not understand why she feels it's necessary to misrepresent her ethnicity.
MALVEAUX: Her ethnicity, the elder say, is Swiss, German, Czech, and some Native American. They provided this photo of Rachel as a young girl on the left. On the right, here's what she looks like today.
RUTHANNE DOLEZAL, MOTHER: Seemed like she was just doing more of an artistic, expressive representation of her identifying with African- Americans by doing her hair and extensions tensions and things like that.
MALVEAUX: Rachel grew in predominantly white Montana but her parents say she immersed herself in the black community when she attended college in Jackson, Mississippi. Rachel's parents had also adopted four black children.
R. DOLEZAL: Rachel has always been interested in ethnicity and diversity, and we had many friends of different ethnicities when she was growing up. So it didn't start with the four adopted children of color. It was probably that added to her passion.
MALVEAUX: Rachel even received a full scholarship to the historically black college Howard University, which never inquired about her ethnicity on her application.
L. DOLEZAL: Eyes were popping and jaws were dropping when she walked in to finalize her registration in person.
MALVEAUX: But the Dolezal say they became estranged from their daughter when she began to assume a new black identity. Rachel married an African-American man, Kevin, with whom she had a son, who posted a video about their love.
Later Rachel would post Facebook pictures of one of her adopted brothers as her own son, referred to her national curls, and identified herself on a job application as part black. As professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University, Rachel was clear.
RACHEL DOLEZAL: I don't like this term African-American, I prefer black.
MALVEAUX: But it was the questionable death threats and reported hate crimes against Rachel and her family which led to an investigation and questions about her race. In January, the Spokane chapter of the NAACP posted a picture of Dolezal standing beside this black man who Rachel claimed was her father. She said he couldn't visit Spokane because he was battling cancer.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is that your dad?
RACHEL DOLEZAL: Yes. That's -- that's my dad.
MALVEAUX: It should be noted that there have always been white students at Howard University and white members of the NAACP. There was no need for Rachel Dolezal to pretend that she was black. Well, today the NAACP is coming to Rachel's defense. They are saying in a statement, I want to read it in part, that, "One's racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership." Goes on to say the NAACP Alaska, Oregon, and Washington State Conference stands behind Miss Dolezal's advocacy record.
So they are standing by her. There really was -- there wasn't a real reason why she couldn't participate and be a part of the community.
KEILAR: Sure. Yes, sure, that makes complete sense.
KEILAR: All right. Suzanne Malveaux, thank you so much. Fascinating report.
KEILAR: I want to talk more now, we have Jeff Gardere joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. He's a psychologist and a professor of behavior medicine at Touro College.
So this is sparking a fascinating debate, Jeff, because on one hand you have some people saying, look, whatever. It doesn't matter whether she's black or white. Maybe she's transracial, maybe you can identify with whatever ethnicity you want. But then on the other hand you have people who are questioning whether she's a pathological liar.
So when you look at this, and particularly I know you've seen this interview, where in a way I almost felt like I was seeing her crumble once it was questioned whether she was African-American or not.
JEFF GARDERE, PSYCHOLOGIST: Yes.
KEILAR: She actually walks away from the interview without I think her keys or whatnot, and kind of takes shelter in some boutique. I mean, when you look at that reaction to her being caught in this lie, what do you make of whether this is an emotional issue?
GARDERE: Well, it tells me that this is someone who was living in some ways a lie by saying that she was a black person. Now maybe she is, we don't know, there's something that we don't know about this. But it appears from looking at her parents and what we're hearing in the news stories that she lied about her ethnicity.
Look, there's absolutely nothing wrong with saying that you identify or over-identify with African-Americans or that you live your life in a way that you feel that you're African-American. But when you tell the lie that you are African-American, it tells me that there are some psychodynamics there, especially with the parents, especially with separating oneself from the race of your parents, that can speak to some other emotional things that are going -- or may be going on.
[17:55:08] KEILAR: What do you make of her parents coming out and kind of, you know, saying, hey, our daughter's lying?
GARDERE: Well, the proof is in the pudding. I mean, the fact that the parents are kind of outing their daughter, and I can understand their outrage to some extent. But at the same time, and certainly I feel for everyone involved, including this young woman. But I would like to see them perhaps trying to get her some help. Perhaps trying to understand why she went from an over-identification of being African-American, thinking in that way, to actually saying that she was African-American by race.
So there's some things that are going on that do need to be addressed, I believe, in more of a therapeutic venue and not the political one.
KEILAR: Yes. All right. Jeff Gardere, very good point, thank you so much for joining us on that.
And coming up, we have breaking news. The woman who allegedly helped escapees from prison, she's been arrested, charged with two felonies, her husband being questioned about his possible role.