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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

States of Emergency Declared Ahead of Hurricane; Mystery Surrounds Illinois Police Officer's Death; Kevin McCarthy Criticized over Hillary Clinton Comments; Russia Launches Air Strikes Against All Rebel Groups in Syria; Secret Service Apologizes to Congressman. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired October 1, 2015 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:31:36] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news on Hurricane Joaquin. Now a category-3 storm with winds of 125 miles an hour and gaining strength as we speak. As you can see, it's menacing the Bahamas right now. We just got a forecast a few minutes ago. The latest tracks have it hugging the east coast. If it turns a certain way, if it takes a left-hand turn, it could hit huge population centers, North Carolina, Virginia, all the way up to New Jersey and New York as well. And this just in, the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, has declared a state of emergency in New Jersey to prepare for this storm. Stay tuned.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's on the heels of the Virginia governor also declaring a state of emergency. More and more is coming on this.

We also have more breaking news out of Illinois right now, where a police officer, you remember last month, was shot and killed. But the mystery surrounding his death is still not solved. The officer found dead, launched a manhunt for three suspects, but a lot of questions have swirled around his death.

Let's go live to Ryan Young near Chicago.

A press conference was just held with an update. Ryan, what are you learning now?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, an update for information we've been trying to find for a month. This happened a month ago today, Officer Joe Gliniewicz was killed. They told us today there was a struggle, they confirmed to us there was a struggle at that site and the officer was shot twice with his own weapon. They would not confirm how the struggle happened but they said the first bullet hit him along this area, hit him in his vest. The other bullet, they didn't tell us where, impacted him and that was the fatal wound. There's been a lot of conversation about this. They also talked about the nine DNA samples they found around this area. That's one of the things they're going through right now is to try to find a positive DNA hit. 100 samples throughout this area of people who are not only police officers, but people throughout the community to make sure they can knock off some of the people who may have had contact with him just in general. They believe there was a struggle at this site. No other information in terms of suspects, but after a month, we have more information about this case.

BOLDUAN: Pretty amazing. More information coming out. The mystery is still not solved. It was amazing to learn they took DNA samples, saliva swabs, from other law enforcement officers to try to whittle down the suspects.

Ryan Young on top of it for us. Ryan, thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

YOUNG: And it makes --

BERMAN: Go ahead, Ryan.

BOLDUAN: Go ahead.

YOUNG: It makes no sense the reason they did that because the officers surged into the area after the shooting, so they wanted to eliminate the Fox Lake police officers involved in this investigation.

We do know he spent 20 minutes in the area before making the first call about the three suspects. They believe there was a struggle. The one thing we want to know, what were the signs and struggles? That's something they did not want to detail today. They believe they added extra patrols to the area. They still believe they're searching this as a murder investigation. After you find out about the two shots fired, the first one hitting him like a sledgehammer -- that's how they described it -- so it gives a theory about what happened. So many people have been speculating about what may have happened that day. Some thinking this might have been suicide. With these new bits of information, it seems more like a homicide investigation.

BOLDUAN: Ryan Young, thank you.

[11:35:10] BERMAN: We have news out of Washington this morning. Republicans, many furious at the man who wants to be the next House speaker, Kevin McCarthy. Why? Because of what he said about the Benghazi investigation. He says -- was bragging that it knocked down Hillary Clinton's poll numbers. We'll speak to a member of his own party who now says Kevin McCarthy should not be speaker.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: A huge flurry of criticism this morning for House majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, the man who wants to be speaker of the House for members of his own party. Why? He linked Hillary Clinton's dropping poll numbers to the long-running investigation into the Benghazi attacks. In other words, critics say he made it all sound political.

BOLDUAN: He's Kevin McCarthy from this week. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R), CALIFORNIA: Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? We put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she's untrustable. But nobody would have known that would have happened --

(CROSSTALK)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX HOST, HANNITY: I agree. That's something good. I give you credit for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[11:40:00] BOLDUAN: Let's talk about this. And let's bring in Congressman Thomas Massie joining us from Washington.

Congressman, thank you so much for joining us.

You have said majority leader's comments around helpful, among other things, but Democrats say that what McCarthy said, he's just saying publicly what you all know privately, that it's purely political and that was the whole point. What do you say?

REP THOMAS MASSIE, (R), KENTUCKY: That sounds like -- what Kevin said, sounds like something you would hear in a smoke-filled back room on "House of Cards." It's not appropriate in Congress. Unfortunately, the Democrats are right to criticize him. I would criticize him. I think he owes an apology to the families and probably to Chairman Gowdy because he's diminished the work that Chairman Gowdy has done. I serve on the Oversight Committee. We had Benghazi hearings in our committee. Political considerations were not in our minds when we were standing there -- sitting there, looking at the families behind the witnesses, the families of the lost ones, the ones that were lost there.

BOLDUAN: So this is not political. This committee is not political in its origins at all?

MASSIE: Chairman Gowdy has no political intentions with this committee. In fact, a lot of partisans have complained he hasn't had more public hearings. He's doing the work behind the scenes. He's not trying to make a circus out of it. He's a real prosecutor and he knows how to do the job and that's collecting the facts. That's primarily what he's been doing.

BERMAN: Congressman Massie, hang on one second. It's interesting you called on Kevin McCarthy to apologize to the family members of those killed in Benghazi, not to mention House members as well.

I want to bring in Manu Raju, CNN's chief congressional correspondent.

Because for the first time, we're hearing from the current House speaker, John Boehner, for reaction on McCarthy's comments.

Manu, are you with us?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Yes, I am. John Boehner just released a statement saying the Benghazi Committee was not created for political purposes, had nothing to do with Secretary Clinton and also said it was simply designed to get to the truth of the matter, the heart of the matter on what happened in the tragic 2012 attack that left four Americans dead and what happened there.

The fact the speaker had to come out and make these statements today shows how politically damaging these comments that Kevin McCarthy has made. It's given Democrats fodder to argue this is a political investigation and that the reason Republicans have been doing this all along is to tarnish Hillary Clinton.

And also, it comes at a key time for Kevin McCarthy. He's trying to ascend to become the next House speaker. He appears to be the likely next speaker of the House. But this is something that raises questions about whether he can be an effective messenger for the party. It's something people are starting to question, including Mr. Massie, who also supports McCarthy's opponent. Boehner did not address Kevin McCarthy in his statement. He simply

asserted this was an investigation done to get to the facts but not for political reasons. We'll see if that is able to tamp down the criticism we've been hearing over the last couple of days here, guys.

BERMAN: Manu Raju for us on the phone giving us the news, John Boehner saying the Benghazi panel is not political.

But Congressman Massie, hopefully, you are still with us. You heard Manu say there's a lot of criticism for McCarthy. Now people are wondering if he's the right messenger in the House going forward. Do you think what he said about Benghazi disqualifies him for running for speaker?

MASSIE: I think he needs to re-read the job of the speaker of the House because it's not to denigrate Democrats or to turn our hearings into political charades.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, I want to ask you, you are supportive of Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the congressional investigation, the man leading the charge on this. I've seen statement after statement coming out from Democrats. Harry Reid, top Democrat in the Senate, the latest one saying, "It is unconscionable the U.S. House of Representatives is continuing to use millions of dollars in taxpayer funds for political purposes," in his view. "We urge you to immediately disband the Select Committee on Benghazi."

This is a letter he sent to John Boehner. I'm sure you'll say that is not going to happen and shouldn't happen, but can you put the genie back in the bottle here? It is politically damaging, or John Boehner wouldn't have had to come out to issue a statement just now. Can you put the genie back in the bottle on this?

MASSIE: Our investigation to find the truth for these families should not be the casualty of a political misstatement in the media. Unfortunately, that's what the majority leader did. He's interviewing for the top Republican job position right now and I think he's not doing a good job on this interview. When the spotlight is turned on, his messaging is not on.

[11:45:01] BERMAN: Congressman Massie, thank you for being with us. Really appreciate your time.

MASSIE: Thank you very much, John and Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: We have more breaking news for us AT THIS HOUR. Russia launching a new round of air strikes in Syria. In an admission from the Syria ambassador, the targets go way beyond just ISIS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: A high-stakes meeting is happening right now between United States and Russian military officials. This comes as Russia confirms it launched a second round, a new round of air strikes today in Syria. The Syrian ambassador to Russia has also just confirmed to CNN, admitted, I guess, that the Russian military is attacking all rebel groups, not just ISIS targets.

BERMAN: Now, U.S. officials are accusing Russian fighters to attack those armed and trained by the CIA.

I want to show you the map and show you exactly what's going on in the country. It tells a fascinating story.

CNN global affairs analyst, Bobby Ghosh, joins us right now.

Bobby, let's take a look at this map right here. What you're looking at in the purple is the area controlled by the Syrian regime, the government, Bashar Assad. Those purple dots right there, those are the Russia positions inside Syria.

BOBBY GHOSH, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: That's right.

BERMAN: They are only where Assad is. They are only where Assad is.

[11:50:01] GHOSH: Yeah, they're where they're exposed the least to any kind of outside danger from ISIS or even from the rebels. They're not really in forward positions, which I suppose makes sense if you're basically not committing any serious ground troops. If all you're going to do is bomb the rebel positions, then you want to be bombing them from a safe distance. So, yes, the pink stuff is where the -- Assad continues to rule. This is all mostly ISIS controlled or ISIS influenced territory. No Russians over there.

BOLDUAN: When you look, the red all under ISIS control and ISIS influence. Then you look at where the blasts are. Those are where the Russian air strikes have been over the past two days. That really is not coordinated at all where ISIS is or where ISIS is under control.

GHOSH: This is the point. At the U.N., Putin said the Russian operation was against the terrorists, against ISIS. But if you look at the actions of his troop, that's not where they're hitting. They're mostly hitting -- they're protecting the perimeter of Assad's territory. And the people who are at that perimeter in largest numbers are rebels, not ISIS. They are the rebels that are backed by the West, some al Qaeda positions, but the one group of people who are not here really is ISIS.

BERMAN: Right, if you want to hit ISIS, you go after Raqqa right now, where they're based. You go after the eastern part of the country where they are, near the rivers.

Just to give you a sense of where the U.S. Is hitting and going after ISIS -- this, of course, is Iraq, a ton of air strikes led by the U.S. there. These are where the U.S. air strikes are in Syria, you know, in the eastern part of the country. A different space than what Russia's doing.

GHOSH: Completely. The U.S. strikes sort of -- basically, are in the areas of red where ISIS is. It shows a very, very different priority. The U.S. is out there trying to fight ISIS. Russia is out there trying to protect Assad from the people who represent the greatest danger to him right now, and that is the sort of non-ISIS rebels. That could change, right? They're just -- only just got there. If they feel at a point when the greater threat comes from ISIS, they can pivot to that. They've got planes on the ground. The planes can fly in any direction. Right now, the Russian calculation is that Assad's greatest threat comes from the rebels.

BOLDUAN: You talk about a calculation. It also lays out when you see the coalition air strikes and the Russian air strikes just how complicated and complex and really challenging it is now for -- these two groups need to be coordinating in between -- in all of this.

GHOSH: It's interesting you say that. The Pentagon just announced they are having de-conflicting -- this is a new term, for me, anyway -- de-conflicting talks with the Russians about their different operations in Syria. So the very least you'd hope is that there's conversations taking place between the Pentagon and Russia about the --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: -- at least on a technical level.

BERMAN: The conversation could be, stop hitting our guys trained by the CIA over here.

Bobby Ghosh, thank so much for being with us. Really appreciate your time.

GHOSH: Any time.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the U.S. Secret Service has just issued an apology to a Republican Congressman. Several agents they tried to public embarrass him, or at least talk about it. We're going to talk about that apology. We're also going to talk to a former Secret Service agent about what is going on in the Secret Service right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:57:07] BOLDUAN: New this morning, the man in charge the Secret Service, he's saying I'm sorry, or having to say I'm sorry, again. This time it comes after an investigation found a high-level official in the agency encouraged others in the office to dig up dirt about a congressman, Congressman Jason Chaffetz, and also talked about leaking the information. An inspector general's report found, back in March, 45 Secret Service employees accessed Chaffetz personal information file. At the time, he had been leading an investigation into alleged security lapses involving the Secret Service.

BERMAN: So the report found an assistant director sent out this e- mail. It said, quote, "Some information he might find embarrassing needs to get out just to be fair." Chaffetz had reportedly applied for a job at the Secret Service years ago but was turned down.

Here's Chaffetz on CNN reacting to the story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, (R), UTAH: It's a little bit scary, Secret Service diving into my background as a sitting member of Congress. It's not about me but it is about, what are they doing over there. These people are entrusted with guns by the president, for goodness sake. They're supposed to be the Secret Service. We give them police powers. We give them the ability to dive into confidential information. It's very disconcerting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right, joining us now, Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent.

Jonathan, what the heck is going on here? I mean, the Secret Service reaction to a congressman, whose job it is, by the way, to do oversight, a congressman investigating the Secret Service. Their job is to ham-handedly leak things they thing are somehow embarrassing about this guy?

JONATHAN WACKROW, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: This brings forward a myriad of problems for the Secret Service. It violates the trust and confidence that's put into the agency. Second of all, there's implications that this could have violated federal law. The Secret Service has a real problem on its hands. Leaking this type of information or putting anything out that's in our databases is, you know, a serious problem.

BOLDUAN: Jonathan, Joe Clancy was brought in to fix things. This is a real mess, another mess on his hands after they've had another go- around --

BERMAN: On his watch.

BOLDUAN: -- and a lot of other stuff that had been going well for them recently. He's supposed to fix it. He hasn't.

WACKROW: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Can anyone? WACKROW: Well, Joe Clancy can. He's the director of the Secret

Service. He's driving this bus right now. He has to send a very serious message right now that this type of, you know, activity by his senior management is not going to be tolerated. Listen, this just solidifies the fact that there is management by reprisal within the Secret Service, a long-standing thing that's been known by agents and officers. So Joe Clancy has to get ahead of this problem and say that I will not tolerate this type of behavior.

BERMAN: One of the things that's probably not a good idea is to tick off the congressman who has oversight over your agency.

Jonathan, thank you for being with us.

WACKROW: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Jonathan. Great to see you.

And thank you all so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR.

BERMAN: "Legal View" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.