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Pence Visits DMZ As Tensions Spike With North Korea; Pence To North Korea: "Era Of Strategic Patience Is Over" Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired April 17, 2017 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Happy Easter to you, Christopher. Great to see you. We got a lot of breaking news this morning. Let's get right to it.

All right. John Berman here. The breaking news, Cleveland Police are about to hold a news conference on a manhunt that now spans five states. Residents of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Michigan are being told there's every reason to assume that Steve Stephens -- you're looking at a photo of him right there -- is armed and dangerous.

Now, this man is believed to have posted a video of a murder on Facebook. Police say they just got their first credible lead this morning, a cell phone ping from Erie, Pennsylvania. Again, you're looking at live pictures from a police news conference.

Our Sara Ganim is inside that room. She is covering it there. Meanwhile, Deb Feyerick here with me in New York.

Deb, bring us up to speed on this case.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we know, John, is that there is a massive manhunt under way in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Earlier, a cell phone may have pinged in Erie, Pennsylvania, essentially identifying him in that location, and there's a possibility that he may be headed to New York in order to see relatives. That is according to sources.

Now, 37-year-old Steve Stephens is wanted for allegedly killing a man who was on his way home Sunday from an Easter lunch with his family. He then posted it on Facebook. I think now we are going to the press conference, so let's take a listen.


JENNIFER CIACCIA, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, CLEVELAND DIVISION OF POLICE: -- investigation the Facebook shooter. Speaking this morning will be Mayor Frank Jackson, Chief Calvin Williams, the special agent in charge of the Cleveland office of the FBI, Stephen Anthony, and U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott. Mayor?

MAYOR FRANK JACKSON, CLEVELAND, OHIO: Well, I want to start off by, again, giving our condolence of me personally and the city to the Godwin family. I spoke with a daughter last night, and she is very appreciative of the efforts as we attempt to bring closure and justice to the death of her father.

There is a lot of confusion. And what we want to encourage people to do is not to make up things as they go along, that we will be giving briefings in a way that will keep you updated and give you the facts as we know it.

We have a partnership with the FBI, the U.S. Marshals office, our department, and I imagine, Chief, several other state and county and other municipalities who are working very hard and diligently on this matter. I want the public to know that we are on it, and that we intend to pursue this into its conclusion.

I'll introduce the Chief who then will give you some facts. And then he'll turn it over to our federal partners.

CALVIN WILLIAMS, CHIEF OF POLICE, CLEVELAND DIVISION OF POLICE: Thanks, Mayor. Good morning. As the Mayor stated, we've been on this since it happened yesterday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Some of our partners are here, Mr. Anthony with the FBI, and Pete Elliott, our U.S. Marshal for the northern district. And we've conducted operations, again, unceasingly since this happened yesterday.

Last night, officers searched dozens of locations based on leads, based on investigative information from our team out there that they've uncovered to no avail. We know that Steve is still out there some place. We don't know his condition and, of course, right now, we don't know his location.

We're asking the public to remain vigilant. We're asking you to go about your day but to be careful. We're also asking you if you see anything resembling that vehicle, you have the description of Steve Stephens, to give us a call. Call 911.

Mr. Anthony will talk about the FBI's tip line also in this investigation. But we want people to know that a lot of the things that are streaming out there, be it on social media of any kind, if you really need information on what's going on, give us a call; or if you have information, give us a call. We don't want people to panic.

So far, unfortunately, there's been one fatality, one homicide, in this entire scenario. And we want to keep it that way. We're still asking Steve to turn himself in, but if he doesn't, we'll find him. We have our federal partners here. We have our state and local county partners, and we're not going to stop until he's in custody.

So with that, I'm going to bring up Steve Anthony with the Cleveland office of the FBI. Steve?

STEPHEN ANTHONY, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE OF CLEVELAND DIVISION, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: Thanks, Chief. Good morning, everyone. Rest assured that under the leadership of Mayor Jackson and Chief Williams and the Cleveland Division of Police, all federal, state, and local partners are working side by side to do everything humanly possible to find Mr. Stephens.

[09:05:03] As the Chief mentioned, obviously, this individual is armed and dangerous. And quite frankly, at this point, he could be a lot of places. He could be nearby, he could be far away, anywhere in between. So, again, if anyone has any of the information that's out there as far as seeing him, seeing his vehicle, when in doubt, obviously, call 911. But we also have the availability of an FBI call number, 1-800-CALL-FBI.

So that's a national tip line that is set up that anyone throughout the country could call in if they have any reason to believe that they see anything related to Mr. Stephens, to call that number, and the information will get to all the appropriate authorities that, again, are working this case, side by side, in a very organized and coordinated matter.

Also, recently, in an effort to get the information out there -- and, again, you all are doing a great job of getting anything and everything out there -- on the billboards throughout Ohio and throughout the contiguous states, we're going to have information up about Mr. Stevens, his picture, his description, his vehicle.

Again, to plea with the public, if they see something, obviously, say something and make that call either to 911 or CALL FBI. As the Chief and the Mayor said so clearly, I mean, the goal here -- obviously, I'm going to turn it over to Marshal Elliott -- is to find Mr. Stephens before any other crimes are committed.

We need to take this individual off the street. You all know that, and again, rest assured that we're using any and all resources to work this, not just in the Cleveland area, but throughout the United States to, again, locate this individual as soon as possible. And with, I'm going to turn it over to Marshal Elliott. Pete?

PETE ELLIOTT, UNITED STATES MARSHAL FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO: I'll be brief. I just want to thank everybody for that partnership. It seems like yesterday or probably a couple months ago, we were doing the same thing here on a different case. The Chief called last night and asked us to us come in and assist on this warrant.

You know, we're going to be in tandem with the FBI and Cleveland Police and all our agencies across America. And we're going to make this individual's world very, very, very small. So I'm very optimistic. I think things are going to happen, and I believe things are going to happen pretty quickly.

WILLIAMS: Before we start taking questions, I neglected to put this information out there. If there's somebody that's helping Steve or if you think you're helping Steve, you're really not. You're going to get yourself in trouble, along with him.

The only way for you to help him is to give us the information, to bring him in safely, peacefully. So if you are a friend or family member and you have contact with Steve, and you think you're helping him, the only way to help him is to give us the information or talk to him and convince him into turning himself in.

With that, we'll take some questions.

CIACCIA: The Go Fund Me accounts too.

WILLIAMS: Oh, I'm sorry. Also, we've gotten word from Mr. Godwin's family that there are several Go Fund Me accounts set up not by the family, so they're asking people not to contribute to any Go Fund Me or any memorial or any account right now in Mr. Godwin's name. The family will make an announcement later on today on how they want that to work, so if you are online or if you see an account out there in the name of Mr. Godwin, please, at this time, do not contribute to that account.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As far as you know, where is this latest location, and any truth cell phone pinging in Erie, Pennsylvania?

WILLIAMS: Well, as far as we know right now, we don't know where he's at. The last location we actually had him at was at the homicide, at 93rd Street, just north of St. Claire. Anything else right now is kind of speculation. Again, we have an investigations going all over this country trying to pinpoint his actual location.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the suspect have a record? Was he known to the police?

WILLIAMS: He had no, per se, criminal record. He did have a lot of motor vehicle violations, traffic violations, but no criminal record to speak of.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about his girlfriend that he, apparently, was talking about the murder with?

WILLIAMS: We don't know if she's a girlfriend or not, but there are several people in this investigation that we've talked to, including the female that was mentioned, and they've all cooperated so far.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where is she now?

WILLIAMS: Well, we can't tell you where she's at but she's safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you guys make contact with Mr. Stephens since he's been on the run? Have you tried to (inaudible)?

WILLIAMS: Early in this investigation, we did have contact with him, direct contact with our detectives. They tried to, of course, convince him to turn himself in and, of course, that hasn't happened to date.

[09:10:00] So, again, we're asking the public's help in finding this guy. We know he's out there someplace. We talked to him via cell phone. Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you see this (inaudible) detectives are saying about his mindset?

WILLIAMS: No, I haven't talked to detectives to that extent about, you know, his mindset. Obviously, he's got deep, deep issues. And whether he was calm or not, he committed a heinous crime in the city, and we want him off the streets as soon as possible. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How is his family reacting? Are they helping

you at all?

WILLIAMS: We've talked to the family. We haven't had anybody try to obstruct us in this investigation so far. And that's why I want to make sure people understand, to aid a felon is a felony crime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief, what have police done to check out the claims that he made that they were other homicides?

WILLIAMS: We've searched --


BERMAN: All right. You've been watching a news conference from Cleveland with the Cleveland Police, the FBI, and U.S. Marshals Service. The headline from this news conference is Steve Stephens, the suspected killer you see there on your screen on the left, officials say he is armed and dangerous and could be a lot of places.

I want to bring in CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Cedric Alexander with me, along with Deb Feyerick.

And, Cedric, thank you so much for being with us. I think this news conference wasn't as much for us, the media, as for them, law enforcement. They want to get his picture out there. They want to get the message out there, we need help.

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR, DEKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, certainly. The Chief there and the Mayor are certainly providing a great deal of leadership to that community by making sure that they keep that community updated in terms of what they know, as long as it does not jeopardize the investigation that they're moving forward with.

You also see collaboration there with both the feds and with state and other law enforcement agencies. And that is crucially important, but one thing that's going to be really important here is the community. If they hear something, if they say something, it broadens the law enforcement net. It puts us all working together to try to find this subject because he certainly needs to be taken off the street as soon as possible.

BERMAN: And, Deb Feyerick, that message explicit from law enforcement there. They said, you may think you're helping Steve Stevens right now. If you think you are helping him, you are not. You could be in legal jeopardy and you could be putting him in further danger.

FEYERICK: Absolutely. And they're also committing a felony if they're helping him. But a couple of things, first of all, the office where he worked, they're closed for today. He has threatened to kill other people, so they are closed. Apparently, he's a social worker at a behavioral center in Cleveland.

Also, the reason for this, apparently, he was angry at a woman he identifies as a girlfriend. They apparently were together for three years. Police will not say whether, in fact, this is his girlfriend. However, they do say that she is safe.

So he's work is essentially closed. The girlfriend is being hidden, for all intents and purposes. They don't want to give him access to any individuals that he may want to seek retaliation on, and so there's a massive manhunt under way. Police really want him to turn himself in.

He's threatened to kill other people and said that he actually had killed other people. But right now, there's only that one gentleman, Robert Godwin, who was on his way home from an Easter meal with his family. The family, clearly distraught. And they were speaking earlier today, and they say they just don't know how they're going to live without him.

BERMAN: Cedric, this horrifying murder appears to be random, which is not something you see that often in crimes like this. Often, you know, the criminal knows his victim or her victim there. This seems to be random. Does that make this person more dangerous as he's on the run right now?

ALEXANDER: Absolutely, it makes him dangerous. Generally, what you will find with crimes involving people, particularly where there's a death, there's severe injury, generally, people know each other or have had some relationship or acquaintance. This was clearly, just looking at the video there, you could see this was just clearly a random shooting. It was horrific.

This is a very disturbed individual, and an individual as well, too, that I truly believe is just totally detached from any reality. That is what makes him really, really dangerous because he clearly has no regard for human life, whatsoever.

BERMAN: And he is on the run right now. The message from law enforcement, go about your day but be vigilant. Not just in one place, not just for Cleveland, but also for the parts of the border of Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Michigan. He could be anywhere right now.

Cedric Alexander, Deb Feyerick, thank you so much for being with us. Again, a manhunt under way for Steve Stephens on the run this morning. If you see him or his white Ford Fusion, authorities want you to call 911.

About a quarter past the hour for us. Escalating tensions with North Korea. CNN has an exclusive interview with the Vice President, who says the administration is running out of patience.

Plus a new job on a new bench? For him, at least. The new junior justice of the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, takes his seat today. What big cases are on the docket, and what strange responsibilities does he now have?

[09:15:08] Plus, so national security might not be at stake here but something sure is. Easter credibility. You're looking at live pictures from the south lawn of the White House as the first family faces its first Easter egg roll and believe it or not, this event not without controversy. We'll hear from the president live soon from the south lawn, coming up.


BERMAN: We have more breaking news this morning, overnight standing just a few feet from North Korean soldiers in a CNN exclusive, Vice President Mike Pence issued a new warning to the North Korean regime. In a visit to the DMZ, just hours after a failed North Korean missile launch, he warned that this White House may not show the restraint of past administrations.


[09:20:04]MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to abandon the failed policy of strategic patience, but we're going to redouble our efforts to bring diplomatic and economic. Our hope is that we can resolve this issue peaceably.


BERMAN: Our Dana Bash traveling with the vice president is in Seoul, South Korea -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: John, it is always tense when anybody visits the DMZ here on the Korean Peninsula, but especially now when the vice president of the United States goes amidst all this saber rattling.


BASH: You said that the era of strategic patience is over. What does that mean in real terms?

PENCE: It was the policy of the United States of America during prior administrations to practice what they called strategic patience and that was to hope to marshal international support to bring an end to the nuclear ambitions and the ballistic missile program of North Korea.

That clearly has failed, and the advent of nuclear weapons testing, the development of a nuclear program, even this weekend, to see another attempt at a ballistic missile launch, all confirms the fact that strategic patience has failed.

BASH: But what does it mean to end it in practical terms? It's either use military force or find a diplomatic solution that has eluded all of your predecessors.

PENCE: Well, I think as the president's made clear that we're abandon the failed policy of strategic patience, but we're going to redouble our efforts to bring economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea. Our hope is that we can resolve this issue peaceably. And I know the president was heartened by I had discussions with President Xi. We've seen China begin to take some actions to bring pressure on North Korea, but there needs to be more.

BASH: And you know, this is real for you, that there are estimates that North Korea could have a missile ready that could hit the continental U.S., Seattle, by 2020, which is going to be on your watch. Is that weighing on you and is that a deadline that you all have in mind?

PENCE: I know the president of the United States has no higher priority than the safety and security of the American people. The presence of U.S. forces in South Korea longstanding commitment to the Asia-Pacific and ensuring the security of the continental United States will remain the priority of this administration.

But look, we want to be clear, our hope and frankly our prayer is that, by marshalling the resources of nations across the Asia-Pacific, not just South Korea and Japan, other allies, and China, to bring renewed pressure to bear, will achieve our goal of a nuclear free Korean Peninsula.

But the people in North Korea should make no mistake that the United States of America and our allies will see to the security of this region and see to the security of the people of our country.

BASH: I know we're running late. I have to ask about your dad. I just heard you say that General Brooks gave you some information about his service here. He was awarded the bronze star. What did you learn and how does it feel to be here in an area that is still at war effectively? Only an armistice, still at war for 67 years.

PENCE: It's very meaningful for me and my family to be here so many years after my father's experience.


BASH: Right there standing 100 feet from North Korean soldiers inside the DMZ, the vice president sounded a little bit more focused on a diplomatic approach and solution to this crisis.

Few hours later he was standing next to the acting South Korean president, and sounded far more robust in terms of a potential military solution.

He said explicitly that the North Koreans should remember that this president in the early days of his administration used military action against Syria, against Afghanistan and that they should keep that in mind the president's, quote, "resolve" in focusing how much the president and this administration, really the world wants North Korea to finally step down with regard to its nuclear process -- John.

BERMAN: Dana Bash, amazing pictures at the DMZ, fascinating interview, thanks so much, Dana.

With me now Nicholas Burns, former undersecretary of stare of state and U.S. ambassador to NATO, and Retired Colonel Frank Francona, a CNN military analyst.

Ambassador, let me start with you. We just heard the vice president say the era of strategic patience is over, what does that mean exactly? What is strategic impatience? [09:25:05]NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Well, I think the administration is clearly signaling frustration that the diplomatic processes of the past, including of the Obama and Bush administrations have not succeeded, and they're right to be concerned about what North Korea's doing and this possibility in the next four or five years North Korea might be able to have a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the west coast of the United States.

However, if you listen carefully to the vice president's words, including to the words of General McMaster yesterday on the Sunday programs, the administration is not signaling any kind of preemptive American strike on North Korea.

I think they're repeating the fact of past administrations that the U.S. would defend South Korea and Japan and American forces from any North Korean attack, but the vice president said they're looking for stronger diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea. This is a signal to China that China needs to do more. I think the real intended message here is for Beijing.

BERMAN: Let's play some of those words you were just talking about right there. Dana was talking about the end of her piece because they seemed to be a little bit at odds internally and perhaps externally. Let's listen to the vice president give what appears to be a warning to North Korea. Let's listen to that.


PENCE: Just in the past two weeks the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan. North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region.


BERMAN: We just shot missiles in Syria, dropped bombs in Afghanistan, a clear message there but, Colonel, the National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster had this to say. Listen.


LT. GENERAL H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: So it's time for us to undertake all actions we can short of a military option to try to resolve this peacefully.


BERMAN: So he seemed to contradict, Colonel, who the vice president had said. Yes, there were missile strikes in Syria and Afghanistan, but the national security adviser says we want to stop short of a military response.

LT. COLONEL RICK FRANCONA (RETIRED), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, I think that's a wise thing. If you look totally different situations even I think the vice president may have gotten ahead of himself and General McMaster may be pulling that back. You know, if you look at what happened in Syria and Afghanistan those are ongoing conflicts. In Afghanistan American forces already engaged. What you were talking about in Korea is starting another military confrontation that we don't need.

So I think that we're looking for that diplomatic and economic solution, although you have to say that hasn't worked so far, but really, no one wants to get into a shooting war over this issue.

BERMAN: No, it doesn't appear you can accomplish a surgical strike in North Korea. Ambassador Burns, you brought up the idea of pressuring China. Listen to what the president has been writing about this. He's talking about tying trade negotiations with China, with the North Korea issue.

He says, "Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they're working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens." Have you seen signs, Ambassador, that this pressure that the administration is trying to put on China, so China pressures North Korea, any signs that's working?

BURNS: No. I think we've got seen signs that it's working. The Chinese are very frustrated with North Korea. They don't like Kim Jong-un. They don't treat him the way they did other heads of government, but they are not willing, in my judgment, to impose draconian sanctions like say cutting off all coal purchases from North Korea, cutting off food shipments to North Korea, because they fear one thing more than the status quo.

The Chinese fear the dissolution of North Korea, refugees into China, and the united Korean Peninsula that would be aligned with the United States. So President Bush found out, President Obama found out and I'm afraid that President Trump is going to find out that the Chinese are sympathetic but they're not willing to go the extra mile to help the United States.

In fact the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson today counseled mutual restraint on the United States and North Korea. They did not come down solely on North Korea and I think president Trump's Twitter diplomacy ought to be rethought. It's very simplistic. It risks sending the wrong message to North Korea. I think quiet diplomacy and military strength are the order of the day here.

BERMAN: All right, Ambassador Nicholas Burns, Lieutenant General Francona, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it, Gentlemen.

So new jobs can be challenging. How about when your new co-workers are Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas? The junior justice, Neil Gorsuch, takes his seat on the Supreme Court in just a few minutes. Stick around.