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Nationwide Manhunt Intensifies for Murder Suspect; Trump Administration's Tough Talk on North Korea; Won't Get "Rooked". Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired April 18, 2017 - 06:30   ET


SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): -- states that the alleged killer is considered armed and dangerous.

[06: 30:04] CHIEF CALVIN WILLIAMS, CLEVELAND POLICE DEPARTMENT: We're still asking Steve to turn himself in. But if he doesn't, we'll find him.

GANIM: Cleveland's mayor announcing $50,000 reward for information leading to Stephens arrest. After reports of a citing and a possible cell phone ping in Pennsylvania turned up false.

Stephens on the run after shooting and killing 74-year-old Robert Godwin and posting a video of the crime on Facebook, prompting horrified neighbors to call 911.

DISPATCHER: Listen, this is Cleveland EMS.

CALLER: Oh Lord, he's dead.

DISPATCHER: OK, ma'am, listen to me.

CALLER: He's laying there.

DISPATCHER: Ma'am, what's your address?

CALLER: Oh Lord have mercy. Oh, my God.

GANIM: Seconds before the killing, Stephens asked Godwin to say the name of a woman telling him she's the reason why this is about to happen to you. That woman says she is overwhelmed by the tragedy, telling CBS News, "Steve really is a nice guy. He is generous with everyone he knows. He was kind and loving to me and my children."

Police confirming that they did make contact with Stephens after the shooting, remarking that he has deep, deep issues.

WALTER MADISON, FRATERNITY BROTHER OF STEVE STEPHENS: Steve, if you can hear this, understand there are people who care and we really want to make sure that you are safe, that you get the help that you need.

GANIM: The victim's family grieving their unspeakable loss.

TONYA GODWIN BAINES, ROBERT GODWIN'S DAUGHTER: Each one of us forgive the killer, the murderer. We want to wrap our arms around him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We absolutely do.

If I didn't know him as my God and my savior, I could not forgive that man. I feel no animosity against him at all. I actually feel sadness in my heart for him. I do. I feel real sadness.

BAINES: All of us.


GANIM: Today, Stephens employer Beech Brook behavioral health agency, where he worked as vocational specialist remains closed out of concern for the safety of its employees -- Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Sara, thank you so much.

Gosh, that family's message is so profound. We're going to be speaking with them later in the program. It gets you every time that so soon, even while he's on the run, they are able to forgive him.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Power of faith. They believe in a higher power set of expectations for their own life. It does somewhat free victim families sometimes from that bond of hatred with the person who took their loved one.

CAMEROTA: All right. We are going to speak with them in our 8:00 hour. So, stick around for that.

CUOMO: All right. So, the U.S. Supreme Court rejecting Arkansas's request to begin a series of eight inmate executions later this month. The high court deciding to leave the state Supreme Court's stay of execution in place blocking the planned lethal injection of convicted killer Don Davis. Arkansas wanted to fast-track the executions before its lethal injection supply expires. Two of executions are still scheduled for Thursday night.

CAMEROTA: All right. Ahead, the White House delivered a warning to North Korea.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The era of strategic patience is over.


CAMEROTA: OK. What exactly does that mean? Did the White House just draw some line in the sand? We discuss with our experts, next.


[06:37:10] CAMEROTA: Vice President Mike Pence is in Japan this morning, trying to reassure that key ally about the increased tensions over North Korea. The Trump administration is delivering a message to the reclusive regime. But what does this message mean? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: The era of strategic patience is over.

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The policy of strategic patience has ended.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The era of strategic patience was a policy that the Obama administration enacted to basically wait and see. I think we have now understood that that policy is not one that is prudent for the United States.


CAMEROTA: OK. Joining us now is Gordon Chang. He's the author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World". He's also a columnist for "Daily Beast."

Gordon, great to have you here with us in studio.

So, they are on the same page which you don't hear from Mr. Trump's cabinet. So, the era of strategic patience is over. So, what does that mean?

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN": I think it means that it's sort of more of the same as we've seen now as the Obama policy, but it's maybe much more of the same, really being much more intensive.

The one area where I think that they may diverge and they have given hints talking to the press on background, is they are talking about secondary sanctions on Chinese entities and banks for participation in North Korea's illicit Congress, but that's doing to take a big act of political will. We don't know if they are going forward on that.

CAMEROTA: But that's how you interpret patience being over, means possibly more sanctions, not any sort of military action, right?

CHANG: Yes, what we have seen is really what the Obama administration and Bush administration before that did. So, for instance, the USS Carl Vinson strike group, which is the aircraft carrier, three destroyers and a cruiser are going into the Sea of Japan. It's a little bit different this time, relates to Pence in Tokyo, Japanese destroyers are also going to participate in those exercises.

That's critical because that's a message not only to North Korea but also to China that U.S. and Japan will actually cooperate on a military level and two navies will work together.

CUOMO: Right. And to be fair to Gordon, a little bit of it is guesswork because there's been no policy articulated. We don't know what the differences is if there is one. What is it and in a material way.

Dana, you're seeing this play out real time with the vice president in Asia. You're talking whether or not the difference between strategic patience and this new maximum pressure and engagement, how that's going to play out? What's your sense of being with the president?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That it's really unclear, that certainly they in the administration led by the vice president here in Asia and Japan today as you mentioned have made a calculation that they need to be tougher with regard to their rhetoric vis-a-vis North Korea and saying explicitly they are breaking from the policies of the past administrations.

[06:40:04] But it is still really unclear how that is going to play out in reality. I tried to ask the vice president about it yesterday, what does it mean in practical terms, didn't get a real answer, because, you know, as we know, the notion of putting pressure on North Korea by using China, for example, and using their leverage to pressure North Korea, that's not new.

At the end of the day, the question, and probably the hard truth, is that North Korea does not want to give up its nuclear program. It is what they are about. It is their culture and obviously they have devised it to be their culture, the center of their culture, to be as militaristic as possible. So, it's still -- they are trying to feel it out and that's really the truth of the answer.

CAMEROTA: So, Gordon, North Korea is saying some ominous things. Their ambassador to the U.N. says they are going to launch weekly missile tests now. They also said, they warned that thermonuclear war could happen at any time.

You've studied this region and this regime, what does work with them?

CHANG: I think the only thing that does work is the U.S. administration basically signaling they are going to put the disarmament of North Korea at the top of the foreign priority list. We haven't done that for very long time, not since 1994. Only until we do that can we then marshal all the elements of U.S. power.

And I think this is a message to Beijing, especially during Bush administration from 2003 on, we put our relations with China above disarming North Korea. North Koreans saw that. If we reverse those priorities, I think we can actually come to a solution.

CAMEROTA: But doesn't it seem as though President Trump is again doing that? I mean, in terms of now, he says he has such good chemistry with President Xi of China, that seems more important or no?

GORDON: Yes. Well, I think that that's the means to an end. We're going to see how long the Chinese cooperate. I think they work with us for the last couple of weeks. The issue is not two weeks but a much longer period of time. Until we actually start stopping proliferation of China to North Korea, will we actually have a good basis of cooperation with the Chinese?

CUOMO: That's the piece Trump wasn't dealing with during the campaign. During the campaign, it was -- they are raping us with their currency, which by the way wasn't true. It hasn't true for about a year, but it played well. Now, he's in a big chair. And, oh, wow, these guys have a lot to do with North Korea. Gee, I

don't have the leverage I thought I did. Let me take it easy here. Now he's got great chemistry with the president of China in his own estimation. They are working with us, so it's okay. The complexity seems to be tying the president's hands.

BASH: Absolutely. You know, I think in some ways, the president and his aides thinks they have leverage with China because of his tough talk on the economic side against China during the campaign. The idea being that because the threat was there to really try to hurt China economically, that that would be the stick and maybe a second stick instead of a carrot now that North Korea is front and center. Maybe we won't do that right now, what you saw with currency manipulation.

So, they think they have more leverage with China, but I agree with Gordon. I mean, good luck with that. Let's hope they are right.

CUOMO: Dana Bash, Gordon Chang, appreciate the perspective as always.

All right. Another topic, sports. Playoffs can bring out the best in postgame rants. For example, the Memphis Grizzlies coach going scorched earth on the rest last night.

The Memphis Grizzlies coach going scorched-earth on the refs last night. What did he say?

CAMEROTA: Where did he go?

CUOMO: What did he say with that hand slap? He walked off in disgust. But, look, who is walking in? Best head in the business, Coy Wire, special guest.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS: How are you doing?

Wait until you see this, this rant. These guy was so --


[06:47:33] CUOMO: All right. Memphis Grizzlies basketball coach David Fizdale can expect a hefty fine because of his tirade following last night's playoff loss to the Spurs. What did he say? What did it mean?

Coy Wire is in the House with "The Bleacher Report".

So important you had to be on set. What do we know?

WIRE: Yes, glad to be here with you guys.


WIRE: Wait until we see this. Grizzlies' loss to the Spurs down 2-0 in their best of seven series. And Spurs were machine like. Kawhi Leonard rolled in at 37 points.

But here's the thing, more than half the points came from foul shots, officials gave the Spurs as a team more than double the amount of foul shot attempt.

So, Grizzlies coach David Fizdale there, he was not happy. And he goes off the officials saying there was a lack of respect.

Watch this.


DAVID FIZDALE, GRIZZLIES HEAD COACH: My guys dug in that game, earned the right to be in that game. They did not even give us a chance.

Take that for data.


WIRE: Getting saucy. Did you see that blood boiling?

I've got to share a good story. Girls can't run in the Boston marathon, that's what Kathrine Switzer was up 50 years ago, nearly run off the road by the director of the marathon she kept on running becoming the first woman to officially run the race.

Yesterday at 70 years old very pinned on her iconic bib 261 one more time. This time nothing but love and support. This was her 40th marathon. Guys, she finished in 4:44. That's only 24 minutes slower than she ran 50 years ago.

Faster than Cuomo could ever dream of running, myself as well.

They are going to retire her number. She was averaging 10-minute miles.


WIRE: Seventy years old, she looks incredible.

CAMEROTA: Running must work. Look at her. That is a great story.

CUOMO: Ten-minute mile is relevant. For all you guys on the treadmill, you know, when you put it at six, that's the pace she ran for the entire marathon at 70 years old. She looks great. Great story.

WIRE: Retiring her number, she's icon. She's a super woman. Love it.

CAMEROTA: That's great. Coy, great to see you.

CUOMO: Looks even better in person, I want you to know that.

CAMEROTA: OK, listen to this. He's known for peddling conspiracy theories and fake news, but is Alex Jones a fake himself? What the controversial radio host's own lawyer now claims about Alex Jones and it will leave President Trump and millions of others surprised.

[06:50:00] CUOMO: Put back that pondering shot of Alex Jones where he's --


CUOMO: He is a controversial radio host. He's got millions of followers. He's known for promoting wild conspiracy theories through his website Info Wars. You've heard of Alex Jones.

But have you heard, that according to his own counsel, he is playing a character. This happened during a custody hearing. He and his former wife talking about -- arguing about who should have the kids and under what conditions.

Reportedly, his lawyer told the court Jones is a, quote, "performance artist."

Let's bring in CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and Alan Dershowitz, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School.

Why would we bring in the big legal guns for this? Because the truth is going to have an implication either in court or in the court of public opinion with what he does. Maybe both.

Professor, how do you see this playing out now?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, it's ironic. If he can persuade the court that he's a total phony, he wins custody of his kids.

CUOMO: Now, why does he want to do that in court, by the way?

DERSHOWITZ: Because that wife has said that he's his treating his children by exposing at home, because he does his programs at home, to this wild conspiracy theory, where there's no such thing as truth and he's out of control and screams at people and that's not the way to bring up children.

[06:55:02] By the way, she could win on that even if he prevails on the fact he's play acting, if he's play acting in front of the kids in a way that's damaging to them, it could have an impact.

Look, I don't think kids should be taken away from parents based on their parents' political views, except in very extreme cases. But he's put himself in a very difficult situation by acknowledging in court that he's play acting. His viewers don't want to hear that.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I did a piece for "The New Yorker" last year about a lawsuit where Hulk Hogan sued Gawker for running a sex tape, and he won. A big part of his case was Hulk Hogan is a character I play. I am Terry Bollea. Terry Bollea was hurt by release of this sex tape.

So, there is precedent of going to jurors or to courts and saying, look, I play a character. But the real me is different.

Now, the problem is, Donald Trump, who is the president of the United States as you may remember, has said Alex Jones is a very important voice.

CUOMO: His reputation is amazing he said on this show. And I will not let you down.

That's where this gets interesting.

TOOBIN: Of course.

CUOMO: You're right. We don't like if we can avoid on the show trafficking in people's personal situations that are outside the ambit of what they do at work. Jones, he has the right to his own private life, and we hope everything goes well for his kids.

But he's a phony? There are people who hang on his words. The attacks I get, Professor, when you encroach on questioning Alex Jones. If he's a phony, what would that mean?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, first of all he's going to argue I'm not a phony, I'm just an exaggerator. I play one on television. But he said I believe this to the depth of my feelings. I believe --

CUOMO: Then he's in a bind. If he does supposedly, I didn't check it myself, because I don't listen to Alex Jones. But he supposedly went on the show and said something a little different, tried to salvage. If he does do that, now he's got a problem, right? He's got to lose somewhere to win somewhere else.

DERSHOWITZ: That's exactly right.

Look, to his credit, he seems to be putting his kids in front of his career. You've got to give the guy credit for that.

CUOMO: Putting his kids in front of his career. If that's what he does, what do you think of that? What do you think it will mean to him, by the way, not legally, but what does it mean to him if he comes out and says, yes, I'm a phony, I do performance art, do you think it changes his public radio status?

TOOBIN: I think what we've learned in the past year or so about public statements and people making false statements is people believe what they want to believe. I don't think it will have any impact on Alex Jones as a radio --

CUOMO: None?

TOOBIN: I don't know about zero but basically none. People who listen to him, they want to believe his conspiracy theories. They will say this conversation among the three of us is just the media being, you know, being critical who is a truth teller.

People believe that they want to believe, especially in these heightened situations.

CUOMO: If I'm the wife's counsel on that one, I would say he's a performance audience that makes it worse. He's playing to the vulnerable, these people who believe in these conspiracy people. That's the kind of agency you want around children, no thanks. That would be a strong argument.

DERSHOWITZ: It would be a strong argument, but courts are reluctant to take kids away from their parents, except in extreme --

CUOMO: But how much you get to see theme?

DERSHOWITZ: Yes, he could be a very good parent, even though he's a bad person, even though he does some terrible things in terms of the news, he could be a descent parent. That's what the court is going to have to say.

Going to have to take the politics out of this. The courts are going to have to say, what if this guy was an extreme leftist? Are we going to take kids away because we don't like the way he presents himself in the media.

CUOMO: Important parallel. Now, I left very little time because I think the next one will take much time. The idea of suing President Trump for being out of line and becoming aggressive and violent at one of his rallies. Is there any chance for this lawsuit?


CUOMO: He's saying, Trump made me do it. He made me do it. It's kind of these fighting words.

DERSHOWITZ: The devil made me do it, the devil made me do it.

TOOBIN: It's also just if you listen to what Trump said, he did not encourage violence by this man. He did what I think his lawyers said, he called for security to throw people out.

Now, could Trump have handled the situation in a more calm way? Exactly. That's why we have First Amendment so people can say things we disapprove of, but we don't --

DERSHOWITZ: But he's going to lose the first part of the case. That is he's going to lose the argument that because he's president, he doesn't get to be sued while he's in office. I think he's right about that morally and I think the Supreme Court was wrong even though it was 9-0. The law is the law. In the Clinton case they said a president, sitting president, can be sued for acts that occurred before he was president.

CUOMO: That's probably more important than anything else in this case. Gentlemen, you make us better. Thank you.

We have an interview with Democratic congressional candidate from Georgia who is getting the attention of President Trump in a big way. So what do you say? Let's get after it.