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Report: WH Says Did Not Mislead on Armada Movement; Dems Narrowly Miss Victory in Georgia Special Election; Fresno Police Say 3 White Men Killed in Hate Crime. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired April 19, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] JOHN KIRBY, ADMIRAL (RET.), FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Obviously, it's a little embarrassing when the impression was left. It's embarrassing that it didn't happen quite as fast as people had been led to believe it would. But I've got to tell you, if I'm in Pyongyang, there's a lot more military presence in the region that I'm going to be more immediately concerned about. We have almost 30,000 troops on the peninsula there. We have other bases around the region, closer. Frankly, closer than the carrier is. That can also bring military might to bear. So, the carrier is an important aspect and we do use carriers forward deployed to deter and to try to send strong messages but there's actually much more military power in the region already that is permanently based.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's talk Iran before I let you go. Rex Tillerson saying that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal but questions whether sanctions should continue, to be lifted given their continued support to terrorism. How do you see it?

KIRBY: Well, the way I read his letter is they were going to question the sanctions that were part of the deal.


KIRBY: And that's a real problem because it was the sanctions, those in particular, that brought Iran to the table in the first place. And lifting the sanctions is part of the deal. So, if we're going to hypothetically lift those sanctions, we're going to be out of compliance with the deal. If we lift those sanctions, we are out of compliance. That gives the hard liners in Iran to say, see, told you. You can't trust the Americans. We need to scrap this deal and then we're off to the races. Whatever the problems are in the middle east, they are not going to get any easier with a nuclear armed Iran and the deal was never intended to completely bring Iran to heal. It was only intended to stop their nuclear program and it has done that. It doesn't mean that they are going to stop sponsoring terrorist networks. They are. There are other sanctions in place, unilaterally in the U.S. and multi-laterally through the U.N. to deal with her state sponsorship of terrorism. We have a robust military presence in the region. To try to tinker with these nuclear-related sanctions could undo the deal itself which makes for a more dangerous middle east.

BALDWIN: Admiral Kirby, thank you. The President patting himself on the back for the race in Georgia

where a Democrat fell short of winning outright. So, will the Republican want the president's help moving ahead?


BALDWIN: Remember that Congressional race that has the nation asking what it means for President Trump's future, Jon Ossoff nearly won a runoff. The sixth Congressional belonged to Tom Price who left to join the President's cabinet and now Ossoff will go up against Handel in a June runoff. She received a phone call from the President congratulating her and gave himself a pat on the back with this tweet. "Despite major outside money, fake media support, big r win and runoff in Georgia. Glad to be of help." The President also made a robo-call against Ossoff. The press secretary said this a while ago.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They came up short. If you look of what it was Presidentially, it tracks. This was a big loss for them.


BALDWIN: Spicer says the President is open to campaigning for Handel. Listen to her response when asked if she considered President Trump as an asset to her campaign.


KAREN HANDEL, CANDIDATE FOR HOUSE SEAT, GEORGIA: We are all, including the very good ten other Republican candidates, we are all going to be united because we know what our job is over the next 60 days.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Very quickly, President Trump only won there by 1 percentage point. Are you certain that he will be an asset for you in the district?

HANDEL: Again, it is all Republicans, all hands, on deck. We are going to be united.


BALDWIN: Greg Bluestein is with us, with the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Good to see you. You have been covering this race and will be up until June. In this red district, this wasn't just Tom Price's seat, it was Newt Gingrich's seat. What is Karen Handel's play in June? Does she take discrete steps away from Trump?

GREG BLUESTEIN, REPORTER, ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION: I don't think so. She indicated that she will not be running away from Donald Trump and that actually he's coming to Atlanta for a convention next week and there may be a possibility of a stump speech there for Karen Handel and for Donald Trump at that event. [15:40:00] I don't think she'll be running away from Trump although as

we saw last night, the candidates who are running as pro-Trump loyalists got trounced. It is a risky gamut to run as a pro-Trump loyalist when he only had tepid support.

BALDWIN: As fired up as the base seems to be and all of the money that's poured into this race, they lost the seat in Kansas and now this June election is going to be tough.

BLUESTEIN: It will be tough. And the odds are steep for Jon Ossoff to flip this district. The demographics go firmly against him. Tom Price won the district by 62 percent of the vote. But Ossoff was able to raise $8 million plus and ended up driving up turnout. He got about 48 percent of the vote. Now, to do the whole thing again, to have round two and try to replay that is going to be difficult to keep his supporters energized and enthusiastic.

BALDWIN: Hope you have a big mailbox because June is some ways away. Thank you very much.

BLUESTEIN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Still ahead, a shocking alleged hate crime in California. Three men shot and killed apparently because they were all white. One of the victims leaves behind two young children. We'll talk to his best friend. Next.


BALDWIN: Police in Fresno, California, charging a man they say the victims were all white men and the accused shooter, Kori Muhammad. An acquaintance said people feared him. When he was arrested, he shouted out Allahu Akbar, meaning god is great. But they are not calling this heinous act terrorism.


JERRY DYER, CHIEF, FRESNO POLICE: We looked at this Facebook, we know that he has some posts that says he does not like white people and also in that post, that he has expressed anti-government sentiments.


BALDWIN: One of the victims here was shot while walking away from Catholic Charities. He had a bag of food in his hands. His mother tells CNN his kids are just devastated.


ROSIE WAGNER, MOTHER OF FRESNO SHOOTING VICTIM: He had a heart of gold. He had two beautiful little boys. He was a good-hearted person. Very caring, very loving.


BALDWIN: Another victim, Zachary Randalls, a husband and also a father of two. He was the unsuspecting utility worker killed while just sitting in his company truck. And with me now is Zachary's very best friend, Eddie Valencia. They've been friends for 15 years. Eddie, my condolences to you and your friend's family. You're wearing your dodger hat for your buddy Zach. How did you even hear about this?

EDDIE VALENCIA, FRIEND OF SHOOTING VICTIM: First off, thank you for having me on and letting me talk about that. Excuse me. You know, with social media and things, things tend to leak out and I've gotten messages from friends asking me if it was him. I wasn't sure. I did get a confirmation from another friend that it was in fact him. And my first thoughts were about his wife and his little boy and little girl. Excuse me. Sorry.

BALDWIN: Take your time. Take your time.

VALENCIA: And just making sure that we were there for them and that's exactly what he would do for us.

BALDWIN: I'm going to give you a minute to take your breath. You actually went first to find Zack's wife, to find her at work and pick her up. Is that right?

VALENCIA: I called her and I went to pick her up from her job. Her parents met me there as well. We spoke to her. You know, we let her know, what she wanted or needed to know and unfortunately delivered the bad news to her. It was just a reaction that I knew I had to do because he would do the exact same thing for me.

BALDWIN: Tell me about the kind of guy, friend, father that he was.

[15:50:00] VALENCIA: The best. He was more than a friend to me. He definitely was a brother. Just like he was to a lot of other people. I'm not his only best friend. He had a few. He loved his two kids with everything that he had and -- excuse me. Sorry. And small group of us did get together last night and we made a promise to Katie and the family to -- they will know their father. We all have a different piece of him, different relationship with him and have known him at different times of his life. They will know their father.

BALDWIN: You can help Dutch and Stella, the two children he leaves behind. You can help keep his memory alive. Eddie Valencia, I admire your strength for even speaking out one day after you found out you lost your best friend and just thank you for sharing. Let's just say his name, Zackary do you have a final word? Eddie Valencia, I admire your strength for even speaking out one day after you found out you lost your best friend and just thank you for sharing. Let's just say his name, Zackary do you have a final word? I don't want to keep you too long because I know it's incredibly difficult for you.

VALENCIA: It is, but it needs to be said. He wouldn't want us to turn into any type of hateful reaction from anybody in the public and anybody that reads the stories going around that this person decided to act upon these three individuals based solely on their -- on their race, that's not what we want and that's not what he would want the focus on. He would want the focus to be on the love that we have for him, the love that the other families for their lost and loved ones, and -- to just use this as an opportunity to heal and to just come together and not use this as another ignition for any other hateful acts.

BALDWIN: Messages of love, message of love for your friend Zack. Eddie Valencia, thank you. Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate your words and your voice. My condolences. We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: Stunning developments involving former NFL star Aaron Hernandez. On the very day -- very same day his former football team visited the white house, prison officials say Hernandez, a convicted murderer, committed suicide by hanging himself with a bedsheet. His family though is not quite convinced of that. Their attorney will investigate the circumstances surrounding his death. Hernandez appeared emotional in court last week after a jury found him not guilty in a double murder trial but still he was serving a life sentence without parole for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd.

I have the Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson who oversaw Aaron Hernandez in prison during the Lloyd trial. Sheriff, we spoke before. Thanks so much for coming back. You know, the news is just awful for so many families involved, his own family, his victim's family. Prison officials found him right after 3:00 in the morning. Can you just tell me from a prison perspective when lights out would have been because apparently he tried to block his cell-door. How someone would have found him?

THOMAS HODGSON, BRISTOL COUNTY SHERIFF: Well, first of all, people that tend to successfully commit suicide in prison generally are the ones that short of a systems breakdown will not give you any indication that they are about to do that, either by a change in their behavior, and he was -- he was masterful at being able to control his life, control what he wanted people to see or not see, and we saw that throughout the time he was with us.

The lights generally will go out somewhere between 10:00 and 11:00, and the officers will make their normal rounds. He was in general population. There apparently was no indications that he -- that there was any concerns around him harming himself, and we'll wait for the investigation to come out by the state police, but essentially it's one of the things that none of us want to see happen in corrections because that's what we pride ourselves in, care and custody, and this is one of those cases I think where particularly with him and knowing him the way I know him, he was probably not giving any indicators and going to great lengths to make sure that nobody could pick up on it.

BALDWIN: I remember you told me he had this magnetic personality but in a he was masterful. How do you mean?

HODGSON: Well, I ran a criminal division before I came to Massachusetts when I was in law enforcement as a police officer, and he's absolutely the best I've ever seen at being able to compartmentalize things. Anything he wanted to be in his world in the here and now he would put that in sort of a metal trap, and anything outside of that that was reality ongoing that he didn't want to look at, he would push away and wouldn't even entertain it. He was able to use his personality. He was very charming, very warm, magnetic in the way that he would engage people. Very quickly it would be easy to draw you, and so he understood how to use that to his benefit and in some instances for good reasons, some for bad, but overall, he just had that way about him that was very unique.

BALDWIN: How would he have been treated by inmates? Would they look up to him as a football player or the opposite?

HODGSON: In any prison system when have you a high-profile person there use usually a few that want to sort of raise their profile by challenging an inmate like him, but by and large most of the inmates, at least in our instance, they treated him like any other inmate. They weren't going out of their way or showing any sort of -- any opportunities to seem enamored by him. They basically -- they basically just treated him like another inmate as part of their population.

BALDWIN: Again, as we mentioned --

HODGSON: That was -- actually.

BALDWIN: Go ahead.

HODGSON: That was actually one of the things that he also -- which surprised me when I heard the news this morning because he's very adept at being able to adjust to his life. I've always said that his -- his -- he never really -- the Patriots was really only a place where he was able to raise his stature from the world he really lived in and never left.

BALDWIN: Right, which is a stark contrast, as I remember as we talked about before. Sheriff, wish there was more time. I wish I did but we don't. Please watch the special tonight "downward spiral," the case