Return to Transcripts main page


Report: Hospital Says Scalise Has Substantial Damage from Gunshot; Hospital Says a Lot of Progress Stopping Scalise's Bleeding; Trump Says Being Investigated for Firing Comey. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired June 16, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Agent Griner, when might she be released?

DR. JACK SAVA, MEDSTAR WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: I don't have information on that. Dr. Golden has operated on her and I don't know the answer to that.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Only one surgery for her?

SAVA: She has had one operation at this point. Dr. Golden could answer as to whether additional work will be need.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Bottom line right now, you sound optimistic about the Congressman?

SAVA: It's my job to be pessimistic. So, if you accuse me of being optimistic, I feel bad about that. I feel a lot more confident and a lot more optimistic than I did two, three days ago.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How serious of a situation -- how would you describe the seriousness of it when he was first here and the risk that he could possibly die?

SAVA: I would say that when he arrived, he was in critical condition with an imminent risk of death.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How long will he be in the hospital, do you think?

SAVA: Again, it's too hard to say at this point. Once we get through a few more days, we might be able to prognosticate better but right now there are too many forks in the road and to say when the final day is. He will certainly be in the hospital for a considerable period of time. Presumably weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I was surprised to hear you say that you expect him to walk again and even perhaps run again, given the fact that his hip was shattered. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that the main structure of the erect body and what kind of repair work is done to see that he can run again?

SAVA: Well, you're correct. It's a critical piece of support for standing and walking and, again, Dr. Golden would be a better person to answer that question. But our orthopedic trauma sessions are very good and they can work miracles.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: There's no nerve damage or anything like that to repair --

SAVA: I think also I will sort of stop at the really detailed assessment of each individual injury. We sort of decided we weren't going to go there today.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I know you can't say for sure, but is there any thought to downgrading his condition?

SAVA: I have not given much thought to word choice yet. We've been awfully busy. I have to admit, I find that challenging because there's not really strict definitions. Your idea of critical and my idea of critical and donna's idea of critical are probably all radically different. I think it's a misperception that those terms are well defined so I usually steer away from him.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You say he was in critical when he came in and while he's still in critical, is imminent risk of death been lifted?

SAVA: I think that's -- his risk of death right now is substantially lower than when he came in. And certainly, whatever you think of the word critical, he was as critical as he could be when he came in. Any more questions?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does the risk of infection increase with each surgery?

SAVA: No, I wouldn't say that. Increases over a period of time. Usually infections typically don't happen in the first couple of days but then you enter a time period wherein infections are more common.

[15:35:00] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you think the next step will be in his treatment? Additional operation? Where are we going from here?

SAVA: Yes. He has additional operations that he will need before leaving the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is there a recuperation period between now and whenever the next operation would be? I guess I don't know how aggressive you are in that timetable.

SAVA: I think the next operation would likely take place within 48 hours, but it's a pretty dynamic decision-making process. What typically takes place when patients are severely injured like this is called damage control surgery. And what that means, is that rather than trying to do everything in one operation on day one, we generally stage the operations, the first operations dedicated usually mainly to bleeding control and the other types of work you have to do are staged for later operations.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You said infection was the greatest risk right now?

SAVA: Infection is a significant risk.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Doctor, do you see Congressman Scalise returning to work in full capacity?

SAVA: I think so. That's a good possibility.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: In a year, six months?

SAVA: Hard to say. Thank you all very much.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you think he'll make a full recovery? Is he expected to make a full recovery?

SAVA: I think that an excellent recovery is a good possibility. Thank you all very much.

UNIDENTIFIED HOSPITAL SPOKESPERSON: We have a printed statement available for you here. It will be on the table.


BALDWIN: So, let's talk about what we just heard with an orthopedic trauma surgeon from Vanderbilt Medical Center. Doctor, thank you so much for being with me. Just listening to a couple of the details from the doctor, clearly this is -- it's an issue. I thought one of the questions was great about, you know, you hear about a hip injury or -- from a gunshot wound and realizing this is going to take multiple more surgeries to come. What was your assessment of what you heard just then?

DR. ALEX JAHANGIR, ORTHOPEDIC TRAUMA SURGEON FROM VANDERBILT MEDICAL CENTER: Thank you for the opportunity to speak on this matter. I think the doctor gave a great description. As an orthopedic trauma surgeon, I was confused when I heard a hip injury. I think where the key point was, a high-velocity rifle was used and what I envision, from what I heard from the press conference, the reports that I heard about the Congressman' condition is that the bullet really injured -- and the doctor said, a lot of blood vessels and bones and possibly other internal organs such as bowel and bladder.

BALDWIN: That was the biggest risk, I think, the blood loss issue, right? The bullet came in one side of the hip, traveled through and hit all of the different blood vessels before landing on the other side of his body. That's the most concerning piece.

JAHANGIR: That's right. It seems like, from what I was able to glean from the press conference, the initial surgery taken from the emergency department up to the operating room is the surgeons really focused on controlling whatever bleeding they could and typically that is arterial blood, so blood from your arteries. The second procedure that sounded like the Congressman had immediately after the surgery was an interventional radiology suite and that -- what they do there is they will take a patient and shoot dye to see where further bleeding is coming from. That's typically from veins and other structures and they will place a coil to stop the bleeding in veins in that scenario. I would expect or from what I would gather is both arterial and venous injury occurred to the Congressman because of this bullet.

BALDWIN: It's incredible to me what you all can do. But the question, and you would know as an orthopedic trauma surgeon, the question about walking and standing and knowing where this -- on his body hit him, how and how long -- you haven't worked on him. You don't know all of the details but you hear about this kind of thing. How long will it take?

JAHANGIR: Sure. So, I think what's amazing in health care today, we have amazing technology both in implants and procedures. Sure, I don't know anything about his exact injury. I would assume, if everything is able to be fixed in a manner we typically do -- it is possible that within three months or so he can begin weight bearing and it is really exciting to know that doing the work I do and hopefully for the Congressman to get back to his life, it is possible and obviously there's a lot to this we don't know, whether there were nerves injured or other injuries. But it is possible for him to possibly be back on his feet in three months.

[15:40:00] BALDWIN: Thank you so much for the work you do, Dr. Jahangir there at Vanderbilt. I just point out we heard from the chief of staff from the Congressman reading a letter from his wife Jennifer and just to outline her huge heartfelt thanks to the heroes in the whole scenario, the two capitol police officers, Crystal Griner who was shot in her ankle and she's undergone one surgery but it sounds like she's in good condition, thank goodness. Again, just a note from them. Crystal Griner, David Bailey, those two capitol police officers saved lives Wednesday morning.

Coming up next here on CNN, President Trump tweeting about media reports that he's under investigation. Our own Michael Smerconish joins me to talk about perhaps what his defense could be against any of these obstruction of justice claims.

Also, the Bill Cosby trial. Day five of deliberations and they are still trying to determine -- arrive at some sort of a conclusion on his fate. 11 questions have been asked thus far. What about reasonable doubt? What about that question? What could that mean for a verdict? We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: When the President of the United States tweets, the world pays attention and this morning there was quite the tweet storm, including, quote, the President saying this. "I am being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director. Witch hunt." This follows yesterday's tweet where Trump stated, "You are witnessing the single greatest witch hunt in American political history led by some very bad and conflicted people." So, let's begin there with Michael Smerconish, the CNN political commentator and host of "Smerconish." great to see you, sir. As a lawyer, if it comes down to it, you've been thinking about how the President could defend himself against possible obstruction of justice. What's your idea?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, HOST: So, on radio I've been framing what is the colorable case for obstruction of justice and it's the chronology. You go through the one-on-one meeting on January 27 with the FBI director where he requests loyalty and then you go to valentine's day when he asks that pence and sessions leave the room in hopes that he can let go of the Flynn probe and then it's the firing of Jim Comey. Each of these seems very incriminating. The common threat of his defense, as evidenced by those tweets that you're pointing out, is for him to say I was not impeding an official investigation. I was seeking perhaps to quell noise, a distraction, something created out of whole cloth by the mainstream media to try and take me off my game which is to make America great again and to restore jobs to the American middle class. So, it's the Roy Cohn playbook of always fighting back and never conceding and never giving an inch. Brooke, as compelling as it might seem to some, it resonates with his base. There's no side that I can see that is a crack among the support of the 46 percent.

BALDWIN: It's great for his base but somebody made a point, think about the travel ban. That played well with his base. You see how these different courts have pushed back and pushed back and blocked it and ultimately this thing may land with the supreme court. If you're the President's lawyer, apparently, he's saying he wants to drive this message, deal with the legal fight later and fight this political fight now out in the open. Is that a smart move, though?

SMERCONISH: Well, it's the liberal ninth circuit would be his response. There's always an answer for each one of these instances where he gets to say they're the opponents. It's the deep state, the Obama in bed and the federal bench that sits out in San Francisco, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And I'm surprised by the number of callers that I received in my personal interactions by people who say he's right, it is noise. So, there's such a division in the country on this.

BALDWIN: On Cuba, I know you, sir, have been in Cuba and you have dined with Fidel Castro. He's trying to roll back the Obama policy with Cuba but it's a bit of a roll back. It's not the full-throated roll back. Still, you totally disagree with what he's doing?

I totally do. He's throwing a bone to the base in Miami that was supportive of him. The older Cubans, because there's a divide on this issue, I find Fidel Castro's behavior abhorrent.

How do you get rid of vestiges of communism and I think the way is to normalize relations and give them a taste of capitalism? I was there last August. I took my entire family with me on this trip. This will sound odd but the word I came home thinking about was entrepreneurship. In my people-to-people contact with the travel guide who escorted us, we met all sorts of individuals who are just hungry to open private businesses. It's really an amazing transformation that's in place. I'm just afraid that President Trump is going to stop it in its tracks.

[15:50:00] BALDWIN: I still haven't been. On my list. Michael Smerconish, thank you.

SMERCONISH: Got to do it. BALDWIN: I will. Thank you. Right here on CNN, thank you so much.

In the meantime, we find out in four days whether a young Democrat in Georgia can pull off what might have been the impossible a year ago. Political newcomer Jon Ossoff is trying to win ruby red territory but polls show the 30-year-old has a great chance of beating Karen Handel. A loss can cause potential lash back. Covering this story for the "Atlantic Journal Constitution," Greg, thank you for being here.


BALDWIN: This will cost a pretty penny. It's the most expensive house race in history. I want to ask you about yesterday, suspicious packages containing white powder sent to Karen Handel. Officials think this is nonhazardous, that this is benign. Still, we're all thinking about what happened in Washington this week and it's chilling.

BLUESTEIN: It is. A tense race got tenser yesterday. Not only were those suspicious packages sent to Karen Handel's house and her neighbors', Jon Ossoff talked about how he had been receiving more threats and he hired a security detail yesterday. There's been a lot of rhetoric on both sides and it's ratcheted up incredibly over the last few.

BALDWIN: Wow. I know some insiders think an Ossoff victory would be a total game-changer, one Republican saying if Ossoff wins you'll see the floodgates open with Democrats referring and candidates from governor to county commission. How nervous, how shaken in their boots are these Republicans?

BLUESTEIN: Yes. Republicans are truly antsy. Analysts from both sides say this could come down to almost a coin flip it's that close, and this is a district built for Republicans to win. This was not supposed to be this competitive of a race. We were looking at maybe an even all Republican runoff a couple months ago. John Ossoff has transformed this race and so have Donald Trump's struggles in the district. If he does win, Republicans will be able to point to the fact that he's spent -- this is the most expensive race in U.S. house contest race in the nation's history, and he's raised more than $23 million which is an unprecedented haul. That might not happen come November 2018. You might not have those structural advantages that a Democrat might have right now.

BALDWIN: You have, just again for people to know this. This is Tom Price's seat. He got a bigger job as health and human services secretary and this was Newt Gingrich's seat. Both Price and Sonny Purdue have been campaigning for Karen Handel.

BLUESTEIN: Republicans have been tying him at every turn to Nancy Pelosi. He had a fundraiser with Pelosi really early. Her approval ratings here are dismal, even amongst some Democrats. Six in ten voters have a negative approval rating for her, give her a dim view, so he can't campaign with her. Obama -- if Obama were to come here it might be troublesome because this is a Republican-leaning district so he has a two-track strategy. One, to reach out to Democrats who support him already and others to try tom reach out to independent and moderates who might be opposed to Trump or Karen Handel.

BALDWIN: Well, we know Democrats so far 0 for 2 in races in the last couple of months. We'll see what happens on Tuesday. Greg Bluestein, we'll talk again, I'm sure. Thanks so much.

An update from moments ago on the condition of Republican Congressman Steve Scalise shot at that Congressional baseball practice. Doctors say he remains in critical condition but the word they use is encouraged. They are encouraged by his progress. More on the two capitol police officers credited with saving his and the other lives next. Before that lets take a moment to honor this week's CNN hero, former teacher Jennifer Cox saw firsthand the struggles homeless students face when she started teaching near Baltimore. Across the country more than 100,000 children live in shelters and cox is doing her part to help.


JENNIFER COX, CNN HERO: Kids are never going to learn in school, never going to be successful if they don't feel good about who they are. I think that's a great answer. Children don't have a lot of space in shelter life to truly be kids. They are experiencing very stressful turbulent situations. What we are going to learn here today. The best way to better the situation is to offer them opportunities to feel empowered.


[15:55:00] BALDWIN: Please take a look at Jennifer's full story and go to our Heroes home page and nominate someone you think should be a CNN Hero.


BALDWIN: Just a couple minutes ago the lead trauma surgeon updated the condition of Republican Congressman Steve Scalise in Washington, D.C. saying an excellent recovery is a good possibility. There was a moving moment last night at the Congressional baseball game as one of the officers who helped save Scalise's life actually tossed the first pitch. CNN's Alex Marquardt has more on officer David Bailey and his colleague who went beyond the call of duty.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are officers in an arm of law enforcement that most Americans had probably never heard of until Wednesday. David Bailey and Crystal Griner, special agents with the U.S. Capitol Police, are being hailed as national heroes for preventing a slaughter at the Republican Congressional baseball team practice.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Many lives would have been lost if not for the heroic actions of the

two capitol police officers who took down the gunman despite sustaining gunshot wounds during a very, very brutal assault.



MARQUARDT: According to the harrowing accounts of the members of Congress and staffers at the practice, when they realized they were being shot at, they frantically ran for cover.

[16:00:00] BRAD WENSTRUP, CNN, REPRESENTATIVE, OHIO: Everyone was basically a sitting duck in many ways. There were only so many places you could go, especially when leaving the field.

MARQUARDT: That's when agents Bailey and Griner sprung to action, instead running towards the danger and returning fire. They were taking on a guy with a rifle from 90 to 120 feet away. They had pistols. He had a rifle. That's not a fair fight. Both of them were wounded. The bravery that they showed is just incredible.

MIKE BISHOP, REPRESENTATIVE, MICHIGAN: These two -- these two capitol police officers are warriors. I've never seen anything look it before. Both of them had wounds, and they were still firing.

MARQUARDT: Bailey and Griner were only at the early morning practice because they are the security detail assigned to Congressman Steve Scalise, the team's second baseman, but more importantly the house majority whip, a leadership job that comes with 24/7 protection.

BISHOP: I can't underscore enough how important the capitol police were. They were there within seconds and had they not been there, I would not be standing here today, I'm sure of that fact.

MARQUARDT: More than 50 shots were exchanged before the attack finally ended, but not before the shooter, James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, wounded four including Scalise and special agent Griner. Had they not been there, it could have been what several players have called a massacre.

ROGER WILLIAMS, REPRESENTATIVE, TEXAS: There could have easily been 25 deaths or more today, but officers Griner and Bailey prevented that it, and my family and I will be forever grateful.

MARQUARDT: Alex Marquardt, CNN, Alexandria, Virginia.


Thank god, they were there. Their heroic story, thanks so much. Thanks for being with me. Have wonderful weekends. "The Lead" with Jake Tapper starts right now.