Return to Transcripts main page
Report: Leaked Documents Revel Ties Between Wilbur Ross And Putin's Family; Sheriff: In-Law Of Gunman Attended The Church; President Trump Comments on Texas Church Gunman. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired November 6, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Think about it. Just by the numbers you have over 10 percent of the entire community has been affected directly by this. That's before you get to family members, loved ones, and this is a place where everybody knows everyone else. And we saw that pain on display last night, a candlelight display. People are out here, they're holding on to each other and they're holding on to their faith.
We're also getting some new details about the investigation. For that, let's bring in Ed Lavandera. There's been a lot of speculation about motive. You've got big new information on that.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We were talking earlier, but this gunman lives in the town of New Braunfels, which is about 40 miles away. So it kind of begs the question, why would this man drive 40 miles and pick this particular church, kind of here so far away from San Antonio. Just spoke with the sheriff here, and he says that the in-laws of the gunman attended this church here in Sutherland Springs, Texas. But they were not in attendance yesterday. So that appears to be some sort of connection.
However, the sheriff does say at this point, they still don't have any kind of firm confirmation on what exactly the motive was behind that. But that does help explain a little bit about what perhaps brought him here to this particular church.
The sheriff also did tell us a little while ago that the gunman appears to have suffered two different types of wounds, wounds from the resident civilian that approached the scene and started firing at the gunman. That it is possible, it seems very likely that that civilian did wound the gunman. And there was also -- the gunman also had his own handgun and also could have shot himself, as well. So those are the details as we take you back to what was a horrific morning that unfolded here in the town of Sutherland Springs, east of San Antonio.
LAVANDERA: CNN is learning more about the man believed to have opened fire at this small Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Law enforcement sources tell CNN the suspected killer is 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, who once served in the U.S. Air Force. Kelley was court-martialed in 2012 for assaulting his spouse and child. He served a year in prison. In 2014 Kelley was discharged from the Air Force for bad conduct.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT, (R) TEXAS: We are dealing with the largest mass shooting in our state's history.
LAVANDERA: Police say the suspect began his rampage around 11:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Dressed in all-black tactical gear and a ballistic vest, he began firing from outside the church during Sunday service. He then entered the church and continued his assault, killing dozens.
This video taken last Sunday shows just how small the congregation is. The pastor's own 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle Pomeroy, is among the dead. Eight members of one family were also killed including a pregnant mother. At a nearby store employees recalled hearing shots ring out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was semiautomatic fire. This was rapid fire. We were flabbergasted.
LAVANDERA: A law enforcement official tells CNN that Kelley legally purchased the Ruger AR-style rifle used in the attack back in April of 2016. But when filling out the paperwork for his background check, Kelley indicated he didn't have any disqualifying criminal history. Police say a local resident confronted the gunman at the church.
FREEMAN MARTIN, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: As he exited the church, a local resident grabbed his rifle and engaged that suspect. The suspect dropped his rifle and fled from the church.
LAVANDERA: The suspect fled the scene, but that resident and another man pursued him for 11 miles at high speeds.
JOHNNIE LANGENDORFF, SUTHERLAND SPRINGS RESIDENT: Gentlemen with the rifle came to my truck as the shooter took off and he briefly -- he briefed me quickly on what had just happened and said that we had to get him. And so that's what I did.
LAVANDERA: Johnnie Langendorff says the suspect lost control of his vehicle, crashed on the side of the road, and that's where police found him dead, inside his car with a gunshot wound.
President Trump reacted to the massacre half a world away during a press conference with the Japanese prime minister.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This isn't a guns situation. Fortunately, somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction. This is a mental health problem at the highest level.
LAVANDERA: Now this small, tight-knit community comes together to remember those killed and hurt in Sunday's carnage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's so much love for one another. There's no room for hate.
(END VIDEOTAPE) LAVANDERA: So to recap here these new developments. It appears the in-laws of this gunman belong to this particular church here in Sutherland Springs. The sheriff says that that family was not in attendance yesterday, but that it appears it could be the connection and maybe starts painting a picture of exactly what the motive was.
[08:05:00] CUOMO: Common sense dictates it can't be a coincidence. But we'll see how law enforcement fills in the blanks. Thank you for giving us the latest. I appreciate it.
Joining us now, let's bring in CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano and CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd. I don't think you need to be an expert to connect the fact that this murderer's in- laws attend this church here. Obviously fills in a big blank about what would have brought him here. What are the further questions, James?
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That's a pretty big piece there, Chris. Again, it's not definitive because I believe that there's got to be a lot of harvesting of forensic evidence, the social media platform, getting human intelligence, talking to people in and around the community and folks that would have known this gunman who apparently would have lived about 10 miles north of San Antonio.
But that is a pretty critical piece right there. We know that five years ago, he was essentially court-martialed, spent a year in the brig for laying his hand on his wife and his children -- or his child. But now we know that the church, actually members of his congregation, the in-law's families. What was the triggering event here? What caused him to wait this long, essentially three years after separation from service and five years from his court-martial? That's the perplexing piece right now.
CUOMO: James, quick follow. Why do we care what his motive was?
GAGLIANO: Chris, people have been asking this all over the place. You know, why is motive so important? From the law enforcement perspective, we want to make sure that, a, we didn't miss anything this this Cretan's past that would have helped us prevent it. And, b, we always want to be forward leaning, so we always want to get in front of this. If this is a trend, what can we do? Whether or not it's petitioning the legislative process or if it's things on the security end that law enforcement could do, or if it's things that we could help train our community, the citizenry to be more aware to prevent something like from happening again.
CUOMO: We'll see where they go on those things. Phil, let me ask you something. In terms of from a terror perspective, just to repeat what we said in the last hour, because it's still something that's of hot curiosity for people. They'll say, you walk into a church, you kill a bunch of people, how is it not terror? Your answer.
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Pretty simple reason. To commit an act of terror, you have to have a political motivation. That is, for example, you might want to protest overseas what's happening in Afghanistan or Syria or Iraq where America has a military commitment. In this country, you might want to protest things like racial inequality and go after someone because of their race.
This person, if he's killing someone because he's got anger towards maybe it's his in-laws, maybe it's his financial situation, maybe he's got mental health issues, those aren't political issues. And if you kill someone because you're angry, you're not committing an act of terrorism.
CUOMO: Right. The administration of law is a political issue, and the governor of Texas, who will hopefully come on with us in a little bit, says this man, James, was denied a carry permit or a right to carry permit, but he did fill out paperwork that allowed him to buy this rifle. And while a dishonorable discharge, according to a law that was passed in 1968, would have disqualified him, a bad conduct dismissal from the service didn't. Are we just dealing with inconsistencies in law and logic here?
GAGLIANO: We talked about this in the earlier hour, Chris, and you're absolutely right.
CUOMO: But we didn't know that thing about the governor. When we talked about it last, James, the governor is saying he was denied some type of permit under law because of his past, but it wasn't like a complete ban, evidently.
GAGLIANO: Right, so he was able to own a weapon, but that's vastly different from a concealed permit, or concealed carry permit. Understand --
CUOMO: Right. And Texas is open carry, James, just for the legal distinction. This is an open carry state.
GAGLIANO: And we know for certain that he applied for it in Texas. If that's the case, again, we go back to the six different reasons you can be separated from the service. You can have an honorable discharge, a general discharge under honorable conditions, you can have an other than honorable, you can have a bad conduct discharge, which he did which is a punitive discharge, or a dishonorable discharge and then an entry-level separation.
The fact that he could be discharged with a bad conduct discharge, a punitive discharge after a court-martial, and still be legally able to procure weapons, to buy and own weapons is central. That's the inconsistency, Chris, and I can't understand if you have a misdemeanor and there's violence attached to it, you are precluded from owning weapons, but if you have a misdemeanor per se in the military under the uniform code of military justice, you can still own a weapon. It's preposterous.
CUOMO: Well, also, look, a little bit of a common space between left and right on this is administration and effective administration of law. You obviously have a gap and an inconsistency here, Phil Mudd. People say, what law would have made a difference? Enforcing these laws and having consistency in them, maybe you would have ended up in a different spot with this guy, maybe you wouldn't have.
[08:10:00] And in terms of what you should ask, an interesting point. You've got President Trump weighing in on this on his trip to Asia. He's in Japan. That's a big population. They deal with lots of different kind of violence, but they don't have mass murders like this, Phil. And I wonder if there's some answers to that. I'm sure it won't come up in their conversation, but it's worth asking.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: That's right. There's a couple basic questions to ask and then there's the more complicated question you're raising. The basic ones to my mind would be if someone has a history of assault, how do they get a weapon? We have a national database of people with assault convictions. The same would hold true in my word for psychological problems.
If it turns out he had some sort of psychological, do we have a national debate saying someone with those problems shouldn't have access to a weapon. But you're raising a bigger issue, Chris, it has to do with humility in the United States. This country suffers from a lack of humility. Let's look in the mirror. North of border, Canada, remarkably lower murder statistics than this country. To the east the United Kingdom where we separate in 18th century, remarkably lower incidents of violent crime and murder than this country. And as you mentioned, the president of the United States is in Japan, incredibly low incidence of murder in Japan. I suppose he could ask the Japanese prime minister why that is, but I'm afraid the answer will be an inconvenient truth. It's going to have to do with weapons and we don't want to ask that question.
CUOMO: You have cultural implications here. Sometimes it's about not wanting to ask the question, maybe, Phil, maybe you're right. Other times it's about not having a good answer. And especially in times of great pain, it's hard even for your leaders to want to discuss about something where they can't give you any really satisfaction, James. And you've studied this on so many different levels. There has to be a reason it happens to us more than it does other places.
GAGLIANO: Sure, Chris. We know that in a country of approximately 330 million people, there are basically 270 million to 310 million weapons. That's roughly one per citizen. And again, the argument from the right, and I understand it as a gun owner, they argument is going to be that this subject was interdicted and eventually taken down by a law-abiding citizen with a rifle.
The issue is, we've got to come together on this, and I think law enforcement and veterans are the right place to start because most of us are fervent supporters of the Second Amendment. But this type of -- to your point -- proliferation of mass casualty events like this, we have to do something. Not doing anything and expecting a different outcome, Chris, is the definition of insanity.
CUOMO: People just need to do a Google search and they can look at what's happened in the last 10 years and where and why. Gentlemen, thank you very much.
I want to bring in a special guest right now, Wilson County sheriff, Joe Tackitt Jr. He's overseeing the investigation into the church. He's been here keeping his arms around this country. Sheriff, I'm sorry to have to meet you under these circumstances. Your reputation here is as a strong man who's very sensitive to the needs of his community. And I cannot imagine, even with all of your experience, that anything prepared you for what you had to walk in to this house of God and see.
SHERIFF JOE D. TACKITT, JR., WILSON COUNTY, TEXAS: No. There is nothing that could prepare you for what happened here yesterday.
CUOMO: What did you tell yourself and your men when they had to go in there and start processing the crime scene? I know it's the job, but --
TACKITT: It's the job we have to do. And we just appreciate all the help that we've gotten from all the different agencies and the state. And, you know, we still got a lot of work to do over there. But we're going to get it done. We're going --
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, obviously, we lost Chris there for a second. He is in Texas for us on the ground dealing with the aftermath of that mass shooting at the church. We will get him restored as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, President Trump calling all of this the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history. He says it's the result of a mental health problem, not an issue with gun laws. We discuss all of that when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think Mueller is doing a good job?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, we're going to see. Look, all I can say is that I have nothing to do with Russian collusion. I've within watching this for, how long has it been, a year? It's very unfair. It's very bad for our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That was President Trump weighing in on the Mueller probe as the trove of leaked documents called the paradise papers purports to show that another top Trump official also has ties to Russia.
Let's talk about all of this. Joining us now is CNN legal analyst and Robert Mueller's former special assistant at the Department of Justice, Michael Zeldin, and former federal prosecutor, Renato Marriotti. He is a candidate for the Illinois attorney general. Gentlemen, great to have both of you.
Let's just start with that little clip that we just showed, Renato, that was President Trump talking to journalist, Cheryl Atkinson. He went on to say that he is not under investigation, he said. He said, no one has ever told him that he's under investigation. He does not believe that he'll be interviewed by Robert Mueller. So, Renato, would someone have told him if he was under the investigation? Would he have had a target letter or some sort of indication that he was the source of an investigation?
RENATO MARRIOTTI, CANDIDATE FOR ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL: Almost certainly not. So federal prosecutors are not in the habit of sending you a target letter or giving you a phone call, saying, hey, we're investigating you right now. Usually, defense -- you know, people who are in a position where they're the subject of an investigation learned because their friends get interviewed, people they know get subpoenas.
So, for example, in the president's case, the White House has received document requests for information relating to his actions. They've received document requests, if "The New York Times" and "Washington Post" reported correctly, regarding the firing of James Comey and the firing of Flynn --
CAMEROTA: So that means what? That he is under investigation?
MARRIOTTI: I don't think there can be any serious question that he is under investigation, given those document requests. They have been reporting that his own attorneys have been presenting arguments to Mueller about whether or not obstruction of justice can be committed by the president. They wouldn't be doing that if they didn't think he was investigating obstruction.
CAMEROTA: Michael Zeldin, do you agree?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I do agree. And I also think that the Manafort indictment, perhaps, is a bit of a template for where Mueller is looking at crimes unrelated to collusion. Because Manafort engaged in activities that were collateral to the collusion inquiry, but which Mueller found to be legally actionable.
[08:20:00] And I think that the same inquiry may be made of Trump's financial dealings and Kushner's financial dealings and Flynn's financial dealings, and Cohen's financial dealings. So, the president may wish it so, but it just isn't.
CAMEROTA: Let's talk about the financial dealings of another cabinet member and that is Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. "The New York Times" reports yesterday, let me read it to you, "After becoming commerce secretary, Wilbur L. Ross Jr. retained investments in a shipping firm he once controlled that has significant business ties the to a Russian oligarch subject to American sanctions and President Vladimir Putin's son-in-law."
So, this is new information, Renato. This is something that perhaps should have been disclosed or maybe investigators have just stumble on? Hard to know. This is part of what they call the paradise papers.
MARRIOTTI: That's right. So, look, we don't know all of the specifics yet. I haven't read through all of those papers yet, but certainly you would expect that this is something that should be disclosed, and it could be a real problem for the secretary if there were, you know, a material nondisclosure by him.
In other words, a disclosure about something that would have mattered. So, I expect this to continue. And I will say, just, I think the public over a period of time is going to wonder why there happen to be all of these connections between administration officials and Russia. I think at a certain point, it's no longer a coincidence and I think that could have potentially a political affect, as well.
CAMEROTA: So Michael, Wilbur Ross -- CNBC this morning, aired an interview with Wilbur Ross about this. They said it was previously taped. We're not sure when, but here's what aired this morning. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILBUR ROSS, COMMERCE SECRETARY: The company not under sanction is just like any other company, period. It was a normal commercial relationship and one that I had nothing to do with the creation of it. I had nothing to do with the negotiations and do not know the shareholders that were apparently sanctioned at some later point in time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: OK. Michael, what do you think of that response?
ZELDIN: Well, it's hard to sort it out completely. The way the paradise papers lays it out is Ross owns an interest in navigator, which does business with a company called Sibar (ph), which is owned in part by people who are on the sanctions list.
They refer to it as OFAC, Office of Foreign Assets Control, makes it illegal for Americans or any U.S. person to have financial dealings with people who are on the sanctions list. Some of the people related to Sibar are on that sanctions list.
CAMEROTA: But just to stop you, because Secretary Ross is making a distinction between the company being sanctioned and the people being sanctioned. So, here's what he says about this. Let me just read it to you so that you understand what his rationale is.
"Most importantly, the company that is our client, itself, Sibar, was not then sanctioned, is not now sanctioned, and was never sanctioned in between, so there is nothing whatsoever improper." So, how that change your calculus, Michael?
ZELDIN: It doesn't because if people who have a controlling interest or an interest over a certain percentage have an economic interest in that company, I think under OFAC, you should not be dealing with that company because of the collateral relationship they have with others. So, I don't think that's availing.
Even if it is technically legally availing under OFAC, as a matter of appearance or government ethics, it's just bad form. And I expect that we'll see that the inspector general of the Commerce Department will look into this and we'll see whether or not he was fully ingenuous when he testified on the hill at his confirmation hearing.
Where he indicated that he had divested himself of navigator, but in fact, he seems not to have completely divested himself of it. So, I think that this is a problem for him.
CAMEROTA: How pig of a problem, Renato?
MARRIOTTI: Well, potentially it could be a crime if he knowingly and willfully lied to Congress. That is a federal crime. So, the question, I think, is could he use for example, the excuse you just gave as a reason why he didn't reveal this to Congress, potentially?
That's typically why it can be a challenge to prosecutor a false statement case because ultimately you need to prove that the person had it in their mind and was deliberately being false. So, the question, I think, is to whether or not he's in legal jeopardy is a more difficult one than what the public perception might be.
CAMEROTA: OK, Renato Marriotti, Michael Zeldin, thank you very much for helping us sort through this legal thicket.
We do want to go back to Texas where Chris is on the ground reporting for us -- Chris.
CUOMO: All right. The sheriff and I are here. We had a power outage. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, there is new information in this investigation. Stay with us.
CUOMO: All right. We're here in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and we have Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt Jr. Sir, thank you for being with us.
SHERIFF JOE D. TACKITT JR., WILSON COUNTY, TEXAS: Yes, sir.
CUOMO: Thank you for your patience of waiting for the technical difficulties. One of the menacing questions here is why would this murderer come to this beautiful little place and do this? You have some information that gives you a sense of motive?
TACKITT JR.: Well, we know that his ex-in-laws or in-laws came to church here from time to time. They were not here yesterday. So, we don't know why he actually showed up yesterday, but we know that when he left, he left destruction. There was 26 people dead, 25 here and 1 died at the hospital. Approximately 20 people in the hospital.
My understanding right now, most of them were all stable and we're hoping that they all pull through this and, you know, we've got the families here that want to pull together, help each other and then we're going to do whatever we need to do to also help them.
CUOMO: This is a job that works on a lot of levels.