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Gunman Kills Six at Maryland Newspaper; White House puts Supreme Court search on overdrive; White House denies report that Kelly will be out this summer; "Axios": Trump wants to withdraw from World Trade Organization; Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired June 29, 2018 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow, "The Capital Gazette" is on doorsteps and newsstands in Annapolis, Maryland, this morning, which should not in itself be news, but it's been barely 18 hours since a man opened fire with a shotgun in "The Capital Gazette" newsroom, killing five of its staff and leaving survivors. In the paper's own words, speechless.

Killed in yesterday's rampage were the editorial page editor, Gerald Fischman, along with assistant editor Rob Hiaasen, staff writer Wendi Winters, sports reporter John McNamara, and ad sales assistant Rebecca Smith. We will honor all of them today.

The suspect had a well-documented grudge against the paper dating back at least seven years. He is now charged with five counts of first- degree murder and is due in court for a bail hearing next hour.

This morning, the intern whose Twitter account pleaded for help when the shooting started reflected on leaving the building when it was over.


ANTHONY MESSENGER, CAPITAL GAZETTE INTERN, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Unfortunately we saw, we had to pass two bodies of our colleagues, which was something that nobody should ever have to stomach. Just unfortunate that somebody would come into a place that only reports truthful stories that are fact-based, and unleash hell on the office. It was -- we try to keep our eyes from off of the ground, but inevitably, we were -- we all, as journalists, were kind of curious. And it was sickening.


HARLOW: Let's go to our Rene Marsh. She has all the details for us in Annapolis.

Good morning, Rene. What can you tell us?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. As you know, this is the deadliest day for journalism since 9/11. Police say it was a targeted attack. I can tell you that there is still a police presence out here, outside of the building where this newsroom is, a police car there, still yellow tape up, as police continue to process this scene. We know this morning -- and this is new, that the shooting was captured on surveillance video. That surveillance video was actually used as the basis, as the evidence as they were trying to prepare the charges against the shooter, who will be in court later on this morning.

But we want to focus on the victims, of course, the five journalists, the five people who were shot and killed inside that newsroom. We know from police that he walked into that newsroom with a shotgun, opened fire, and he also deployed smoke grenades. They describe, and we're talking about the people within the newsroom, just ducking for cover under their desks, trying to avoid the gunfire. And we also know from police that he, too, the shooter tried to evade them by hiding under desks.

As you mentioned, he's had a longstanding feud with this newspaper, a grudge, I should say, with this newspaper, because of an article that they published in 2011 regarding a criminal harassment case that he was involved in.

One of the people who was inside of the newsroom at this time, Phil Davis, he told CNN exactly what the moment was like when the shooter entered their newsroom with a shotgun in hand. Take a listen.


PHIL DAVIS, STAFF WRITER, CAPITAL GAZETTE: He shot through the front door. The glass shattered. He was going down our newsroom, starting from the front and, yes, just continually shooting people. But at some point, when I was listening to him reload, it's, you know, are we all going to die? It's not necessarily is he done, is he not going to leave until everyone in here is dead?


MARSH: All right, and that same journalist saying that the author of the article that got this shooter so engaged actually doesn't even work at the newspaper anymore. Phil Davis tweeting that, "I lost five colleagues," and he went through all of this for something they had nothing to do with -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Rene Marsh, thank you very much.

Next hour, a court hearing is scheduled for the suspected shooter. Our crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz has the details.

So this is going to be a bail hearing for him at about 10:30 a.m. Eastern time.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Poppy. And we may get to see him. I was told last night that there's going to be some video -- this would be done by video, so we may actually get to see him when he appears.

Police this morning certainly focusing in on the gunman, on the shooter, trying to figure out what exactly happened yesterday that sparked this. You know, as Rene has said and as we've been reporting, this is a longstanding grudge, some seven -- six, seven years that this has been going on, and police really want to know why yesterday, why he did choose to do this yesterday. And so far because he is not cooperating, they really don't have any answers.

I mean, they have been talking to some of his family members. They have said that he's been fairly distant. He grew up in Maryland, he was living about 30 minutes from the "Capital Gazette." He did not drive there yesterday, so police were trying to figure out last night how he got there. So still a lot of questions that are unanswered as police and investigators this morning are still trying to answer.

[09:05:02] Certainly, the motive is very clear to them at this point, this longstanding grudge, but there's still a lot more work to do regarding him, regarding what he was thinking yesterday, and was there something, was there something yesterday, some kind of communication, some sort of interaction with someone that sparked this?

HARLOW: Shimon, thank you for the reporting.

Joining me now, James Gagliano, CNN law enforcement analyst. And look, you were on the air shortly after this happened, and as we try to process it this morning, it's incredibly difficult to comprehend. I'd like your take on the social media, because there were warnings, right? There was -- there were threats on social media against this newsroom, against this paper. But how does law enforcement, and how should law enforcement, James, draw the line between freedom of speech, what is an actual threat, and what is just someone spouting off, and when they should react to something on social media?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Sure. Compelling question, Poppy. And I've got to tell you, I mean, being a former cop, I understand the visceral pain you feel when someone has taken one of your own and just walking around the newsroom here today and seeing some of your colleagues, I get it. It's a palpable, visceral sense of loss.

I was very strengthened last night to see the chief from the Anne Arundel Police Department talk about the close relationship the police had with that particular newspaper and media.


GAGLIANO: Those two things are critical for a democracy. Now to your question about social media. Again, you and I have talked about this before, where do we end up on the continuum? We want free speech. We value the First Amendment, especially in journalism, but how far is that speech allowed to go before it becomes threatening and dangerous?

HARLOW: I mean, so just talk about some of the threats that he made.


HARLOW: And how you as an officer would respond to those. GAGLIANO: Sure. A lot of the things that he said, as I read through

some of his social media postings on Twitter, were euphemistic, you know? I'm going to kill you, but in quotation marks, in a court of law, legally, you know? So you look at that and go, wow, that raises some red flags. Is this an EDP, we describe in law enforcement as an emotionally disturbed person?

HARLOW: Right.

GAGLIANO: Or is this some Internet troll that's just venting? And that's the difficult part is discerning it.

HARLOW: Sure. He used -- I mean, clearly this was premeditated, very planned. He used these smoke grenades or smoke canister canisters, which are really military-grade pyrotechnic devices. What's your read on that? Used to create fear and terror? Tactically useful for him?

GAGLIANO: Sure, having served in the U.S. military as an infantry officer, I understand what smoke canisters are used for. We use them to signal aircraft if you're setting up a landing zone. We use it to screen from the enemy. So the smoke goes out and you can do troop movement behind it.

In civilian hands, really other than in Hollywood scenarios, there's not a big use for them. I looked this up, the two devices he used, a shotgun, which is legal, depend upon whether he legally owned it or not.

HARLOW: Right.

GAGLIANO: But which is legal to own, and smoke canisters are not illegal to own. They are illegal to engage in a public area.

HARLOW: To use. Which he did.

GAGLIANO: Which he did.

HARLOW: Before you go, you're a former SWAT team leader. The response time for these officers, getting into the newsroom, 60 seconds. What does it tell you about the strength of this police department, but also the training that these even smaller, local police departments need to have should something like this occur?

GAGLIANO: That is a critical takeaway. We cannot look at this anymore and say small police departments, we don't have the time or the money for the training. We have to figure out a way to make sure our first responders are equipped. That police department did an outstanding, excellent job of moving to the sound of the guns. That's what cops do.

HARLOW: James, thank you.

GAGLIANO: Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: Nice to have you, as always. Unfortunately, it's on this horrific news. Even when they didn't have words, "The Capital Gazette" reporters had

resolve. That is for sure. Yesterday evening, with his newsroom still a murder scene, reporter Chase Cook tweeted, "I can tell you this, we are putting out a damn paper tomorrow," and they have.

Hadas Gold covers media for us and she joins me from Washington.

It's remarkable the resolve that they have. They tweeted, as I said, "We're putting out a damn paper tomorrow." How defiant and determined is this set of journalists?

HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS, MEDIA AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It is really incredible to see, Poppy, how this newsroom, even in the wake, in the minutes after they were receiving word that their own colleagues were hurt and possibly dead, they immediately got to work. And actually, we have seen now photos of them working on their laptops out of the back of a pickup truck in a parking garage just across the street from where this newsroom was, and that just goes to show you what types of reporters these are.

And I think this is why you have gotten this outpouring of support from other journalists, because although we may often be competitive with one another, although we may sometimes be snarky with one another, at our core, we are all journalists, we all feel for this newsroom, and we understand what it's like to just want to report the story. And to have this happen to a local paper that just tries to support its community and report on its community, I think we are all just really proud of that newsroom to see that they put out a paper this morning and the way that they did it.

HARLOW: And there is the cover of the paper with their five colleagues right there on the top.

[09:10:02] The opinion page is blank today and the paper says that is because they are speechless. It's powerful.

GOLD: It is incredibly powerful, and it also speaks to the -- just the horrific nature of what happened and the historic nature, honestly, of what happened. It is the deadliest day for reporters since 9/11. And actually, I spoke to the head of Reporters Without Borders North American division, and she said that this is probably the deadliest day in a newsroom in U.S. history because she couldn't recall another incident like this in a newsroom.

She actually told me, this is something we see in other countries, not in the United States. And I was actually thinking at the Newseum here in Washington, D.C., the museum for journalism, they have a wall of remembrance for journalists. And typically, those countries say things like war zones we're used to hearing, Iraq and Syria. Now five more names are going to be added to that wall, and they're going to say the United States.

HARLOW: I would be remiss, Hadas, not to note that this comes in an environment of extremes, and an environment where even the president of the United States has called the media, the press, the enemy of the American people. We'll keep talking more about this. Hadas, thank you.

GOLD: Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: In the wake of the horror that broke out in "The Capital" newsroom yesterday, we remember and we honor the five people, those five colleagues who were murdered, simply doing their job.

A gift to everyone who knew her. That is how her daughter's remembering Wendi Winters, the 65-year-old mother of four, covered local events for the paper. And she described herself as a proud Navy mom. She volunteered at church, at the Red Cross, and as a Girl Scout leader.

The absolute, most beautiful person. That is how a friend described Rebecca Smith, the 34-year-old sales assistant who had just recently joined the paper. Her boss said she was thoughtful and kind and considerate, always someone who would help anyone in need.

A jack of all trades and a fantastic person. That is how co-workers are remembering 56-year-old John McNamara, sports writer who had worked at the paper for nearly 24 years. He leaves behind his wife, who described their time together like this, "Our biggest argument was about who was lucky enough to have the other. He was devoted to his friends, he was devoted to his craft, and he was devoted to me."

We called him Big Rob because he was so tall, but it was his remarkable heart and humor that made him larger than all of us. Rob Hiaasen's brother wrote that in a tribute to the 59-year-old editor at "The Capital Gazette." He leaves behind three children, a wife whom he had been married to for 33 years. Their anniversary just last week.

A peculiar and endearing figure in a newsroom full of characters. That is how co-workers will remember editorial writer Gerald Fischman, who had worked at the paper since 1992. They describe him as brilliant, witty, and the quirky voice of a community newspaper.


HARLOW: Ten days, that is the deadline the White House is reportedly now giving itself to announce President Trump's second Supreme Court nominee.

Again, this is according to a source who tells CNN they want that decision to be made and made public before the president leaves for Europe. Of course, he's meeting with NATO members and then having that summit with Vladimir Putin. That is an incredibly quick timeline.

Abby Phillip is outside the White House with more. We know the president has this relatively short list of about 20 justices he's choosing from, but still ten days is fast.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It really is, Poppy, but it just goes to show the sense of urgency this White House has about making this decision, in part because they do want to force the hand of the Senate to get this done along with a slew of other priorities before the fall when the Supreme Court goes back into session.

But you're right that this list that they're starting from, a list of 25 potential justices, makes it much easier. And even within that list, the shortlist is even shorter than that.

And already, the president has started to talk to lawmakers about this issue. He held some meeting with some critically important red state Democrats last night here at the White House and made some phone calls to other Republicans who will be a part of this process.

But the template for this process for the justices is going to be modeled very much after what they did with Neil Gorsuch last year. That was one of the things that the administration thought went very smoothly. So, they're going to try to replicate that as quickly as possible.

There are calls being made to stakeholders, conservative groups on the outside who have advised the White House for months on this issue. And, yes, by July 9th, the president wants to be able to have this done, have this in the Senate's hands before he heads over to Europe to deal with some foreign policy issues, Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. And, Abby, before you go, rumblings, again - I mean, this is not the first time that Chief of Staff John Kelly may be on his way out of the White House? The White House once again denying that. What do you know?

PHILLIP: Well, if it seems like groundhog day here at the White House, it could be because this is something that we've been talking about for a while now. There has been a sense in this building for quite some time that John Kelly has been maybe on his way out.

He's been viewed as a little bit more detached from what's been going on in the West Wing, that he is not as engaged as he once was, but we're also coming up on this one-year anniversary of his time here at the White House, and the rumblings are getting louder.

Our sources are telling us that there are a couple of people who the president has been talking to his friends and advisers about, including the vice president's chief of staff, Nick Ayers, and also his current Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. So, these are the two people who seem to be at the top of the list.

The rumblings that John Kelly is leaving, of course, are something that we've been hearing for a while. The White House yesterday denied it. But again, Poppy, they've denied these kinds of denials before - these departures before. And a lot of times, the folks end up leaving shortly thereafter, so we're keeping a close eye on that, Poppy.

[09:20:11] HARLOW: Abby Phillip at the White House, thank you. Have a good weekend.

Joining me now is Rachael Bade, CNN political analyst; Margaret Talev is also here, a political analyst. Ladies, nice to have you. Rachael, what do you make of what sources tell our Ariane de Vogue, our Supreme Court reporter, that this White House wants a pick and a pick made public for a justice to replace Kennedy by July 9th.

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, even if a pick comes fast, this is going to be a long summer, a pretty epic fight on Capitol Hill. So, even if the president does name someone before his trip, before July 9th, it's going to take a long time to actually get him confirmed.

So, in the Senate, the president has a very narrow margin.

HARLOW: Right.

BADE: Republicans only have 51 seats and Sen. John McCain has been out, obviously, battling cancer. So, he cannot lose anyone.

HARLOW: Right.

BADE: And that is why he's making this lobbying push right now. He had a bunch of lawmakers, as Abby mentioned, to the White House yesterday, particularly Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly and Heidi Heitkamp.

These are Democrats that are up in Trump - states that Trump carried last election and they all voted for Neil Gorsuch last time.

HARLOW: Exactly.

BADE: So, he's doing a lobbying campaign with them right now and he's going to trying to push this as quick as he can.

HARLOW: And, Margaret, some could argue that the fact that those three Democrats voted to confirm Gorsuch was slightly different because Kennedy was still on the court. So, you had this sort of key swing vote, this was still the Kennedy court.

Now, whatever pick is made will tilt the court decidedly one way or another. So, you have some interesting "POLITICO" reporting this morning that I'm sure you've seen that said, look, Democrats are thinking about and talking about changing their strategy.

Stop talking about it's not fair, it's not fair, you should wait until after the midterms. Start talking about the real-world impact on key decisions having to do with abortion, having to do with gay rights, having to do with affirmative action.

How critical is it that Democrats get those talking points right and make their message clear when you do have some Republicans who could be swayed, when you have people who are pro-choice, like a Susan Collins or a Lisa Murkowski?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, I think what the Democrats have to consider in terms of their public messaging is entirely political. It is the impact in some of those key Senate races that will decide whether Republicans actually build up control in the Senate or whether that chamber can be in play. The Republicans who are going to be the crucial votes on this already - they don't need the Democrats to tell them what these various nominees represent.

And you're right to say it is important that President Trump and the vice president in the last couple days have not talked about replacing Kennedy with another Kennedy. They've talked about replacing Kennedy with someone in the mold of Antonin Scalia.

So, of course, Roe v. Wade, any number of regulatory decisions, social - decisions with social implications are all now going to be on the deck. This is going to be a crucial vote. And none of these Democrats has any illusions that President Trump is going to stop campaigning against them in states or whatever.

It's more a matter of him suggesting to them that their political future will really be in trouble if they try to stop the train.

HARLOW: I mean, you heard that from Heidi Heitkamp, right? Less than 24 hours after the president blasts her in North Dakota, she's at the White House having this meeting, and she said basically that's politics.

Let me move on to some fascinating reporting this morning, rachael, out of "Axios". It's essentially that the president wants to pull the United States out of the WTO. That is huge. Out of the World Trade Organization.

That would be a bombshell, but it's not out of the realm of possibility for this president, who has made similar remarkable moves. This is despite the fact that the United States has won 87 percent of the cases brought before the WTO since 1995.

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin this morning on Fox News says, no, that "Axios" reporting is way overblown, it's an exaggeration. What would pulling out of the WTO, though, get the president?

BADE: A lot of pushback from Republicans in Congress. I don't think it's surprising that the president is talking about this. The WTO is a direct threat to his protectionist views and the tariffs he wants to slap on other countries.

It's one of the only international organizations that actually has teeth. And so, if it finds that the US has actually implemented unfair trade practices, it can punish the US and basically create some sort of sanctions that hurt American businesses and Americans in terms of prices.

So, that's why you're going to see the president pushing back on them. Obviously, they're going to be looking at his steel and aluminum tariffs and deciding whether or not those are fair. So, perhaps this is a preemptive attack on the WTO.

But on the hill, Republicans would never go for this. And in the same "Axios" report, they noted that Congress would actually have to approve withdrawing from the WTO, but Republicans see the WTO as something helpful.

They can take other countries to the WTO and say, listen, they're hurting our companies and this is unfair. And as you said, often the US wins. So, why would they do this?

[09:25:06] TALEV: And the market is the other hammer on this. It's not just how Congress would act, but that's why you saw the Treasury Secretary Mnuchin jump in immediately and say, whoa, easy now.

And then, you saw the markets wobble and recover very quickly, but there are potentially massive market implications on this, although the WTO itself has been around since 1995. It is the natural outcropping of one of the major post World War II reforms.

HARLOW: Right. But as you both know, some would - I would assume, Steve Bannon among them, would point to China joining the WTO in 2001 and say, look, this is when China really got a leg up here, this is what has created some of the issues that the United States has on trade with China, although automation is a huge, huge part of that, but that may play well with the president's base.

But I'm glad you point the check out that Congress does have on this one.

Thank you both, Rachael and Margaret. Appreciate it.

A city and a newsroom grieving after yesterday's deadly attack. How are they coping this morning? The mayor of Annapolis will join me in moments.