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Report: Police Gunman There to Kill as Many as He Could at "Capital Gazette"; Newspaper Did Not Pursue Charges Against Suspect; Ramos Barricaded Back Door; Trump Is Pretty Sure He's Nailing This Trump Thing; Trump Rushes to Name Supreme Court Pick; Europe Feels It Occupies A Place In "Trump Hell". Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired June 29, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Good afternoon. I'm Ana Cabrera in for Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with us on this Friday as we learn chilling new details about the attack at the "Capital Gazette" newspaper and the suspect accused of carrying out a rampage that left five people dead. Prosecutors now believe the shooting was a planned, targeted attack. Police say the suspect was quote: "There to kill as many people as he could, even blocking exits to prevent victims from escaping."


WES ADAMS, STATE'S ATTORNEY, ANNA ARUNDEL COUNTY: We brought to the judge's attention the evidence that suggested a coordinated attack, the barricading of a back door, and the use of a tactical approach in hunting down and shooting the innocent victims in this case.


CABRERA: The suspected gunman making his first court appearance. A judge ordered him held without bail, charging him with five counts of murder. Investigators say the accused shooter used a shotgun to kill five employees of the "Capital Gazette" and injured two more. Hours after this murderous rampage, the newspaper published today's edition. "Capital Gazette" focusing coverage by remembering the hard-working journalists and staffers who were killed. The newspaper choosing to leave its opinion page blank, writing, "Today we are speechless." Along with names of the deceased. Moments ago, President Trump had this to say about the country's latest mass shooting.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This attack shocked the conscience of our nation and filled our hearts with grief. Journalists like all Americans should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their job. My government will not rest until we have done everything in our power to reduce violent crime and to protect innocent life.


CABRERA: For more on this investigation, and into the shooting, we bring in CNN's Brian Todd from Annapolis, Maryland. BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Getting a lot of new details this

morning and last night about the planned nature of the attack and about the shooter's background in the past few years. Putting together all of this information, a mosaic of this man's life that suggests he was angry, held a grudge against the capital gazette newspaper, and that he planned this attack. According to prosecutors and according to police. You heard from the state's attorney, Wes Adams. We were in the courtroom this morning when the suspect Ramos came in for his bail hearing. He is held without bond. He came in wearing a dark blue jump suit, stared ahead, to the ceiling, never spoke, and we're told he didn't speak when asked questions by police, and this morning very early he was brought in for another hearing. He has never spoken. Almost nonresponsive.

Again, details we're getting of the planned nature of the attack, Wes Adams, saying the back door, there were two entrances. The back door was barricaded. He then went to the front, shot through windows and doors. He went in, walking through almost methodical looking for victims. One victim was shot as he tried to escape through the barricaded back door. Again, the history of a grudge against the newspaper. We're told by sources he filed a defamation claim against the capital gazette back in 2012, that that claim was dismissed, and that there were social media threats that he issued to the newspaper, not necessarily to anyone in particular, but of a threatening nature in general. So again, compilation of this information about the shooter's life and grudges against the newspaper were coming together this afternoon. Paints a disturbing picture.

CABRERA: No doubt. So disturbing. New details as we learn them. Thank you, Brian Todd. One of the victims was John McNamara that went by the nickname Mack. Spent more than 24 years as a sports reporter at the capital gazette. Leaves behind a wife and countless heartbroken friends, colleagues, and readers of his articles. With me now, one of Mack's friends, Jeff Barker, reporter for "Baltimore Sun." He knew John McNamara well. Jeff, thank you for being with us. First, I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. I understand you have been in touch with john's family. How are they doing?

[14:05:00] JEFF BARKER, REPORTER, "BALTIMORE SUN": They're doing pretty well, I mean, the newspaper business is pretty tight knit. There's sort of a social media thread that emerged of john's colleagues, and everybody is devastated. His wife was on there, everybody was talking and sharing stories, and Yes, it is devastating because you spend so many hours, reporters spend long hours, not always the best pay in the world, so many hours in the press box, traveling together, and it really was like a second family.

CABRERA: No doubt about it. I know you knew john personally, you are a journalist as well as we discussed. What have the last 24 hours been like for you?

BARKER: Well, I mean, there's really an unreal quality to it, and honestly, I even thought about coming, whether I should come on the program today because it is so difficult. But I wanted to do it for john, you know, because this is a guy who is sort of an old school journalist. I got into journalism because of journalism, I love reporters. John was an old school, like a guy out of the movie "The Paper" the Ron Howard movie. Kind of rumpled. He dressed like a 15- year-old boy, sorry, John. I don't think he will be insulted. He wasn't a fashion icon. But he was a character. And journalism is hard lately. It's hard politically and hard because the state of newspapers is declining. He stuck with it because like me and so many others it is kind of who he was. He was a guy like me knew he wanted to be a journalist from the time he was ten years old. We kind of shared that bond.

CABRERA: You talk about john the journalist. What more do you want people to know about John the person in general?

BARKER: Well, I said on Twitter when you're a journalist, you have to have a certain professional detachment, you know, and somebody once told me years ago don't do this and expect people to all love you and love your stories, but if you get beyond that sort of professional distance that you have to keep, john was just a sweet guy. He was a mentor. He was a very sensitive guy. He was just funny as hell. We used to joke about what it was like, he was kind of a sensitive guy, being a 56-year-old sensitive man, he said the era had improved to be a sensitive man more so than it used to be. He used to joke. He said I'm the only man I know that loves the indigo girls. I admit that. I go to those concerts, I'm sensitive. I was like me too. He was funny and warm and really was a mentor for a lot of younger reporters.

CABRERA: Thank you for being here to share your memories with us and to help lift up john's legacy and remember the victims of this terrible tragedy. Jeff barker, good to have you with us. Thank you.

BARKER: Thank you so much.

CABRERA: We have much more on the investigation coming up. And plus, is President Trump having the best week of his presidency? At least from the perspective of supporters? From Justice Kennedy's retirement to primary contests, why some believe Trump is currently riding a winning streak.

And also, fast track, the White House setting a deadline to nominate a successor for retiring Justice Kennedy. How President Trump is already courting key senators about their vote. Could the future of Roe V Wade be a deal breaker?

The emotional reunion, CNN on the scene as a mother and seven-year-old son are reunited, a month after being separated at the border. Their story and that mother's message coming up.


CABRERA: To fight confusion over immigration, the Russia probe hanging in the balance, is President Trump enjoying the high-water mark of his presidency?


TRUMP: The Heritage Foundation came out with a report as of two months ago, we've already implemented 64 percent of our top agenda items, and that's at a much faster pace than even Ronald Reagan. That's pretty good, right?


CABRERA: Let's discuss with CNN politics reporter and editor at large Chris Cillizza. Chris you have an article out today titled, "Donald Trump is pretty sure he is nailing this whole president thing." Why do you say that?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Let's run through it quickly. I would note, what we are talking about is not necessarily Donald Trump doing good things but Donald Trump having an impact on the way in which our culture and the country heads.

Here we go. Supreme Court is the most obvious one. Anthony Kennedy's retirement means Donald Trump will fill at least two Supreme Court slots and he is only 18 months into the presidency. That's the thing that can have generational impact.

Another one less covered, other federal judgeships. He pushed through dozens of judgeships through the Senate. A lot of them are waiting on hold, now they're through. Even you go down a level to the judges below the Supreme Court, lot of impact. These are lifetime appointments.

[14:15:00] Primary wins. Good week for Donald Trump. Dan Donovan in Staten Island wins the New York 11 primary over former Congressman Mike Grimm. And Henry McMaster wins the gubernatorial primary in South Carolina. Showing the Donald Trump coalition is somewhat transferrable.

GOP approval. He is if not the most popular Republican president among Republicans ever, if he is not that, he is close to it. Republicans love him even more than they did when they voted for him back in 2016.

And finally, summits. Whether you think it is a good or bad idea, when Donald Trump met with Kim Jong-Un, it was historic. No American president ever sat across from a North Korean leader in history. Now he is going to sit down with Vladimir Putin as well.

Many will say these accomplishments, it is a cheer for conservatives and horror for liberals, particularly the Supreme Court and summits, but they're accomplishments that Donald Trump will be making history with. You can dispute what that history will tell us.

CABRERA: Maybe mark his legacy ultimately after the presidency. I want to get your take, Chris, on this moment. Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy yesterday with strong words on the Russia investigation. Let's listen.


REP. TREY GOWDY, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If you have evidence of wrongdoing by any member of the Trump campaign, present it to the damn grand jury. If you have evidence that this president acted inappropriately, present it to the American people. There's an old saying that justice delayed is justice denied. I think right now all of us are being denied. Whatever you got, finish it the hell up because this country is being torn apart.

CABRERA: Chris, that demand for urgency, very different from Gowdy's message in 2013 on the Benghazi investigation. Listen to his philosophy then.


GOWDY: If you really want to find out what happened in Benghazi, it is going to take time and it's going to take subpoenas and take putting people under oath and it is going to require asking disciplined questions until you get the answer.


CABRERA: So, then it is going to take some time. Chris, put these investigations into some perspective for us and how the investigations may compare to other high-profile investigations in other presidencies.

CILLIZZA: Let's do that. It is important to try to do Apples to Apples here, rhetoric as you just showed changes. Let's start here. Here's the Mueller investigation, going on a year and a month, 13 months.

By the way, note five people have pled guilty and several are cooperating. 22 people or companies have been charged.

The Benghazi investigation that Trey Gowdy talked about, 31 months. 31 months. And note there were zero indictments, zero charges, except against those that perpetrated it. Now, some of the other ones, you go back further in history. Iran Contra investigation, I have to move here so you can see this. 80 months. Whitewater, 80 months.

You know, we have a tendency to stand one inch from the picture, particularly when motivated bipartisan leanings and say this is the worst thing ever. How can this keep going on? Truth of the matter, compare Apples to Apples, the Mueller investigation hasn't been going on very long comparatively. I understand Trey Gowdy's frustration. Part of that is Donald Trump's obsession with the investigation, he is tweeting constantly about it. Trey Gowdy wants to get beyond it for the country and the party, but he needs to be a student of history. There's just not evidence that this is going on anywhere near as long as some of the other investigations that are well known in our history.

CABRERA: So hard to be patient. Everybody wants answers immediately, especially in this day and age with the news cycle. Thank you for breaking it down for us.

Up next, the senators that could determine the fate of President Trump's Supreme Court nominee. Two Republican women likely to play a pivotal role as the final vote happens. And what's being done to win them over.


CABRERA: The White House is already launching full court press to bring on a political win for President Trump and for conservatives, looking to nominate a justice to fill Anthony Kennedy's Supreme Court seat by July 9th. That's a little over a week from now. Justice Kennedy just announced two days ago that he is retiring, and his last day is July 31st. Now Trump is courting key senators on both sides of the political aisle. Republicans Chuck Grassley, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins. He also met with Democrats, Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly and Heidi Heitkamp. They are the red state Democrats facing some tough reelection fights this year. They also voted on his last Supreme Court nominee, to confirm Justice Gorsuch.

So, CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash is joining us now. July 9th, that's a week from Monday. Have you ever seen a president move this fast to fill a vacant seat on the Supreme Court? What is the rush?

[14:25:00] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The rush is November, the election in November, and the fact that the Republicans in the senate who lead the senate currently want to make sure that they can get this vote before them in case they don't lead the senate after November's election. Obviously, we have been talking several days about the fact this is controversial, given the fact on the presidential side, Mitch McConnell now the senate majority leader dragged his feet for ten months on president Obama's nominee. You know, McConnell argues those are Apples and oranges, and it might be, but put that aside for a second.

The real answer to your question is people look at Washington and see all of this gridlock. But when there's a will, there really is a way. We have seen that so many times in so many different areas of policy and policy making, and this seems to be the case. And it does also help that president Trump when he was a candidate back in 2016, part of the reason he became the nominee is because he was explicit saying not just the kind of justice he would appoint but having an actual list. So, he has that to work from. He says he is going to use that list now.

CABRERA: Having a list I suppose also helps in terms of the logistics of putting this before the rest of the senators sooner rather than later. We have Senator Susan Collins one of those Republicans that could be pivotal. She may not vote for someone that wants to overturn roe v wade. Listen to what she said.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R), MAINE: One of the questions I always ask is do they respect precedent, what is their view toward precedent. From my perspective, roe v wade and it is important.


CABRERA: We know there's little wiggle room to get a Supreme Court justice confirmed. Could this come down to Collins and Murkowski, two Republican senators and the issue of abortion? BASH: Absolutely. I tell you the irony here, and that is if you go

back a year and a half I guess it is, lose track of time these days, those two very senators along with John McCain helped to sink the health care bill for a number of reasons, the Republicans plan to replace Obamacare. The big reason for these two women, I interviewed them together, was the issue of planned parenthood which at the end of the day is the issue of abortion. They were upset about the fact that planned parenthood was getting the funding cut and it helped women across the country, particularly in rural areas. My point in telling you the story is that was just legislation. Imagine what it is if they care that much about this when you're talking about a ninth seat, a pivotal seat, swing seat on the highest court in the land.

So, there have been different points of view of United States senators on both sides of the aisle, how to approach questioning a Supreme Court pick, on whether to ask specifically about a specific case. Most Supreme Court picks don't answer, some do. Ruth Bader Ginsburg wouldn't overturn it. Many would say the opposite, that they would overturn it. What she and others are looking for are somebody that would give a wink and nod like John Roberts did that precedent, the code she was just using, is important to this potential justice.

CABRERA: Don't you wish you could be a fly on the wall inside those meetings between the president and these lawmakers as they're trying to win each other over from their own perspective.

BASH: I always wish I'm a fly on the wall.

CABRERA: That's what makes us journalists. Why we're here. Thank you.

Up next, President Trump's pick for a top United Nations job just was voted down by officials in Geneva. Does it have anything to do with controversial tweets uncovered by CNN's K File? More on that next.

And also, amid global tensions with the U.S., why some European leaders fear they're currently holding a special place in quote, "Trump hell."