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Annapolis Gunman Court Hearing; Trump Comments on Attack; Former Colleague Remembers Victims; FBI Learned from Press. Aired 1- 1:30p ET
Aired June 29, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:08] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1:00 p.m. here in Washington. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.
We start with startling new details on the shooting spree at a newspaper office in Annapolis, Maryland, that left five people dead. The suspect, Jarrod Warren Ramos, who is not cooperating with police, appeared before a judge on a video link for his initial bail hearing. At the same time, we heard this update from the police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF TIMOTHY ALTOMARE, ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY POLICE: There are no other suspects we're looking for right now. We have no reason to believe anybody else but the suspect was involved in this atrocity. We did find evidence at the residence. I can't go into a whole bunch of details about it, but I will tell you that it's evidence showing the origination of planning, things like that, in his apartment, and it shows what we knew we would find, which is that we have one bad guy and that, for his own reasons, he chose to do what he did yesterday.
I'll say this, the fellow was there to kill as many people as he could kill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Our Rene Marsh is in Annapolis for us.
Rene, the suspect refused to speak during this first appearance overnight. Police say he is not cooperating at all. What was the bail decision and what more did we learn in court today?
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the judge said that he would not get bond. But, Wolf, there's no other way to put it. The new details that came out in court today are sickening and they are maddening. It is so clear, as you heard the state attorney say, that this shooter did everything that he could do to make sure he got the maximum death toll.
He concealed the weapon that he had when he entered the building. He rigged the exit doors so that the journalists were essentially trapped. And with shotgun in hand, he aimed at these journalists who were working in the newsroom.
Listen to more from the state's attorney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WES ADAMS, ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY: There were two entrances to the offices in which this attack occurred. The rear door was barricaded. Mr. Ramos then, as I told the judge, entered into the front door and worked his way through the office where he was shooting victims as he walked through the office.
QUESTION: And you said he actually shot some of the victims that were trying to get out that barricaded back door? You told the judge that?
ADAMS: That is correct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARSH: All right. Well, Ramos said nothing during that 10-minute hearing.
We also learned that he did have a plan to escape after this shooting. However, police just simply closed in way too fast for him and his plan. They got there about two minutes into all of this -- to close in on him, I should say.
Although he hasn't reported any mental issues, we do know that he is on suicide watch.
But, Wolf, I do want to shift the attention back to the people who really matter today, and that is the victims, the five journalists who lost their lives.
There is a growing memorial happening right over my right shoulder here. We're seeing people drop by, leave their condolences, leave balloons, flowers, things of that sort. This is not just about the community mourning, but it really is about this entire state mourning. We know the government of Maryland has ordered that flags fly at half- staff, Wolf.
BLITZER: Rene Marsh in Annapolis for us. A very, very sad scene, indeed.
And, moments ago, speaking over at the White House, President Trump addressed the shooting in Maryland.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta is joining us right now.
So the tone the president was trying to set there, what else are you hearing?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, and you heard the president there, as you played that clip, saying that journalists should be able to do their jobs without fear of being attacked. Of course, obviously, now that the president has said that, people are going to be raising questions about whether or not he has set a climate of fear for journalists in this country. I think it's -- I don't think it's really a debate. I don't think it's really a question at this point. The president, of course, has set a climate of fear for journalists all over the country. I've been at a number of rallies where he has called the press the enemy of the people and fake news.
[13:05:05] And just a few moments ago, Wolf, as the president was leaving the room, I attempted to ask the president whether or not he would try to stop calling the press the enemy of the people. I shouted that question. It was a pretty noisy room with people applauding and music playing and so on. But I asked that question three times and he did not respond.
But, obviously, when the president says something along those lines of that, you know, journalists should be able to do their jobs without fear of being attacked, that strikes me as perhaps the nicest thing that he's said about the press in the longest time that I can remember. I can't remember him offering any kind of conciliatory words or language for the press in this country. So there was a shift in language there.
And, of course, the president was also reaching out to the people in Annapolis and letting them know that the U.S. government is going to be there to make sure that everything is done, to make sure that the people or the person -- it appears to be just one person who is responsible for what happened at "The Capital Gazette" -- is brought to justice.
Now, about that event, Wolf, we should point out, the president was celebrating the six-month anniversary of his tax cut package and he was using the event to tout the economy. His -- some of his family members were there. Ivanka Trump was there. Jared Kushner was there. And there were other top officials there.
There has been some talk, Wolf, about the future of the chief of staff, John Kelly. I don't believe he got a shout-out at the beginning of that event. And from what we could tell, our colleague, Sara Westwood (ph), was in the room, it appeared that John Kelly was only in the room for a few moments and then dipped back out. Now, of course, he could have had other things to attend to. But, John Kelly, the chief of staff, who's been the subject of a lot of conversation in the last few days about his future and how long he's going to stay on at the White House, appeared only to be at that event for a few minutes from what we can tell from our vantage point.
But, Wolf, getting back to the top of all this, and the president's rhetoric aimed at the media, and the fact that he's called us fake news and the enemy of the people over and over again, I did think it was striking that he did try to tone down his rhetoric, at least for the moment, in this event in the East Room just a few moments ago, Wolf.
BLITZER: And let's see if he stops berating the news media here in the United States in the coming days, weeks and months.
Jim Acosta over at the White House, thank you very much.
We want to honor the five people who were killed with some poignant reflections from family, friends and co-workers.
A gift to everyone who knew her. That's how Wendi Winters' daughter is remembering her 65-year-old mother of four. Winters covered local events for the newspaper.
The absolute most beautiful person. That's how a friend describes Rebecca Smith, a 34-year-old sales assistant who recently joined "The Capital Gazette."
A jack of all trades and a fantastic person. That's how co-workers are remembering 56-year-old John McNamara, a sportswriter who worked for the newspaper for nearly 24 years.
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."
A peculiar and endearing figure in a newsroom full of characters. That's how co-workers are remembering editorial writer 61-year-old Gerald Fischman, who had worked at the newspaper since 1992.
And listen to this from a former editor at "The Capital Gazette." And I'm quoting now, "The Capital," like all newspapers, angered people every day in its pursuit of the news. In my day, people protested by writing letters to the editor. Today it's through the barrel of a gun, closed quote.
That quote came from Tom Marquardt, a friend and former colleague of the victims of the shooting. He's joining us now.
Thanks so much. And our deepest condolences to you, Tom. I know you're the former editor and publisher of "The Capital Gazette."
What was your immediate reaction when you heard this awful, awful news?
TOM MARQUARDT, FORMER EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "CAPITAL GAZETTE": It's hard to describe, Wolf. I mean, you know, it is a -- it is a blow -- it was a blow that is really difficult to describe. And even after all this time I've had to really think about it. But, you know, first there is the deaths -- several deaths of people who you were very close to, who you worked alongside of for, in some cases, decades. And people who you hired. And then, on top of that, comes the news that the shooter was someone who you also knew. Not by sight, not personally, but through the record. And so, you know, it was one whammy after another, quite frankly.
BLITZER: Yes. And I want to get to that in a moment. The newspaper, to its enormous credit, they did put out an edition today. The front page has the pictures of the five who were killed. How important was it, do you believe, Tom, for the staffers there to put out a newspaper on this day?
MARQUARDT: Well, I think it was very important because it demonstrates that through thick or thin, no matter what happens, they don't lose sight of the mission.
[13:10:03] And, you know, I'm extremely proud of them. Most of those reporters I don't know because there was a turnover after I left. But, I mean, they speak for anybody who is in the business that the objective is to put out a newspaper and get the story right. They -- and I'm sure they did. The paper that they put out today was nothing short of a miracle.
MARQUARDT: It was through -- they suffered through their grief, they suffered through just trying to cope with the tragedy and still got a cogent newspaper out and fulfilled their mission.
BLITZER: You actually did cross paths with the suspect, not personally, but you were named in his defamation suit against the newspaper that was later thrown out by a judge. But he specifically threatened a lot of folks at the newspaper, including yourself, right?
MARQUARDT: That's correct.
BLITZER: Tell us about that.
MARQUARDT: After a lawsuit was filed, unlike most people, most plaintiffs, they don't speak to the press for fear of jeopardizing their case. But what made this case weird is that he continued to rant on social media about what he thought of us and how we affected his life and how dishonest we were. It wasn't just cogent comments, but it was rants.
And to the extent that there were a lot of veiled threats, some of which were really difficult to say -- he never said, I will kill you. What he was saying is, I wish you'd stop breathing or I wish you were dead. And then post a photo of my former boss, who had just died. So, I mean, it didn't take much to read into it that it was a threat. It was a threat against me. It was a threat against the reporter. It was a threat against the staff.
BLITZER: The suit that he filed was in response to an article in the paper about his being charged with criminal harassment. He was given probation. He pleaded guilty. The judge referred to him as bizarre and called the case extreme.
Did you believe at the time, though, that he was a physical threat to you and others at the newspaper?
MARQUARDT: Well, when the story was written by the reporter, I mean, we had a very factual story about what he had done. And there was no question, if you read that story, that his motions were extreme. I mean the woman who he was stalking felt personally threatened and feels she lost her job because of what he had done. So, I mean, just looking at that, I think anybody in their right mind would find evidence of somebody who really had some mental issues. And I think all that came out pursuant to the case that he filed. And we were seeing evidence of that in his postings.
BLITZER: And you did go to the police and discuss this with them, right?
MARQUARDT: That's correct. I mean, we were -- we were taking a posture that the less said the better, because we felt that if we had made as much of an issue as we could about this, that we would actually inflame Mr. Ramos and that he would retaliate against us at the time. So our attorney was advising us to let the courts take this case on and let it run through the courts without us making any comment, either in a newspaper or personally.
So, you know, when it came to some of these threats, especially the last two that I had mentioned, I thought he had crossed a line. And, you know, being fearful of what he could do to us and my family and the newspaper, I thought the most prudent course was to contact the police.
Our attorney got involved in it. There was a conference call. The police had gone out to talk to Mr. Ramos but came back and didn't think that the evidence merited any kind of a charge.
Was I appalled? Yes. Was I disappointed? Extremely so. In my mind, a layman's mind, all I saw was a threat against my life and a threat against people who were working for me. They felt, however, in their professional opinion, that the evidence wasn't there. So, you know, we had to follow whatever their advice was at that point.
Could we have done more? Perhaps. You know, we could have taken out a restraining order, but we felt, again, that that would only antagonize things and make it worse. Quite frankly, and looking back at it now, I think had we taken that course and become more aggressive, I think it would have just provoked him to take action earlier than when he did.
BLITZER: Yes. It's pretty shocking --
MARQUARDT: But, I mean the point to --
BLITZER: Yes, go ahead.
MARQUARDT: It is. And, Wolf, the point here I think is that, you know, once we sensed something was amiss here, we took the precautionary role of making sure that the staff was aware of what was happening. It was a common discussion in the newsroom. We gave them a photo of Mr. Ramos in case he would enter the newsroom. And, again, this is in a different building, so it's not the same building. And also we had given a photo to the front desk with my personal instruction that if anybody that resembled him would come through the door, that they were to call 911 and our own security. So from the standpoint of realizing a threat, I think we assessed it appropriately. And, unfortunately, it was an accurate perception.
[13:15:26] BLITZER: Yes. And I think newsrooms all over the country right now are taking a closer look at security and learning some lessons from what occurred in Annapolis. And I'm sure they're going to be consulting with you down the road as well. What are the lessons that all of us should learn from this horrible situation.
While I still have you, and we don't have a lot of time, but I know you were close with four of the five victims. And give me a thought about each.
Let's start with Bob Hiaasen.
MARQUARDT: Bob Hiaasen, who I didn't work with for a long time. He had just come recently, just before I retired. But Bob was an incredible mentor to people in the newsroom. Young reporters, young editors, I mean he was a calming voice in that newsroom. Also an aspiring voice. An incredibly gifted writer with a sense of humor. And it's difficult to write humor, good humor. But through his column he definitely did that. But he was just a joy to be around.
BLITZER: What about Wendi Winters?
MARQUARDT: Wendi Winters, an incredible person who I had hired just to do your typical community news stories. They were freelance stories involving everything from the soapbox derby to a local cooking contest. You know, stories that were inconsequential but were well read because we're a local newspaper. She wrote so much that she became the most prolific writer in the newsroom. And we hired her on as a reporter.
But a very charming person who would bring me and others in the newsroom a cake every Christmastime. So very friendly to the staff. Really wanted to immerse herself in news journalism. Certainly was not ready to retire.
BLITZER: John McNamara?
MARQUARDT: John McNamara was a diehard Terps (ph) fan. Loved covering Terps sports. Liked covering the Capital hockey team. He actually left the newspaper for a couple years, missed it, came back and persevered all sorts of layoffs, ownership changes and declining readership and took on extra responsibilities just to keep his job there.
BLITZER: And Gerald Fischman?
MARQUARDT: Gerald Fischman was a character. Everything that you've heard about him was right on the button. I mean he's a guy who wore a cardigan sweater and a tie to work every day. Very proud of what he did. Unassuming, shy, introverted, tried to get on "Jeopardy" twice and failed. A guy who could turn prose like anybody I've ever seen. Was certainly capable of writing great editorials for a major metropolitan newspapers but loved his position at "The Capital."
BLITZER: And I know you didn't know Rebecca Smith, the 34-year-old sales assistant.
BLITZER: But our deepest, deepest condolences to her family, to her friends, to all of the family and friends of these victims. They certainly did not deserve what happened yesterday.
Tom, thanks so much for joining us and we appreciate your thoughts.
MARQUARDT: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Other news we're following. The president reportedly wants to quit the World Trade Organization as Europe fears it's in, quote, Trump hell.
Plus, as thousands of children are still separated from their families with no clear reunification plan in sight, Hillary Clinton says her worst fears about the Trump presidency have come true.
And now, former President Obama is also speaking out.
[13:22:54] BLITZER: All right, just in. There are some new details emerging right now involving a court appearance for the president's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. We're told the FBI learned of Manafort's storage unit that was raided from "Associated Press" reporters last year who met with FBI and Department of Justice officials.
Joining us now to discuss this and more, our legal analyst, Michael Zeldin. He's a former federal prosecutor, Roberts Mueller's former special assistant at the Department of Justice.
So, how significant is this development?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think it's really significant ultimately because the judge has already ruled in the storage locker case that the FBI entered the case into the storage area with consent by a person who was on the lease and had a key and let them in, and that met the obligations that the FBI have to enter. And then they got a warrant to search that was -- went in there. So the fact that they may have gotten an early lead about this isn't going to undermine the process that they undertook in any way, shape or form, I don't think.
BLITZER: He's now back in jail awaiting the trial. Any chance that the judge might decide, you know what, he can get bail?
ZELDIN: So he's got two things going on. One is he's got an appeal (INAUDIBLE) order and then, second, he has a new motion to the same judge saying, would you let us out pending that appeal. I think he loses both because the judge found that he is a risk to the community by virtue of ongoing criminal activity. They have no plan to mitigate that on his part. She has said to him, I can give you a list of 69 people who you can call and I believe that you'll call the 70th. So I think that as much as it's a hardship on him, and it's unfortunately for him in terms of his defense, that's where he's going to remain.
BLITZER: Yes, the judge accepted the allegations that he was engaging in witness tampering. That's why the bail was revoked. He's in jail awaiting his trial.
Michael Zeldin, thank you very much.
ZELDIN: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: As the president rushes to name his pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, one Republican senator hinting she may become a potential obstacle for the White House.
[13:24:55] Plus, President Obama delivering some tough love for Democrats ahead of the midterm elections.
BLITZER: President Trump is getting ready to announce his second U.S. Supreme Court nominee. A pick that could shape the court for decades to come. CNN has learned his choice to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy is expected to come by July 9th. That's a week from Monday. He's already met with lawmakers, including some red state Democratic senators. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell isn't buying the Democrats' argument that this is the same situation as two years ago when President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court couldn't even get a hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: This is not 2016. There aren't the final months of a second term constitutionally lame duck presidency with a presidential election fast approaching. We're right in the middle of this president's very first term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[13:30:00] BLITZER: Joining us now, Shannon Pettypiece, the White House reporter for "Bloomberg News." April Ryan is a CNN political analyst, the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks. And Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown University.