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THE SITUATION ROOM
Shots Fired Near U.S. Capitol
Aired October 3, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Just ahead, we'll have the very latest on the car chase that began near the White House that started it all.
Plus, government shutdown day three. No apparent end in sight. President Obama blasting House Republicans, accusing them of holding the American people for ransom.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
BLITZER: Let's begin with the breaking news. This was the scene just a little while ago, only a couple blocks from where we are here in Washington. Police swarming Capitol Hill after gunfire erupted, forcing members of Congress to temporarily shelter in place. We're told it all began with a car chase that started at the White House, ended not far away up on Capitol Hill, when the car slammed into a police vehicle, injuring an officer.
A source says the suspect, a woman, was shot and a child was in the car. We're just getting the first audio of those shots being fired from a witness recording it all on her cell phone as it happened.
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BLITZER: Our Brian Todd is joining us now live from the scene. He's got the very latest. Brian, I know you also want to share with our viewers some extraordinary new video of the actual chase. Hold on a second, Brian. We're having trouble hearing you. Your audio is not good. OK? Now, you're OK. Start again from the beginning.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK. All right, Wolf. We'll pan just to your left here, set the scene for you. There are some evidence tags on Constitution Avenue to your left, my right. Obviously, a massive police presence here. Streets still blocked off. What we're told by witnesses is as we move back over toward this way and the scene behind me, where the confrontation played out.
As you're coming back over here, the Botanical Gardens are right behind me. Two witnesses have told us the car chase which started near the White House, we're told, came down this way, went that way on Third Street south, then went over there toward the Botanical Garden where the confrontation with police took place just behind me in that direction. Very dramatic video now from Al Hurra of how the scene played out at that moment, Wolf.
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TODD: So, that is the scene as the network Al Hurra filmed it right near where that confrontation with police took place. I spoke to a witness a short time ago, a witness named Frank Schwing, who was very nearby when that scene played out. Here's what he had to say.
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FRANK SCHWING, WITNESSED SHOOTING: -- opened the passenger side, tried to get the driver out. At that point, the driver slammed in reverse, slammed into a cruiser, did a 180, took off, and at that point, there were about half a dozen or so shots fired.
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TODD: So, to recap that, Frank Schwing, the witness and sources telling us that the scene, where the confrontation took place, played out on the west side of the Capitol just behind me toward the Botanical Gardens here where, according to this witness, the suspect in the car was stopped by police, then immediately put her car into reverse and slammed into a police vehicle, knocking it back.
That's when shots were fired toward the suspect's vehicle. We're told now from law enforcement sources, those shots were fired by law enforcement personnel toward her vehicle. One police officer injured in that collision and one suspect is in custody. We're told her condition is being monitored.
We're not quite sure about her condition at this moment. So, that's what we have for you now here, Wolf. A very dramatic scene playing out on the streets behind me and to my right.
BLITZER: The Al Hurra video, the Al Hurra, for those of our viewers are not familiar. That's the U.S.-government funded Arabic language TV network that's based here in Washington, broadcast in the Arab world. And there you see it right there. I'm going to let it play out once again. It's a black vehicle, it's a Lexus, with Connecticut license plates.
The woman is driving that vehicle. There's a child inside as well. And you can see it ignoring orders from police to stop, driving very erratically at high speeds up on Capitol Hill. And there you see it continuing up there. It's obviously going to not have a very good ending as it goes on. This is the vehicle that actually started near the White House, 15th and Pennsylvania Avenue. That's when uniformed members of the secret service stopped this woman, asked her what was going on.
She then quickly, apparently, dodged them, made a U-turn and headed up towards Capitol Hill. And this is near the end where she's going. The Arabic you're hearing is the Al Hurra announcer speaking about what he's seeing right there. It's obviously very, very scary stuff. Brian, stand by. We're going to get back to you in a moment.
Dana Bash is up on Capitol Hill. She was there getting ready to interview the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid. It was around 2:15 p.m. eastern when all of a sudden, that shelter in place alert was distributed up on Capitol Hill. The House side, the Senate side, everybody being told don't move, get into a room and stay put. There's a situation under way. Dana, pick up the story.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I'm in the capitol right now. We were -- I'm on the third floor. We were on the second floor where the Senate majority leader's suite office is, and we were in one of the rooms, as you said, getting ready for an interview, and we just heard the loud buzzer that comes on when the alert system, the emergency alert system, goes off here in the Capitol.
The system that was put in place after September 11th, 2001. And, you know, to be honest, it was a little bit hard to make out what the announcer was saying on there, but we did make out shelter in place, and it was very clear immediately that we couldn't leave the room where we were. Everything was very calm, but it was very clear that there was something not so calm going on outside.
And, so, we were trying to get a little bit of information from sources in law enforcement and sources in leadership in both sides of the Capitol, but the bottom line is that the system actually worked here the way it should. And one interesting point is that Capitol police officers who I just maybe as a personal point of privilege, I and our colleagues come to work at the Capitol every day.
They are among the bravest and many, many very nice people who do very good jobs and today was an unbelievable example of that. And guess what, Wolf, they're not getting paid because of the government shutdown. Didn't matter. They all did their jobs. They did their duty.
They were able to follow the rules, follow the formula for what happens in these situations and everything went remarkably smoothly considering not just with us in our little corner, but with the few tourists and visitors who were actually here during the shutdown and the staff and the senators and lawmakers.
So again, without knowing if they're ever going to get pay back, but they are currently working without pay and did really remarkable work today.
BLITZER: Yes. We salute them, of course. We do. We saw some of the senators, Bernie Sanders, scurrying over there, getting inside the building. Sharon Brown scurrying, getting inside the building. This was a really, really tense moment up on Capitol Hill. I'm going to get back to you in a moment, Dana. I want to hear how the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, was reacting as this shelter in place announcement, this urgent announcement, was put forward. Stand by for a moment.
Tom Foreman is joining us now. He's over at the magic wall. Tom, map out how all of this happened, what we know.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, this is spread out over about two miles in one of the most secure environments you'll find anywhere in the country. It started over here at the White House. This is the entire White House grounds here. If you're not familiar with Washington, we'll try to give you a little feel for what's going on here.
If we bring it out, we can talk about these barriers that they have at various places. You can see the little posts right in here. That's to keep you from driving up to the White House. Same down here, these big planters out here, gates to keep you from getting up close. So, if you look at the White House grounds overall, you can see that really, there's a standoff zone that goes quite a ways out from the White House itself, which we've got right over here.
That's purposely to keep vehicles from getting close and people from getting close to the White House. So, we don't know exactly which portion she hit here. We just know at the moment that there was this problem over at the White House initially, and then, it went into this high speed chase. Now, we've been told Constitution Avenue, but I'll give you a bit of a lay of the land.
If you came from White House Here, you could go down Pennsylvania Avenue this way. That's the most direct route to the Capitol or you could come down any one of these streets here where you would join up on to Constitution Avenue which runs along in here. We know that somehow she wound up here.
Allegedly, we've been hearing going 85 miles an hour. That would be quite a speed on these streets where normally it's 25 miles an hour is the limit. In any event, down here, we've been watching this video over and over again, it would appear that at some point, this woman went this way and then came up here. This is that circle. It's a statue to President Garfield. The U.S. Botanical Gardens are right over here.
Brian Todd even reporting from right out in this area. This is where you see that video of her car stopped, and then after that, she starts moving and she moves up here and then comes around this side of the Capitol, and that's where you get into the final section back here which is the other part of the Capitol. You can see where this played out, where the final scene ended here.
You see the car stopped right next to this building. This would be the normal place and there are these units here. You see that's where the car wound up sort of jammed back right in here. Wolf, this is really quite an extraordinary thing.
And I think one of the things that they will find in the after action reports as they go through this, you think about the environment we're in, Wolf, you think about the fact that we had the shooting at the Navy Yard, only a couple yards from here, just a very short time ago, it is really quite remarkable that this played out over so much distance with so much potential danger and it finally came down to this final location in here before it actually reached the point where the officers shot at her to stop her, because they initially had her stopped at one point.
That's a little lay of the land, Wolf. And truly, I must say, this area in which this played out is absolutely one of the most secure places in terms of the amount of security and number of police officers and number of patrols and cameras and everything else that you will find anywhere in the country, this couple of miles here from the White house to the Capitol -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I'm sure we'll be getting more video coming in from all the closed circuit cameras in Washington, D.C. And they're all over the place here in the nation's capital. We'll stand by for that. Tom Foreman, good explanation.
Much more coming up on the breaking news, including the latest on that child believed to be in the suspect's car. There you see a police officer carrying that child. We're going to have a live report on what's going on.
Also, we're awaiting a police news conference on the chase. Representatives from U.S. Capitol Police, Metropolitan Police, the FBI, other agencies standing by to brief us. Live coverage coming up. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news here in Washington, more specifically up on Capitol Hill. A very, very scary scene only within the past few hours. A shooting incident, a wild car chase, now, all of a sudden, it's over, but the investigation is presumably only just beginning.
We're standing by for a live news conference, Capitol Hill Police, Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police, FBI, they're all getting ready to brief us. We'll, of course, have live coverage. There you're seeing the scene of what happened.
Joining us now, two eyewitnesses to the dramatic car chase and the eventual shooting. Jo and Chuck Harding are joining us right now. They live up on Capitol Hill. You guys, just walk us through what happened, starting with the beginning. Where were you, what were you doing, what did you see and hear?
CHUCK HARDING, EYEWITNESS TO CHASE: We were sitting in our living room and --
BLITZER: You live up there?
CHUCK HARDING: We live up there at 113. And we were just sitting in our living room and progressing through the day, working on our laptops, and trying to get some business done when we heard approximately 10 to 12 gunshots right outside of the office.
BLITZER: Did you know they were gunshots right away?
CHUCK HARDING: My wife said those were gunshots.
BLITZER: How did you know that? Are you familiar with guns?
JO HARDING, EYEWITNESS TO CHASE: Not really, but I just knew that that was gunshots.
BLITZER: So, what was your immediate reaction when you heard that?
JO HARDING: Well, of course, I was afraid. And my husband immediately ran outside to see what was going on.
BLITZER: That was pretty courageous of you to do that. You let him do that.
JO HARDING: I did. I said I'm locking the door after you.
BLITZER: So, what happened when you got outside?
CHUCK HARDING: Well, there were law enforcement agencies rushing from every conceivable point in Washington, D.C., helicopters overhead, S.W.A.T. team, members proceeding to the location where apparently the lady in the automobile had been stopped. And so, I just started clicking some photos with my camera and trying to make a report of what was going on.
After taking several photographs, of course, the police started to clear the street and asked us to move back, and then to return to our town houses.
BLITZER: You had never -- you've been living up on Capitol Hill, Jo, for a while, right?
JO HARDING: I would say about two weeks.
BLITZER: That's all? So, you're new. So, this must have been a total shock to you, what was going on.
JO HARDING: We just moved here from Oklahoma City.
BLITZER: And so, all of a sudden, you see a shooting incident like this and what goes through your mind?
JO HARDING: Well, the thing that probably scared me the most was they said there was a suspect on the loose.
BLITZER: Who said that?
CHUCK HARDING: Some of the police officers said that there was a possibility of someone that had eluded the scene. BLITZER: We now know that was not the case. The police say this was an isolated incident, now been contained. The woman who was driving this black car is in custody and that's over with.
CHUCK HARDING: Right. And you know, it was something, I think, to behold that all of these different police agencies, Capitol Hill, of course, then you have the Supreme Court and you have uniformed secret service and Metro P.D. all coming to a scene and you could tell that they had it wrapped tight very quickly. So, it was comforting to see all the different agencies working together and snapping to very quickly.
BLITZER: Tell our viewers, Jo, why both of you came to Washington.
JO HARDING: We came to Washington, D.C. because my husband heads up a ministry. It's called Awake America. And I would like him to tell you about that.
BLITZER: Very briefly.
CHUCK HARDING: We just are providing spiritual assistance and counsel to all the members of Congress that need it. We've put the bible back on Capitol Hill March the 19th, which was something that Congress actually had passed a resolution in order to print back in 1782. And so, we're just here to try to assist the members of Congress in any needs that they might have spiritually.
BLITZER: But you never thought that anything like this would happen, especially the first two weeks you're here in Washington.
JO HARDING: Absolutely not.
BLITZER: I'm glad you guys -- you OK?
JO HARDING: Yes.
BLITZER: You're OK, too?
CHUCK HARDING: Definitely.
BLITZER: All right. Good. Thanks to both of you for joining us.
CHUCK HARDING: Thank you.
JO HARDING: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thanks for your report.
Let's bring in our national correspondent, Deborah Feyerick. She's got more on what happened, including more information on the woman who was driving that black vehicle. What are you learning, Deb?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have a few additional details. We do know that a task force made up of FBI agents and secret service are preparing to execute a search warrant on the woman's home. We are being told by law enforcement sources that the home is in Connecticut. So, they're preparing to do that right now, trying to get some information as to who she is and why she may have done what she apparently did.
I did see an image of the woman immediately following the crash. She's being led away on a gurney and she's sort of surrounded by a machine and they call this a chest compression machine and it sort of tries to keep the heart beating while they do other things. Police are not updating her -- updating us, I should say, on the woman's condition. We are being told by sources that, in fact, she was hit several times.
Law enforcement firing into the driver's side of the vehicle, the black car, that she was driving. We're also being told that there were no shots returned towards law enforcement, that it seemed that the police were the ones who were shooting at her. Again, she was not listening to them, she was fleeing, she'd already hit one police car.
So, clearly, they wanted to neutralize the situation. That's probably not the best word to use, but they wanted to control the situation. They did not know that there was a child in the car, a three-year-old, a two or three-year-old child who's in the car at the time all of this was going on. But that's what we can tell you now.
Also, cameras are being pulled from the entire area to see what may have started this altercation and why she was behaving as she was, Wolf.
BLITZER: So, basically, what we suspect right now is that all the gunshots were fired by police at the vehicle to stop the vehicle from doing potential disastrous damage.
FEYERICK: That's correct. They didn't know what her motive was. They didn't know what her intent was. They didn't know whether in fact this was part of something much larger. She'd been at the White House or trying to gain access to a portion of the White House, and then when she took off, she was headed towards the Capitol. So, they just didn't know.
They had to basically play this as a worst case scenario to try to get the situation under control. Things in Washington already at a heightened state of alert not only because of the Navy Yard shooting just a couple weeks ago, but also because of the situation there with Congress and the stalemate.
So, everybody is a little bit on edge as it was. They just did not know and they had to make sure that they responded in such a way that no one else would get hurt -- Wolf.
BLITZER: You can see how fast she was driving there in that car chase and the potential damage that could unfold. All right. Deb Feyerick, thanks very much. Once again, we expect to learn a lot more about what's going on. We're standing by for a police news conference on the chase. There you see the microphones.
People are already gathering, reporters are gathering literally within the shadows. There you see the Capitol right behind those microphones over there. We'll have live coverage. We'll hear what local D.C. police, Capitol Hill police, what FBI officers and agents are saying. Much more coming up right after this.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
BLITZER: We're standing by for a news conference. There you see the microphones up on Capitol Hill, a news conference, Washington, D.C. Police, Kathy Lanier, the police chief joined by Capitol Hill police, secret service officers, FBI agents, they're all getting ready to brief us on this really, really scary incident that happened up on Capitol Hill just a few hours or so ago. There's an all-clear now.
The lockdown has been lifted, but it was frightening as a black vehicle left right near the White House, escaped police there, all of a sudden, started driving at high speed up to Capitol Hill. Watch this video provided to us by Al Hurra. Al Hurra is the Arabic language U.S. government funded television network.
They had a camera, they had a reporter on the scene. I'm going to let it play out. Watch this.
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BLITZER: We're going to get an Arabic translator to translate those words from Arabic into English. Stand by. We'll share that with you as soon as we translate that. But let's bring in our justice reporter, Evan Perez, right now. He's got more on what's going on. What are you hearing, Evan?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT JUSTICE REPORTER: Wolf, this is a -- this situation is just so unusual as you said. I mean, this is one of the most secured parts of the city. Obviously you have high-speed chases in D.C. and other parts of the city, but this is, you know, the center -- the center of government, from the White House -- according to our federal sources, our law enforcement sources, they don't believe that she was necessarily trying to ram into the White House complex.
She struck one of the barriers as she was trying to make her getaway, and then speeds down the streets down there, 80 miles an hour estimated speeds, and ends up over near Garfield Circle, which is where Brian Todd is reporting from. That's where you see the Alhurra video pick up. That's the circle where you see the first shots being fired, at least the first shots that we have on video.
And this is where, you know, the shots go -- the reports go out to law enforcement all across the city, which is shots fired near the capitol, near Garfield Circle. They chase her and they come to a stop near the Supreme Court. The black Infiniti is the picture we keep showing which is where the suspect, an African-American woman, is being taken away.
We still don't know from law enforcement sources what her status is, but at this point, they know that there is nothing else to worry about, the situation is all clear. Now they're trying to figure out what started this all. No one knows exactly what prompted her to be -- to end up by the White House. She's from Connecticut. We know according to law enforcement officials. What brought her to Washington, why was a child in the car, and why was she driving so erratically. Those are the questions they're trying to answer right now -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Hopefully we'll get some answers, preliminary answers. And we know this investigation is only just beginning. We're standing by --
BLITZER: -- as I've been pointing, for a news conference, representatives from the FBI, the Secret Service, Washington Metropolitan Police, Capitol Hill Police, they will all be joining, going over to those microphones there, and briefing us on what's going on.
It's a pretty scary situation, Evan, but everything you're hearing corroborates when we heard -- what we heard from the Capitol Hill police chief a little while ago, that it looks like it's just an isolated incident and there is no indication whatsoever that this has any connection to terrorism.
PEREZ: That's right, Wolf. The FBI now is preparing essentially to hand over the situation to the local police, I think. It doesn't appear that there's going to be any federal prosecution here. I think they're helping out to search the home in Connecticut to figure out if they can -- well, try to explain what happened here, perhaps talk to family members or any neighbors who might know the suspect, the person who was in the middle of this car chase.
But right now, you know, it just looks like a random car chase situation, very little to explain it, really, from the law enforcement standpoint. So I'm sure what the Capitol police will be trying to tell us is, you know, what exactly went down with the officers shooting there. We don't believe that there was any other shooting other than by the police, who are obviously trying to stop a very dangerous situation that was unfolding there.
BLITZER: Police tell you to stop your vehicle, get out of the car, that's what you do. You know, just try to drive away.
PEREZ: Especially in that area.
BLITZER: Yes. You're up on Capitol Hill or near the White House, this is the -- this is the most sensitive parts of the United States right there. All right. Evan, stand by. I want all of our viewers to listen to one witness describe what he saw. At the time he thought the driver was a man. We now know the driver was a woman. Here's what this witness told CNN's Joe Johns.
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EDMUND OFORI-ATTAN, EYEWITNESS: When I heard the gunfire about five or six rounds, my wife and I just dropped to the ground and we stayed there for about five minutes, and then, you know, another onslaught of cop cars with automatic rifles and everything. So after awhile, I thought everything was under control so I get up with my phone and I went, recorded what I could as I was moving towards the action.
And then I saw the cops taking a baby about 2, 3 years old, out of the car, and they put the baby in the cop car. Then at that point I thought it was over. But then the officers just ushered me on and evidently he got out of the car and he was running on foot.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The shooter?
OFORI-ATTAN: The shooter. I didn't see the shooter.
OFORI-ATTAN: But I thought it was over. Everything was under control but it wasn't. Evidently he got out of the car and just took off. Then it was just mayhem.
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BLITZER: Pretty scary situation there as described by this eyewitness.
All right. We're going to hopefully get some more answers. The investigation now fully under way. What happened, why did this woman, this suspect, drive so erratically leaving the White House, heading up to Capitol Hill even in the midst of a police chase.
We're standing by for this news conference, expected to begin fairly soon. More questions than answers at least for now. Much more coverage right after this.
BLITZER: Let's get some more on the breaking news we're following. The car chase that started at the White House and ended with police gunfire right up on Capitol Hill. It put the entire capitol complex on lockdown and the House just gave a bipartisan standing ovation to Capitol Police.
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REP. STENY HOYER (D), MINORITY WHIP: I know that I join the majority leader in expressing our gratitude to the Capitol Police.
BLITZER: Obviously a lot of gratitude to Capitol Hill police for what has happened, for the enormous amount of work they do on a daily, daily basis, even when many of them are not being paid because of the government shutdown right now and many of them had been furloughed but they're still on the job. They're working.
Let's go up to Capitol Hill right now. CNN's Athena Jones is joining us with more on the scene there.
What's it like now where you are, Athena?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, right now it's a much calmer scene than it was a few hours ago. There are still some streets that are shut down, a lot of -- a big police presence. There are police directing traffic on some of the few streets that are open. But right here at Upper Senate Park, I'm seeing tourists walk by, I'm seeing joggers. A lot different than it was a few hours ago.
And just to give viewers a sense of where this all went, there's a Capitol Dome right there behind me and the capitol building. The street that's separating where we are now from the U.S. capitol is called Constitution Avenue. It's a major artery here in Washington, D.C. that lots of visitors would come and frequent because of the museums that line it along the mall. So that's the street that the last stage of this car chase took place on.
We witnessed it from right over here that says you can see part of the building, it's Russell Senate Office Building. That's one of the three buildings that House Senate offices. In Russell, there's a place called the Russell Rotunda. It's on the third floor, it's a place where all of the media sets up, where you often see us doing our live interviews or live reports.
I was just doing a live report at the top of the 2:00 p.m. hour. A few minutes later I stepped out on the balcony just off the rotunda and I stepped right into the midst of this car chase. By the time I stepped on the balcony, I heard three or four quick gunshots in rapid succession and I saw about a dozen police cruisers racing up Constitution Avenue just on the other side of this building.
They stopped about two blocks further up. It's not very far away, on the edge of another Senate office building, and not too far from the Supreme Court. That's where everyone got out. And the rest of this, the end of this car chase went down -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Athena Jones on the scene for us as she often is. Athena, thanks very much. What would make a woman in a car in that black vehicle drive towards the White House, then ignore Secret Service instructions and speed away towards Capitol Hill?
We're standing by for a news conference. Maybe we'll get some answers from D.C. Police, Capitol Police, FBI agents, Secret Service officers. They're all on the scene for us. We'll have live coverage right after this.
BLITZER: We're standing by for a police news conference on the chase, the dramatic chase that occurred here in Washington up on Capitol Hill. We might be getting answers to so many of the questions. The investigation has begun. Much more right after this.
BLITZER: Once again, we're standing by for a news conference. Police about to brief us on what happened, a dramatic car chase, eventual shooting. We're going to get some answers to serious questions momentarily. We'll have live coverage of that coming up.
All this happening now on day three of the government shutdown and President Obama is sharpening his tone earlier in the day before what happened up on Capitol Hill. Speaking in Rockville, Maryland, just outside of Washington, he blasted what he called the reckless strategy by Republicans which he says is now putting the economic recovery of the United States at risk.
And he says the Senate version of a short-term spending plan to fund the federal government would pass the House with support from Democrats and some Republicans if it were allowed to come up for a vote.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want everybody to understand this. There are enough Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives today that if the speaker of the House, John Boehner, simply let the bill get on the floor for an up or down vote, every congressman could vote their conscience, the shutdown would end today.
The only thing that is keeping the government shut down, the only thing preventing people from going back to work and basic research starting back up and farmers and small business owners getting their loans, the only thing that's preventing all that from happening right now, today, in the next five minutes, is that Speaker John Boehner won't even let the bill get a yes or no vote. Because he doesn't want to anger the extremists in his party.
This is not about spending. This is not about fiscal responsibility. This whole thing is about one thing. The Republican obsession with dismantling the Affordable Care Act and denying affordable health insurance to millions of Americans. That's all this is become about.
That seems to be the only thing that unites the Republican Party these days. Through this whole fight, they have said the American people don't want Obamacare, so we should shut down the government to repeal it or delay it. But here's the problem. The government is now shut down, but the Affordable Care Act is still open for business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Strong words from the president. We're standing by right now. Right now we're standing by for a news conference up on Capitol Hill on the police chase and the shooting right near the capitol. We're expecting to speak also live with Congressman Michael McCaul, he's the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. He's been briefed on this incident up on Capitol Hill. We'll speak with him next.
BLITZER: We're standing by for a police news press conference up on Capitol Hill, on the car chase, the shooting that followed. We're expecting new information on the drama that has played out on Capitol Hill right here on the nation's capital. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: The police news conference right at the top of the hour. We're told we'll have live coverage on that dramatic car chase and shooting here in the nation's capital.
As it was unfolding the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was getting ready to speak to our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash on this day three of the government shutdown.
Dana is joining us from Capitol Hill.
Dana, I know you delayed that interview with the majority leader because of what was going on only a few hundred yards away from where you were.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I did, but once we knew things were calm and under control, we did begin the interview talking about the issue that's been dominating, of course, the government shutdown. Beginning with a question that I asked him yesterday about the fact that the House has passed several mini-bills, including one to fund the NIH, including children with cancer trials so I began with that.
BASH (on camera): First I want to ask about a certain exchange that you and I that might have gotten a little bit of a tension, but if you can help one child with cancer, why wouldn't you do it?
SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: Listen --
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: One against the other?
REID: Why would we want to do that? I have 1100 people at Nellis Air Force Base that are sitting home. They have -- they have a few problems of their own. This is -- to have someone of your intelligence suggest such a thing may --
BASH: I'm just asking the question.
REID: -- may be irresponsible. You know, I'm not known for being real articulate, but what I was trying to say is we can't be piecemealing all this stuff. We have Centers for Disease Control that's closed. We have thousands and thousands of women and children who are not able to get their WIC monies $45 a month.
We have disabled veterans who are working who are not getting paid. We have half a million people at the Defense Department who are on furlough. So we have to look at everything. We can't just look at one part of this.
Realize this, people talk about, why don't you negotiate? Remember the thing that everyone has to understand. We -- or I was contacted the first part of September by John Boehner. He said we've got to get something done here on this CR. I said, great. He said, here's my deal. You've got to take our number, $988 billion. I said, I can't do that. We have $70 billion more than that. Patty Murray worked really hard to get a budget.
I can't agree to that. He said we've got to do that. So we spent more time together, and I agreed. That was really hard. My caucus really didn't like that. We took a real hit. We negotiated. He said -- you agree to that, we'll have this to you right away. Right away has never come. So --
BASH: So you're saying that he told you, he promised you in a private meeting that he would pass a clean bill with no strings attached, particularly on Obamacare?
REID: That's why we did it, that's why we agreed to that lower number. So that's one of the largest compromises since I've been in Congress. That was a big deal. $70 billion just like that.
BASH: So what --
REID: And he -- and he couldn't deliver.
BASH: So you -- are you saying that he misled you? Are you saying that he lied?
REID: I think he really intended to do that, but remember what he tried to do. To get things out of the House, what he did he had -- what he agreed with me and then he stuck on it basically repealing Obamacare. That was to get some votes from the so-called Tea Party. I was going to call them crazies, but I shouldn't do that.
BASH: Do you think that's what this is about? Do you think that he is simply trying to protect his job and he's brought the entire government to a screeching halt just for that reason?
REID: John Boehner knows that this would pass overwhelmingly if he would let the Democrats vote on it. And we know that he only needs 18 Republicans, and certainly 18 Republicans, so, yes, I think that the speaker has to be more concerned about our country than he is about his job.
BASH: You really think effectively calling him a wimp is going to make him change his mind?
REID: I haven't called him a wimp.
BASH: Well, you said he didn't -- he doesn't have courage. You're right. That's my word, not yours, but you say he doesn't have courage. I mean that's pretty tough.
REID: I don't know how to describe it. All I know is that opening the government, taking care of the debt ceiling, is here, it's done. All he'd have to do is let people vote on it. And you can describe it as you're a wimp, courage, whatever you want, he should do this. This is -- this is bigger than Harry Reid/John Boehner. It's for the country.
BASH: Wolf, we'll have more of this interview on "ERIN BURNETT" at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. One quick note, Harry Reid, we were just told, did put a phone call into the injured capitol police officer, and the officers said that the only thing I wanted to do was to make sure everyone was safe -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Dana, thank you.
Happening now, breaking news right here in the nation's capital. Gun shots and a wild car chase, from the White House to Capitol Hill. We have remarkable new video. We're standing by for a news conference by D.C. police, the FBI, the Secret Service and other agencies.
Plus, a child found in the car that led police racing across the city. We'll have the latest on that, and the fate of the driver.
And two powerful Republican senators caught on an open microphone. The conversation about the government shutdown they probably didn't want all of us to hear.