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THE SITUATION ROOM
Secret Service Under Fire; First Ebola Case in U.S.; Interview With D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton; Source: DNA Links Virginia Suspect to 2009 Death; New Standoff Between Police Protesters in Ferguson; Chris Christie Slams Obama on ISIS Threat
Aired September 30, 2014 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to continue to follow the breaking news.
You have been seeing it live here unfolding here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the first Ebola case diagnosed here in the United States. We just got new information as you have been watching from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We're also following breaking developments in other major stories right now, including new developments involving that White House fence jumper, the war against ISIS and much more.
But, first, let's go back to the news conference.
Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, still answering questions.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: They appear to have been able to stop the outbreak. I have no doubt that we will stop this in its tracks in the U.S.
But I also have no doubt as long that as the outbreak continues in Africa, we need to be on our guard.
Other questions in the room?
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Can you give us a number or just a scale of how big this team from the CDC is going to be and who that directly entails? Are these doctors that are going to be in the hospital? Or are these going to be people who are going to be expanding out into the community? Can you give us a little more information on that?
FRIEDEN: I can get back to you with the exact size of the team. We provide epidemiologists or disease detectives. We provide communications experts. We provide a hospital infection control and laboratory experts as needed in a situation.
And every CDC staff who is there or the 130 who are in Africa are tied tightly to our experts here who provide backup 24/7. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)
FRIEDEN: We defer to the local and state health departments. They're there on the ground. They're the lead and we're there to support.
In the room? On the phone?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The next question comes from Lauran Neergaard of AP. Your line is open.
QUESTION: Thank you.
Do we know, can you even say if this is an American or is this a visitor? And then has the health department already reached any of those contacts? Has that contact tracing begun?
FRIEDEN: What I can say is that the individual was here to visit family who live in this country.
The further details, I think, are to be identified in the coming days or relevant or not. We will see. In terms of contact tracing, we're just beginning the process, and an investigation just began today, but the Health Department had already been very forward leaning on that, so already has locating information for individuals so that that can begin immediately.
On the phone?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The next question comes from Maggie Fox of NBC News.
Your line is open.
I know that you have been extremely clear that people don't spread this virus unless they're showing symptoms. Nonetheless, I think everybody knows that the reaction in the United States has been disbelieving of this. So I'm wondering what steps you might take to reassure people who fear they may have traveled on the same plane with this patient or passed through the same airport with this patient that they are not at risk?
FRIEDEN: Well, people can always call us at CDC Info. They can also check on our Web site.
The flight in question is a specific flight departing Liberia on the 19th and arriving in the U.S. on the 20th. So that would be a very small number of people who would have that level of concern. But, really, I think it's important that we understand a lot about Ebola.
Ebola is a virus. It's a virus that is easy to kill by washing your hands. It's easy to stop by using gloves and barrier precautions. The issue is not that Ebola is highly infectious. The issue with Ebola is that the stakes are so high. And that's why at the hospital in Texas, they're taking all of the precautions they need to take to protect health care workers who are caring for this individual.
People who are infectious with Ebola when they're sick. In fact, think of it this way. When we begin doing testing on people as they become sick, even in the initial phases of illness, when they have got a fever, the most sensitive tests in the world sometimes don't detect it because there's so little virus that they have.
It's only as they become sicker that they become more infectious. And if patients die from Ebola, they can have very large quantities of virus there. So there is no risk from having contact with somebody who's either recovered from Ebola -- and I went to the region myself and embraced people who had recovered from Ebola -- or people who have been exposed but are not yet sick from it.
Next question on the phone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The next question is from (INAUDIBLE) of "Newsweek."
Your line is open.
QUESTION: Hi, thank you.
You have been saying he, so I know you can't give any many details about the patient. But I just want to confirm that this is a male. And I don't know if there's any age range you can give.
I'm also just wondering is this the first ever case diagnosed in the United States? And if not, was there -- when was the previous case diagnosed if ever?
FRIEDEN: This is the first patient diagnosed outside of Africa to our knowledge with this particular strain of Ebola.
And as I mentioned earlier, we have had other patients with hemorrhagic fever, including a patient in 2007 with Marburg, which is a virus that is quite a bit like Ebola. That individual in 2007 actually was hospitalized, went through surgery before being diagnosed and did not result in the spread to any other individual.
So this is the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the U.S. and as far as we understand of this strain of Ebola diagnosed outside of Africa.
I think we have referred to the patient in any way that we can so far.
Next question on the phone?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next question is from Kelly Gilblom of Bloomberg News.
Your line is open. QUESTION: Hi, thank you.
I'm just wondering if you could tell me a little bit more about the contact tracing process and how that's done and how you can assure that you have, I guess, reached all the people that that person was in contact with when they were sick.
FRIEDEN: Contact tracing is a core public health function and we do it by a very systematic manner.
We interview the patient if that's possible. We interview every family member, we identify all possible names. We outline all of the movements that could have occurred from the time of possible onset of symptoms until isolation. Then, in a cascading manner, we identify every other individual who can add to that information, and with that, we put together a map, essentially, that identifies the time, the place, the level of the contact.
And then we use a concentric circle approach to identify those contacts who might have had the highest risk of exposure, those who have an intermediate risk and those who may possibly have had an exposure even though we think that may be unlikely. And we always err on the side of identifying and tracking more contacts rather than less.
I mentioned earlier today that in Lagos, with 20 cases, we at CDC and elsewhere working with the Nigerian authorities, identified nearly 900 contacts and monitored all of them every day for 21 days. In Senegal, we also identified a single patient who came in, had exposures at two different health care facilities and in the community. We monitored more than 60 contacts every day.
None of them became ill. So this kind of context tracing is really the core public health, and it's what we're doing day in and day out and what we will be doing here do identify any possible spread and to ensure that there aren't further chains of transmission.
On the phone. Two more questions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The next question is from Julie Steenhuysen of Reuters.
Your line is open.
QUESTION: I have two questions.
First, I just want to confirm the timeline. My understanding is the patient arrived in the United States on the 20th, initially sought treatment on the 26th. I'm assuming was then sent home and came back again on the 28th of September and was admitted. The second question is, will you be offering this patient any convalescent serum or experimental therapy? thanks.
FRIEDEN: You are correct about the timeline.
In terms of possible experimental therapies, that's something that is being discussed with the hospital now and with the family and if appropriate would be provided to the extent available.
The last question on the phone?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The next question comes from Denise Grady of "The New York Times."
Your line is open.
QUESTION: Thanks very much.
I think that people have touched on this, but I would just like to ask this anyway, just in case we can get any more clarity on it. Was this -- can you tell us if this person is an American citizen? Will you be releasing the flight information? And is it correct to assume that he was staying at a home with family members, rather than in a hotel?
FRIEDEN: The patient was visiting family members and staying with family members who live in this country.
We will contact anyone who we think has any likelihood of having had an exposure to the individual while they were infectious. At this point, that does not include anyone who might have traveled with him because he was not infectious at that time. And you asked a third question, which I don't remember.
QUESTION: I asked if he's an American citizen.
FRIEDEN: He is visiting family who live in this country.
Do we have any other questions in the room?
QUESTION: Follow up on that. Will you identify the flight information?
FRIEDEN: We will identify any context where we think there is a risk of transmission.
At this point, there is zero risk of transmission on the flight. The illness of Ebola would not have gone on for 10 days before diagnosis. He was checked for fever before getting on the flight and there is no reason to think that anyone on the flight that he was on would be at risk.
I want to end with just a bottom line before we stop. Ebola is a scary disease because of the severity of illness it causes. And we're really hoping for the recovery of this individual.
At the same time, we're stopping it in its tracks in this country. We can do that because of two things, strong health care infection control that stops the spread of Ebola, and strong core public health functions that trace contacts, track contacts, isolate them if they have any symptoms and stop the chain of transmission. We're stopping this in its tracks.
Thank you very much. BLITZER: All right. That's Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta with very alarming news.
The first case of Ebola now diagnosed in the United States. He pointed out this individual, a male, left Liberia on September 19, arrived in the United States September 20. Showed no symptoms at that time. But four days later on September 24, began showing symptoms. On December 26, two days after that, some care was started.
But it was only last Sunday, September 28, when this patient was admitted into a hospital. He is in intensive care, showing severe conditions right now.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta monitored what's going on.
Sanjay, they say everyone who supposedly was in contact with him in the four days between the first symptoms September 24, and Sunday, September 28, now are in isolation because potentially they could have been infected with Ebola.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Wolf.
And, you know, that's probably the most concerning part of the whole story. We have been talking some time, Wolf, about what has happened today is a first. It is very historic. The first patient being diagnosed now in the United States with Ebola. But it wasn't entirely unexpected. We knew for some time that there are people who could be carrying the Ebola virus in their bodies and not have any symptoms at all. And they could travel around the world.
And we knew at some point, one of those people was going to come to the United States. We know, just to be clear, there are patients who have come to the United States that have already been diagnosed with Ebola, but this is the first person who arrived here and was subsequently diagnosed with Ebola.
But, Wolf, I agree with you. I think the most concerning part Baltimore he arrived on the 20th, on the 24th, became sick, two days after that was seeking out care. But it wasn't until the 28th, which is four days after the person became sick, that they in fact went into isolation.
I spent some time at the CDC reporting the story over the last couple months and one of the things made very clear was that if someone was coming to the hospital that had symptoms, fever, flu-like symptoms, it could be a lot of different things, no question, but if the travel history was also concerning, meaning they were coming from West Africa and, specifically, Sierra Leone, Guinea or Liberia, that that was going to really raise the flag and possibly prompt testing.
It does not appear that that happened in this case. Why the person was not tested on the 24th, why they were not placed into isolation on the 24th, given their travel history, given their concerns about Ebola, that's a question that still needs to be answered. Wolf, I'm not sure we will get a clear answer on that. But as a result of that person not going into isolation at that point, that person had contact now over four days with we don't know how many people.
Maybe it was just a handful of people, family members, for example, close contacts. But what about the health care professionals on the 24th when this person went into the hospital? What about the health care team on the 26th when this person again sought out care? What sort of precautions did they take if they did not know that he could potentially have Ebola?
So that is of significant concern and that's exactly what they will need to address in Dallas and I think what Dr. Frieden was at least trying to start to address tonight as well, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. And what alarmed me is that he said only a handful of people potentially had that kind of contact, although when you think about it those four critically, critically important days, the fact that he was getting some care, but they decided it wasn't necessarily Ebola, even though this individual was visiting family members, Dr. Frieden said, in the United States, in the Dallas area, and had just come from Liberia, you would think they would be a lot more cautious and bend over backwards to make sure there wouldn't be any contact, because those symptoms, somebody coming from Liberia, that could be a problem.
GUPTA: Yes. That's exactly right. I'll tell you, a few months ago, we weren't thinking about this at all. The idea of someone traveling to the United States with Ebola, that was so far down the list that doctors would not have considered that.
But over the last few months, obviously, things have changed. And I know for a fact, having done some reporting at the CDC in their sort of command center, that they were doing teleconferencing with doctors all over the country, basically sort of trying to reinforce these concepts, that if someone has symptoms that could be consistent with Ebola and they had the travel history that raised the concern, again, coming from these countries where Ebola was spreading, then that would really raise a flag for the doctors at that point and probably prompt testing.
You remember, Wolf, we have been talking about patients that have been tested all over the country over the last few months trying -- they were trying to make sure those patients didn't have Ebola. That was the exact concern. All of those patients, their testing turned out negative. This person's testing turned out positive. But again the concern was he was sick for four days before the person -- before he was put in isolation.
I think that's the situation they have been destroying to avoid. This person probably should have been put in isolation initially to avoid any further contact with people.
BLITZER: And you're talking a look -- we're showing our viewers, Sanjay, live pictures of the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas where this patient is now in intensive care right now obviously isolated. We're also told, Sanjay, the president of the United States, President Obama has been fully briefed by the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about this specific case.
And we watch it. We will have much more on the story coming up later this hour.
But there's other breaking news we're following this hour as well. I want to get right to that. That armed man who jumped the White House fence, made it inside has now been indicted. The U.S. Secret Service director was grilled about the security breach earlier today, as more shocking details emerged about the intruder's race through the White House all the way to the East Room.
Our justice correspondent Pamela Brown is joining us now and she has the very latest -- Pamela.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a lot of new developments, Wolf.
Tonight, a grand jury indicted Omar Gonzalez on a federal charge of unlawfully entering a restricted building while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon, as well as two D.C. laws violation. Now, this just after Congress grilled Secret Service chief Julia Pierson on how Gonzalez, an Iraq war vet, was able to make it deep inside the White House.
Today, for the first time, Pierson said that Gonzalez overpowered a Secret Service officer at the front door and made it all the way across the first floor, past the stairwell to the first family's private residence and into the East Room. It was there a Secret Service officer apprehended him. And a source briefed on the investigation said two off-duty agents heard the commotion and ran to help out.
Initially, the Secret Service gave no indication of a struggle or a chase and claimed Gonzalez was unarmed when in fact he had a folded knife in his pocket. Here's what one congress member and Pierson had to say in response to the criticism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEPHEN LYNCH (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I wish to God you -- you protected the White House like you're protecting your reputation here today.
JULIA PIERSON, DIRECTOR, SECRET SERVICE: We are all outraged within the Secret Service of how this incident came to pass. And that is why I have asked for a full review. It is obvious. It is obvious that mistakes were made.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And after the hearing, the White House stood up for Pierson, saying that she took responsibility for the breach and put new security measures into place. Today, Pierson said during the hearing that one of those changes is a system that would automatically lock the front door in the event of an emergency, Wolf.
BLITZER: That obviously makes sense. Hopefully, they will learn lessons from this horrible, horrible blunder. Pamela, thanks very much.
I want to take all of our viewers now through the fence jumper's sprint through the White House step by step and how he managed to dodge the Secret Service for so long.
Brian Todd is joining us now with a closer look at this part of the story -- pretty shocking stuff, Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Certainly shocking, Wolf.
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson said today, she cannot explain why the intruder was not stopped right after he jumped the fence or even before he jumped it. Now we know tonight that was just one of many security lapses committed that evening within a period of seconds.
TODD (voice-over): At 7:20 p.m. on September 19, Omar Gonzalez jumps the White House fence, sprints toward the entrance. That's the first major breakdown.
(on camera): Why wasn't he stopped when he breached the fence?
DAN BONGINO, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Yes, that's a great question. We have a number of assets, seen, unseen, manpower, technology out here.
TODD (voice-over): What about inside the fence?
BONGINO: Inside, without giving out specific locations, there is a number of personnel on the inside that can engage from long range and close up, both lethal and nonlethal options.
TODD: One of those nonlethal options, according to the former Secret Service agent Daniel Bongino, an attack dog. It is supposed to be deployed when there is a jumper. Gonzalez sprints across the North Lawn, but no dog is released.
BONGINO: If the target is here and makes it across the fence, that Belgian Malinois, when it hits you, it is like getting hit by a truck.
TODD: The video shows a Secret Service officer on the left, but no officer right at the door. That officer watches him enter.
BONGINO: A better option may have been at that point, if you weren't going to engage in lethal force, would be to in turn tackle before he makes it to the door. But that didn't happen.
TODD: The door is not locked. Inside, an officer confronts Gonzalez but is overpowered. Alarm boxes are near the front door. They're silenced because the White House staff complained they were too noisy.
BONGINO: You see these kind of cosmetic, air quotes here, optics issues all the time. We don't want to bother the president. We don't want to bother the ushers. Well, do you want to keep them alive?
TODD: Gonzalez sprints past a stairway to the private residence, then turns left into the cross hall apparently with at least one officer in pursuit. He makes it into the East Room, then back into the hall where he is tackled, a source says, by one on-duty Secret Service officer and two off-duty agents.
Secret Service officers are allowed to use lethal force to stop intruders. Should that have been used at any point?
BONGINO: It very easy for members after the fact to Monday- morning quarterback these guys. It is not easy to pull that trigger and take away the last breaths of oxygen these guys are ever going to have because of a mental disorder.
TODD: Now, Bongino says you have to work on the nonlethal barriers first. He says one of the first changes has to be to that fence. Take a look at this fence.
This is a comparison of the White House fence, which is a 1960s era fence. Bongino calls this a disaster. This is only about seven- and-a-half feet high, compared to the fence that protects Buckingham Palace in London, 12 feet high. Bongino says that might make every bit of the difference here.
And there's other adjustments you can make to that fence, Wolf.
BLITZER: They have some sort of temporary fence set up, is that right, Brian?
TODD: That's right. They have erected a bike rack across the area in front of the fence on the outside. It is about eight feet away from the fence. There you see pictures of it. That is just a temporary stopgap measure to delay any potential intruders while the tactical teams respond.
But again this is temporary. It is only going to be there until they figure out a permanent solution to that fence.
BLITZER: Brian, thanks very much.
We're joined now by the delegate to the House of Representatives from here in Washington, the District of Columbia, Eleanor Holmes Norton.
Thanks so much for joining us.
You were there. You took part in the hearing. You are a member of this committee. You still have confidence in the Secret Service director, Julia Pierson?
DEL. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), WASHINGTON, D.C.: Well, Wolf, after hearing her testimony, it became clear to me this is not a personnel issue.
It is much bigger than that. The Secret Service needs a makeover. The Secret Service, those who do such a normally wonderful job, in front of the White House and in back of the White House, are trained to deal with you and me. We're tourists.
I want to fight the next war, because the next war, not the war we just had, one demented veteran jumping over the fence, next time, it could be in the age of terrorism six or seven or 12. Is the Secret Service of today, a 21st century Secret Service, able to confront what could be terrorists in an age of ISIL and domestic and international terrorism?
While there are commonsense things that could be done -- one of my favorites, you just mentioned, a higher fence. Those become clear once we see what has already happened. But we have got to start planning for what could happen, both in front of the White House and in back of the White House, and that's where, that's why I believe that the Secret Service of today needs a 21st century makeover.
BLITZER: It sounds to me like you don't have a lot of confidence in the current leadership there, including the director.
NORTON: Well, to tell you the truth, I think if you were to replace her and just put another competent person -- she's only been there 18 months -- without a thorough top-to-bottom investigation of how to restructure that organization to fit the age of terrorism, you might not come out any differently.
They have also been punished terribly with resources. She says she was down 500 agents. How are you going to take care of the White House when you're moving people around just to fill gaps?
BLITZER: Is that because of the forced budget cuts, the so- called sequestration? Is that why they have cut spending?
BLITZER: Because, as we all know -- and I think you have studied this. The threats against this president of the United States, President Obama, have increased compared to earlier presidents.
NORTON: Well, initially, they were three times what other presidents had incurred.
These budget cuts did not waive any police service, including the Secret Service. So I think Congress has to take some of the responsibility. She, by the way, didn't even mention that. I have looked at the figures. She did mention under questioning that she was down 500 agents. That tells you a lot right there.
But we need to look, Wolf, at this agency which was meant to make sure that tourists didn't get to close to the fence, and that they were hospitable to them, and if one of these fence jumpers, and almost all are harmless, came over, you could just tackle them and cart them off to St. Elizabeth asylum or wherever they take them.
That's not who I think is going to start thinking about coming over here. We have at least 100 Americans who have gone over already to fight with ISIL. We know that they are recruiting in this country. They don't have to go over there. You can start right here and go to the White House. That's how I think we have to start thinking if we want to make sure that we have dealt with what could really be the looming danger ahead.
BLITZER: That's a pretty terrifying thought that you just conveyed.
But I think it is one of the great fears that so many U.S. officials have right now.
Eleanor Holmes Norton is the delegate from the District of Columbia. She was at that hearing earlier today.
Thanks so much for joining us.
NORTON: Always a pleasure, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, Other information we're getting, including some new DNA links. A source now telling CNN there is new evidence tying a man suspected in the disappearance of a Virginia college student to a similar case five years ago. Here's the question. Could police have a serial killer on their hands?
And a new standoff between police and protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. Citizens have a chance to vent their anger at local officials this hour. We're monitoring the situation. Stay with us.
BLITZER: We're following dramatic news in the case of a missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham. CNN is told the suspect, Jesse Matthew, is now being looked at as a possible suspect in other unsolved murder cases and missing person cases in Virginia.
Also, a law enforcement source now tells CNN that DNA evidence links Matthew to the death of another student back in 2009.
CNN's Athena Jones spoke with the suspect's attorney today. She's joining us now live from Charlottesville with the very latest. What have you learned, Athena?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jesse Matthew's lawyer told me he met with his client for two and a half hours yesterday. He also said that, because court papers are under seal, he hasn't been provided with any evidence that links his client to either the Hannah Graham case or the Morgan Harrington case.
But of course this is not stopping a lot of people from asking a lot of questions about Matthew's possible connections to other unsolved mysteries.
JONES (voice-over): Tonight law enforcement sources say DNA evidence links Jess Matthew, a suspect in the disappearance of 18- year-old Hannah Graham, to murdered college student Morgan Harrington. And now authorities are reexamining other cold cases in Virginia. Like the case of Samantha Clark, who vanished after leaving her home in Orange County, Virginia, in 2010.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN ANCHOR: Nineteen-year-old Samantha Ann Clark's family prayed for a Christmas miracle.
JONES: Orange police chief James Fenwick told CNN investigators are looking into possible connections to Matthew saying, quote, "We would be derelict in our duties if we weren't doing that." No link in that case has been found.
The Campbell County Virginia sheriff tells CNN his office is investigating a potential link between Matthew and Cassandra Morton, found dead near Lynchburg in 2009. Morton was reported missing the same day as Harrington. No link to Matthew has been found in the Morton case either, but the alleged DNA link between Harrington and Matthew is significant.
MEL ROBBINS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: DNA evidence is the single best evidence that you can have other than a videotape. It's like a marker, a genetic marker of the people that were there, of what's happened.
JONES: Virginia State Police are not elaborating on the forensic evidence. If that evidence holds up, there could be another victim connected to Matthew.
In 2005, a 26-year-old woman was grabbed while walking home from this Fairfax, Virginia, grocery store. Authorities say she was dragged to a grassy area nearby and sexually assaulted. Police released this sketch of her attacker.
In 2012, the FBI said the suspect in the Harrington case matched the DNA profile in the Fairfax assault.
And the Hannah Graham case is not the first time Matthew has been accused of preying on a young woman. He was accused of rape in 2002 when he was 20 years old and attending Liberty University in Lynchburg. Matthew told authorities the woman consented. She declined to press charges, and investigators didn't have enough evidence to arrest him, according to a local prosecutor.
As these other investigations continue, Harrington's parents say they're praying that Hannah Graham is found.
GIL HARRINGTON, MORGAN HARRINGTON'S MOTHER: We are desperate to find Hannah Graham so that her family has some answers.
JONES: The Charlottesville police have found no sign of Graham but aren't giving up.
CHIEF TIMOTHY LONGO, CHARLOTTESVILLE POLICE: I'm not. Nor is anyone on my investigative team going to be that thing, that person, that source, that enterprise, that organization, that snuffs out hope.
JONES: Now Virginia State Police and Homeland -- Department of Homeland Security officials are continuing their search for Hannah Graham. They're searching by air. They're using canine team, ground teams, ATVs.
Meanwhile, Jesse Matthew is due to appear before a district judge on Thursday for a bond hearing. He'll do that via video link from the regional jail -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Athena. Thanks very much.
Let's dig deeper right now. Joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM, our CNN law-enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, the former assistant director of the FBI. And also joining us, the investigative journalist Coy Barefoot. He's joining us from Charlottesville, Virginia.
Tom, what do you make of these developments? Because it seems so damning.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW-ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It's very damning, Wolf. The fact they have DNA forensic evidence that links Morgan Harrington's murder to Matthew is very significant. The next step will be whether they charge him in that crime.
And if they have that kind of leverage with him, of whether he will give them the information about what happened to Hannah Graham that night.
BLITZER: Coy, you're there on the scene. What do you make of these developments?
COY BAREFOOT, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: The reaction to this news here, Wolf, is shock. It's surprise. But I'll tell you, here in Charlottesville, there is a very palpable sense of outrage. Hannah Graham was stolen from this community, from the university, the city and the county community here in central Virginia. People are upset about that. They're mad. And they want to do everything they can do to make sure that she is brought home and returned to her mom and dad.
BLITZER: Is it fair to say, Coy, and you're there in Charlottesville, most of this new information is coming from family members, not from law enforcement?
BAREFOOT: It was confirmed by Gil Harrington, Morgan's mother, with whom I was visiting just a few days ago. Gil confirmed that news that there is a match, there is a forensic link, as police say, between Jesse Matthew and the 2009 case of Morgan's abduction and Morgan Harrington's murder in 2009. If it does prove to be Jesse's DNA, well, then we know that the
DNA that was found on Morgan's shirt the night she disappeared is the same DNA that is linked to the attack and the rape and the brutal beating in Fairfax on September 24, 2005. We could be looking at, at least at a serial rapist and a serial killer here in Charlottesville.
BLITZER: At what point, Tom -- you used to work at the FBI -- do the prosecutors start talking to his lawyer, potentially about some sort of plea bargain, life in prison without the possibility of parole, instead of going for the death sentence, which is obviously available in the state of Virginia?
FUENTES: Well, the prosecutors are not going to bluff. So it's going to depend on how much evidence they have and how solid it is to link him to the previous crimes. So if they have that, that will give them a great deal of leverage.
If the defense attorney ends up in the position that he's bargaining for his life, to have him look at life without parole, as opposed to being executed, then they have something to bargain with, which would be, "Tell us where Hannah is." And that's the key thing at this point.
BLITZER: Because Coy, that's really, if in fact these allegations -- we want to be precise. These are allegations. This is a suspect. He hasn't been convicted of anything. Innocent until proven guilty, obviously. But if those allegations are true, and they have that kind of evidence, the only thing he has to offer is the whereabouts, potentially, allegedly, of Hannah Graham.
BAREFOOT: That's exactly right. And that's what we all want. The abduction and the disappearance of Hannah Graham has touched lives around the world. There are so many people who have her and her family in their thoughts and their prayers. And I know they're thinking of her. And everyone in America lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, tonight. And we are all members of Hannah Graham's family, and we just want to find her and bring her home.
BLITZER: Tom, I know you want to add.
FUENTES: Wolf, I'd like to add to what Coy said about the community being outraged. The outrage is worldwide. Students come from countries all over the world to attend the University of Virginia, to attend Virginia tech. My daughters were there when the first incident happened with Morgan Harrington. These schools are world-famous world-class universities. And the parents everywhere are, let's say, worried that, if their children are going to that school, are they safe in Charlottesville?
BLITZER: What's going on there? Give us a little flavor, Coy, about the mood in the community right now. Because this is obviously a critical moment.
BAREFOOT: It is. I can tell you that today we confirmed that law enforcement was on ATVs, searching the Stony Point Road, which is Route 20 North here in Charlottesville. I know a few days ago they were on Route 29 South. And you can drive around the community and see these long trains of ATVs, searching the roadsides, seeing if perhaps somebody might have thrown something out the window.
I know on grounds of the University of Virginia, I have never seen such a positive energized student reaction. Students coming forward who were never involved in any kind of student groups are stepping up and participating and making a commitment that they don't want to see anything like this happen ever again.
And we need to get to a point where it is culturally reprehensible to allow a young woman to go walking off down a city street at midnight by herself. That cannot happen again. We have to look out for each other. And not just here in Charlottesville but all across this great nation.
BLITZER: Certainly true. All right, Coy. Thanks very much. Coy Barefoot, on the scene for us in Charlottesville.
Tom, I want you to stand by. We've got other information that we're about to break, including more information about a very tense night. Potentially. in Ferguson, Missouri, after a new stand-off between police and protesters. We're monitoring town-hall meetings that could get ugly, potentially -- we hope they won't -- at any moment. And our panel is standing by to talk about the latest developments, what it will take to put an end to the anger and the unrest.
BLITZER: We're monitoring the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, right now.
Two town hall meetings are underway to discuss failures in communication between local residents and leaders. These meetings are part of the U.S. Justice Department's investigation into the police shooting of an unarmed teenager and the unrest that followed.
There's still enormous anger within the community. We saw more protests overnight. Police were with shields and batons at the ready. Eventually, both sides pulled back. Police let the demonstrators remain on the streets as long as they were peaceful.
Let's talk about the developments with CNN anchor Don Lemon, John Gaskin, an NAACP board member, and CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes.
All right. John, you're there. These two town halls that are taking place right now, what do you hope emerges from them?
JOHN GASKIN, NAACP BOARD MEMBER: Well, I hope the people will remain peaceful. And hopefully, they get some answers, regarding the DOJ civil rights investigation.
People have a lot of questions. They're reaching out to the NAACP, hoping that they'll get answers. So, I hope that tonight, they will get some of the answers that
they're looking for, that people will remain calm, that they will be patient. But most of all, that people waiting in line, people at these meetings will be dealt with in a way that is respectful, in a way that is humane, because we would hate to see thing turn ugly after those meetings, as people get frustrated from waiting in line or they leave the meetings really let-down because information has not been provided to them.
BLITZER: Hey, Don, you had an excellent interview. I warm to play a little clip from Captain Ron Johnson. He's with the Missouri State Highway Patrol. He's played a really significant role in trying to ease the tensions in Ferguson and the whole St. Louis area. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. RON JOHNSON, MISSOURI STATE HIGHWAY PATROL: There is a sense of distrust. I do think that we have started taking tiny steps toward that trust. But we have a long way to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He's obviously blunt.
What do you make of his comments?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I posed to him after because, you know, the president has been mentioned, as he has been speaking around the country, a gulf of mistrust between the police department and Ferguson, Missouri and places in the country.
They've had a tough time. You know, the major news organizations for the most part. I mean, we're still there. We haven't left. But many people, it's not the top story anymore.
So, there is still unrest there. There are things still happening there that are being covered really by bloggers and local people. So, whether -- however you feel about this particular situation, about the officer, about Michael Brown or whatever it is, the situation is happening. There is unrest in Ferguson.
There is this mistrust that they're trying to deal with.
That's why they had these meetings. Two of them scheduled tonight and scheduled for each Tuesday night for three more Tuesdays. I mean, that's the beginning of it but they've got a whole lot of work to do there, Wolf.
BLITZER: Tom, this is a tense situation. Potentially, it could get dangerous again, right?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think so.
And the other thing about these town hall meetings that they're having, the council, they're not going to have any answers. They don't control the grand jury investigation. They don't control or have knowledge of the FBI investigation for civil rights. So, whatever they're going to talk about, I think is going to fail to satisfy the people who are in attendance and potentially can inflame them and make it worse. When they go to a meeting and expecting answers and don't get any.
LEMON: But they do get a chance to vent, at least. I mean, that's -- the least of it.
BLITZER: That's a good point.
John, you know, there are these reports out there. I'm sure you've seen them. Some of these protesters think they're being arrested at random to gain some sort of negotiating power or leverage, if you will. What do you make of these reports?
GASKIN: You know, I've heard that. I'm not sure if that's credible or not but I wouldn't be surprised. You know, I've talked with people on the ground and it is really concerning, how protesters are being dealt with.
It's my understanding that they're almost hog tying people on the ground. You know, we've got to keep in mind, these are our neighbors. These are our citizens. These are people that live right here in the United States.
And so, in terms of them going out and handpicking people, targeting various protesters that maybe blogging or trying to tell the story on a national scene, and shed light on this, I know that CNN hasn't left, you've all been committed to this.
But many people are still trying to share this story from a blogger or social media standpoint. And so, I wouldn't be surprised at all if the local police department there in Ferguson is going out and targeting various protesters to try to stop them.
BLITZER: Don, you spent a lot of time there reporting from on the ground. What do you think they need to do to calm the tensions, because there's not going to be a decision from this grand jury, whether or not to go ahead and indict the police officer who shot and killed Michael brown, that could last, that could be several more months?
LEMON: Yes. So if you ask me what they really need to do, there needs to be some sort of movement with the police officer, whatever that is. You need to hear from the police officer, he needs to be arrested, he needs to be questioned. There needs to be something -- there has to be a movement on that in order for the next step to happen. And there has to be a broader conversation and not just people yelling at officials at meetings and a change within the police department and the community.
I don't -- listen, Wolf, I don't have the answered but the police department or the police departments in that area really have their work cut out for them when it comes to the relationships and gaining the trust -- regaining the trust of the citizens. That's going to be really tough. If I had that answer, you know, I would have a gazillion dollars. I really don't.
BLITZER: All right. Don, I know you'll have more answers and more reporting on this story later tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, you'll be anchoring our coverage on CNN tonight.
Don Lemon, thanks very much.
John Gaskin, Tom Fuentes, guys, thanks to you as well.
Just ahead, a new CNN interview with the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, who has some tough words for President Obama.
BLITZER: All right. This just in to CNN: The New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has some very tough words for President Obama about his handling of the ISIS threat. The possible 2016 presidential candidate just spoke to our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash.
Dana is joining us now from Newark, New Jersey.
So, tell us what he said, Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, Chris Christie is a Republican who's not been afraid in the past to hold hands and join forces with President Obama when needed, like Sandy -- Hurricane Sandy and the aftermath, for example. But when it comes to this particular issue that has been in the headlines, ISIS and the president's role with regard to ISIS, he is not happy.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I was disturbed by the" 60 Minutes" interview on Sunday when he said they underestimated is. It should be "we", Mr. President. It's your administration. And when you're the leader, you have to be held accountable for what they do.
So, I was disturbed by that. I think that makes people less certain of his footing on these things. He's the president. He needs to be accountable. I hope that he says that, that he corrects what I hope was a misstatement, that it wasn't "they" who underestimated, it was "we", he, his administration who underestimated.
As I've shown before, if I think the president is doing something well, I don't hesitate to say that he is. But I think the jury is still out on this because we shouldn't be in this position to begin with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: And, Wolf, I pointed out to the governor that the president actually has gotten at least five Arab countries to fly with the United States in airstrikes, that he is against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and whether or not that is proof that he has some of it planned, you know, he would not back down. But what was very interesting, is that this is obviously a governor for whom foreign policy is not a daily part of his job, unlike senators who potentially are going to run for president as Chris Christie might.
But he was very eager, it seems, to get his voice out there on this very, very big issue of national security right now, Wolf.
BLITZER: What is he is saying about possibly running for the presidential nomination?
BASH: He told me that he's going to decide after the first of the year. He said that's when he's going to decide, but maybe not announce it until later. I said, "You know, come on, you haven't decided yet?" And he said, "No, I'm not kidding. I really haven't decided."
You know, we'll see, when history books are written, whether or not that actually turns out to be true.
But, look, I said to him, back on the ISIS question, what he would do if he was commander-in-chief and he was very quick to say, "I don't have to answer that yet because I'm not yet seeking the role to be commander-in-chief", Wolf.
BLITZER: Does he think that the whole bridge-gate scandal is behind him?
BASH: He certainly is trying to get it behind him. And one of the things that was so fascinating and watching him, where I am right now, is Newark, New Jersey. He came here for a forum talking about, trying to de-stigmatize drug addiction. And he was a very different kind of Chris Christie, a compassionate, kind of conservative, and that was clearly an attempt to show somebody different from the perhaps bully that came across during the whole bridge-gate scandal.
BLITZER: All right. Dana, good work. Thanks very much.
And this note to our viewers, you can see much more of Dana's interview with the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie tomorrow morning on "NEW DAY", "NEW DAY" tomorrow morning, 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., only here on CNN.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.