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THE SITUATION ROOM
Fate of Future Protests Undecided; Cops Shot in Ferguson, Manhunt Underway; Drunken Secret Service Agents Disrupted Bomb Investigation; Interview with Rep. Jason Chaffetz
Aired March 12, 2015 - 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: Happening now, manhunt. Police frantically searching for the shooter who wounded two police officers overnight in Ferguson. Was the long-range ambush carried out by a pro?
Losing the street. As tensions rise in Ferguson, will fresh protests erupt tonight? Can police still control the situation?
Plus drunk service? Two senior Secret Service agents suspected of being intoxicated crash into a White House barrier. It's the latest in a series of scandals. Can the Secret Service still manage to protect the president and his family?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following two breaking stories right now. An urgent hunt is under way for whoever shot two police officers outside the Ferguson police station overnight, as you can see. Watch this.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
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BLITZER: The shots rang out as a protest against the troubled department was winding down. Two officers were wounded. Police and witnesses say the shots came from long range.
The attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder, is calling it a disgusting and cowardly ambush.
As tensions rise, county officers and state troopers are about to take over protests -- take over the security situation, the security duties from Ferguson Police.
Meantime, stunning new details emerging in the latest scandal to hit the U.S. Secret Service. Two top-ranking officials plowed their government car into a White House security barrier after a night of partying and reportedly disrupted a bomb investigation that was under way.
President Obama is disappointed. Lawmakers are furious. Our correspondents and analysts are standing by with full coverage.
Let's begin with Ferguson right now. The latest information, our national correspondent Jason Carroll is on the scene for us -- Jason.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, one of the people brought in for questioning lived in the house behind me. Her grandmother simply cannot understand why her granddaughter is being questioned. She says, Wolf, her granddaughter had nothing to do with the shooting.
CARROLL (voice-over): Early this morning, a SWAT team swarms this home in Ferguson as part of their search for suspects after two police officers were shot outside the Ferguson Police Department. St. Louis County Police questioned two young men and a 23-year-old woman taken from the home. The woman's grandmother, Iris Turner, tells me her granddaughter called overnight to say she was at the protest and heard the shots.
IRIS TURNER, GRANDMOTHER OF WOMAN QUESTIONED ABOUT SHOOTING: It's just crazy. It's so crazy, these kids up there protesting and doing this. They need to be at home. That's where they need to be.
CARROLL: Turner says police followed her granddaughter from the protest last night, but she does not know why police raided the home and brought in her granddaughter for questioning.
St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar says finding the people responsible for shooting the officers is the No. 1 priority.
CHIEF JOHN BELMAR, ST. LOUIS COUNTY: This is really an ambush is what it is.
CARROLL: This amateur video captures the tense moments after the shots rang out as the crowd was starting to wind down around midnight. Police say the shots were fired from a hill, about 120 yards away from where the demonstrators and police were gathering.
BRADLEY RAYFORD, WITNESS: They were about -- I want to say about 50 -- 30 to 50 protesters still left. The police got their guns out, their rifles out of the cars, and kind of took cover and made all the media duck down.
CARROLL: A 14-year veteran of the St. Louis County Police Department was shot in the shoulder and a seven-year veteran of the nearby Webster Groves Police Department shot in the face.
BELMAR: I would have to imagine that these protesters were among the shooters that shot at the police officers.
CARROLL: The officers were released from the hospital Thursday morning. BELMAR: We're lucky by God's grace we didn't lose two officers last
CARROLL: The officers were standing next to each other in front of the Ferguson Police Department when they were hit. The gunfire erupted just hours after the announcement that Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson resigned.
MAYOR JAMES KNOWLES, FERGUSON, MISSOURI: This was a mutual decision both by the chief of police and the city's administration.
CARROLL: Protests have been a regular occurrence since Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, who was unarmed, on August 9.
DERAY MCKESSON, FERGUSON PROTEST ORGANIZER: Last night was the 219th day of protest. We have been peaceful and non-violent for the duration of the protests. I can't imagine that, on the day of the resignation of the police chief of a department that has been proven to be racist, that a protester would engage in behavior like this.
CARROLL: A damning U.S. Justice Department report released just last week cited widespread and systematic discrimination against blacks by the Ferguson Police Department and the court system. Some demonstrators are calling for the disbanding of the entire police department and the resignation of Ferguson's mayor, James Knowles.
CARROLL: And Wolf, right now you're looking at a live picture of where police tried to break into the roof of the home here so they could conduct part of their search.
Turner's grandmother is, like so many people here in Ferguson, many people in this neighborhood who thought once Chief Jackson resigned, everything would be over and this community would return to being peaceful once again, but again, though, Wolf, people out here are still waiting for peace to return -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Jason Carroll, on the scene. We'll get back to you.
The attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder, is reacting very angrily to the latest violence in Ferguson. He's calling the attack on the two police officers disgusting and cowardly.
Let's go to our senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns. He's got more on the reaction. The reaction very angry.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Right. Wolf, despite that DOJ report from just days ago, that blasted the city of Ferguson and its police department, accusing them of widespread racial discrimination with a profit motive.
Today Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice were offering to come to the aid of Ferguson, pledging federal assistance in the investigation to help catch the shooter. As a matter of fact, ATF agents are already said to be working the case. Holder unleashed a torrent of angry words for the crime and whoever did it.
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ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I want to be very clear here. I unequivocally condemn these repugnant attacks. What happened last night was -- was a pure ambush. What happened last night was a pure ambush. This was not someone trying to bring healing to Ferguson. This was a damn punk, punk, who was trying to sow discord in an area that is trying to get its act together and trying to bring together a community that has been fractured for too long.
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JOHNS: And the president of the United States also weighed in on the Ferguson shootings on Twitter. Mr. Obama wrote, "Violence against police is unacceptable. Our prayers are with the officers in Missouri. Path to justice is one all of us must travel together." And that tweet was accompanied by the president's initials, which means he authored it himself, Wolf.
BLITZER: I'm sure he's very, very angry, as is the attorney general of the United States. Joe, thanks very much.
The shooting of those two police officers is adding to the tension that already has been quite extreme in Ferguson over these many months. Joining us now is Jeff Roorda. He's with the St. Louis Police Officers Association.
Jeff, thanks very much for joining us. I know one of those police officers is an old friend of yours. Tell us what you can about his condition.
JEFF ROORDA, ST. LOUIS POLICE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION: Well, I visited with him at his home earlier this afternoon, Wolf. He was handling it remarkably well. He's a tough guy. His main concern was that his family see him acting as normally as possible so he was sort of soldiering through a lot of pain so that -- so that his family would feel better about the situation. But I mean, it's going to be a long road to recovery for both him and particularly the officer that was shot in the face.
BLITZER: So your friend was the one who was shot in the shoulder, and the other officer was shot in the face. Have you been able to get an update on how he's doing?
ROORDA: I have not. You know, we've -- what we do all the time, we came immediately to the aid, the financial aid of the two officers and their families, delivered some checks today to help them defray expenses and told them that their law enforcement family's here for them, whatever needs they have.
BLITZER: We know their ages, we know how long they've served as police officers. Correct me if I'm wrong. They haven't released their names yet, right? ROORDA: They haven't. Wolf, I really hope they don't. You know,
everyone that's been associated with the disharmony here in Ferguson, when their names become public, they become subject to death threats. I've certainly been the subject of death threats. And I don't want their names public, because I worry about their safety.
BLITZER: What do you anticipate is going to happen in the next few hours? We know that in less than two hours, Missouri State Highway Patrol officers, St. Louis County police officers, they'll actually take over security if there are new protests, if there's any more violence. Explain what's going on over there.
ROORDA: Well, I mean, it's a very tense situation, as you can well imagine, Wolf. You know, in my communications as a union official with police commanders, I've been assured that tactics will be different tonight. I assume that means not only more officers, but a wider perimeter, coverage perhaps of these blind spots from which the shots were fired last night. You know, the layout here at city hall is very desirable for a cowardly gunman that wants to ambush police officers.
BLITZER: Even though three people have been taken in for questioning, they haven't been arrested. That's my understanding. And the working assumption is the shooter or shooters, for that matter, still at large. Is that right?
ROORDA: Well, there's -- as you can imagine, any time you have a police shooting like this, you know, with so many witnesses around, there are a lot of leads to follow. Some of them are hot leads. Some of them are dead-end leads. But law enforcement is out in full force following up on every lead, pursuing justice in this case, and trying to get this armed gunman off the street.
BLITZER: I know that you've accused the attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder, in your words, of pouring kerosene on the fire in Ferguson. Why do you do that? Because he is outraged. His brother is a police officer. Tell us why you're accusing Eric Holder of doing this and potentially creating this climate that you're now blaming for what happened to these two police officers.
ROORDA: I think Attorney General Holder is in a unique position to say things and do things that could bring some peace and some healing here to Ferguson. I don't think he took advantage of that much over the last several months. I was very glad to hear him say the things he did today, and I hope we hear more of that from him.
BLITZER: I just want to be precise on this matter, though. You're upset with the attorney general of the United States going into what happened, you were obviously throwing, when you say he was pouring kerosene on fire, that's a pretty strong indictment.
ROORDA: It is. You know, the attorney general had a great opportunity when the DOJ reports came out to dispel this myth of "hands up, don't shoot" once and for all, and to -- to more publicly clear Darren Wilson's name than he did. Instead he pivoted to this probe into the police department, where
there was criticisms of some very bad practices. I mean, these e- mails are reprehensible. The court profiteering is very troubling. But there's really no direct line drawn in that report between those bad practices and a pattern of discrimination.
And for him to concentrate so much on that report instead of the real meat of the findings which was that Darren Wilson was exonerated by the Department of Justice, just as he had been by a grand jury of his peers, I think was a missed opportunity.
BLITZER: Jeff Roorda, I'm going to have you stand by. We have more to discuss. We're getting other reaction. We're following the breaking news. A shooter still apparently on the loose right now. Much more coming up right after this.
BLITZER: Back to our top story. A manhunt is under way right now for whoever shot and wounded two police officers in front of the Ferguson police headquarters. Gunfire broke out after midnight as a protest was tapering off, but with tensions high, the troubled Ferguson Police Department is giving up some of its duties.
Let's go to Brian Todd. He's looking into this story for us. What are the latest developments you're picking up, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight a dramatic shift in police leadership on the streets of Ferguson. Officials say the St. Louis County Police and the Missouri State Highway Patrol are going to handle security for any street protests, taking that responsibility away from the Ferguson police. That means added pressure on those agencies to demonstrate that law enforcement still has control and won't overreact.
TODD (voice-over): The police call it an ambush. Two officers shot, almost killed. It followed a night of street fights between protesters following the resignation of Ferguson's police chief. From an exasperated St. Louis County police chief, a window into how tough it's been to maintain control.
BELMAR: I want everybody here to understand how difficult this is to do it the exact perfect way.
TODD: Last summer, there were many complaints that police were overly militarized, showing too much force during protests. Then they were criticized for not doing enough, allowing looting and other violence. Have the police lost the streets of Ferguson?
RON HOSKO, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: The police are trying to find their way. They're trying to find their footing. They're going to be criticized harshly one way or the other.
TODD: A Ferguson police official tells CNN they've not lost control of the streets. But some law enforcement experts say their loss of credibility is what got us to this moment.
MARK AZIZ, NATIONAL BLACK POLICE ASSOCIATION: A failure to engage with the community has cost them the trust that is needed to be productive.
TODD: And that may come back to haunt the police in the moments after the officers were shot. An official with the St. Louis County police tells us, at least initially, many potential witnesses were reluctant to give information to investigators.
Ron Hosko is a former FBI assistant director who's worked with several police departments. He says the mindset for an average police officer on the streets of Ferguson from this moment on is one of survival.
(on camera): How nervous are they and what are they thinking going in?
HOSKO: Policemen are human beings first. And so the first thing you're thinking about is "How do I come out of this situation tonight intact?" You're thinking about the person, the police officers next to you.
TODD (voice-over): Is there a strong trusted figure among police who could bring calm? Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol was a visible presence in Ferguson last summer, walking the streets, trying to tamp down tensions. Will he be called upon again? Tonight officials across the state are silent on that.
TODD: The challenge for police going forward if there are protests, just how are they going to keep the peace? Some protesters have said in Ferguson and elsewhere police with Kevlar vests and helmets with shields have been too provocative, that they've come on too strong.
But Ron Hosko says now more than ever, the officers are going to have to protect themselves. Wolf, the visuals tonight, what we see out in the streets, that's going to be key.
BLITZER: You're getting some pushback, Brian, from Ferguson police, all the pressure that's on them now to effectively disband.
TODD: That's right. I've heard from protest organizers who said flat-out, again, that the police there should not exist, they should be eliminated.
Well, a Ferguson police official told us they don't support that idea. They've not heard anything among their ranks or anything even close to them to support that idea. He said they're committed to improving the situation there. And he said they have an opportunity to set the standard for situations like this. It's unclear if they're ever going to get that opportunity from now on.
BLITZER: Tense situation remains. All right. Thanks very much, Brian, for that. Jeff Roorda of the St. Louis Police Officers Association is still with
us. And also joining us now is St. Louis alderman Antonio French. Mr. French, thanks very much for joining us, as well.
What do you make of the decision -- we just got the press release a little while ago -- that St. Louis County police, Missouri Highway Patrol officers, they're going to effectively take charge of Ferguson tonight, not the local police department? What's your reaction to that?
ANTONIO FRENCH, ST. LOUIS CITY ALDERMAN: I think that's a good move. I think that both the St. Louis County Police Department and especially the state highway patrol have more resources and a little bit more expertise in crowd control than the Ferguson Police Department does.
I also think that perhaps some of the methods of the Ferguson Police Department sometimes escalate the situation when, in fact, we need to deescalate it.
BLITZER: What do you anticipate is going to happen tonight? Because I know there's a lot of tension. There's fear of more protests. And I'm sure those police officers, whether they come from the highway patrol, whether they come from St. Louis County, they're all pretty scared.
FRENCH: Yes, there's a lot of feelings, strong feelings on both sides. A lot of fear, a lot of anxiety, frustration. It's these emotional situations where we worry about bad things happening.
But I think everybody acknowledges that last night was a tragedy. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of those two officers who were shot last night. No one wants to see a repeat of that.
BLITZER: You tweeted earlier today after the shooting, you said, "There are those that will exploit our city's division in order to perpetrate violence. The longer we're divided, the longer we're vulnerable." Explain who you suspect was responsible for this shooting.
FRENCH: Well, one thing is that we often lump everybody out there into the same group. People on one side, protesters against police somehow.
And what you see is that actually, in those crowds, you have a lot of different people with a lot of different agendas, a lot of different opinions. And there are some people that come to these things, and we've seen this in August and in November, intent on escalating the situation.
And what we saw last night was as the protest was dying down, many of the peaceful protesters leaving, that someone somewhere got violent. Now, who they were and what group they're affiliated with, we don't know. Hopefully, the police will track them down very soon, and we'll get those answers. But in no way are they representative of the thousands of people both
here in the St. Louis region and even beyond, across the country, who have been protesting the last few months.
BLITZER: Antonio, are you among those who suspect outside agitators, some professional hit man, in effect, with an expert marksman coming in and shooting these police officers?
FRENCH: I don't know. I wouldn't try to guess. I'll leave it up to the police to do their work, and hopefully, they will apprehend this person very soon.
BLITZER: Fair enough.
Let me bring back Jeff Roorda for a moment. Jeff, we're just getting this tweet from the St. Louis County Police associate president, Gabe Crocker, who's expressing fear that, yes, the two officers are out of the hospital, one of them a good friend of yours, but there will be fallout, he fears, from the injuries. They may never work again.
How concerned should we be these two police officers, they may be done being police officers given the nature of the injuries?
ROORDA: Well, not only the physical part of the injuries, Wolf, but just being mentally prepared to return to work after -- after an experience like this. There's a lot of officers that just can't do it and, even if they want to, that are too concerned about their family's concerns to go back to work.
This isn't like TV, where -- where the guy gets a flesh wound and gets up and then dusts himself off and engages in some acrobatics. These are debilitating injuries that have a long road to recovery.
BLITZER: Jeff Roorda, thanks very much for joining us.
Antonio French, thanks to you as well.
We're going to get back to Ferguson in a moment with the latest. Our own Don Lemon is on the scene. He'll be joining us. Our experts also are getting ready to weigh in on whether it's time to make good on the attorney general, Eric Holder's, threat to dismantle the Ferguson Police Department once and for all.
BLITZER: Let's get back to our top story. A manhunt is under way for whoever shot and wounded two police officers outside the Ferguson Police headquarters. It happened during a protest. There were tensions already very high.
The beleaguered Ferguson Police Department is surrendering some of its duties. County police and state troopers will take over security for the protest tonight.
Let's bring in our law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes. He's a former FBI assistant director. CNN's Don Lemon is on the ground for us now in Ferguson. CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and our legal analyst Sunny Hostin.
Guys, thanks to all of you for joining us.
Don, I know you're there. You're talking to folks on the ground. What are they saying to you about the shooting of these two police officers?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, "CNN TONIGHT": It's interesting, Wolf. It depends on who you talk to. If you talk to the protesters, the protesters are obviously still upset. They still think that -- you know, that the lives of the people who were killed by police officers, people who were unarmed, they think that's very important. They don't want that to be overshadowed by what happened here.
If you talk to the people who live in the neighborhood, they want their neighborhood back. They think that this is accomplishing nothing, that it's actually setting back what the protesters originally wanted which was to have police officers not target them for traffic stops.
So there is a -- there's a disconnect here. I spoke to a couple of different residents. One said, I was just trying to go to the library with my little nephew and I can't even get past because of police tape. This is accomplishing nothing. We've been here for almost a year. And then another one said -- go ahead. Sorry.
BLITZER: No, no. It wasn't us. It was just some voiceover from the b-roll.
LEMON: OK. All right. Sorry, Wolf. And then another one said she was just trying to go to the supermarket and she had been trying to -- you know, just to do that and can't -- and can't get there as well. And then if you talk to the police officers here, they feel that no one is paying attention to what's important to them. And that's the lives of police officers.
They said that two of their own could have very easily have lost their lives last night. One of them may not have use of one of his appendages, just one of his arms. One of them could still have a bullet in his head.
I did speak to a young woman. I'm not sure if we have the sound bite, Wolf. Her name is Keisha. She didn't want her face on camera but she was very adamant about her feelings.
BLITZER: Yes. We don't have that sound, Don. But stand by for a moment. I want to bring Tom Fuentes into this.
The police, the local police, at that news conference earlier in the day, they assumed the shooter was using a handgun from 125 yards. That's what they said, that's more than a football field. To do that and hit two police officers, one in the shoulder, one in the cheek, from 125 yards with a handgun, you've got to be an excellent marksman to even think about doing that, right?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Now that's true, Wolf. As a former firearm instructor and SWAT team member, that is an amazing shot, if that's what they were aiming at. And you have four shots fired hitting two officers standing next to each other. So it looks like that that's -- the intention was to shoot those officers or just the police line in general. But that's incredible marksmanship.
BLITZER: And some people have been saying it's almost impossible for one individual with a handgun to do that, to be so precise. It must have been a rifle with some sort of sophisticated capability.
FUENTES: If it was a rifle, the officer that was shot in the face would be dead. As a speed of a rifle -- a rifle bullet travels over 2,000 feet per second. A handgun, about 700 feet per second. So the energy and the size of the bullet itself going from a rifle, it would surely be a fatal round if you got shot right below your eye at the high point of your cheek.
BLITZER: Sunny, what should we be afraid of right now? Because this shooter is still on the loose. I assume people are going to be going out tonight. A lot of state troopers are coming in to protect Ferguson, to protect this area. County police are coming in. There's a potential here for a lot of trouble.
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No question about it. You know, and I -- when I was in Ferguson, Wolf, it was really clear that the residents there felt like they were living in a police state. They wanted their voices to be heard and to be sure this is a tragedy. And, you know, when you have law enforcement officers being targeted, ambushed and shot, we can all agree that that is something that is heinous.
You know, and I think what's upsetting is that I thought I saw real progress being made in Ferguson with all of the high-level resignations that we have seen, but I will say this. You know, Jeff Roorda was just on our air saying that the Department of Justice report, while troubling in terms of policing for profit, didn't really show a pattern of discrimination. He is -- and he is a representative of the Ferguson Police Department.
That is what the problem is with the Ferguson Police Department, even with being shown by the Justice Department that yes, there is a pattern of discrimination, yes, Ferguson has become a powder keg because of the way these citizens were, you know, policed, to then say that there really is no problem, I think goes to show me quite frankly that the Ferguson Police Department shouldn't exist anymore.
And also let's talk about, you know, what we saw with the protesters. It seems to me that the Ferguson Police Department and even the St. Louis County Police Department don't know how to police. How many protests didn't we have here in New York City that were peaceful, much larger protests. The type of police presence that we saw yesterday, that sort of aggressive police presence with shields, doesn't help the situation.
And so I think at this point with this crisis, with the crisis in confidence of the police department, you know, this is a real problem.
BLITZER: Yes. All right. Stand by, Sunny. I want to bring in Jeffrey Toobin into this.
With the state troopers now coming in to take charge of the security in Ferguson tonight, St. Louis County Police, taking charge, is this just the beginning of the end, Jeffrey, of the Ferguson Police Department?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Not necessarily. Given the magnitude of the events of last night, of this shooting, it makes all the sense in the world to bring in an extra police force just because of how high tensions are there.
The issue of Ferguson's future as a police force I think is a very separate question and it's probably a very good idea not to address that today or tomorrow, in the immediate aftermath of this horrible shooting of these two officers.
BLITZER: All right, guys, I want all of you to stand by. We're going to have much more on the breaking news that we're following.
But there's another story we're following, an important one. Two U.S. Secret Service agents not only suspected of driving drunk, we are now learning they reportedly drove their car into an active bomb investigation. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Breaking now, embarrassing new details in the investigation of two top U.S. Secret Service agents suspected of drunken driving. According to the "Washington Post" the agents disrupted an active bomb investigation on the White House grounds and may have run over the suspicious package.
Let's go to our White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski, she's got the latest a very disturbing stuff -- Michelle.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. And of course, more and more details keep leaking out of this investigation. Just like we've seen in prior cases, prior embarrassments for the Secret Service, but the Secret Service at this point is saying nothing about what happened that night.
Who is talking, though, Congress, wondering how there could possibly be another embarrassment in this agency. I mean, the new director was just appointed to try to clean up problems there.
KOSINSKI (voice-over): The newly appointed Secret Service director, Joe Clancy, has lots of explaining to do. Agent Mark Connolly is second in command protecting the president here in Tucson and Ireland a few years ago. Another top agent, George Ogilvie is a supervisor. Both now reassigned. Their responsibility was to safeguard the first family, the White House.
But on March 4th, returning in a government vehicle to the White House grounds after allegedly drinking at a retirement party for the Secret Service spokesman about two miles away, law enforcement officials say the two came up on a barricade, an active investigation by the Secret Service just outside the White House about a suspicious package.
But with their lights flashing, showing their badges, officials say, they drove right through security tape, then crashed into some temporary barriers.
Yet there's more. Officials say that while officers there wanted to test the agents and see if they were drunk, possibly even arrest them, a supervisor on duty prevented that from happening, ordered that the two top agents be allowed to go home.
It took a week for this story to come to light. Congress has plenty of questions.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE: Crashing a crime scene while an investigation is going on, that's problem enough, but then a supervisor on the scene that said to the rank and file protective agents, look, don't give them a sobriety test, let them go home, that's just as bad.
KOSINSKI: It was a long, ugly string of embarrassments in the Secret Service. The Cartagena prostitution scandal. Officers drunk and sent home, one passed out in a hotel hallway in Amsterdam.
The fence jumper who got inside the White House in September, that lost the director her job. Longtime Secret Service agent Joe Clancy was just named permanently to that position less than a month ago but it raised questions as to why an outsider wasn't brought in, especially since one of the deep-rooted problems identified within the service was that officers didn't trust and respect their supervisors.
KOSINSKI: And today the White House is saying that the president is, yes, disappointed about this but that he still has confidence in the new Secret Service director. But an administration official told me that even the White House doesn't fully know what all happened that night. They want to find out what happened and this investigation is being handled by the Department of Homeland Security -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What an embarrassment this one is.
All right, Michelle, thanks very much.
Joining us now in THE SITUATION ROOM the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Utah Republican representative, Jason Chaffetz.
So, Congress, we have lots to discuss. How this still could happen. I want you to stand by, if you don't mind. We'll take a quick break.
Much more with Jason Chaffetz right after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: We're back with Utah representative, Jason Chaffetz. He's the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. We're talking about the latest scandal erupting around the Secret Service.
This is awful what's going on. How did this happen again?
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM CHAIRMAN: Well, evidently, not this past Wednesday but the Wednesday before that, 10:30 at night, you have a woman who evidently throws something either through or over the White House fence claiming that it was a bomb. So there's an active investigation going on.
And by the way, some reporting -- good reporting by Carol Leonnig at the "Washington Post," evidently this person just gets in her car and leaves. And it was a long time before they actually were able to apprehend this person. But nevertheless during this active investigation, all of a sudden you have two agents who come up, go through evidently from what I've heard, going through the tape and actually bumping into a barricade there when the officers there, the Secret Service uniform division, approaches these people, they evidently smell alcohol on their breath.
They call a supervisor. Supervisor decides to unilaterally let them go. Don't hold them back, get in your car, you two, they just drive off and move on. And it begs a lot of questions.
BLITZER: Well, that apparently goes against regulations, if you're caught driving drunk, if you're suspected driving drunk by uniform Secret Service officers, you should at least do a sobriety test and shouldn't necessarily let those Secret Service agents continue driving if they are drunk.
CHAFFETZ: It's one of the big questions that Elijah Cummings and I have -- we're very united in this, and very frustrated that these people were allowed to go. If it's true that these officers had suspected that these people had alcohol on their breath, that they were driving, that they impeded, got in the way of an active investigation, a potential bomb on the White House grounds, and the supervisor just decided to let them go, I mean, this is what is so terribly frustrating.
And then it also begs the questions, Wolf, about what is the new Secret Service director doing about it? And I think we're worried that he's not necessarily doing enough.
BLITZER: That supervisor who let those two agencies continue on, one of them, by the way, the number two agent on the president's personal security detail, the other one a supervisor himself, but the supervisor who said just get out of here, go home, is that guy still supervising?
CHAFFETZ: He is. And I talked to the Secret Service Director Clancy last night. I asked him specifically about that. The two people who were involved in the car, potentially, you know, had alcohol on their breath, they have been moved to a different job temporarily. But the supervisor who made this decision, nothing's happened to that person. He is still in his same position.
And that begs a lot of questions. And I really worry if the new Secret Service director does not fundamentally transform the Secret Service, we are going to continue to have these problems. They can never ever happen and yet they keep happening.
BLITZER: And you heard Michelle Kosinski in a report from the White House. She went through point after point after point.
Here is the question, a lot of us are worried about the safety of the president of the United States and his family. Should we be?
CHAFFETZ: I think we should. The more I've learned about it, the more concerned I become. And look, I -- we're very united, Republicans and Democrats, in saying the safety of the first family is paramount. And we're putting this person in jeopardy and his family in jeopardy.
These are very, very senior Secret Service agents. And for them to participate in it, if it's true, they need to finish the investigation, there have got to be severe consequences to this, Wolf. There haven't in the past. But we're going to find out a lot what Director Clancy is willing to do.
BLITZER: So you're not ready, though, to recommend, at least until the investigation is complete, some sort of thorough overhaul of the U.S. Secret Service?
CHAFFETZ: Oh, no. I think they should have been doing an overhaul a long time ago. We've known about these problems. It's been a good old boys club. Some arrogance and you know, some-- hey, we're above the law type of attitude.
Most of the people in the Secret Service, good, honest, patriotic, hardworking people. They love their country, they love the president and the White House. And -- but you got some people that have to go. And culturally, they keep making these mistakes in an agency that can never ever make these mistakes.
BLITZER: Yes, just one little mistake, that could be a disaster.
BLITZER: Now you mentioned Elijah Cummings, the Democratic representative from Maryland. He is the ranking member of your committee. You're the chairman. You're on the same page with him.
So what are the two of you and your colleagues on the committee going to do about this?
CHAFFETZ: Elijah Cummings and I both independently spoke with Director Clancy. And then we spoke on the phone last night. And we think we've got a good bipartisan game plan moving forward that starts with bringing the director in to brief us and other members of Congress early next week. We're calling upon him to make sure that he deals with this problem
right now. I think we both -- it's fair to say -- I don't want to put words in Elijah's mouth, but I think it's fair to say that we're both very concerned about the lack of action on the supervisor's part.
CHAFFETZ: If those parts of the story are truly. And then the other part, though, I'm really concerned about is, a woman comes and throws something over and says it's a bomb, and just drives off.
CHAFFETZ: How does that happen without her being apprehended?
BLITZER: Yes, I spoke to Elijah Cummings --
CHAFFETZ: That's a smaller part of the story but it's huge.
BLITZER: I spoke to him earlier today, he's on the same page with you. Good to see some bipartisan cooperation on Capitol Hill on this issue. This is too important for partisan bickering.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
CHAFFETZ: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, much more on the breaking news. We're going back live to Ferguson, Missouri, where county police and state troopers are about to take over security for protests after two police officers are shot and wounded in front of the Ferguson Police headquarters.
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Ambush outside law enforcement about to take over security in Ferguson, Missouri, after two city police officers are shot. A frantic hunt is under way for whoever did it. Will new violence break out tonight?
Call for calm. The family of Michael Brown, whose death sparked the crisis, pleading with protesters to reject violence.