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Interview With Virginia Senator Tim Kaine; North Korea Detainee Speaks Out; ISIS Attack?; Baltimore Police Commissioner "Surprised" By Charges; U.S. Student Detained in North Korea Speaks to CNN. Aired 4- 4:30p ET

Aired May 5, 2015 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: ISIS claims its first attack on American soil.

I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.

The national lead: Two terrorists who tried to kill in Texas declared their loyalty to ISIS. Now ISIS says the would-be murderers were one of them. But is there any proof these men got marching orders from ISIS leaders in Iraq and Syria?


That world lead. An NYU student locked up in North Korea, in a CNN exclusive, his first message to the outside world since being detained. He says he wanted to get caught. Why?

Also in our national lead, one of the faces of Facebook suddenly loses her beloved 47-year-old husband after a slip and fall on a treadmill. But we're learning today what sounds like a freak accident is unfortunately not nearly as rare as you might think.

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're going to begin today with our national lead, new information today about the foiled terror attack in Texas, two gunmen looking to kill American at a controversial event featuring cartoons mocking the Muslim Prophet Mohammed. Now ISIS, the maniacal terror group that's beheaded journalists and rampaged across Syria and Iraq, killed thousands of innocents, is calling the two dead would-be shooters the soldiers of the caliphate, two soldiers of the caliphate.

Today, on its daily radio propaganda briefing, the terrorist group took credit, if that is the right word, for the attack and warned of more attacks to come. Yet the terrorists offered no proof they had any command or control or even contact with the gunmen.

CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown is live for us in Phoenix.

Pamela, right now at least, no martyrdom videos, no evidence of a direct order from Syria or Iraq to these men, but law enforcement sources say they're still investigating whether these people, whether these two dead shooters were more than sympathizers-turned-lone- wolves.


And I can tell you right now, Jake, officials are trying to figure out whether ISIS is just trying to be opportunistic in claiming responsibility for this (INAUDIBLE) attack. What I can tell you, what officials are telling us is that at this point in the investigation, it seems to be something right in the middle, that maybe it wasn't specifically directed by ISIS leadership, but that this was more than just aspirational.


BROWN (voice-over): For the first time, ISIS claims responsibility for an attack on American soil and warns more are to come. The White House today calling the shootings at a controversial Prophet Mohammed cartoon event a terror attack.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Because of the quick and professional and brave work of local law enforcement officers, an attempted terrorist attack was foiled.

BROWN: Now law enforcement is scrambling to determine if either of the shooters was influenced by ISIS or actually directed to launch the terror attack or something in between. In recent months, the FBI opened a new investigation into Elton Simpson. He had already been charged once for lying about trying to join jihadists in Somalia.

Less than two weeks before the Texas attack, Simpson directed a message on Twitter to this account, according to sources, believed to belong to an American member of al Qaeda in Somalia, calling attention to the planned Mohammed cartoon event in the Dallas suburbs. Then, hours before the attack, Simpson urged his Twitter followers to follow a known British ISIS hacker who one intelligence source called a significant figure in ISIS.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody known as a propagandist within ISIS, somebody known for his hacking skills, who has targeted the U.S. military in previous hacks.

BROWN: Investigators are exploring whether Simpson was working with the ISIS operative to launch the attack or merely trying to gain his approval and attention, a top FBI official saying today the use of social media by terrorists is a daunting challenge.


BROWN: And a law enforcement official tells CNN today that two long guns and four handguns were found in the suspects' car in Dallas, Texas.

It is clear, Jake, according to officials, that these two men wanted to wreak havoc, this investigation still very active and still in the early stages -- Jake.

TAPPER: Pamela Brown in Phoenix, thank you so much.

Let's bring in Senator Tim Kaine from Virginia. He sits on both the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator, thanks so much for being here.


TAPPER: Right now, this is the first time that ISIS has claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack on American soil. The intelligence is still murky. But how concerned are you?

KAINE: Well, we ought to be very concerned, Jake.

It's not a surprise, and it may end up that there isn't an ISIS connection. But we have known for some time that ISIL is trying to recruit people from all over the world, both to come to that theater of battle in Iraq and Syria, but also to carry out actions in countries all over the world, including the United States.

We have known that. And it is -- it demonstrates even more powerfully, as we finish nine months of a war against ISIL, for Congress to finally authorize this mission and to give it some shape and some definition.


I'm very discouraged that Congress has taken so long. But this is the kind of incident that demonstrates that this matter isn't going away. And we can't just kind of turn a blind eye to it. We have got to take it up and authorize military action.

TAPPER: I want to get to the authorization in a second.


TAPPER: But I do wonder, in a world where ISIS is relying in many ways on lone wolves, on self-radicalization...


TAPPER: ... how much do you think it matter whether these two individuals were instructed by ISIS in Syria and Iraq, or whether they just self-radicalized and took it upon themselves to do this?

KAINE: No, that's a great point, Jake.

In some ways, yes, violence is violence. And some of the strategies that ISIL is using, whether they had an official connection or were they just inspired or they wanted to emulate people who were getting attention, we may not know the answer to that question.

But what we do know is this. ISIL is an organized and cohesive force headquartered in Syria, active in Syria and Iraq, and trying to inspire terrorist activity elsewhere. There does need to be concerted action, especially in the region, but with the U.S. and others supporting it, against this non-state jihadist threat.

That is the case. There can be lone wolves, but lone wolves, we need to take away the group that's inspiring them, if that's what in fact occurred.

TAPPER: Since the new year, Senator, 25 people have been arrested and charged with either trying to join or support or carry out an attack here for ISIS.

In your mind, does U.S. law enforcement need to do more to find and stop these people before they ultimately succeed, or do they seem to be pretty much doing the job right?

KAINE: Well, I do think the U.S. law enforcement has been doing a good job.

In addition to those arrests, I'm aware of other activities to try to determine when folks should be people that we're concerned about. This problem is not confined to the United States. There's hundreds of foreign fighters flowing from nations in Western Europe, nations in North Africa into the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, and then many trying to return.

So, there does need to be very concerted activity by U.S. law enforcement and international law enforcement to keep track of these folks and hopefully prevent any violence from occurring here in our homes or far away from that battlefield.

TAPPER: Senator, as you alluded to earlier, you have been saying for the better part of 10 months that there needs to be a formal authorization for use of military force against ISIS. Why does it matter?

KAINE: It matters because Congress is supposed to declare war constitutionally.

Presidents are not supposed to start wars without Congress. And this president has said we're engaged in a war against ISIL. And so we are in a status now where the legal justification for the war is highly questionable.

I put some of the fault of that on the administration that didn't forward an authorization to Congress until February. But now the authorization is here, and we're 10 months, nine months into this war, starting month 10 on Friday, and Congress hasn't said anything about it.

So it is now incumbent upon us to do what the Constitution demands and what our troops deserve. We shouldn't be asking them to risk their lives without being willing even to have a debate and cast a vote here about this military action? We have spent more than $2 billion, thousands of bombing runs. It's important that Congress finally, you know, own this, accept the responsibility, and then define what the mission is, because, as you pointed out, lone wolves, many different battlefields, you know, people claiming ISIL connections all over the world.

We have got to define what the mission ISIS.

TAPPER: Yes. Don't you think it's precisely the ownership that has -- that has prevented your fellow senators from embracing your idea? They don't want to own military action. They don't want the responsibility. They would rather have President Obama take the heat for it and not have to sully their hands with it. Am I being too cynical?


KAINE: You are being exactly right.

The same Congress that shakes their fist at the president and says he's an imperial president, that wants to bring lawsuits against him when they thinks he oversteps his bounds, on the matter that is the most fundamental to congressional powers under Article I, that should be most jealously guarded, the power to declare war, Congress has been MIA until now.

And that does a huge disservice to the troops. We have already lost American service members in connection with Operation Inherent Resolve. So, we're asking people to risk their lives every day and Congress isn't willing to even have a debate and determine whether it's in our national interest?

I am heartened by the fact that the leadership on the Foreign Relations Committee, where I serve, seems very interested in getting into this as soon as we vote -- finish the voting on the Iran Nuclear Review Act, of which I'm a co-author.

But we have got to push forward on this, because, again, we start the 10th month of war on May 8. And we have blown through every deadline imposed by the War Powers Resolution of 1973.



KAINE: And Congress is proving itself to really lack backbone in this most important matter.


KAINE: And we have got to demonstrate, just like we're demonstrating with this Iran bill, that we can act in a bipartisan way on a big- picture, big, important security matter. We have got to demonstrate the same with respect to ISIL.

TAPPER: Yes, quite a contrast, the courage of the troops going into harm's way and your friends on Capitol Hill there, Senator Tim Kaine.

KAINE: A huge contrast.

TAPPER: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

KAINE: Thanks.

TAPPER: In other national news today: six Baltimore police officers out on bail after being charged in the death of Freddie Gray, called a homicide. And now, for the first time, their boss, the Baltimore police commissioner, is opening up to us, to CNN, about his reaction to those charges.

That interview is next.


[16:15:04] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Breaking in national news today, for the first time since six Baltimore City police officers were charged in the death of 25-year- old Freddie Gray, the city's police commissioner is speaking out. He says he was shocked when he heard the outcome of the state attorney's investigation.

Evan Perez just sat down with Commissioner Anthony Batts. He's live with exclusive new details -- Evan.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: That's right, Jake. This -- the police commissioner certainly had -- was surprised because it was barely 24 hours after he turned over his investigative files to the state attorney's office when he got this phone call, and it was mere minutes before the rest of us found out what she was planning to do.

Here's how he put it.


ANTHONY BATTS, BALTIMORE POLICE COMMISSIONER: I found out that the state attorney was going on and what she was going to present probably about 10 minutes before she went on. She gave me a phone call and told me what she was about to do and that she was going on live. She told me what the charges were.

PEREZ: What were you first words out of your mouth when you heard that?

BATTS: I don't want to get into that so much. I can say that I was probably surprised, you know, by the information that I heard. I think that the state's attorney was very focused on being independent in this particular investigation. She didn't want to be seen connected to the police organization. So, the communication was limited as compared to what I'm used to.


PEREZ: And, Jake, you know, the troubling thing for this police commissioner is the fact that he wanted time to be able to warn his officers in case there was a bad reaction on the streets to the state prosecutor's announcement.

TAPPER: And, Even, he also spoke a little more about his own police department's investigation into what might have happened. What did he tell you about that?

PEREZ: Well, you know, he kept describing his investigation, 45, 50 members of his team as very extensive, as if to draw contrast to the state investigation. Here's how he put it.


BATTS: I don't have the luxury just to focus on what happened inside of that van, the booking van. I have to answer questions of what started in that officer's day. What every one of those officers did. What were the gaps and have to fill in all of those blanks.

So, my 40-plus task force were focused on getting the entire complete story, because I can't focus on one location. What if that wasn't the location that it happened?

So, at some point in time, I had to do an extensive investigation that covered from start to finish.


PEREZ: Jake, you know, what you can see from those comments is there is a lot more work he has to do to try to rebuild trust not only with this community, but also with the state attorney's office which will prosecute crimes that are investigated by his police department, Jake.

TAPPER: Evan Perez in Baltimore, thank you so much.

Coming up next, the U.S. college student detained in North Korea, what was he doing in North Korea. Our own CNN reporter is on the ground inside that country and just spoke with the 21-year-old. Why he says he wanted to be arrested, next.

Plus, fears of a government takeover in Texas. Why the Texas governor is calling in state troops to keep an eye on U.S. special operations forces in his state. That's coming up.


[16:22:19] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Our world lead today is a CNN exclusive. We are now hearing directly from the U.S. student detained in North Korea. CNN received permission to interview Won Moon Joo. The 21-year-old NYU student is now saying that he actually wanted to be caught by the North Korean government. Joo has no access to e-mail or a phone. So, this interview is the only way for him to tell his loved ones that he's OK.

But if something is not done soon, Joo could end up in a detention camp.

CNN's Will Ripley is in Pyongyang, North Korea -- Will.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, we learned about this college student's detainment when we landed here in North Korea over the weekend. We asked for an interview and earlier today, we were given access to the young man. That's when the story got much more bizarre as he explained to us the reasons why he decided to cross, without permission, into North Korea.

WON MOON JOO, U.S. STUDENT DETAINED IN NORTH KOREA: I understand my parents and my loved ones are worrying a lot about me. But I would like to say that I'm well and there's no need to worry.

RIPLEY (voice-over): North Korean state media reports Won Moon Joo, the 21-year-old New Jersey resident and South Korean national entered the country illegally, crossing a river on the China-North Korea border. Joo says he made it past two barbed wire fences following a large river until North Korean soldiers arrested him.

JOO: I thought by my entrance illegally I acknowledge, but I thought that some great event could happen and hopefully that event could have a good effect in the relations between the North and the South.

RIPLEY (on camera): So, what kind of great event did you think could happen?

JOO: I -- of course, I'm not completely sure yet.

RIPLEY (voice-over): This is the first time Joo has been able to send any message to his family and friends since he was detained. South Korea's government is demanding the immediate release of the college student, and that of two other detained South Koreans who gave exclusive interviews to CNN. They are being held by the North Koreans on espionage charges, allegations South Korea calls baseless. Joo remains under investigation, but he's hopeful his arrest will bring about some good.

JOO: I hope that, you know, I will be able to tell the world how an ordinary college student entered the DPRK illegally. But, however, with the generous treatment of the DPRK that I will be able to return home safely.

RIPLEY (on camera): Joo says he's being treated well. He has his own private room, a private bathroom. But what he doesn't have is access to a phone. So, this interview really was his first opportunity not only to send a message to his friends and family, but also the outside world, including the South Korean government, the one entity that may be able to get him out of this mess.

[16:25:01] See, even though Joo has been living since 2001, he's a permanent resident. His family is in the U.S. But he remains a South Korean citizen. And now, it's that government's responsibility to try to figure what to do.

We reached out to the Reunification Ministry in Seoul. They told us they're calling for his release. But things haven't changed since he gave this interview. So, this 21-year-old who thought he was doing something potentially great found himself with the very real danger of ending up in a North Korean prison if these two enemies can't work out some sort of a deal to get him home -- Jake.

TAPPER: Will Ripley, thank you so much.

In our money lead today, Bill Clinton says he needs to keep giving speeches because he's, quote, got to pay our bills. So, just how much are the Clintons and the rest of the presidential field worth. The richest and the poorest candidates of the 2016 race, that's next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Our politics lead: yesterday you might recall, I asked if you thought there were enough Republicans running for president. You said that there with not enough. And voila, I told you that Carly Fiorina and Dr. Ben Carson had thrown their hats into the ring.

So, today, I ask you again, do you think there are enough Republicans running? Still not enough?