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THE SITUATION ROOM
Attorney General Visits Baltimore; Interview With Idaho Senator James Risch; Texas Takeover?; Commissioner Surprised by Charges Against Officers; Drill Sparking Fear of U.S. Invasion of Texas; Hillary Clinton Calls for Path to Citizenship. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired May 5, 2015 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[18:00:05] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And Texas takeover? A Pentagon exercise is sparking wild speculation about a U.S. invasion of the Lone Star State. Why are some top officials in Texas fanning the conspiracy flames?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news, disturbing developments in the investigation into that weekend terror attack in Texas by two gunmen targeting a gathering where cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed were displayed. Both gunmen were shot and killed.
And a U.S. official is now telling CNN that the attack was -- quote -- "certainly more than just inspiration by ISIS," which is now claiming responsibility. We're covering the story and much more this hour with our correspondents and guests, including Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committee member James Risch of Idaho.
But let's begin with our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown. She is in Phoenix, where the two gunmen lived. She has more on what is going on, the ISIS claim of responsibility.
What is the latest there, Pam?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, at this point, officials are saying there is no evidence to back up this claim that ISIS directed the attack.
But it does appear that ISIS did play a role to some degree. As one official told us today, it is clear 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. CNN has learned that, 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, 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.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: 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.
MICHAEL STEINBACH, FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF COUNTERTERRORISM: As technology evolves, the bad guys are adapting. We too need to be willing and able to adapt.
BROWN: Tonight, we are learning more about the gunmen's past. Elton Simpson was captain of his high school basketball team. His former lawyer remembers noticing how religious he seemed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was a very devout Muslim. I did get the sense that he was trying to convert myself and my staff and the people that were working with me.
BROWN: The second gunmen, Nadir Soofi, born to a Pakistani father and American mother, attended a prestigious private school in Pakistan. After his parents divorced, he moved to the U.S. with his mother and brother, where he was popular in school, and even played the lead in his high school production of "Bye Bye Birdie."
Tonight, his family is in disbelief.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whoever he was with talked him into it.
QUESTION: That's how you feel about it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is no other way it would have happened.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BROWN: And we have learned from a law enforcement official that there were two long guns and four handguns found inside the suspects' car, Wolf. This could have been a lot worse.
I can tell you there is this feeling in law enforcement that their concern that people would be radicalized online and then take action is actually coming true here in this case.
BLITZER: It could have been a whole lot worse. Fortunately, it was not.
All right, thanks very much for that, Pamela Brown.
Let's bring in our chief security national correspondent, Jim Sciutto. He is also working the story for us.
And, Jim, you're getting new information. What are you hearing from your sources?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, clearly, there was connectivity between one of the gunmen and ISIS overseas and some communication, specifically tweets back and forth, which indicates that he was on at least the radar screen of ISIS.
Now, as Pamela said, that does not mean that ISIS was calling the shots here, picked the target, told them how to take out the target, et cetera. And with any attacks like this, you have a whole range of possibilities from just inspiration, say the gunman read something online and carried out the attack on his own, all the way up to ISIS calling the shots, orchestrating it, no evidence of that.
But there is communication. There is back-and-forth. There is awareness here, which is why one official said to me that, in this case, it's clear that it was more than just inspiration. It's early days in this investigation. And as they turn out more, they're going to come to better answers just to how much connectivity there was, how many connections there were between him and ISIS overseas.
BLITZER: And, Jim, the U.S. also announced today a multimillion- dollar reward for four ISIS terrorists. What do we know about these individuals, and why announce a reward today?
SCIUTTO: Well, this is, look, as we look at them now, really a rogues' gallery of ISIS suspects here.
You have Mustafa al-Qaduli. He goes way back to the days of al Qaeda in Iraq. Abu Musab al Zarqawi, more than 10 years ago, the predecessor, precursor to ISIS, he was his deputy, the bounty on his head now $7 million. Mohammed al-Adnani, he's very prominent today. He's a spokesman for ISIS. It's often his voice behind the calls among ISIS supporters for attacks on Westerners, the bounty on his head, $5 million.
Tarkhan Batirashvili, he is a man who is suspected of having run ISIS prisons that have held foreign hostages, bounty on his head also $5 million, like al-Adnani. And a very long name here, Tariq al-'Awni al-Harzi, he is the chief of ISIS' suicide bombers, bounty on his head, $3 million.
So, really, some of the most senior, most threatening figures here. Why do they do it now? Because they're very much in the news. And in the past, these bounties have had some success occasionally in leading to their capture or their killing. If they could get any information, that's really what they're trying to do right now.
And part of the issue here now, Wolf, is it's very difficult to get these men. They're in a place, Syria, where the U.S. does not have very much presence on the ground. They're in the air, but not on the ground. It's hard to find them.
BLITZER: Yes. And as U.S. counterterrorism officials often say, money talks in this kind of world.
BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Jim Sciutto, for that.
Secretary of State John Kerry caught the world off-guard with his surprise visit to Somalia today, where the weak U.S.-backed central government is locked in a deadly battle with the al Qaeda ally Al- Shabaab.
Our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, is joining us with details
How significant was the secretary's trip to Somalia, Elise?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it was huge. It is the first visit to Somalia by an American secretary of state, really the first visit by a top U.S. official since President H.W. Bush visited U.S. soldiers deployed there in 1992.
And, as you know, since then, Somalia mired in conflict and ethnic strike, haven for pirates and militants like the terrorist group Al- Shabaab. Now, U.S. drone strikes have killed group's top leaders and African Union troops on the ground have weakened Shabaab there.
And now the U.S. believes Somalia is turning a corner. And while the secretary was only on the ground for three hours and didn't leave the airport because of tight security, his visit was really meant to show confidence in Somalia's future. Take a listen to Secretary Kerry on the ground there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I visited Somalia today because your country is turning around. Three years have passed since a new provisional constitution was adapted and a parliament sworn in. With help from AMISOM, Somali forces have pushed Al-Shabaab out of major population centers. A determined international effort has put virtually all of Somalia's pirates out of business. (END VIDEO CLIP)
LABOTT: So a message America is ready to reengage. The U.S. has nominated an ambassador to Somalia. Washington hopes within the next year or two to reopen the U.S. Embassy which was closed in 1993, and really putting a close, a painful chapter in our history when those two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down, 18 troops killed in that rescue mission, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, you have got to give Secretary Kerry credit for visiting a country where it is too dangerous for the U.S. to have any diplomatic presence, the embassy shut down.
And in September, you will remember, Elise, a lot of our viewers will as well, September of last year, President Obama called both Somalia and Yemen a success. Since then, Yemen has clearly deteriorated. The U.S. was forced to shut down its embassy in Yemen.
He suggested it was a model for counterterrorism efforts right now. So what is going on?
LABOTT: Well, and, ironically, Wolf, some refugees are fleeing the humanitarian crisis in Yemen for Somalia now.
Now, President Obama has tried to keep a light footprint in these countries, primarily with drone strikes. And there may some success on the battlefield there. But the president has also been criticized for not investing enough in keeping the piece, with money, with political support for the government. You saw it in Yemen, and the hope is that the U.S. doesn't repeat its mistakes in Somalia.
And while Shabaab is being pushed out of a lot of areas of Somalia, you see them expanding their operations out of the country, particularly in Kenya. You had that 2013 attack on the Westgate Mall, and the massacre at Kenya's Garissa University last month killed 148 people, so really, a need to treat the root causes of the instability, not just the soldiers on the ground, Wolf.
BLITZER: Kerry sought of Somalia now. He safely got out, right?
LABOTT: Yes, back in Kenya, Wolf, on his way to Djibouti.
BLITZER: OK. Thanks very much. Thanks very much.
Let's talk about all of this and more with Republican Senator James Risch of Idaho. He's a key member of both the Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator, thanks very much for joining us.
Secretary Kerry said today Somalia is turning around. Is that an accurate characterization? Do you agree with him?
SEN. JAMES RISCH (R), IDAHO: Well, first of all, I do agree with him that things are better there than they were.
That's not a very high bar. I don't know if I would go quite so far as to label it turning around. But certainly it is better there than what it's been. I guess I was surprised, as everyone else was, that John Kerry went there.
When we have got so many other problems in the region, to open up Somalia, I'm not sure where we're going to go with that, because it is so broken. If it's possible, it's broken worse than Yemen is, at least one of the provinces in Somalia, a couple of them a little different ball game. But the one that is a real problem is badly broken.
BLITZER: Yes, I'm sure you're right. But it did take guts for the secretary to even show up in Mogadishu. You got to give him credit for that.
RISCH: We do have to give him credit for that. And not only that, but that is a reward for those people, a very substantial reward, to have an American secretary of state step off the airplane on to their soil and congratulate them for doing better.
Over there, that is a huge thing. And, hopefully, it will do some good. But, as I say, that particular country, on the list of the problems we got, there isn't much we can do right now, other than what we have been doing.
BLITZER: You don't think he will be able to do that in Yemen any time soon or Libya, for that matter, where the U.S. in recent months had been forced to shut down its embassies there as well?
RISCH: Right, both broken states very similar to Somalia, uncontrollable, difficult to get on-the-ground information out of there.
And there -- all three of the countries you mentioned are really at the bottom of the list of where you can actually make progress. We have got other things going on that we really need to pay attention to that I think are a bit higher than that.
BLITZER: Closer to home, let's talk that terror attack in Texas over the weekend, ISIS now claiming responsibilities, responsibility for it. I know you have been briefed. What can you tell us?
RISCH: Well, probably not much more than what your people have said already.
And that is, in a very general sense, there is no question that ISIS is responsible. Now, was it from a direction telling these two people, this is what you should do, this is the event we want you to target, this is what time we want you to show up, this is what we want you to do? So far, there has been no evidence really uncovered of that.
In a very general sense, as far as being inspirational and giving general guidance, we have all heard the general instructions that ISIS has given to the people here in the United States, that they should pick up weapons and do just what these two people did. This ended very well for us. But, Wolf, as you and I have discussed on a number of other occasions, this isn't a surprise to us. It's the first time here that we have really seen an ISIS-inspired attack.
But are there going to be more of these? Again, I'm not going to be surprised to see it, simply because we have such an open culture, a free culture. And when they're giving instructions, as they are, could we see that again? It is much more probable than unlikely.
BLITZER: We know there have been al Qaeda attacks inside the United States, 9/11, of course. But was this the first successful ISIS attack on U.S. soil?
RISCH: I'm sorry. I didn't catch the question.
BLITZER: Was this the first successful ISIS attack on U.S. soil? I know it wasn't all that successful--
BLITZER: -- because these two guys were shot and killed almost immediately, although they did manage to fire their weapons, their long guns and their assault rifles--
RISCH: Right. It is.
BLITZER: -- at the U.S., at the police who were there.
RISCH: Well, certainly, it was the first attack like this. I wouldn't classify it as successful, obviously. It ended very, very well for us.
As we all know, these things can go upside-down very quickly. Given a slightly different set of circumstances, had they done more homework, had they done some different planning, we could be looking at a very, very different situation today.
Now, in addition to that, this was anticipated. I believe it's out there in open source. In fact, I'm sure it is. The Homeland -- Homeland Security and the FBI on April 30 put out a written warning that this particular event was a very high-risk event. They did not specify any specific knowledge of this kind of an attack. But they certainly identified it as a very likely place for something to happen. And they were spot on with their warning in that regard.
BLITZER: And it could have been obviously a whole, whole lot worse.
Senator, I'm going have you stand by. We have more to discuss, including the announcement today that four of these ISIS terrorists that the U.S. is seeking, that there will be millions of dollars in reward money for anyone who helps the United States find these guys.
Much more with Senator Risch right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, a U.S. official now telling CNN the weekend terror attack in Texas was -- quote -- "certainly more than just inspiration by ISIS."
Two gunmen were shot and killed by a guard posted outside a gathering where cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed were being displayed. At least one of the gunmen was an ISIS sympathizer.
We're back with Republican Senator James Risch of Idaho. He is a member of the Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees.
Senator, you told me a couple of months ago that the ISIS threat to the U.S. homeland was moving, in your words, beyond aspirational. Was Sunday's attack an example of that?
RISCH: Well, no question about it, Wolf.
When I said that on your show here, this is exactly what I had in mind. We have known all along that this is what they want to do. This is a dangerous group. And we have tried to communicate that as best we can to the American people. They're -- they have every intention of attacking the American homeland.
And this is a clear way to attempt to do it, as they did just this past weekend. So this is what they want to do. And we're -- our intelligence communities and actually the FBI and Homeland Security are all very in tune with this. The words that they use is putting people on their radar screen.
And I think it's already been reported that one of these individuals was very much on their radar screen, had been a while ago, had been convicted of a rather minor offense of lying to the FBI about trying to travel to Somalia, but was back on -- on being a person of interest fairly recently.
BLITZER: Yes, you're talking about Elton Simpson--
BLITZER: -- who was well-known to the FBI. He had been placed on probation for three years for making false statements about discussing travel to Somalia to engage in jihad.
Do you know yet how these two guys were able to secure assault rifles, body armor, bulletproof vests?
RISCH: Wolf, I don't know exactly right now.
I will here in very short order. But, having said that, weapons for people who don't have convictions are fairly easy to come by, as we all know, depending on where you are and what state you're in. So we will find that out. But I suspect we're going to find out that they got them through legal channels. I could be wrong on that. We will know here fairly soon.
BLITZER: Fairly soon.
And if an individual is convicted of lying and gets three years, three years' probation, not serving in jail, like this guy Simpson, Elton Simpson was -- should the FBI or others have been watching him more closely, because, apparently, he was not under any significant surveillance, as far as we know right now?
RISCH: Well, I don't want to take this too far, Wolf. But, as you and I have talked about before, we have a number of people who have traveled overseas to fight with ISIS or have even expressed a desire to do so.
There are ways and means of taking precautions regarding those specific individuals. And the group of those keeps getting larger and larger. And the larger the group gets, the more difficult it is to keep a short string on each and every one of them.
We have a number of people whose resume is much, much more dangerous than what you just described about this individual. I'm not saying that they shouldn't pay attention to them. Certainly, he was on the radar screen. But there are a lot of very dangerous people here that need to be watched.
BLITZER: So when they threaten that the next attack will be bigger, will be more bitter, in their words, as they posted on social media today, you take those threats seriously?
RISCH: Wolf, I take those threats very, very seriously. Indeed, they wish this one was bigger and more vicious.
And whether they can get it done or not, we don't know. But I can tell you that the intelligence community, that our domestic agencies, who work very hard on these issues, take this very seriously. And they're going to continue to monitor the things that they monitor to see that this doesn't happen. And that's always the problem, is we have got to be right 100 percent of the time. They only got to be right once.
BLITZER: Very quickly, the State Department, as you know, announced new rewards, up to $7 million, for four key ISIS leaders. We're showing their pictures on the screen right now, Senator. How bad are these guys?
RISCH: They're very bad. The amount that you're talking about seems like a lot of money. But if the you launch a counterterrorism operation against one of them because you have specific information, the price tag goes up a lot higher than that.
So, you have to put these things into perspective.
BLITZER: Senator Risch, thanks very much for joining us.
RISCH: Wolf, thank you. Thank you for having me. Up next, an exclusive interview with the Baltimore police
commissioner, revealing his surprise that the charges against six of his officers involved in the fatal arrest of Freddie Gray.
Plus, stop state officials fanning conspiracy theories, flame -- conspiracy theory flames about a supposed U.S. invasion of Texas. What is going on in Texas right now? We will explain.
BLITZER: The new attorney general, Loretta Lynch, is in Baltimore tonight, a city still reeling from the police custody death of Freddie Gray and the rioting that followed. Lynch met with city officials, including the mayor, members of Congress, law enforcement officials, as well as police officers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[18:30:21] LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: You have picked a noble profession. You've picked a hard profession. But you have picked one of the best professions out there today. Because you have picked the one that lets you go out every day and say, "I'm going to help somebody." And despite how people may want to choose to characterize you, hold onto that as you go out on patrol every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Our justice reporter, Evan Perez, is in Baltimore for us once again today.
Evan, you had a chance to speak exclusively with the Baltimore Police commissioner. Tell us what he told you.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Anthony Batts, the police commissioner here in Baltimore, was just as shocked as we were to hear that the prosecutor here was bringing charges against six police officers. Here's how he describes getting a phone call from Marilyn Mosby, the state attorney for Baltimore City.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMMISSIONER ANTHONY BATTS, BALTIMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT: I found out that the state attorney was going on and what she was going to present probably about ten 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 your 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And Evan, you asked the police commissioner if he thought that Freddie Gay -- Freddie Gray case had set his department back. What did he tell you?
PEREZ: Well, Wolf, he's been working at this for now a couple of years. There's no doubt that that has happened. Here's how he describes what he sees as the problem he's facing right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BATTS: There is a lack of trust within this community, period, bottom line. And that's going to take healing. That's going to take us acknowledging as a police department, not just here in Baltimore, but law enforcement as a whole, that we've been part of the problem. Out of trying to be part of the solution, we have become part of the problem. And when we acknowledge that and understand, we can start to heal.
The community needs to hear that. The community needs to hear from us that we see that we haven't been part of the solution, and that we have to now evolve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: And Wolf, the police commissioner is going to be announcing in the next few days steps that he's taking to improve training for his officers, provide more equipment so they can better handle situations like that, which developed here in Baltimore in the last -- in the last week, Wolf.
BLITZER: They've got to learn from some of the mistakes that occurred, obviously. Thanks very much, Evan, for that report.
Let's talk about this and more with a former FBI assistant director, our CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes; our CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin; and our CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin.
Sunny, the attorney general, Loretta Lynch, she says she'll work to give Baltimore all the resources they need from the federal government. How will the attorney general work her involvement at the local level different, let's say, from what Eric Holder did as far as police relations are concerned?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, my sense is that Attorney General Lynch will probably follow the same path started by Attorney General Holder. We know that she, as a U.S. attorney in the eastern district of New York, was also very forward thinking, I think, very involved with law enforcement and law-enforcement reform. I think she will carry on that work.
BLITZER: As you know, Tom, there's a morale issue among the police force in Baltimore right now. And we saw a little bit of that yesterday in that false alarm that occurred on the streets of Baltimore. This is going to be a major problem right now protecting the city.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think it will be a problem. But I think, by and large, police officers are going to do their job and be professional, no matter the adversity or the climate or how difficult.
But I think what they're waiting for and hoping is somebody tell them what to do when they go out on patrol. If there are suspicious people that take off running, just wave goodbye. Don't try to tackle them. Don't try to be too aggressive. Back off a little bit more.
So they're kind of in a little bit of a leadership vacuum at the moment, because no one has really said how to address the problem. You know, you can admit that. Many of the members of the community, including Freddie Gray, had difficulty from birth as they were growing up, as they were going to school. They were under-educated, under- helped by the community. All of that's true.
Right now if you were addressing, if you were a shift commander you have role call and your officers are getting ready to go on the streets of Baltimore, 4 to midnight shift, midnight to 8 shift, what do you tell your -- what do you tell your officers how to police on the street, what to do differently to try to change this, and will it affect crime? Will crime go back up if they become much less aggressive?
BLITZER: I'd like both Jeffrey and Sunny to weigh in on this issue. Jeffrey, first to you. The Baltimore sheriff, the state attorney's office, they mistakenly charged two innocent people who happened to share names with two of the police officers. And it's pretty awkward, pretty embarrassing.
If the city can't even get the court charging documents right and innocent people are being harassed with phone calls from reporters and others, how will they secure convictions?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, this is an embarrassment. We know that. But we know it is also one of two things. It is either simply an embarrassment that will yield no significance because people wind up convicted, or it's an indicative of -- indicative of undue haste on the part of the prosecutors and the authorities who were involved in the arrest.
You know, what's so puzzling and interesting, frankly, about what's going on with the prosecution here is that everybody is criticizing; everybody is raising questions. But if she gets a conviction of these six officers, it all was right. But if she doesn't, it will lead to questions about every single thing she's done in the course of this investigation.
BLITZER: Sunny, I want you do weigh in, as well. How awkward is it that two people who had nothing to do with this are now being -- they were being harassed, because they mistakenly -- authorities in Baltimore listed them as the -- those who had been charged. It's pretty awkward, you've got to admit. HOSTIN: Yes, not only I actually think it's awkward; I think it can
be seen, perhaps, as a reckless disregard for their safety. I mean, I had some time today to speak to Jeremy Eldridge, who is the attorney representing one of the people wrongly named. And he said that she was harassed. He said that people showed up at her home. People showed up at the office of where her father has worked for 30 years, and given sort of the volatile situation in Baltimore, that is a public safety issue. And that is -- that is a problem.
And I was also told that this person did reach out to Marilyn Mosby by Facebook, via Facebook. We know that Marilyn Mosby has been active on social media, and she hasn't heard back. Nor has the attorney heard back.
That gives me some concern, not only as just sort of the personal safety for this person that was wrongly named, but also for the haste within which she brought these charges.
We know she brought the charges within two weeks. That is very, very quick. I'm now hearing some people are saying that while having a knife, which Freddie Gray did, it may be legal under Maryland state law, apparently, it could be a violation of the Baltimore City code. Now, if that is true, then some of the charges brought against two of the officers of false imprisonment could be incorrect.
And so I'm a little concerned now with looking at the case and some of the things I'm hearing that perhaps, you know, if she doesn't get convictions here, people will not only point fingers at Marilyn Mosby and her office, but also they will lose, I think, even more faith in the system. They will question the system, not just Marilyn Mosby. They'll question the process. And that's a problem.
TOOBIN: Wolf, can I--
BLITZER: Go ahead, Jeffrey.
TOOBIN: Can I just follow up on something Sunny said? One of the officers has already filed a motion in court asking for production of that knife to show, his lawyer asserts, that it was, in fact, illegal under Baltimore. So, you know, these cops are not going to just plead guilty and roll over.
TOOBIN: They're going to fight this case. And that's just the beginning of what's likely to be a long and difficult legal struggle on both sides.
BLITZER: The fact that two people, Tom, who had the same names were identified, their addresses, in this charge, that's pretty sloppy.
FUENTES: Wolf, there's one thing never gets mentioned in these cases where you have multiple charges, multiple defendants, and it really, even bigger cases, the clerical part of this is very difficult. The individuals in the state's attorney's office and the court that type the documents, the affidavits, the warrants for arrest, file the court papers, that is -- the production of that is a huge logistical nightmare for the commanders or the state's attorney running that. You never hear about that. We hear about the investigation, the facts, but not what goes behind the scenes to make it happen.
BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, Jeff Toobin, Sunny Hostin, guys, thanks very much.
Just ahead, wild rumors of a Texas takeover by the U.S. government. Why do some top officials seem to be taking these rumors seriously?
[18:44:34] BLITZER: A planned military drill by Special Operations forces sparking wild speculation about a U.S. invasion of Texas. And it's not just conspiracy theorists sounding the alarm.
Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She's working the story for us. Very bizarre information, Barbara. What's going on?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this all starts with the Texas governor, Republican Greg Abbott. He says he respects the troops, but he still wants his people to monitor what they are doing.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: By directing the state guard to monitor the operations--
[18:45:01] STARR (voice-over): Don't mess with Texas is Republican Governor Greg Abbott's message to the Pentagon. Abbott called out his state guard to keep an eye on U.S. Special Operations Forces. The governor says he wants to make sure Texans' constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed during an upcoming military war game known as Jade Helm 15.
The site Info Wars has led the Internet buzz, insisting it's all a plan for the army to wage war on Americans, publishing a military PowerPoint slide showing Texas as red enemy territory.
ALEX JONES, HOST, "THE ALEX JONES SHOW": I've hardly ever heard something joint like this unless they're actually planning an invasion.
STARR: Twelve hundred personnel, Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs and Air Force troops will train across seven states this summer. Republican presidential candidate, Senator Ted Cruz, says he understands Texans' worries.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I think part of the reason is we have seen for six years a federal government disrespecting the liberty of citizens.
STARR: Chuck Norris, one-time "Walker Texas Ranger" TV actor says on the conservative Web site "World Net Daily", "What's under question are those who are pulling the strings at the top of Jade Helm 15 back in Washington."
Governor Abbott now says all he meant to do was have his state militia coordinate with the Pentagon.
ABBOTT: We have been provided assurances by the Special Operations Forces that there is nothing for the public to worry about.
STARR: But now, Democrats are calling on Abbott to apologize to the military. A former Texas Republican state lawmaker says the governor went too far.
TODD SMITH, FORMER TEXAS LAWMAKER: I just as a patriotic American do not believe that it is appropriate or necessary to use state resources to protect me from the American military.
STARR: The White House trying to stay out of the governor's fray.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I have no idea what he is thinking. I might have an idea what he was thinking, but I'm not going to -- I appreciate the opportunity, though.
STARR: So, where are we on all of this?
Well, the Army Special Operations Command says, look, it's got no problem if the Texas state guard wants to help coordinate and disseminate information to citizens during the exercise. But as for taking over, invading, or anything else about Texas, no, it's ridiculous. The military is not doing that -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And this special operation exercise, Jade Helm 15, it happens all the time. It's not by any means unusual.
Barbara, thank you very much for that report.
Breaking news ahead: CNN learns that the two terrorists who attacked a Mohammed art exhibit in Texas were more than just inspired by ISIS.
[18:52:21] BLITZER: Hillary Clinton is out on the campaign trail tonight. She's speaking out on immigration reform.
Let's go to our senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar. She's joining us now from Las Vegas where the former secretary is speaking out about immigration.
What's her main point, Brianna?
BRIANNA KEILR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, her main point is that she's calling for a path to citizenship, a full and equal path to citizenship. This is Hillary Clinton here at Rancho High School in Las Vegas, going farther than she has when it comes to calling for comprehensive immigration reform. She's doing a roundtable here, surrounded by dreamers so young people brought to the U.S. born in other places, but really raised here. They spent their whole lives here and even so, they're undocumented immigrants.
She called not just for supporting the executive action that would support them and allow them to move towards citizenship, but she also went beyond that, saying she supports the same path for their parents. This is after some questions over the last year about how far she would go. She's really trying to separate herself from Republicans, some of whom have called for just a legalization, not a full path to citizenship, but legal status.
So, this is a key part, Wolf, of her campaign. This is her fifth event, and the third state that she's been to. She's trying to hold together a voting bloc that worked for President Obama. That would be minorities, women, the LGBT community, and young people. And you hear her today trying to shore up that bloc.
BLITZER: Brianna, thank you very much.
Let's dig a little bit deeper with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, our senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny, and our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash.
Gloria, you know the Republicans are going to go after her -- at least some them --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.
BLITZER: -- will, and accuse her of supporting amnesty for these illegal immigrants.
BORGER: She hopes Republicans will go after her on this issue of immigration, and that's why she's so early is differentiating herself, even from Jeb Bush, who calls for legal status and Marco Rubio, eventually calls for that.
So, I think she is trying to say to Hispanic voters -- I'm different, I'm more supportive of the president. I don't know what she said particularly about the executive actions. I presume she supports those as she said at the time.
So, she's -- you know, she's putting a wall up, and she's happy to do it and let them attack her now.
BLITZER: She's saying she will support the executive orders -- executive order proposed by the president, even though it's now under review by the jurists.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, but what she's -- and she's doing this in Nevada. That is key point here. It's an early primary state but also a key general election battleground state. She's trying to set the message clear and to differentiate herself.
[18:55:02] But what she's also doing is getting away from all this controversy. We've been talking about it so much. This is her only campaign event of the whole week, though. She only had one all of last week. This is what some Democrats are after: just come out here and say what you're for -- and that's what she's doing today.
BLITZER: Do you think this is a smart move on her part?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and to Jeff's point, it's in the state of Nevada which is important in the general, primarily, because of -- and on this issue of the fact there are so many Hispanic voters and this issue matters a lot to them. And so many workers and undocumented immigrants who are exactly what she's talking about, the dreamers.
And I think what's fascinating from my perch in covering Republicans, is that on that particular issue, there's less and less daylight between the Democrats and Republicans, more Republicans are saying, you know what? Kids who didn't come here through any fault of their own should at least get legal status.
And that's something that was anathema to Republicans just a few years ago. They wouldn't go there. There was actually a vote to -- they voted it down in the Senate just a couple years ago.
BORGER: Right. And I would also point out from Hillary Clinton's point of view. She's not in a huge audience here, right? She's in a library.
ZELENY: Intentionally small.
BORGER: Intentionally small audience.
And I would argue at some point given all the controversy, as Dana talks about, that has been swirling around her, she's going to have to talk ability these things directly, and to voters, because like it or not, she's in a general election campaign while everyone else in the Republican side is in a primary.
BLITZER: You saw the new "Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll which has some disturbing numbers for her, although there's a new "New York Times"/CBS poll that has better numbers for her.
ZELENY: Right. I mean, but the focus here and what they're worried about, to the extent they're worried at this early stage, is just trust and credibility. Has all this -- has all this criticism taking an effect. There has been a bit of a drip, drip, drip. The private email servers, the question about the foundation, the family foundation, and every Republican jumping in, as you know, Dana, is taking advantage of hitting on her on trust and credibility.
But the thing to watch is that private e-mail server. She's going to have to testify before the Benghazi committee. That is all her. That's not the foundation the next couple weeks.
BORGER: That may be the opportunity for her to actually talk about these controversies. Why not do it before the congressional committee?
BASH: Republicans might want to --
BORGER: But she did it once before --
BLITZER: Let me get your thoughts on Mike Huckabee, the sixth Republican now to jump into the 2016 presidential contest. I'll play a little clip. Here he was earlier today in Hope, Arkansas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ninety-three million Americans don't have jobs. And many of them who do have seen their full-time job with benefits they once had become two part-time jobs with no benefits at all. We were promised hope, but it was just talk. And now, we need the kind of change that really could get America from hope to higher ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What do you think, Dana? He's got some potential. He did well relatively speaking back in 2007-2008.
BASH: He absolutely has potential. I mean, he's, I think, about six not just in the number of people who have announced but in the national polls where he stands compared to other Republicans.
He does have a big advantage in that he actually not just ran but won several states back in 2008. But he did it in a very different time -- in a time where there weren't a lot of Republicans playing in his lane. There weren't a lot of conservatives reaching out to the evangelicals who were so critical -- successfully also critical in Iowa, the home schoolers. I mean, I watched him and I was out there in 2007 and 2008 with him, and he was just on a kind of a wing and a prayer, but literally, with no money, but really knocking on doors and doing it the old fashioned way.
There are going to be a lot more people, already are a lot people --
BLITZER: He did win the Iowa caucuses back in 2008.
BORGER: He did, and he was the second highest delegate getter in that race on the Republican side.
BASH: Because he didn't quit.
BORGER: Right, because he didn't quit. But he's going to have a more difficult time raising money this time around. And what he also did today was run against the Clinton machine. There he was in Hope, Arkansas, saying you know what? I know how to beat that Clinton machine. When I became governor, they were -- it was all Democrats, and they were part of that machine, and I triumphed over that. And that's going to be part of his calling card.
BLITZER: And he spent the last six years as a host on a FOX News program that's seen by a lot of Republicans.
ZELENY: It means one thing -- he's been in the living rooms of so many Republican Iowa activists. That's the big thing.
But I remember being there in 2008 as well. He was as surprised as anyone that he won the Iowa caucus. He defeated Mitt Romney. He had no money at all. This time, he's starting at a better place, he's starting in an organized fashion. But he can't surprise this time. He has to -- his expectations are so much higher. So, we'll see how far he --
BORGER: He's a great speaker, though. I'd give him that.
BLITZER: He's got a lot going for him. We'll see how he does.
Guys, thanks very, very much.
That's it for me. Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Tweet me @wolfblitzer. You can always tweet the show @CNNsitroom. Please be sure to join us again tomorrow right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always watch us live or DVR the show so you won't miss a moment.
Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
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