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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Deflategate Report; Interview With Mike Huckabee; ISIS Threats; Tornado Warning in Parts of Oklahoma; Report: Co-Pilot Did Practice Run of Crash. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired May 6, 2015 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: "You ain't seen nothing yet." That's the ominous warning from an ISIS member to the United States after that failed terrorist attack in Texas.
I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.
The national lead. The two gunmen who opened fire at that Mohammed cartoon contest are not the only Americans who have been drawn to the black flag of ISIS. And, today, investigators are looking into their tweets, as ISIS warns this shooting is just the beginning.
The politics lead, two dudes from a town called Hope. Mike Huckabee, in an interview, will tell me why more money doesn't equal more problems for him in the heartland in 2016, as former President Clinton defends his cash to CNN.
And breaking news in the sports lead, it's official. Tom Brady, according to his assistants, is very, very particular about the air in his footballs,the NFL now saying the team that went on to win the Super Bowl may have cheated to get there.
Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Jake Tapper.
We have some breaking news, severe weather, a tornado on the ground in Oklahoma.
You're looking right now at live images from our affiliate KFOR.
TAPPER: Let's turn to the national lead right now, investigators currently feverishly retracing the steps of two men behind that terrorist attack in Texas earlier in the week to not only see just how closely connected these two men may have been to ISIS, but what, if any, ties they may have to other potential ISIS sympathizers here in the United States.
One of the gunmen, Elton Simpson, appears to have been in communication with a British ISIS recruit in Syria and an American jihadi based out of Somalia. Now investigators are digging deeper into Simpson and Nadir Soofi's social media ties, scrubbing their hard drives, pulling together a timeline of their travels leading up to the attack Sunday.
Thankfully, the only two people killed were the gunmen, both men believed to have driven from Phoenix to Garland, Texas, though it's not exactly clear when that happened. They came there with the intention of opening fire at an event featuring controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown is live in Phoenix, where friends of the attackers are being interviewed by the FBI.
Pamela, we just learned investigators also questioning members of a mosque that both men attended.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake.
And we should say the FBI is not officially commenting. But what we have learned from talking to people here on the ground in Phoenix is that FBI agents have been interviewing members at the mosque of the gunmen. Also, we learned that they have been interviewing family members of at least one of the gunmen, Elton Simpson. That happened yesterday.
Of course, the FBI is trying to piece together how at least one of their investigative subjects slipped through the cracks and was able to drive from their home here in Phoenix to Texas to launch this attack.
And, also, law enforcement wants to make sure that there are not any other associates out there who may be like-minded who may also want to launch an attack, this as we're learning an ISIS fighter in Syria who may have played a role in the attack tweeted out a warning just recently, warning of other attacks to come in the West.
BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, an ominous warning from a key ISIS operative who U.S. investigators believe could be connected to this week's shooting in Texas, "You ain't seen nothing yet," the tweet thought to be from Junaid Hussain, an ISIS recruiter and hacker.
One U.S. official says Hussain is -- quote -- "a real problem" and could be inspiring other Americans to launch attacks in the West.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's been somebody that they can follow, that they can get information from. And it would appear that he possibly helped instigate this attack in Texas. It would appear that he might have had some foreknowledge of this plot.
BROWN: The British hacker is believed to now be in Syria. In Britain, he was convicted of computer offenses. Hussain was linked on Twitter to one of the two attackers of the Prophet Mohammed cartoon exhibit, Elton Simpson. U.S. investigators are still trying to determine what degree Hussain inspired or had a role in the attack. Not long before the attack took place, Hussain tweeted: "The knives
have been sharpened. Soon, we will come to your streets with death and slaughter."
Before the attack, Simpson was openly communicating online with terrorists overseas. A law enforcement official tells CNN, that led investigators to open an investigation in recent months. Simpson was considered a priority, which allows law enforcement to use all available resources to keep tabs on him.
CNN is told he was monitored, but not under constant surveillance.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is consistent with what has previously been described as a lone wolf attack, that essentially you have two individuals that don't appear to be part of a broader conspiracy. And identifying those individuals and keeping tabs on them is difficult work.
BROWN: Officials believe Simpson and Nadir Soofi drove from Phoenix, Arizona, to Garland, Texas. Too long guns and four handguns found in their car were bought legally, according to officials.
Their Phoenix apartment was searched by the FBI. According to one law enforcement, the inside was relatively barren. They did retrieve at least one hard drive, which is now being analyzed. A neighbor who is close with the family says they're in shock.
(on camera): Did they have any indication that he had extremist leanings, that he sympathized with ISIS, anything like that?
KEVIN HAMILTON, NEIGHBOR: None. No indication at all. I keep saying it's a big surprise to the family.
BROWN: And I asked about how the family had no idea about his extremist leanings, considering Simpson was the center of a terrorism investigation and charged by the FBI for lying about wanting to go to Somalia.
But I'm told that, at that time, the family didn't take it seriously. They thought that he was just mouthing off and they felt like the fact the judge dismissed the charge backed up their feeling that it wasn't anything serious.
I spoke to the brother of Elton Simpson today, Jake. He was visibly shaken up and he called what happened tragic.
TAPPER: Pamela Brown, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Let's turn to our other breaking story in Baltimore, mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake saying this morning she wants to make sure police in her city are held accountable so something like what seems to have happened to Freddie Gray does not happen again.
And as part of that effort, the mayor is asking the Department of Justice to investigate her own police department.
Evan Perez is now live for us in Baltimore.
Evan, is this a signal from the mayor that she doesn't trust members of her own police department?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Jake, I think it's a reflection of the general distrust of the police department, which Anthony Batts, the police commissioner, described himself to us yesterday, saying that he knows they're part of the problem.
The mayor called for this pattern and practice investigation by the Justice Department. This would be the third investigations into this case that follows the Freddie Gray case. The Justice Department is investigating the death, as well as carrying out a compliance program for the police department.
And so now this would be a much more invasive look at this, at what is happening here with this police department, Jake.
TAPPER: Evan Perez in Baltimore, thank you so much.
In our politics lead today: He is the newest member of the 2016 club and he's well known to many, including especially conservatives. So why isn't Mike Huckabee doing better in the polls? Well, he has a theory. He will explain it to us next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Time now for the politics lead. He's the other man from a place called Hope, former Governor Mike Huckabee, the latest Republican entrant into the 2016 presidential field.
And if you listen to him, he sounds a lot like the other Hope native to occupy the Oval Office, former President Bill Clinton, the same folksy dialect, the same "I would like to have a beer with that guy" kind of cachet, and a similar "from something to nothing" origin story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But here in this small town called Hope, I was raised to believe that where a person started didn't mean that's where he had to stop. I always believed that a kid could go from Hope to higher ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Joining us now, the latest member of the 2016 Republican class, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
Sir, as always, good to see you. Thanks for joining us. HUCKABEE: Thank you, Jake. Great to be with you today.
TAPPER: So, I covered you, as you will remember, when you ran for president the first time back in 2007-2008 for a different network.
In the years since then, you have been become a rather big TV star on FOX. You have very high name recognition, high likability among Republican voters. And yet, in the latest Quinnipiac poll of likely Iowa caucus-goers out just this morning, you're running fifth. Why do you think you're not on top?
[16:15:08] HUCKABEE: Well, I think until yesterday, a lot of people just didn't believe I was going to run and no matter how many different crumbs I left on the trail to make it pretty obvious that I was headed in this direction, it was a constant thing we faced. Well, he's really not going to run or tell me if he's going to run and then I'll think about it.
So I believe we're going to see those numbers change but the most important thing at this point is now I can tell people without any hesitation, I am running for president. I'm not just thinking about it, I'm doing it. And I know why I'm doing it. I've done this before and I know how to lead and I know how to govern and I think people deep down want someone who can lead this country.
TAPPER: If you'll permit me a horse race question, in order for you to win the nomination, you're going to have a bloc of voters that you win and then expand it. In 2008, you were the clear favorite among evangelical voters, Christian conservatives.
In 2016, that space is really crowded. There is Dr. Ben Carson, there is Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Rick Santorum, and you, of course. You are all vying for that key bloc of voters.
How do you think you can distinguish and differentiate yourself from all these other candidates competing for those conservative Christians?
HUCKABEE: Well, first of all, I think that among Evangelical Christians, I'm not somebody who just started talking about the message. This is who I am and I've got a long history of being consistent with this.
But here is the secret: my support in '08, and I think my support in '16, is not limited to Evangelicals. I believe the real, just heart and soul support that I did have and have today really is represented by all those working class people across America. We feel that Washington is utterly disconnected from the lives that they have to live.
TAPPER: Governor, you said, "As president, I promise you that we will no longer merely try to contain jihadism. We will conquer it. We will deal with jihadists just as we would deal with deadly snakes."
What exactly does that mean? Where would you send troops that we don't already have troops? HUCKABEE: It's not just about sending troops. It's about arming the Kurds, which we should have done from the beginning. They were never begging us for boots on the ground, they never asked us to come fight their battles for them. They just said, would you give us some weaponry so we can fight ourselves?
And we never did it. We never showed up.
We put red lines in Syria that we'd later erase and said, oh, they're really not there. We picked the wrong side in Egypt, not once but twice. And we pushed President al-Sisi into the arms of Vladimir Putin.
Time and again, our complete disastrous foreign policy has led us to a world that's much more dangerous. So it's not just about, are we going to send troops all over the place? It's, are we going to target the people who are out to kill us?
And we're going to make it very clear. You hurt an American, and we're coming after you. And we're not just going to come after you and put an economic sanction on you, we're going to take you down.
TAPPER: Sir, yesterday you also said, quote, "The Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being and they cannot overturn the law of nature or of nature's god." If the Supreme Court ends up ruling in favor of same- sex marriage, ruling that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, what are you exactly proposing states do?
HUCKABEE: Well, I think states have to decide, do they follow through with legislation and create a law? The Supreme Court can't create a law. They can invalidate one, but even then the legislative body and the executive branch has to enable legislation, executives have to sign it, they have to enforce it. The courts can't do that.
The Constitution is pretty clear about the limitations of the court and if the court could overrule the other two branches of government in this or any other issue, then we have turned the court into this super branch of government. The Constitution didn't do that, nor did the Founders ever intend it.
TAPPER: In January, sir, you rented out your e-mail list to a group selling hidden cures for cancer embedded in Bible verses for the low price of $72.
Don't you lose credibility by attaching your name to things like that?
HUCKABEE: Well, I never signed that letter. I mean, I have a huge e- mail list that I developed over many years and we did, in fact, rent it out to entities.
But my gosh, that's like saying that you run some ads on CNN, do you personally agree with all the ads that run on CNN? I doubt you do. I'm sure there is some for maybe, I don't know, catheters or adult diapers. They're not products that you use or that you necessarily believe in. I don't hold you responsible for that. And in that same way, I don't think people who understand how advertising works would hold me responsible for something that I didn't personally sign up for or endorse.
TAPPER: With all due respect, sir, I think that's kind of a false equivalent. We're talking about medical devices on one hand, catheters and adult diapers, and you're talking about something that I think a lot of people would consider to be hucksterism, in terms of Bible verses curing cancer.
[16:20:08] HUCKABEE: Well, once again, I just say that if people buy the advertising space, whether it's on your channel or in that case, it was in essence my channel, it doesn't mean necessarily that I'm personally identifying it with it anymore than I would expect you to identify with any and everything that is sold on CNN because my guess is, you probably don't control all those things and I didn't actually run that part of my company.
TAPPER: All right, Governor Huckabee. Thank you so much. Hope to see you out there on the campaign trail. Good luck.
HUCKABEE: I'm sure you will. Thank you, Jake. Good to talk to you.
TAPPER: And we are following the breaking news in our national lead. Ominous pictures from the plain states, the tornado on the ground in Oklahoma. You are looking at images from CNN affiliate KFOR showing dark skies, what chopper pilots are seeing and describing as swelling clouds moving closer and closer to people on the ground, growing.
Earlier, we did see a funnel cloud touch the ground. A warning was officially in effect until 4:15 Eastern. But this is clearly still a very dangerous situation. The National Weather Service advising people in Kansas, not just in Oklahoma, to take cover.
Meteorologist Jennifer Gray is watching it all for us in the CNN severe weather center. Jennifer, tell us what's going on.
JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, all across the plains, don't leave your guard down because this is going to be fluid throughout the rest of the afternoon. And the early evening and extending into the late evening. We do have that tornado warning in effect. It has been extended until 3:45 Central Time for Caddo and Grady Counties in Oklahoma. This is just to the southwest of Oklahoma City.
Chickasha, you need to be on the lookout, about 18,000 people in immediate danger right now. But at this continues, the pull to the north and east, we do expect these storms to hold together pretty well.
You can see these pictures -- these are live pictures from our affiliate KFOR. And you can see that funnel cloud. And it is hovering about halfway down. We did see it touch the ground earlier.
Of course, we have had multiple reports of tornadoes with this cell. As it continues to move north and east, it's going to be a very dangerous situation, Jake. And so, this is something we'll continue to watch.
But you can see that funnel cloud right there hovering over the cities just to the west of Chickasha. Get into your safe spot away from windows, hopefully in your storm shelter, Jake. But do stay away from windows and get into that interior room.
TAPPER: All right. Some very serious weather in Oklahoma and Kansas. We'll continue to stay on top of that story. Jennifer Gray, thank you so much.
Coming up next: a dry run just hours before the real things. Investigators now saying the Germanwings co-pilot who crashed a jet carrying 150 people into the French Alps, killing everyone on board, saying that he practiced on an earlier flight. So, why didn't anyone know what he was up to?
Plus, Tom Brady knew someone was deflating his footballs. That's what a new report on deflate-gate is now suggesting.
We have the text messages between Brady's assistants there that could be something of a smoking gun -- coming up.
[16:27:07] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
The world lead now: a chilling new revelation about the co-pilot of a Germanwings flight who deliberately crashed his plane into the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board. Investigators today said that Andreas Lubitz seems to have done a practice run of the deadly descent just hours earlier. This is based on information retrieved from the plane's flight data recorder.
This graphic will try to help show you how Lubitz tested the autopilot settings on the plane. All the red at the zero level shows all the times Lubitz set the plane to drop toward 100 feet. That's the same setting he used the crash Flight 9525, on its way from Spain to Germany.
Let's get right to CNN aviation correspondent Rene Marsh.
Rene, I guess the big question is: how could he have done this without anybody noticing? It would seem like something that air traffic control or someone would pick up on.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, a few reasons. We know that the plane was already on its descent to Spain. And, yes, the co- pilot changed the altitude settings. But the plane won't change course until a pilot either pushes or pulls a knob. So, we know, in this case, the plane did not leave its flight path. And that's likely why no one noticed.
Tonight, new details in a preliminary report from French investigators suggest not only was the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 intentional, but it was premeditated.
MARSH (voice-over): French investigators say 27-year-old Andreas Lubitz practiced his deadly descent of a jetliner the same day he steered Germanwings Flight 9525 into the French Alps. Just before that deadly flight, Lubitz and the same captain piloted the plane from Dusseldorf to Barcelona, with the captain out of the cockpit, the flight data recorder shows Lubitz briefly set the plane's autopilot to 100 feet before leveling off again.
JIM SHILLING, COMMERCIAL AIRBUS 320 PILOT: He certainly was exploring the aircraft and its ability to go up or down and not stop him from descending it into the ground, making sure that nobody would see him.
MARSH: According to the new report, the selected altitude decreased to 100 feet for three seconds. Then increased to the maximum value of 49,000 feet. Less than two minutes later, the selected altitude was 100 feet until it stabilized at 25,000 feet.
The flight never left its scheduled path, so air traffic control didn't notice the altitude changes.
MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Unless the plane is equipped to stream the data and they decide to stream the data of the aircraft performance from the flight and someone's monitoring it, they wouldn't have noticed. It was clear the pilot didn't notice.
MARSH: It appears to have a dry run for what he would do later on that morning on board the very same plane during the Flight 9525. Lubitz waited until the captain left the cockpit, locked the door and set the plane's altitude to 100 feet. He directed the jetliner into the mountains, killing all 150 people on board.