Return to Transcripts main page


Baltimore Protesters Calling for Justice; Interview with Sen. Tim Scott; Family Killed Over Money?; Shaffer on Letterman Friendship and "Late Show" Career. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired May 20, 2015 - 16:30   ET


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, apparently when it comes to Freedom of Information requests, which CNN does, news organizations do across the board, it's not unusual to take some time to get responses because they sometimes do get held up because of the political wings of the agencies looking into it. But ultimately they should if they follow the law give over what journalists and others are requesting.

[16:30:03] In this particular report, "The Wall Street Journal" is -- has sources saying that some key things that -- that people were looking for were actually not turned over because political appointees -- and actually named Cheryl Mills, who was Hillary Clinton's chief of staff and her longtime adviser -- actually held them up.

Now, I should say that the Clinton campaign denies that. At the State Department, they say it is not unusual for political figures to be involved in these decisions.

But I will say that this obviously would not be an issue if transparency at the State Department weren't already an issue for Hillary Clinton. And one good government group, the Center for Effective Government, actually went through all the agencies and put the State Department dead last in terms of those who respond to FOIA...


TAPPER: When she was in charge of the...

BASH: When she was in charge.

TAPPER: Dana Bash, thank you so much.

In our national lead, a spike in homicides in Baltimore as the city is still reeling from the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. Some police officers are blaming the violence on that case, suggesting that law enforcement is afraid to do its job. We're live in Baltimore next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The national lead, right now, protesters gathering on the streets of

Baltimore, calling for justice in the death of Freddie Gray, Freddie Gray of course the 25-year-old man who died from a spinal cord injury a week after police dragged him into their van, six officers currently facing charges in the case.

This time, protesters say that they're targeting the most vocal defender of those arrested officers, Baltimore's police union.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is live in Baltimore outside the Fraternal Order of Police building -- Miguel.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we have just arrived here.

I want to show you the police presence that met us here at the Fraternal Order of Police in Baltimore. To get here, we took a circuitous route, three, perhaps four miles through some of the more gentrified areas of Northwest Baltimore, which was different than these groups have gone through before.

At one point just down here, there was a white individual who came out and started taunting the crowds, calling them N-words and the like. Police were on hand actually to break up all of that, police trying to follow along. There were some tense moments on this protest, as police thought that the protesters were going to try to move on to the freeway, onto 83.

I want to speak to Lamont -- to Lamont Lily (ph) here.

Lamont, could you come around over here?

This is Lamont Lily. He was mixing it up with police when you guys -- I think they thought you were going to go onto 83. And there was some concern there. But you -- you would not be stopped. Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because the problem has not stopped. Until the problem stops, the people will not stop. Until there's justice, there will be no damn peace, period.

MARQUEZ: How often will you do this? How often do you have to do this? You're 50 strong, very loud, very boisterous. But how much pressure do you have to keep up in order to get what you want?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, right now, I would say we're about 150 strong, and we will continue the pressure as much as we can, in any way possible, whether it's demonstrations, whether it's teach-ins, whether it's the beautiful murals that we just left.

Hopefully, your camera and the news also got that beautiful mural of Freddie Gray. Spoke volumes. So, we're just here raising our issues, raising our voices. It's not just me. It's all of the people. It's different nationalities, different genders. As you see, this is democracy. This is the people. This is America.

MARQUEZ: And the police union because this is the place that defends the officers the most, yes? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is correct. The FOP has been one of the --

Done of the sharpest thorns in the side of the people for this case and for justice.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here they are, Marilyn Mosby coming up saying, yo, we want to pursue justice. Here's the FOP stopping that, denying that.

It's people the raising up saying, yo, we support her, we support this decision to charge these officers. They should be charged.

MARQUEZ: OK. Thank you very much.


MARQUEZ: We know that there's another protest already planned for Saturday, and they say that they will keep up this sort of pressure, the sort of monkey wrenching, getting through traffic and disrupting things, as long as it takes -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Miguel Marquez, thank you so much.

There are many members of Congress who think that police body cameras could have made all the difference in Freddie Gray's case.

Senator Tim Scott joins me now. He is planning to introduce legislation that would increase the use of cameras nationwide.

Senator Scott, welcome to THE LEAD. Thanks so much for joining us. I appreciate it.


TAPPER: So, you're introducing body cam legislation. What do you say to your fellow Republicans who say this is an example of federalizing local police forces?

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think there's nothing further from the truth.

And anyone who believes -- and I haven't heard any of my Senate colleagues come forward and say they believe that the step forward of having body cameras available for law enforcement, local law enforcement, is in any way, shape or form federalizing local law enforcement.

I would oppose, object and strongly stand in the way of federalizing local law enforcement. It's the worst idea I have heard.

TAPPER: So, what would this do? What would this do?

SCOTT: What this would is would provide funding for local law enforcement who are interested in having body-worn cameras, but cannot afford it. There are about 3,000 or 4,000 jurisdictions around the country that

have already made the move in the direction of body cameras. There are some jurisdictions that cannot afford them. What I'm trying to do is make sure that the funding apparatus that could be available is available. And frankly I think it's going to save more money than it actually costs.

TAPPER: There are a lot of cases that we have seen and they have been brought to light because of cell phone cameras mainly.


TAPPER: There was a case in South Carolina.


SCOTT: Walter Scott.

TAPPER: Yes, Walter Scott.


TAPPER: Yes, and, obviously, the Freddie Gray case. Was there any one of these cases that prompted you to embrace this legislation?

SCOTT: Certainly watching the theme that's going across the country of the interactions.

I think one of the ways that we have opportunity to restore trust and confidence between law enforcement and community members is through the use of body-worn cameras.

For me, my home town, North Charleston, Walter Scott certainly had a lot to do with me taking a step forward and asking for the hearing that we had yesterday, now asking for the groups that have been part of the hearing process, the experts that have come into my office -- we have had over a dozen groups have come in and talk about their concerns, whether it's disclosure issues, whether it's data retention, a lot of issues that we need to solve on our way to it.


TAPPER: Yes. Privacy is a big issue.

SCOTT: Privacy is a big issue. And it should be a big issue.

We should not rush into something. What I hope to see is the laboratory of America working on behalf of the citizens of the country. When you have that many jurisdictions moving forward with body cameras, you would think, three years from now, this is going to be the norm

What I'm trying to do is find the best practices around the country and make them available to other jurisdictions, without us as the federal government coming in and dictating, mandating or requiring anything, but other than having a funding apparatus. And the DOJ is already moving in that direction. Frankly, $20 million

from the DOJ to provide some funding for body cameras is a step in the right direction.

TAPPER: Where are you getting the most pushback from? Is it from police? Is it from civil liberties groups? Who's expressing the most concern?

SCOTT: I think if you -- everyone has a concern. There's no doubt about that.

But I have been very excited about the fact that the sheriff's associations that I have met with, the attorney general's associations that I have met with, the mayors that I have met with all have the same comments.

Yes, this will probably be a very good tool for law enforcement officers. Let us talk first about the cost, the data retention, the disclosure issues, FOIA as well, as far as disclosure issues.

And if we can overcome those obstacles, then we have a clear path. But everyone so far has agreed that body cameras would in fact lower complaints. One study's come out that said they declared a 90 percent drop, 90 percent drop in complaints against officers and a 60 percent drop in the use of force. Everyone seems to act differently when they know they're on video.

TAPPER: Well, I know I do.

SCOTT: Me and you both, yes, sir.


TAPPER: Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, thanks so much. Hope you will come back.

SCOTT: Thanks, Jake.


TAPPER: Enjoyed having you on.

Coming up: horrific new details in that horrible quadruple murder just blocks from the vice president's residence here in Washington, D.C., including reports that $40,000 in cash was dropped off at the mansion just hours before the family was killed. Plus, just how many people came to the door while they were possibly being held hostage? That's next.


TAPPER: Let's bring in Pamela Brown who's been digging into this story. Pamela, what do we know about a package that was dropped off at the family home before apparently the fire, before the murders?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So here's what we're learning, Jake, according to our sources, we've been speaking with, that whoever was holding the family and their housekeeper hostage made away with thousands of dollars in cash.

Local media is reporting that while the assailant or assailants was holding the family and the housekeeper hostage that someone dropped off a package full of cash.


BROWN (voice-over): Investigators of the mystery behind the quadruple homicide inside this Washington, D.C. mansion believe money was the motive. A law enforcement source tells CNN, a separate source with knowledge of the investigation says Amy and Savvas Sebapalous, their 10-year-old son, Philip, and their housekeeper were bound and held captive inside the home.

The source says there were signs of torture to at least one of the victims. While this was going on, law enforcement officials tell "The Washington Post" that an employee of the husband delivered a package containing $40,000.

A law enforcement official tells CNN that the assailants are believed to have gotten away with that amount of money. The deceased housekeeper's husband, Bernardo Alfaro, tells CNN's affiliate WJLA, he went to the home the morning after the incident began and knew something was wrong.

BERNARDO ALFARO, HUSBAND OF VICTIM: I saw the two cars in the garage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You saw the Porsche?

ALFARO: Yes, the Porsche was on the street and then I was knocking and knocking. My feeling was that someone was inside.

BROWN: But no one answered he says then he received a phone call from Mr. Savapolous?

ALFARO: I'm sorry I didn't call you last night. She has to stay with my wife because she was feeling bad and she has to go to the hospital and asking Vera to go with her.

BROWN: That same day, Amy texted the family's other housekeeper reminding her not to come to work. Three hours later, the mansion right next to Vice President Joe Biden's home went up in flames. According to a source, investigators believe the victims were killed before it was intentionally set on fire. Investigators say three of the four victims received blunt force trauma.

HARRY HOUCK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Somebody who is a pro home invasion person wouldn't kill the family. All they want is the money or the valuables. All right, the fact that these people are dead tells me they're especially brutal.

BROWN: Police have released this grainy video of a person of interest who investigators believe drove the family's Porsche to Maryland before setting it on fire in broad daylight. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And in a perplexing twist to the story, we've learned a pizza may have been delivered from a Domino's franchise near the home on Wednesday night, possibly during the time the family was being held hostage.

A manager at the store tells us that police have contacted them, but the manager couldn't comment any further because of the ongoing investigation -- Jake.

TAPPER: Pamela, I have to say, $40,000 to this family was really -- they lived in a more than $4 million estate.

BROWN: Absolutely. I was just actually interviewing a family friend who said $40,000 is a drop in the bucket for this family. They are a wealthy family and he was saying it doesn't make sense, it just doesn't add up that this would happen.

"The Washington Post" is reporting that the $40,000 may have been tied to a martial arts studio that Mr. Savapolous is trying to opening in Virginia, but it is perplexing that all this was about $40,000 in cash. It just doesn't make sense.

TAPPER: All right, Pamela Brown, horrific story, thank you so much.

[16:50:01] CNN exclusive coming up next on "THE SITUATION ROOM," we're joined by Wolf Blitzer. A U.S. spy plane flew over the South China Sea. What is your team working on?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Jim Sciutto, our chief national security correspondent, was on this Poseidon over the South China Sea. The Chinese are building these huge manmade islands there, not just for recreation or condos but for military purposes.

The U.S. is very worried about it and Jim Sciutto got exclusive access, flying on one of these Poseidons over the area. We'll take our viewers there. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas is standing by. We'll get his reaction. Marie Harfe, the acting spokeswoman of the State Department. We'll get her reaction. Lots of news coming up.

TAPPER: Under 10 minutes, "THE SITUATION ROOM," Wolf Blitzer, thank you so much, sir.

Coming up, tonight will be a sad night not just for David Letterman fans, but for his sidekick and friend, Paul Schaefer. Paul Schaefer visits THE LEAD next. What he tells me about the final show and the strange way his boss broke the news to him that he was retiring coming up.



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAVID LETTERMAN: Tomorrow is our final show. But -- no, no, no, wait a minute, unless it rains, then there will be a rain delay and we'll probably make it up --


TAPPER: In just a few hours, David Letterman will say good-bye to late night television after 33 years, and that's our Pop Culture Lead today. Listen to his career stats along the way, 16 Emmy awards, 4,600 top ten lists, nearly 20,000 guests.

A large crowd lined up this morning in front of the Ed Sullivan Theater. Some were lucky enough to get a ticket to today's final recording. We now know that the Foo Fighters will be his final musical guest tonight.

Letterman's team also says that late night rival, Jay Leno, will not make an appearance despite being invited. Dave gets the glory for more than three decades on stage, but his show and his career just wouldn't be the same without his right-hand man, show music director, Paul Schaefer.


TAPPER (voice-over): Hear that? That's comedy's theme music, an anthem for "A" listers orchestrated by "The Late Show's" Paul Shaffer.

PAUL SHAFFER, BANDLEADER, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": I based it on these bands that I heard in Toronto that wore these sleazy topless lounges. The music was the hippest.

TAPPER: David Letterman's band leader and friend for more than three decades has composed quite a career.

SHAFFER: What a dream job I have had working for really a dream boss who encouraged me to do whatever I wanted literally on this show.

TAPPER: Shaffer became a true sidekick with skits and unscripted jokes of his own.

SHAFFER: I've watched Johnny Carson and you are no Johnny Carson. Improvising with a guy on the level of David Letterman is really an honor, nobody gets to do that.

TAPPER: The seasoned musician is also famous for his musical puns.

Like playing a spin doctor song for former white House Press Secretary Jay Carney or Nirvana's "All Apologies" for losing presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.

SHAFFER: I had a repertoire of songs in common with our audience. So when I picked a song to make a point, people would get it because we had this repertoire in common. It was a lot of fun.

TAPPER: Not just fun for Shaffer but for viewers and guests as well. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably 80 percent of the guests probably don't know what Paul is referring to. He fills gaps that need to be filled. He always has kind of the perfect reaction.

TAPPER: Shaffer and Letterman are not just professional partners, but also good friends, bonding over holidays spent away from the spotlight, performing in war zones.

SHAFFER: First year in Afghanistan and Christmas eves in Iraq, entertaining a little bit. Just any show, hanging out, taking pictures. It was an honor being here with all you guys and gals. That's when our friendship really -- what we went through --

TAPPER: After 33 years together, you might think Letterman would break his retirement news to Shaffer very gently. But that's never been his shtick.

(on camera): When did you first know that he was going to retire?

SHAFFER: There was no indication until one day on a Monday, we were in the wings just about to go on and before we went on he said, just come with me. Took me into a little alcove and he said, I've told the guys at CBS that I'm going to retire. Wow. And then the next thing I knew, I was on stage.

TAPPER: This must be a difficult time. This is -- I'm having a tough time and I've only just been watching it.

SHAFFER: Boy, I've known nothing else for half my life. But at the same time, what a wonderfully satisfying long run it has been.


TAPPER: So what's next for Paul? I asked him. He said after tonight's show, he would like to play a villain in a three-episode arc on "CSI Miami." Of course, that show was canceled in 2012. He might need another plan. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."