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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson; Trump Rising; Freddie Gray Autopsy Details; Confederate Flag Controversy. Aired 18-19:00p ET
Aired June 23, 2015 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And Mississippi's state flag, as some of the country's largest retailers announce they will no longer sell merchandise bearing the emblem. I'll talk about the raging debate with the Mississippi congressman and the mayor of Charleston, South Carolina.
Leaked autopsy -- stunning new revelations from the medical examiner report on Freddie Gray, whose death in police custody sparked days of rioting in Baltimore. What impact will the new information have on the case against the police officers charged in his death?
And Trump rising, the outspoken billionaire presidential candidate surging in a new poll, showing him right near the top of the Republican pack in a critical primary state. CNN catches up with him as he steps off the campaign trail and on to the golf course.
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 two breaking stories this hour, the manhunt for two escaped murderers heating up right now. And a source has just revealed to CNN that prison worker Joyce Mitchell has admitted to investigators she smuggled hacksaw blades to the men inside hamburger meat.
Also, new police dash cam video of the arrest of the white supremacist Dylann Roof just hours after he shot and killed nine people in that Charleston church massacre. And now there's growing momentum behind efforts to remove the Confederate Battle Flag as an emblem of hate from statehouses.
We're covering all angles of the breaking news with our correspondent and our guests, including Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and Charleston Mayor Joe Riley.
But let's begin with the manhunt in Upstate New York.
Our national correspondent, Jason Carroll, is on the scene for us
Jason, what do we know about this new information pertaining to that prison worker Joyce Mitchell, who is now under arrest?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, a lot of new information coming into us, Wolf, about Joyce Mitchell.
Apparently, she had vouched for Richard Matt and David Sweat, had vouched for them for several months, went as far as to giving baked goods to other guards at the prison to try and convince other guards that both of these inmates were good guys and could be trusted. We are also hearing, Wolf, from a law enforcement source that Joyce Mitchell went as far as to going to prison officials to have David Sweat's cell moved right next to Richard Matt's.
All of this new information coming in as this intense manhunt is well under way.
CARROLL (voice-over): A law enforcement official tells CNN, Richard Matt and David Sweat may have left behind personal items including a pair of boots and what appears to be provisions they may have planned to take with them as they rushed out in a hurry, the manhunt now intensifying in that wooded area just 20 miles west of the prison.
A source with knowledge of the investigation tells CNN that Mitchell passed tools used in the escape in a chunk of frozen hamburger meat. Mitchell asked a prison guard on the honor block to carry the meat into the prison and pass to it Richard Matt, this as the husband of Joyce Mitchell, the prison employee accused of helping Matt and Sweat escape, is speaking out for the first time, telling NBC's "Today Show" that they planned on killing him to help make their escape go smoothly.
LYLE MITCHELL, HUSBAND OF JOYCE MITCHELL: She told me that Matt wanted her to pick them up. And she said, well, I never leave nowheres without Lyle, never. And he said, well, I will give you some pills to give him to knock him out, and then we all -- and you come pick us up. She said, I can't do this.
And then she told me he started threatening her with somebody inside the facility was going to do something to me to harm me or kill me or somebody outside the jail if she didn't stay with this.
CARROLL: Had she picked them up, he does not think she would have survived.
MITCHELL: She would have been dead within half-an-hour, I figure. She would just -- get away, they were going to kill her, they were, and all they wanted was that vehicle.
CARROLL: And Lyle Mitchell denying reports that his wife had a sexual relationship with either of the inmates.
MITCHELL: She swore on her son's life and her son it definitely -- "I never, ever had sex with him." CARROLL: And new video today obtained by ABC News offers some
insight into the mind-set of Richard Matt. It shows him in 1997 smiling and posing with a blowgun.
RICHARD MATT, ESCAPED FUGITIVE: Dip them in AIDS blood, and we will put a patent on them and we will sell them as deadly weapons.
CARROLL: The blowgun is then fired into his arm, this video taken nine months before he then murdered and dismembered his own boss, putting Matt behind bars.
CARROLL: And a little bit more information, Wolf, if I may, about that big chunk of meat that was passed on to Richard Matt.
Apparently, Joyce Mitchell convinced a prison guard by the name of Gene Palmer to pass that meat on to Richard Matt. It did not go through a metal detector, a violation of prison policy.
I did speak to Palmer's attorney several times, spoke to him at length about everything that had gone on about, and about the allegations. He said that his client didn't know what was inside that frozen meat and he said his client did not know about any escape plans.
We can also tell you the New York state inspector general is now looking into the correctional facility, trying to find out everything that went on before the escape -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jason Carroll on the scene for us, thank you.
Let's bring in our justice reporter, Evan Perez, who is also working the story for us.
What else are you hearing from your sources, Evan?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we have -- we know from federal sources that the federal government is now sending in additional resources to Upstate New York to help with this manhunt.
It's clearly because, I'm told by one law enforcement official, that they're cautiously optimistic that they do believe they're looking in the right area, finally, after looking all over the state, even all the way close to the border with Pennsylvania.
The other thing that is interesting is that the FBI, the Marshals Service, the ATF, are all playing a bigger role now. They're lending resources. They're -- the FBI even conducted, helped conduct the interview this past weekend with Gene Palmer, the prison worker that Jason just referred who was interviewed who is now on the suspension.
The question that is now arising from law enforcement is, beyond the hacksaw blades which were snuck into the prison, these prisoners had to know more about the blueprint of the prison, something about what was beneath the prison for them to get out. And so that's the question they're asking, is that beyond just the role of Joyce Mitchell, were there other people who were involved in perhaps helping them learn how to make their way out?
BLITZER: Yes, there is a lot of suspicion that there were others who may have been involved as well.
BLITZER: All right, Evan, thanks very much. It's day 18 of this search.
The other breaking story we're following, newly released police dash cam video of the arrest of Dylann Roof just hours after he shot and killed nine people inside an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina. His embrace of the Confederate Battle Flag as a symbol of white supremacy has ignited a fast-moving debate that is sweeping not only through the South, but also through multiple corporate headquarters.
Some of the largest retailers now say they will stop selling merchandise bearing the flag.
CNN's Martin Savidge is joining us from Charleston with more on the controversy.
What's the latest, Martin?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, today, both the Senate and the House legislature here in South Carolina passed resolutions that essentially said they can now begin talking about the possibility of passing some kind of measure to bring down the Confederate Flag.
And that is no small measure, because in both cases it required a two-thirds majority to get even that passed. However, saying that you're going to start talking about it and actually acting and doing something about taking down that flag, we're a long way from that.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Hundreds of South Carolinians rallied on the steps of the South Carolina Statehouse, while, inside, state lawmakers debate the Confederate Flag and its place on capitol grounds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Extremely important issue for our state. The world is watching us.
SAVIDGE: Tonight, the fate of the controversial piece of Southern heritage hands in the balance.
PAUL THURMOND (R), SOUTH CAROLINA STATE SENATOR: Our ancestors were literally fighting to continue to keep human beings as slaves and continue the unimaginable acts that occur when someone is held against their will. I am not proud of this heritage.
SAVIDGE: The controversy is not a new one. The flag was removed from atop the capitol dome in 2000 and raised nearby on statehouse grounds. But after last week's massacre, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, made it very clear where she stands.
GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It's time to move the flag from the capitol grounds.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SAVIDGE: Many prominent Republican politicians have followed suit, some reversing long-held belief that the flag represents Southern heritage.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a circumstance where the people led the politicians. I came to conclude after going to Charleston that we had to act and sooner rather than later. And God help South Carolina if we fail to achieve the goal of removing the flag.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Take it down!
SAVIDGE: The rallying cry is sweeping the South from South Carolina to Mississippi, one of the few states where the Confederate Flag still flies. Lawmakers who once embraced the symbol of the old South are joining a growing chorus.
Mississippi's House speaker took to Facebook to do what no other Republican in the state has done, publicly call for a change -- quote -- "As a Christian, I believe our state's flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed," he wrote.
GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA: I believe the same is true here in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
SAVIDGE: And in Virginia, the state's governor announced today that the state would take steps to stop issuing license plates bearing the divisive flag. Sears and Wal-Mart with stores across the U.S. are removing Confederate Flag merchandise from their Shelves.
Wal-Mart's CEO explained his decision to CNN.
DOUG MCMILLON, CEO, WAL-MART: We just don't want to sell products that makes anyone feel uncomfortable. And we felt like that was the case. This was the right thing to do.
SAVIDGE: The attitude has been that this is going to be a very, very difficult decision, despite the bipartisan support that you saw yesterday. But the counter to that is doing good is usually not easy -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Martin Savidge on the scene for us, thank you.
Let's talk about all of this with Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi. He's the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D), MISSISSIPPI: Thank you.
BLITZER: I spoke earlier today with a friend of yours, friend of mine, Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the congressman.
And he pointed out to me something I didn't know. The state of Mississippi, your state -- you're the only African-American representative from Mississippi. You won't fly that Mississippi state flag in your congressional office or outside your congressional office. Is that right?
THOMPSON: That's correct, basically because, as an African- American, I resent what the flag implies. I am not one to promote hate or hostility.
I don't see it as heritage. And I personally take offense to it, because we are better than that. And I'm convinced that the only way you can solve it is by not displaying it.
BLITZER: Forty percent, nearly 40 percent of the people who live in your state of Mississippi are African-Americans. It's the highest percentage of any state in the United States. But it seems like the political clout of African-Americans in Mississippi might be limited, right?
THOMPSON: Well, it is.
And just study the history. Had it not been for the Voting Rights Act, I wouldn't be here in Congress, nor a lot of the other officials. So, it has always taken a federal oversight to make things happen. The flag, I agree, is a local issue. But if you're going to make this country the country that we know it can be, we're going to have to put these symbols in the museums, where they belong, and not front and center and try to defend actions that were basically meant to enslave people.
BLITZER: You see in South Carolina they're moving to get rid of the flag from the state grounds in the capitol. What is happening in Mississippi? Because, all of a sudden, some people in the legislature, some people in Mississippi, including some Republicans, are saying maybe it is time to change the state flag.
THOMPSON: Well, I'm happy to see the speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives make...
BLITZER: Republican. THOMPSON: Republican -- make a forthright statement, say that he
is a Christian. He's looked at this thing and he's convinced that we need to revisit it.
And by revisiting it, I'm hoping that we will move it out of the capitol, make it not the state flag. That symbol has been a symbol of repression and hate to a lot of right-thinking people in this country. And I think, in my state, we would do better changing the flag, come in with something new that represents the new Mississippi and not the old Mississippi.
BLITZER: Is this a partisan issue in Mississippi, whereby the Democrats want to get rid of that symbol in the flag, the Republicans want to keep it? Is that what has been historically true?
THOMPSON: Well, I think it's a power struggle.
It's the old guard trying to defend the past. This flag represents the past and it is an effort to keep it. So no matter what you do, this flag represents a step backward. And as a state with 40 percent African-American population, but with more African-American officials than any other state, we can do better.
The image of who we are can be enhanced with a different flag.
BLITZER: You have some hope that this is about to change, is that right, or is that going too far?
THOMPSON: Look, we're going to work on it. Hope springs eternal. I am convinced that there are good people in my state who want to see a better view of our state.
BLITZER: You have got to admit, it was pretty impressive yesterday to see the Republican governor of South Carolina, the two Republican senators of South Carolina say let's move that flag away from the state capitol grounds. You want to fly it on your private property, that's fine, but off the public property.
THOMPSON: Well, that flag represents everything that's wrong. And for someone to try to defend the flag as heritage or something that is right is an insult. We know it's not.
It's divisive in the community. Let's put it in a museum where it belongs, and let's get on with the business of developing our communities.
BLITZER: What do you think of all of these retailers now, Wal- Mart, for example, Sears, Amazon, eBay, deciding they're no longer going to sell the Confederate Flag paraphernalia, if you will?
THOMPSON: It's a strong statement.
And, believe me, the elected leaders in those states, they see the economics. Wal-Mart is one of the largest employers in my district. To take that kind of stand is very positive. More people who step forward with this, the greater the possibility that change will come.
BLITZER: Bennie Thompson, stand by. I want to continue our conversation.
Just ahead, I will also speak with the mayor of Charleston, South Carolina, about the new momentum behind the effort to remove the Confederate Battle Flag. There you see him, Governor Riley -- Mayor Riley, we will talk with you when we come back.
BLITZER: We're following the news in the Charleston, South Carolina, church massacre.
CNN has now obtained police dash cam video of the confessed killer Dylann Roof as he's taken into custody hours after he gunned down nine people in a historic African-American church. Before the shooting, Roof posed for several pictures with the Confederate Flag, leading to renewed calls to remove it from the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse.
Today, lawmakers in South Carolina agreed to take on that debate.
We're joined now by the mayor, Joe Riley, of Charleston.
Let's discuss these developments. Mayor, thanks, first of all, very much for joining us.
I know you have called for the flag to be taken down. You have wanted this to happen for a long time. But why did it take deaths of nine wonderful, prominent African-American people in your community? Why did it take so long and this horrible tragedy for this to happen?
JOSEPH RILEY, MAYOR OF CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: I don't know. I can't really explain it. It is unfortunate it did.
Actually, right where I'm standing, I led a march from here, 100 yards we had started, past Mother Emanuel, up the road, 110 miles of it to Columbia. Four days, we had business leaders, football coaches, prominent people joining us, because it was clear that a majority of the people of South Carolina did not want the Confederate Flag then.
It was above the capitol, state capitol, the state flag, the American flag and then underneath the Confederate Flag. Unfortunately, they put it on the statehouse grounds in front of the capitol away from the dome. But it's -- it shouldn't be there. This is a symbol that for many was appropriated to be used as their statement against racial progress, against integration, the statement in support of racial bigotry, as we saw that awful man who went into this church less than a week ago and killed these precious people.
So, to have something that is used by many as a symbol against all American values on public property is just wrong. It should be in a museum. That's an appropriate place for it. It is no longer the symbol of hatred and bigotry. It is a part of history.
And I commend Governor Haley for her leadership and stepping forward. And I'm confident that the votes will be in the General Assembly. It's a bipartisan support for this. And, as I said, overwhelmingly, a majority of South Carolinians want on public property the United States flag and the state flag. They don't want the Confederate Battle Flag.
BLITZER: Realistically, Mayor, when do you think that flag will be removed?
RILEY: Well, I'm not sure.
I know that wrapping up the budget -- that they are going to stay there until they get it done. The governor said, if not, she will call a special session. But I feel the will is there. The legislative leaders of both parties are supporting this, and, as you mentioned, the U.S. senators, Graham and Scott, and, of course, Jim Clyburn and Mark Sanford were there yesterday.
The will is there. It might take a little while, but I'm confident it will happen and it has to happen. To have what occurred here right across the street, less than a week ago, just as a reminder that racial bigotry is alive, and if there is a symbol that it gives people momentum that hate others because of their race, it has got to go away from public property.
BLITZER: What do you make of this report, these reports out there that sales of the Confederate Flag and related paraphernalia skyrocketed over the past few days, maybe by 3000 or 4000 percent, as some of these major retailers like Amazon and eBay, and Wal-Mart, Sears were deciding to remove this merchandise from their sites?
RILEY: Well, it shows there are some who want it for whatever reason, but probably some who are just basically hoarders.
But I think the national retailers that have made this decision, they deserve a pat on the back too. It's about American values. We're one nation under God with liberty and justice for all. And to have a symbol that is being sold by national retailers that people have appropriated to support or to ratify their bigotry is wrong. So, my hat's off to them. And they're -- that's what America wants as well.
BLITZER: I know you want tighter gun control. You don't only want to remove the flag, but you want tighter gun control.
The -- what do you make of the fact that Wal-Mart is still selling a lot of guns and ammunition, even as they're removing the sale of the flag?
RILEY: Well, if Wal-Mart stopped selling guns, that would really affect the supply, because there are so many out there.
And what we need is a national conversation. Again, I'm confident. I know, overwhelmingly, the American public wants reasonable rules about guns, particularly handguns, reasonable. We have got to get a license, we have got to do all kinds of things to be able to drive a car. And we have got just a huge amount of handguns out -- there is no civilized industrialized nation in the world that has anything like this.
It makes absolutely no sense. And so we need -- and I think it really should be a national debate, because it must come from the national government, so that we have one rule that generally applies to all, some basic standards of what you need to do to be able to have a handgun, to get registered, so everybody knows who bought it and make sure your record is clear and all of that and have people stand up and say, OK, I want to purchase a gun like I want to purchase a car.
You have to go through a lot of rigmarole to buy a car and to get a title for an automobile. Well, for goodness sake, we ought to have some reasonable rules about that. And that I think will curb the access and the supply of guns.
And you know, it's -- these nine precious people, I can't -- Wolf, I can't tell you the heartache in this community. And I know it is felt around the country. These were nine people, the concentric circles of their friends and family, and church families. And there is one that was a board of the city's housing authority, one of the folks, a commissioner, another who worked in our auditorium right down the street.
Every time I went in there, she gave me a big hug. I can still feel it. And so we lost nine precious people because some guy could easily get his gun from however he got it. We have heard reports on how he might have gotten it, but America deserves better.
And we can do better. And we have got to sit down with everybody. And the gun lobby needs to approach this with American values. And that is the safety and security of our citizens and churches. And heavens to Betsy, do we want to be in a country where you need a security guard to go to Bible study? It is crazy. We have to make this change. We have got to get on it.
BLITZER: All right. Mayor, thank you. Thanks very much. Good luck to you. Good luck to everyone in Charleston.
RILEY: Thank you, Wolf. Thank you so much.
BLITZER: We're all with you during these very, very difficult times. Thank you.
BLITZER: More breaking news coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Freddie Gray's autopsy report, it has now been leaked to "The
Baltimore Sun," revealing new details of his death in police custody. Will it impact the case against the politics officers charged in his death?
Plus, there's a new twist in the D.C. mansion murder case, a new link revealed between the suspect and the family he is accused of killing.
BLITZER: We're following some breaking news out of Baltimore right now. "The Baltimore Sun" reporting that the autopsy of Freddie Gray, the man who sustained fatal injuries in the back of a police van, determined that a, quote, "high-energy injury" caused his death.
[18:32:58] Let's get some more. Joining us, the reporter who broke the story, Justin Fenton of "The Baltimore Sun." He's on the phone. Also we're joined by the former FBI assistant director, our law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes; and our legal analyst, Sunny Hostin. She's a former federal prosecutor.
Justin, you reported on this copy of the autopsy on Freddie Gray obtained by "The Baltimore Sun." Tell us exactly what you discovered.
JUSTIN FENTON, REPORTER, "THE BALTIMORE SUN" (via phone): Sure. So the big finding was that he was likely -- his injury was caused by a high-energy injury. They said they compared it to shallow water diving incident and think that it was caused by the vehicle that he was in the back of, either aggressively decelerating or accelerating.
The medical examiner thinks Gray may have been able to prop himself up while the vehicle was moving. But because he was shackled at the hands and feet, was unable to brace himself for a fall that he couldn't anticipate.
They said that it was not an accident, because the officers could have foreseen that a vulnerable person could get hurt and need medical attention in such a circumstance. And that it was a homicide based on the failure to follow the safety procedures that were place for such transports.
BLITZER: That's what they're calling "acts of omission." Sunny, you're a lawyer; you're a former prosecutor. What does this mean, this information in this autopsy, as far as the case against these six Baltimore police officers?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, there's no question that it helps the prosecutor's office, right? I mean, you basically have the prosecutors' theory of the case. And we know that this autopsy report was given to Marilyn Mosby, and she chose to indict this case very, very quickly thereafter.
But I will tell you, Wolf, I'm concerned about the process. It is very rare for an autopsy report to be leaked to the press. If an attorney were to do the same thing, there would be significant, significant consequences to it. It is both illegal and unethical. And so I question why and how it was released, especially because the defense team says that the only people that had access to -- to this were the state's attorney -- state's attorney's office, as well as the medical examiner's office.
And when I look at what has been reported in terms of the autopsy, I see a lot of legal conclusions in the report. And so it appears to me that the prosecutor's office was likely working with the M.E.'s office. While, that is not unusual, I think it is unusual when it comes to the manner and the cause of death, which is a determination that should be made by the medical examiner and not necessarily by the prosecutor.
[17:35:29] So this is, in a sense, very helpful to the prosecution. But any good defense attorney is going to raise these questions with their own experts and at trial. So I'm a little concerned about it.
BLITZER: Yes, the state's attorney, Marilyn Mosby, issued a statement strongly condemning the leak of this autopsy. How's this going to play out, Tom Fuentes.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think, Wolf, the problem here is that it's very speculative. And I'm surprised in an autopsy report where they're saying, you know, that "we surmised that he must have gotten up to his feet and then later fell down because he wouldn't be able to balance himself."
My comment would be that might not necessarily mean a rough ride. Now, it might absolutely be negligence and an omission that he wasn't secured better, buckled down so he couldn't get up. But if in fact, he got to his feet somehow, and his legs are shackled together and his hands are tied together, I would challenge anybody but a professional surfer to be able to stay on your feet in a vehicle driving normally, driving 5 miles an hour.
BLITZER: All right. We'll continue to follow this story. Guys, thank you.
Just ahead, we're also learning new details about that gruesome quadruple homicide in a Washington, D.C., mansion, including a disturbing threat made by a cousin of the suspected killer.
[17:41:25] BLITZER: Turning now to a gruesome mystery investigation still developing here in the nation's capital. CNN has learned that authorities are looking at a relative of the man allegedly responsible for the murder of four people in a Washington, D.C., mansion last month.
Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, is here with the disturbing new information. Pamela, tell our viewers what you're learning.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're learning tonight that police have been looking into one of Daron Wint's cousins, who was fired from American Iron Works, which was owned by the Savopoulos family. And he even threatened the company several years ago.
This as sources say forensic testing has turned up more of Daron Wint's DNA inside the mansion, where the family and the housekeeper were murdered and tortured in unspeakable ways.
BROWN (voice-over): It was a race against time for the U.S. Marshals chasing down 34-year-old Daron Wint, the man accused of killing the Savopoulos family and their housekeeper.
ROBERT FERNANDEZ, U.S. MARSHAL: He wasn't a U.S. citizen. And we think his plan was to try and get some I.D. and, or a passport or something, and leave the country and go back to Guyana.
BROWN: An intense 48-hour manhunt led authorities to this Howard Johnson hotel near Washington, D.C.
FERNANDEZ: The advance team told us, "Hey, they just took off. They're going down -- they're going up Route 1." So we had to real quick jump in our cars and then try and catch up to them.
BROWN: U.S. Marshal Rob Hernandez and a small fleet of law enforcement officials followed this white Chevy Cruise Wint was riding in, along with a truck of unknown associates. After the suspect vehicles performed a bizarre U-turn, Fernandez made his move.
(on camera): What was Wint like? Was he combative at all?
FERNANDEZ: His body posture and the look on his face was like he was thinking about running, but we were right on top of him; and he never got a chance.
BROWN (voice-over): CNN has learned investigators found Daron Wint's DNA in various parts of the crime scene where the victims were tortured. Sources say police are investigating whether one of Wint's relatives is connected to the crime.
His cousin, who has not yet been named, also worked at American Iron Works and was fired around the same time Wint left in 2005. Sources say the cousin threaten to burn the place down, a threat taken so seriously, the company took out a restraining order against him.
JOHN TORRES, FORMER ICE SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Even though it's been almost ten years, for some people, they harbor that resentment, and that builds up until they feel that they get an opportunity to strike back.
BROWN: So far Wint is the only person charged in the crime, but police do not believe he acted alone.
CNN has also learned Wint, who has a criminal past, was in danger of losing his green card when he was arrested last march for receiving stolen property. But officials say Immigration and Customs Enforcement was never notified.
TORRES: If Daron Wint was arrested in March and ICE never received those fingerprints until after he's arrested for the quadruple murder, then it tells me, it's an indicator to me that there's a breakdown in the system somewhere. Had ICE been notified, they would have taken a look at that particular file. They would have looked at Daron Wint's history and undertook a legal review to determine whether or not he was eligible for removal.
BROWN: D.C. police say it ran Wint's prints in March through the national FBI database, which is supposed to automatically share fingerprints with ICE.
JAY HOWARD, GO-KART COACH: He was passionate beyond belief.
BROWN: Jay Howard was a go-kart coach for 10-year-old Philip Savopoulos. In this exclusive TV interview, he recalled their last race.
HOWARD: I believe it was the third time on track that day when Phillip had his accident.
BROWN: That accident led to a mild concussion, leading to bed rest up until the day the crime began.
HOWARD: I obviously wish he wasn't home. Not something I really want to think about.
BROWN: And that coach says that Philip had an incredibly close bond with his father, Savvas Savopoulos, a bond that investigators believe the killers used to get more money from the family -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What a story that is.
All right. Pamela, thank you.
Please be sure to tune in later tonight, 9:30 Eastern for Pamela's special report on "The D.C. Mansion Murders", 9:30 p.m. Eastern.
Just ahead, presidential Donald Trump, he's surging in a brand new poll, showing him near the pack in a critical primary state. CNN catches up with him as he steps off the campaign trail and on to the golf course.
[18:50:29] BLITZER: Very strong showing for the presidential candidate Donald Trump in a key state, New Hampshire, home of the nation's first presidential primary election. A poll by Suffolk University Political Research Center finds the outspoken billionaire second only to Jeb Bush among likely Republican voters 14 percent to 11 percent.
CNN's senior digital correspondent for CNN Politics, Chris Moody, caught up with Donald Trump today as part of a series "Being Moody".
CHRIS MOODY, CNN SENIOR DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: We are literally chasing Donald Trump in a golf cart. Here we go.
This might be the even press conference I've been to with a manmade waterfall in front of it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He doesn't call it a waterfall. It's a water structure.
MOODY: This is Donald Trump's first press conference since filing for papers to run for president of the United States. But he's not here to talk about his campaign. He's opening a golf course.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I bought it six years ago, in the height of the bad market. The world was collapsing.
MOODY: Let's have a quick moment of total self awareness. CNN would not be here covering Donald Trump's golf course opening unless he was running for president.
I'm wondering, who do you have in mind for secretary of state?
TRUMP: I haven't given it a thought. First, we have to see how we do. We're doing really well.
MOODY: Do you think you'll be able to raise more money than any other candidate with your appeal?
TRUMP: I don't need money. I'm using my own.
MOODY: Just all your own, huh?
TRUMP: Yes. I mean, a lot of people want to contribute, but I'm using my own.
MOODY: So, I guess, kudos to Mr. Trump, he got a lot more media to cover his golf course opening and anything else he does in the next several months. Pretty good business plan.
TRUMP: So, we're going to give a quick tour that will last probably 40 minutes. We'll call it the Trump tour.
MOODY: There's a lot of presidential contenders that are mad you may bump them off the debate stage. What do you say to them?
TRUMP: Well, I'm far more accomplished than they are. Far more accomplished.
TRUMP: I do great with what Latino voters. I employ so many Latinos. I have so many people working for me. And, you know, the Latinos love Trump. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BLITZER: Chris Moody is joining us now, along with our senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar, and "The New Yorker" Washington correspondent, Ryan Lizza, CNN political commentator.
That was great, Chris. You caught up with him on the golf course, why is he on the golf course, instead of campaigning, let's say, in New Hampshire or Iowa?
MOODY: Well, this was a longstanding appointment, before he made his announcement. But the reason CNN Politics was covering opening up a golf course by Donald Trump is because he's run in running and something inside of me, maybe the little cynic, says that that might be part f the entire plan, you get a lot more exposure. Certainly, a lot of Republicans and Democrats would say that Donald Trump is doing this just to promote his own brand.
BLITZER: In this new poll, Suffolk University poll is legitimate important poll.
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
BLITZER: Trump getting 11 percent in New Hampshire, second behind Jeb Bush 14 percent, almost within the margin of error. Here's the question, could Donald Trump really win some of these early caucus or primary states?
LIZZA: I doubt it. He's not going to -- I doubt he's going to win a single primary. If he actually becomes a threat to someone like Bush or Walker or Rubio, they will go after him and there's a lot in Donald Trump's background to go after.
Remember, in 2012, at this point, I guess it was 2011, at this point in the last presidential cycle, Trump not in the race, but he was put in a poll, and he was leading the field nationally. So, look, that was a great report, very funny. I mean, I employ a lot of Latinos, is that the new "I have a lot of Latino friends"?
I mean, every time something comes out of his mouth, it's controversial. It's something that a normal candidate who is taken seriously -- if Trump is taken seriously -- will not survive because of it.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's --
KEILAR: Go ahead.
KEILAR: It seems a little bit like a character. And I was laughing as we came out of Chris' piece, because at the end with what Donald Trump was saying, it's sort of laughable that that would really fly. I think it's what people expect of him. I'd want to see more polls that show the same thing that we're seeing in the Suffolk University poll.
But I also think, what it speaks to is, one, his name recognition. And I'll give him this, I think people do like the genuine -- what they see is someone who's really kind of speaking his mind I think sometimes he gets a little crazy with that.
[18:55:02] I do think that you see this desire for Republicans and for Democrats. They want someone who's really speaking their mind, who doesn't seem like they're always trying to navigate the polls all the time.
BLITZER: He's very, very blunt, obviously, he tells -- he's a straight talker, right?
MOODY: He is, and he's going to make an impact on the race. Whether that -- what that is, is yet to be seen. But especially in the debates, he could quite possibly knock off a senator or a governor off the main debate stage.
BLITZER: Do you think, Chris, he could be in the top ten candidates in the national --
MOODY: He is in the top ten.
BLITZER: That's the poll we got in New Hampshire. What about nationwide?
MOODY: He's got national name idea. Unlike a lot of these people, even Bobby Jindal, let's say, in Louisiana, doesn't necessarily have that name ID around the country that he has. And the catch-22 is to need to get in the base, you need to be -- do well in the polls, but to do all the polls, you need the exposure of the debates.
BLITZER: But you remember, four years ago, Herman Cain in some of those early polls, he was doing well. Michele Bachmann, you remember her, the congresswoman from Minnesota, she was doing well. All of a sudden, not so well.
LIZZA: That was the dynamic in 2012, surge and decline. You get out there, you jump in the race, you get a lot of attention, voters hear your name, there's no penalty for telling a pollster, yes, I might vote for him. And you see these candidates take off.
And then as soon as they're taken seriously, the press vets them, their opponents attack them, and they're in the basement again. And I guarantee you, that's what happens to Trump.
BLITZER: He's got more name recognition, I think, than any of these other Republican candidates, don't you think?
KEILAR: Yes, he has -- oh, definitely, he has so much name recognition. I don't think people -- but when people think of him, they're not necessarily thinking of someone super positively. I also think of, for instance, like a Fred Thompson, right? He had a lot of name recognition. I think he was probably seen in a more sort of authoritative light.
Donald Trump is seen, I think a little. I want to say, it's a little bit laughable, people like his antics. When he's seen in a different spotlight, I don't think it's going to fly.
BLITZER: Rudy Giuliani had good name recognition, too. That didn't necessarily --
MOODY: If you dive into the polls, a lot of the national ones, the approval rate of him, whether they like him is not necessarily high -- disapproval rate is very, very high.
BLITZER: Ryan, here's where he could have a huge impact.
BLITZER: The way he goes after Jeb Bush, for example, and challenges him and besmirches him, if you will, he's not going to -- the way he talks, that could undermine, that could hurt Jeb Bush.
LIZZA: Oh, absolutely. He could be a blocker or tackler for some of the candidates who are struggling at the bottom. If you can allow Trump to go after Jeb and the Bush family, then if you're Jindal or Rubio or someone else who doesn't want to attack Jeb, that could give you an opportunity to rise without having to attack Bush.
KEILAR: I also think Trump struggles, though, when he is called out. I recall that White House correspondent's dinner where he had been on the tirade about President Obama's birth certificate. Even President Obama just joking about him, it made him look ridiculous.
So, I think when he's able to go on a monologue, maybe he's fine. But when there's someone there that's quick, I think that Jeb Bush has shown he can give a quick retort. I think that, you know, Donald Trump could really suffer.
MOODY: But isn't there an argument to be made that when you go after Donald Trump, you only make him stronger? He's like a hydra. He just grows another head and neck, that gives him more exposure, more time --
KEILAR: Or do you just look like a reasonable person if you quickly sort of dismiss him with something that's very factual?
BLITZER: So, basically, today in the golf course out in Virginia, what was his point, he was trying to show what?
MOODY: That he built another one of the greatest golf courses in the world, of course. It's Donald Trump. What was very interesting, a lot of sports journalists were there, and now a lot of political journalists as well. He wanted to show off his new course, and he did.
BLITZER: I'm sure he's right, though, Ryan, when he says he bought this golf course six years ago when there was a recession going on, and now, it's probably worth a lot more money than it was when he bought it. He's made a lot of money.
LIZZA: That all seems accurate. What that has to do with him, his potential as a presidential candidate or president, I'm quite --
BLITZER: Do you think he possible to be a Ross Perot, a third party challenger?
BLITZER: -- really undermine the two party process, if you will? Spoiler?
LIZZA: There's no issues he's running on that the two major parties are not addressing. And that was the secret to Ross Perot, is that he had identified a few issues like trade and deficit, that the two parties weren't addressing, and that created some third party momentum.
There's nothing right now. The two parties are ideologically pretty defined and there's no big issue out there that neither are addressing them that Trump is talking about.
BLITZER: Brianna, you've never gotten any indications he's even thinking of running. He's running as a Republican nomination, but is he even thinking of a third party challenge?
KEILAR: Donald Trump?
BLITZER: No indication of that?
KEILAR: That's not, no.
BLITZER: I think, there's no plan here. I mean, we're over- thinking this, right? I mean, this press conference today seemed to have nothing to do with presidential politics.
MOODY: All about golf --
KEILAR: Or reminding people of his value, right? Maybe --
BLITZER: A very good report.
MOODY: Thank you.
BLITZER: Donald Trump, by the way, is going to be Jake Tapper's guest on "STATE OF THE UNION" this Sunday morning, 9:00 a.m. So, we'll get a chance to watch him a little bit up close.
Thanks, guys, very much.
LIZZA: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: That's it for me. Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Please tweet me @wolfblitzer. You can tweet the show @CNNsitroom.
Thanks for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.