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President Obama Delivers Eulogy; Obama Delivers Eulogy for Reverend Pinckney; Source: Fugitive Richard Matt Shot by Police. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired June 26, 2015 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're going to begin with breaking news in our national lead, what we have been watching in Charleston, South Carolina, President Obama delivering a very moving eulogy for state Senator and beloved Reverend Clementa Pinckney, and the surprise, stunning moment of the president of the United States leading the congregation in "Amazing Grace."



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Clementa Pinckney found that grace. Cynthia Hurd found that grace. Susie Jackson found that grace. Ethel Lance found that grace.

Depayne Middleton-Doctor found that grace. Tywanza Sanders found that grace. Daniel L. Simmons Sr. found that grace. Sharonda Coleman- Singleton found that grace. Myra Thompson found that grace.


TAPPER: All nine of the victims of that horrific racist terrorist attack last week, President Obama honoring all nine of them, also echoing the emotional theme of the last week, the remarkable showing of the ability of individuals in Charleston to turn that ugly hate into love.


OBAMA: Blinded by hatred, the alleged killer could not see the grace surrounding Reverend Pinckney and that Bible study group, the light of love that shone as they opened the church doors and invited a stranger to join in their prayer circle.

The alleged killer could have never anticipated the way the families of the fallen would respond when they saw him in court in the midst of unspeakable grief with words of forgiveness. He couldn't imagine that.



TAPPER: President Obama joined by thousands of mourners, including, of course, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, as well as a bipartisan group of high-level members of Congress, and presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, all of them there to celebrate the life of a man whom many of them, including President Obama, knew, Reverend Pinckney, while also carefully continuing the conversation started earlier this week about racism in America.


OBAMA: Maybe we now realize the way racial bias can infect us even when we don't realize it, so that we're guarding against not just racial slurs, but we're also against the subtle impulse to call Johnny back for a job interview, but not Jamal.



TAPPER: CNN's Martin Savidge was inside the funeral service.

Martin, describe for us what it was like to be inside that place today as the president gave this very moving eulogy.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was extremely remarkable, I have to say, probably one of the most moving speeches, although it's a eulogy, that the president has given.

He has clearly been working on this all week long. And he incorporated so many different themes that have raced through America in the aftermath of this horrible tragedy down here in Charleston, and grace was the predominant theme.

And it wasn't just the fact that he would sing of that amazing grace. He spoke of how that grace was embodied in the life of Reverend Pinckney, saying that this was a man who believed in the Christian ideal that you must act on deeds and not just speak with words.

It was also said that this was not a policy speech, or not meant to be a policy speech, but there were a lot of issues that are bound to be considered policy when you heard the president speaking. You already touched on the issue of race.


He talked about the issue of gun control, the access to it. He talked about the Confederate Flag. He talked even about the Civil War, and that the cause to fight for slavery was wrong, and on and on, the president went, so many different topics he was able to breach with the umbrella of talking about the tragedy here in Charleston that has so deeply affected America -- Jake.

TAPPER: Martin Savidge inside the arena-turned-house-of-worship, for at least for the moment. Thank you so much. I want to turn to President Obama's former -- I don't know if former

is the right term -- he's his former spiritual adviser officially. He's constantly offering words of advice, I suspect, religious affairs director for the White House Joshua DuBois.

Joshua, thanks so much for being here. I know you had to juggle your schedule. We really appreciate it, because you have such a unique perspective.

You have called the president deeply faithful. You have called him the comforter in chief. Put in perspective what you saw today at the arena.

JOSHUA DUBOIS, FORMER SPIRITUAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Jake, as a Christian, as an AME, as a black person and as an American, President Obama did me and many others very, very proud today.

First and foremost, he honored Reverend/Senator Pinckney. He spoke about what made that man tick, and all of the wonderful things about him. But then he pulled back the lens a little bit, and gave us a glimpse of where we need to go as a country.

And then finally, just with his heart overflowing, he spontaneously led the crowd -- I should say -- the congregation in "Amazing Grace." It was just -- we saw a historic moment this afternoon at the College of Charleston. And it's something that I know that the family and this country should never forget and will never forget.

TAPPER: Yes, I know. I have seen the president give many speeches at black churches before. And they tend to be similar to what I saw today, except for that moment, where he did seem overcome with emotion, with comfort, with a feeling perhaps of grace, and he started to sing "Amazing Grace." I have never seen him doing in like that. Have you?


I mean, it was a unique moment for me as well. And I think this -- obviously, this time calls for a unique moment. We just had nine African-Americans killed in their church service after Bible study. That's a -- that's unique, and uniquely terrible in and of itself. But the president was saying that this is a moment where grace should wash over us, not just for our own personal consumption, but that we should be motivated to do better from here on out.

And I thought that was just a really, really powerful thing. And, again, I'm just very proud of our president and our country right now.

TAPPER: Josh, we had you on my show when you had your book came out.

Every morning for six years, you e-mailed the president a devotional. I don't know if you continue that practice. Do you?

DUBOIS: I do, yes, yes.

TAPPER: And did he consult you at all before he talked today, before he delivered this eulogy?

DUBOIS: You know, I try to keep conversations with the president private, but I have been very close with him and the White House all week, and since this tragedy.

But, you know, I tell you, what we saw today was an outflowing of the heart of our leader. We saw who he is, what he stands for. This was not talking points. This was not carefully staged-managed, anything. This was a man who cared for this family who had endured such a great loss, who cares for this country, who wants us to finally grapple with and reckon with our history.

So, that's who we saw today. This was about him and this was about that Pinckney family.

TAPPER: I know that there are reverends and pastors and spiritual leaders who use the pulpit on a weekly basis, if not more, to touch on political issues, policies of all kinds.

In his eulogy today, President Obama referenced gun control, further restrictions on gun ownership, saying it would be a betrayal, in his view, if -- quote -- "We allow ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again."

What do you think of that? What do you think of talking about the Confederate Flag, gun control, other issues within the context of this?

DUBOIS: Well, I think we're hearing from a man who does not want to have to preach any more eulogies for people who have been slain either because of their race or because of ready access to violent weapons.

He's speaking out of an urgency. This is not policy for policy's sake. He's saying that there are things that we have to do to ensure that this never happens again. So, that's why President Obama brought up policy this afternoon, because he doesn't want to have to bury anyone else in this country because of violent bigotry and institutional racism, nor because of the fact that we don't have responsible gun laws.

TAPPER: And, Joshua, as somebody who was formerly the former -- I'm sorry -- formerly the formal religious adviser to President Obama and has continued in that practice in an informal way, was there any moment of spirituality or Bible text or anything that struck you in that speech that we're missing in our conversation?


DUBOIS: Yes. Sure. There were so many.

There was a short reference that maybe a lot of folks didn't catch about a sweet hour of prayer. It's this beautiful AME song that comforts people in times of need. He talked about now we see through a glass darkly, but then we will see face to face.

And that's just -- that's a Scripture that encourages many believers, particularly around moments of tragedy and funerals. It was a speech that was really woven through with Scripture, with hymns, and with songs, and, then, of course, that moment, where he had the grace of God overwhelm him and just had to burst into song himself.

The interesting thing about that, Jake, was that the congregation, the audience needed no prompting. As soon as the president began, we began. And the tears were overflowing. The voices were overflowing. It was just common recognition that we need God in times like this, and that we need to come together to actually fix these issues in times like this.

The president was very attuned with the crowd, but also attuned with his own Christian faith throughout the speech.

TAPPER: Joshua DuBois, the former White House religious affairs director and a friend of THE LEAD, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it. Hope to see you again soon.

DUBOIS: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

TAPPER: With the Confederate Flag still flapping at the state capitol in South Carolina, America's first African-American president traveled to the Palmetto State to say goodbye to a beloved friend. Thousands followed him into that arena in Charleston. It was a day to mourn, to reflect, a day to overcome the hate.

And we will continue our coverage from Charleston with guests on the ground in Charleston next on THE LEAD.


[16:15:50] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

We are following the breaking news out of South Carolina. President Obama delivering a very moving eulogy for state senator and beloved reverend, Clementa Pinckney, the consoler in chief, as it were, preaching to the congregation, and leading mourners in "Amazing Grace" a short time ago. That was quite a remarkable moment.

Joining me now is CNN political commentator Van Jones, along with State Senator Bakari Sellers, CNN commentator. Also, the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Reverend Bakari, you both just left the funeral -- let me start with you, Reverend Jackson, can you describe for us the feeling inside there right now?

REV. JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Well, he took this unusual moment of joy and pain and took joy to a higher level. There's reasonable anxiety here. There's the pain of the murder, the assassination, the terrorist attack. Yet, there's the join that it will mean something different, this time will happen. If this inspiration turns into legislation, the flag comes down but the Confederate agenda must come down.

So, for example, the state is making more difficult for people to vote, they should change that if they want to have a new South Carolina. Three hundred and fifty thousand people have no health insurance, a quarter is in poverty. They reject $10 billion in Medicaid money. So, in some (INAUDIBLE) trying to weave in legislation to bring about the change that we all seek.

TAPPER: Bakari, I saw you in Charleston on Sunday. Obviously, that was the very moving day, the first day of services at Emanuel AME Church since that horrific racist terrorist attack. Tell me as a South Carolinian how important you feel the president's speech, the president's eulogy was to people in the state?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it was very, very important. Let me read to you, if you don't mind, a note from Reverend Pinckney's daughter that was on the insert of the program.

It says, "Dear Daddy, I notice you were shot at the church and you went to heaven. I love you so much. I know you love me. And I know that you know that I love you too. You have done so much from me, I can't say it all. You will be watching over me and I know you'll be in my heart. I love you, your baby girl and grasshopper, Malana."

And that was powerful. When we got our programs, and from that point forward, and when the president came in and started speaking about grace, it was just an amazing, amazing, amazing atmosphere. It was palpable. It was powerful room in the entire world for that moment right here in Charleston, South Carolina, just yards away from where this slaughter, where this cowardly act happened.

And so, now, I believe the president was speaking to Malana, he was speaking to her sister, he was speaking to all of this young Americans, to say that we need to not look at black and white anymore, but bring this country together and look forward, look beyond the Confederate flag, take it down, but also remedy these ills that are linking from the confederacy as Reverend Jackson said.

JACKSON: I think what he was really saying at that point was that we're not -- we're better because of grace, it's not because of something we've done. America's grace has shown that his grace has made us better, in spite of slavery, in spite of (INAUDIBLE), in spite of segregation, that is God's grace, not our righteousness, not our act (ph), it's not our self-righteous that makes us better.

Now, if we want to maintain this moment of a kind of sad gratification, let's end the structural ills that we call in a place USC, big football game (INAUDIBLE), access health care, and capital and job, to play (INAUDIBLE). So he's saying let's do the right thing while in the right the mood.

TAPPER: I want to bring in Van Jones for a second. Van, go ahead. What you're going to say, Van.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think I would just add is that this is the capstone of an historic week for this president. I mean, this week is almost impossible to describe in terms of the number of things that have happened, from marriage equality, to health care, he won on the trade bill, which I didn't agree with, but he won on that.

But he had to do something different today. When you get here to South Carolina, and, Jake, you've been here, it is a completely different spirit, because people are both broken and uplifted at the same time.

[06:20:01] And people are ready to hear a grownup, full authentic discussion of the issues, the president could have shrunk from that, just says very nice about his friend, not given offense and left.

He decided to honor his friend I think in the best possible way by talking about the agenda that his friend was dedicated to and those nine were living for. And so, it became a magical moment.

I have never seen this president talk about the civil war. I've never seen him talk about the Confederate flag. I've never seen him do some of the things he did. I've never seen him sing, not in this way. I've never seen -- he has stepped into a different level of leadership and comfort with the need now for us to seriously take on these issues. I was proud -- I was terrified while he was doing it because I've never seen a president do it.

JACKSON: It put a real burden on the state. I remember Nikki Haley yesterday --


JACKSON: -- done a big step up job on the Confederate. I say, but, Nikki, 350,000 in the state have no health insurance and a quarter of the state is in poverty, would you support the health care bill then? She was reticent about that.

We must turn this kumbaya moment, kumbaya moment into legislation of change. There are so many working poor people in this case and need not be with the resource available. We want federal money for airports, and highways and ports, but not the health care and education and jobs.

The President Barack is saying, let's use this moment to take us all to another level.

TAPPER: All right.


TAPPER: Go ahead, Bakari. Very quickly if you want to put a button on it.

SELLERS: Yes, what I was going to say is one of the things the president highlighted is right here in South Carolina, and it's replicated throughout the country, you have children who literally have to go to school, and during lunch, they steal bread to take it home for their brothers and sisters, but for them will not eat. You have schools that are falling apart.

And the president today was more than uplifting. He taught us that we have to actually walk the talk. There's so much that we have to do to honor the legacy of Clementa Pinckney and that starts today.

JACKSON: And we can do it.

SELLERS: We can do it.

I mean, that's the promise that we have. But it's on myself, it's on you two, to help pass the torch and it's also making sure that Clementa's daughters grow up in a more perfect union.

TAPPER: All right. Amen to that. Van Jones, Bakari Sellers, Reverend Jackson, thank you so much for your insights. Really appreciate it.

Today's politics lead, celebration erupting nationwide as the U.S. Supreme Court makes same-sex marriage a legal right -- of course, not everyone is waving the flag. Does today's decision set up dividing lines across the country? And a fight to resist the ruling?

Actually right, now we're going to go to Deb Feyerick, who has some breaking news -- Deb.

We have some breaking news right now with Deb Feyerick.

Deb, what's going on?

DEB FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I can tell you, Jake, according to law enforcement source, Richard Matt has been shot and law enforcement officers are now racing, they're chasing David Sweat. This in upstate New York, that's all we know for now.

I do know that there are a number of tactical teams up in that area, including the U.S. Marshal's Special Operations Group. You have SWAT teams that also have been searching, and the corrections department. Their SERT teams are up there as well.

We heard earlier this afternoon from Major Guess, that, in fact, they did believe the men were in the area, in the Franklin County area, and that they had credible evidence, they said there had been no physical sightings, but the evidence they were getting and the DNA they had let them to believe they were close, that they were moving in a northwest direction, a north-northwest direction up towards the Canadian border. But now, we are getting information that law enforcement reporting that Richard Matt has been shot and David Sweat is now running, being chased by law enforcement -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Just to reiterate, these are the two fugitive killers who escaped I believe 21 days ago from Clinton correctional facility. We are being told, Deborah Feyerick reporting right now that Richard Matt one of those two fugitives has been shot. David Sweat, I believe she had, in police custody.

Let's go to Jean Casarez who's in Cadyville, New York.

Jean, what can you tell us?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're hearing a lot of helicopters above us, all of a sudden, they just started and we're listening to them. They're flying away from the command post.

Now, earlier today, what we had learned through a press conference and through New York state police is that they believed these two were bound for Canada, that their intent was to cross over into the country. And that's why they were changing that search area to north and northwest area.

Now, if can you hear above me, there's even more helicopters that we're hearing right now, that are taking off. We haven't heard that for the entire time in the last few days that we have been here.

But the search we understand from the New York state police culminated yesterday, and the report of the burglary of a cabin in the village of Malone. And so, authorities went to that cabin.

[16:25:00] They say they found conclusive evidence in that cabin, and then it was this morning that they found items believed to have been dropped by the inmates in an area away from the cabin, but still -- and there goes a helicopters, it's the New York state police helicopter that we're seeing that is leaving right now from the command area.

So, we understand the dropped items were currently this afternoon being tested by the New York state crime lab, for processing, as we know, for fingerprints, DNA, anything to show a relationship, but that obviously, that evidence right there, potentially evidence let them to this area and now we have what Deb Feyerick has just found out, a culmination obviously at least Matt being shot, and they are now in pursuit of David Sweat -- Jake.

TAPPER: In pursuit of David Sweat. That's a good point, a fine point, that he has not been taken into custody. They're in pursuit of David Sweat.

Jean Casarez in Cadyville, New York, with the latest on these two fugitives.

Again, just to reiterate, if you're just turning on right now what's going on is when it comes to the New York fugitives who escaped from Clinton correctional facility, it's thought to be three weeks ago, 21 days ago, one of those fugitives who was in prison for homicide, Richard Matt, has been shot by police, a source tells CNN's Deb Feyerick. Police were also pursuing David Sweat, the other fugitive.

Let's go back to Deb Feyerick.

Deb, what more can you tell us? Where is this all taking place?

FEYERICK: Well, it's very interesting, because all of this unfolding very rapidly, very quickly, as word of this chase and the shooting of Richard Matt is unfolding. We're waiting to hear from our sources.

A number of people have been communicating with people who are on the ground and who are in that vicinity. We're waiting to get details in terms of the status of Richard Matt, whether he is alive or not. Also the status of David Sweat, whether he's been taken into custody yet or not.

But again last we heard, they were chasing him in an area. We're trying to find out that area. All we know is just a couple minutes ago, everything started lighting up, and a lot of people started calling or two sources, I should say, that, in fact, he had been shot, Richard Matt has been shot and David Sweat is right now running, being chased by law enforcement, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Let's go to right now on the phone. I want to talk to the former commander of the U.S. Marshal's Service regional task force, Lenny DePaul.

Lenny, we're being told by a source, that Richard Matt, one of the two fugitives who escaped about three weeks ago from Clinton correction, has been shot by police, and they are in -- police are also in hot pursuit of the other fugitive, David Sweat.

What more can you tell us about this? And I guess the question of whether or not this was going to end in a bloody way is something that U.S. marshals have to prepare themselves for.

LENNY DEPAUL, FORMER U.S. MARSHAL (via telephone): Yes, Jake, absolutely. I was in fear of that and what their mindset would be. Apparently, they are armed. What I have gotten is around 1:35 this afternoon, a camper was driving I believe on Route 31, up in Malone, heard shots fired, didn't realize his camper had been shot. It appears that one of these guys, I guess, tried to take the camper driver out so they could carjack the vehicle, is what I'm getting from the guys that are downrange.

It's accurate, Matt has been shot, he's down, and Sweat is still on the run from what I'm hearing.

TAPPER: When you say he's down, Lenny, obviously, details are just coming in. Forgive me if you don't know the answer to this. When you say he's down, do you mean he's been killed or he's just incapacitated --

DEPAUL: No, apparently he's been hit, he's been shot. Not sure of his status at this point, but again all I got from my source is he has been shot and he's down.

TAPPER: And do we know anything about the location of where it's taking place, if it's near the border with Canada or if it's some other part of the New York area?

DEPAUL: I believe they are in Malone, New York, I want to say Route 31 and campground road is what I'm getting, but again that's not 100 percent confirmed.

TAPPER: Is that within the search area where they were looking already? Again, I apologize if you don't have a map in front of you and not ready for that question.

DEPAUL: I don't know, Jake. And I don't know that area that well. But, yes, it is in the area of Malone, New York, where apparently a cabin had been recently broken into and reported by the cabin owner.

TAPPER: And, obviously, we had been told there was a concern that Richard Matt and David Sweat, we have reports now from law enforcement sources that Richard Matt, one of the two fugitives, who has been missing now for three weeks, has been shot by police, police also in pursuit the David Sweat.

Lenny DePaul on the phone, former commander of the U.S. Marshal Service Regional Fugitive Task Force for New York and New Jersey.

Lenny, we've been hearing earlier there was a law enforcement concern that these fugitives would head to Canada. Obviously, when you have a New York state on the border with Canada, that would be a concern.