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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
New Info Emerges on Charleston Shootings; OPM Director Resigns After Massive Data Breach; Interview with Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah; Trump Talks But Bush Collects More Cash. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired July 10, 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: This afternoon, the FBI admitted a huge failure, one that seems to have allowed a racist killer with a criminal record to get a gun.
I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.
Breaking news in the national lead. Three weeks-plus after the massacre inside Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, the FBI this afternoon admitting it missed a red flag, one that would have denied the shooter the weapon he used to murder nine innocent people.
Also in national news, for years, they ignored the many warnings and then they initially did not tell the truth about the scope of the biggest data breach in U.S. government history. Today, we found out 22 million people hacked, potentially blackmailable workers. That is enough to cost the person in charge her job.
And the world lead, Pope Francis telling a crowd of a million or so that the aggressive pursuit of money is the dung of the devil. His words, not mine. How will that message resonate when His Holiness comes to Washington?
Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We're going to begin with a shocking story in our national lead, an embarrassing mea culpa for a screw-up with tragic consequences, one dealing with the firearm obtained by the racist terrorist who killed nine innocent people inside that South Carolina church last month, the FBI admitting this afternoon that the shooter, Dylann Roof, should have never been able to buy the gun.
The problem essentially comes down to a paperwork mixup on his background check. After his heinous act, the 21-year-old told police he shot those nine innocent people, all African-American, to start a race war.
CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown joins me know.
Pamela, tell us what you are learning about this shocking news about this failed background? PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The bottom line here, Jake, is this is a huge breakdown in the background check system which is run by the FBI.
It's very troubling. The FBI director, James Comey, admitting today that a series of errors enabled Dylann Roof to buy the gun he used -- allegedly used to kill those churchgoers.
BROWN (voice-over): The man who confessed to gunning down nine people inside a South Carolina church should never have been able to buy the .45-caliber gun he used to kill them, that bombshell coming from FBI Director James Comey, who told reporters today in a closed-door session his bureau made a mistake during Dylann Roof's background check, a mistake he calls "of heartbreaking importance that rips all of our hearts out."
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's a major deal and it's a huge tragedy. And it just shows how a bureaucratic mistake can cost human life.
BROWN: Director Comey says the FBI examiner doing Roof's background check didn't discover he had previously admitted to illegally possessing drugs when he was arrested in late February. That discovery would have prevented Roof from passing a background check and buying the gun.
Comey says the FBI examiner failed to make contact with the Columbia Police Department which arrested Roof on the felony drug charge, in part because of a clerical error in the system. After the three-day waiting period for the background check, the South Carolina gun shop legally used its discretion to sell Roof the again, even though his status was still pending.
CALLAN: The bottom line here is that there's a regulation that says if he was a drug user, he shouldn't have got a gun. And there was abundant information for the FBI to have had that information. Had they had it, no gun sale and possibly no shooting here.
BROWN: The victims' families still grieving a loss of their loved ones met today with FBI officials, who explained the terrible mistake and promised to work on fixing the system.
BROWN: The FBI's revelation today contradicts earlier assertions that the background check was done properly. Director Comey said he concluded last night after reviewing the latest information that a mistake had indeed been made.
Essentially, Jake, he said the examiner didn't do due diligence to contact the correct police department because of a confusion with the paperwork, and because the wrong department was listed in the system.
TAPPER: It's just awful. Pamela Brown, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Joining me now, Todd Rutherford. He's the Democratic minority leader for the South Carolina State House. He worked alongside the late Reverend Pinckney in the capitol. Also joining me, Armstrong Williams, who is a cousin and was a friend of Reverend Pinckney, also a conservative talk show for SiriusXM Radio.
Thanks to both of you for being here.
Mr. Rutherford, if I can start with you, if the background check system worked, might those nine individuals have been alive? Would they be alive today, you think?
TODD RUTHERFORD (D), SOUTH CAROLINA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: You know, it's hard to tell, but it is still just infuriating that the system that we set up, that we put in place, that we rely on simply did not work, that it could have stopped this young man from possessing a firearm, from going to kill nine people with it.
And that's what it's supposed to do. It's not supposed to let people that are admitted users of drugs possess a weapon. We did in this case and now look what happened.
TAPPER: Armstrong, I would love to know what you think. In addition to your brother serving with Reverend Pinckney, you are a cousin, a third cousin on one side, a fourth cousin on another side of the late Reverend Pinckney. What's your response to the shocking news about the FBI?
ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS, COUSIN OF VICTIM: Of course, it's disheartening, and it's just a terrible lapse by the FBI.
And I think, Jake, what is important going forward is that no one else through the lapses of the FBI or any other law enforcement agency don't allow something like this to slip through the cracks again, so other families don't have to suffer the consequences like our families and the eight other families that have lost their lives.
You can have the best system in place, and as the FBI director has shown us, James Comey, that things can happen. They don't happen intentionally. You think you have the best people, but things slip through the cracks.
Ultimately, even -- he committed a domestic terrorism act. My only issue I would have with Director Comey is their refusal to call this terrorism. And you mentioned something earlier, the fact that he had intentions of inciting a race riot, a war. And it was politically motivated. And that is a clear legal definition of what domestic terrorism is in this country.
TAPPER: And thankfully not only did he -- was he not successful in that. Almost the opposite happened. We saw a lot of racial harmony in South Carolina. And, Leader Rutherford, I would love to know your reaction to seeing the flag come down today. I know it's been a long time coming for a lot of people.
RUTHERFORD: Well, Jake, as you stated, he had the exact opposite reaction. Not only did no race war break out, but actually the Confederate Flag came down, and we are on our way to making history in South Carolina and no longer putting our past in front of us, but putting it in a museum where it belongs, so that our future is much brighter, where we can go out now and not bear of burden of having a flag of division, a flag of hate right on the state House grounds.
As you look behind me, the pole is no longer there as well. We wanted to do make sure that the pole was gone, so they couldn't add another flag there. The only thing that's left is concrete. And that will soon be gone. The only thing that will be there is a patch of grass.
And so South Carolina is moving forward, moving in the right direction. And Dylann Roof, through the tragedy that he created, played no small part in that.
TAPPER: Leader Rutherford, I would love to know what you think about what Armstrong said just a minute ago, about he wished the FBI would classify this, what we have been calling on this show a terrorist attack, classify it as terrorism.
RUTHERFORD: I agree with Armstrong.
I struggle to see where the FBI sees any difference between sitting in a church and praying with people, then killing all nine of them, and any other terrorist act. I struggle to see where anybody could differentiate between what Dylann Roof did and terrorism. He is in fact a domestic terrorist and should be labeled as such.
TAPPER: Armstrong, we give so much attention to the killer in these incidents. We're fortunate enough to have you here. Tell us something about Reverend Pinckney that you would like people to know, that you would like people to remember.
WILLIAMS: You know, Jake, you know what? Often, what we struggle with through this is what the senator just mentioned, and my brother also served in the Senate alongside Senator Pinckney for 11 years. And they both were on the Finance Committee together.
And Senator Pinckney and my brothers were very close. There was a very strong comradery because he came from my hometown of Marion, and you know how legislatures work. If Senator Pinckney needs something taken care of for his grandmother, or some cousin, some relative, or some issue, some money issue, constituency issue, because they feel because you're a senator you have power in every area of the state.
So when it came to Marion County and that jurisdiction, he always called on my brother Kent (ph). And if I had one criticism -- you know, I know people talk about my cousin, but if I had one criticism of him, my brothers often said there's an argument as to why preachers should not be in the legislature, because preachers will always prioritize the church over the legislature.
It was the same with our cousin Clem. If it came down to a critical vote or him having to be in that pulpit, at a prayer meeting, the church always won out. And so he was committed. He believed in the church. He believed in the AME. He believed in helping the poor. And nothing came between him and that church.
And then so this is a question I ask. Certainly -- I certainly would not want to die, even if I knew this would be the results of it. I certainly wouldn't want my brother to die, but you ask yourself about Clem, and I wrestle with this with my brother and some of the family.
Is this something that Clem would have felt was worthwhile dying for? And knowing him as he grew up as a preacher, in the pulpit, fervent belief in God, serving the poor, and there's no other place he probably would want to die, except teaching people about the word, teaching people about the examples and what he believed about most.
And the fact that he died that way, he's probably one of the few people that I would say that probably would have been at peace dying this way, because he's the guy after Walter Scott was gunned down was the one who led the charge for body cameras. He got a lot of criticism for it, and for something like this -- he was also a strong proponent for the flag coming down.
He's one of the few people, Jake, that I actually believe that if he would come back and look over his life, he would have said that his life meant something. It's particularly the national dialogue that we created, to really have this deep discussion on race. The fact that someone that looks like me could actually lose their life in the church in the most sacred moments of our lives because of the hue of our skin, that is really frightening in 2015.
TAPPER: It is, but it does sound like a life well lived.
Armstrong Williams and Democratic Leader Rutherford, thank you so much for your time and for your memories.
Word of this failed background check came just after South Carolina brought down that controversial Confederate Battle Flag and moved it to a museum. The church gunman of course used it as a symbol of his hate, his anger, his bigotry that led him to kill nine people. That sound you're hearing is a thunderous cheer from the crowds surrounding the state House in Columbia, as an honor guard pulled down that battle flag.
CNN's Nick Valencia joining me now live from the South Carolina State House, where that flag flies no more.
Nick, today's news from the FBI, of course, has many people asking whether this tragedy could have been prevented.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are angry, they're frustrated, they're disappointed. I spoke to one person earlier who has been out here really all week
long. He's part of the take it down demonstrators, he's being very vocal, one of the most vocal we have seen. And he talked about to me about how he found out about Dylann Roof's slipping through the cracks. He found out about the news on CNN. We caught up with him for his reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM CLEMENTS, DEMONSTRATOR: If there's a law in place and it's not working, something is really wrong. We need to enforce the laws on the book and it looks like we didn't. I'm not happy about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALENCIA: It is obvious that people wish this tragedy in Charleston did not have to happen, but they are overjoyed that the flag did finally come down.
I was in the crowd, Jake, when the flag was removed surrounded by hundreds of people, and actually spent the moment watching it with two Confederate Flag supporters. They say even though they're disappointed the flag did come down, that they thought the ceremony was handled with great honor and with respect.
As far as to what happens to the flag next, I talked to the director of the Confederate Relic and Military Museum just a few blocks away from here. The fence surrounding the flagpole and the flag itself will all make its way and has made its way, I should say, to the museum.
It's in storage right now. Under the joint resolution agreed upon by the Senate and the lawmakers here in the state of South Carolina, they have until January 1 to figure out how they're going to display this and how they're going to go about with their exhibit there in that museum -- Jake.
TAPPER: Quite a thing watching that flag furled.
Nick Valencia in Columbia, South Carolina, thank you so much.
A major resignation today after one of the biggest hacks in U.S. computer history. The big question now, will covert American agents be compromised in the field? Will they be blackmailed or worse? That story next.
[16:17:40] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
In the national lead, after the biggest cyber attack in U.S. government history, the Obama political appointee who failed to protect the personal information of tens of millions of federal employees, including spies and those in the military, she is out of a job. This afternoon, the White House announced amidst arising chorus of
calls for her firing, the president had accepted the resignation of the director of the Office of Personnel Management, Katherine Archuleta. She resigned under mounting evidence that she seemingly ignored ear-splitting alarm bells, warnings dating back eight years over how vulnerable her agency's cybersecurity was to hackers, and also after charges that she may have misled the public and Congress about just how deep this massive hack really went.
We now know the actual number of soldiers, diplomats, CIA operatives, FBI agents and other federal employees ensnared in this sprawling hack exceeds 21.5 million.
Let's bring in Republican congressman from Utah, Jason Chaffetz, who chairs the House Oversight Committee.
Congressman, thanks so much for being here.
I know you called for her to be fired. When Director Archuleta appeared before your committee, you said 32 million people you think had had their information stolen. The information we have now is about 22 million. Is OPM still not disclosing everything?
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Well, Director Archuleta testified in February that they had the records for 32 million people. So, if the number is only 22 million, you know, count our blessings, but that's still an unbelievable large number of people who are affected.
TAPPER: Do you think what she said in front of your committee constitutes lying, constitutes perjury?
CHAFFETZ: Well, look, I don't think she was competent to hold that job. She was shallow at best in her knowledge about how this works and I don't think she was full and complete in answering how pervasive this problem might have been. But, look, the president did the right thing. He obviously made a change there, but she should have never been in that position to start with.
TAPPER: Had you heard of anyone trying to use this information? Because the hack took place last year, right? So, there could be people trying to do identity theft or even worse, of course, trying to blackmail people.
[16:20:04] CHAFFETZ: The worst thing -- the thing we are really concerned about is the intelligence ramifications. So, if they've had this information for a long period of time and they can start to create the map of who is doing what, who has been working on covert type of activities, that is the biggest concern.
You wouldn't necessarily see that. It's not like they're trying to go in and use your credit card to get, you know, some sort of product at Best Buy or something. No, the intelligence part of this equation is what is most concerning.
TAPPER: Looking at the incidents in the last few years, which do you think compromise U.S. intelligence assets more? Bradley Manning, now Chelsea Manning's leak of information? Edward Snowden's leak of information? Or this hack?
CHAFFETZ: This may be in the number one spot, because you're talking about individuals going back to 1985, people who had filled out application, may not have even been hired, but people who were hired.
And so, when you have million of people who have been in our system, you have intelligence agencies that might be able to go back and map something. So, I worry about those families, and then they have to live with this. People who have done this time of work for the United States, they're going to have to live with this for the rest of their lives, looking over their shoulder, wondering what do these other people know about me?
TAPPER: And when you talk about these other people, are we 100 percent sure that it's the China sees?
CHAFFETZ: I can't talk about that at this point. I think they're still trying to decipher and figure that out, but you just don't know when it's electronic format whose hands it may or may not have gotten into. So, we really don't know.
TAPPER: I know we're talking about the worst-case scenario, somebody who is undercover works for the government, is an intelligence operative, and let's say their personnel file discloses mental health issues, discloses a gambling problem, discloses any sort of information that might be able to be used to blackmail them. What other kinds of troubling scenarios that we're talking about?
CHAFFETZ: Well, there's more than a million people that were just neighbors and friends and maybe school teachers and their information was compromised. You have over a million fingerprint identifications that were released that were compromised that are out there, too.
So, biometric data that is out the door. And one of the deep concerning problems is they still haven't fixed it. We're still pouring information into the system that is not safe and secure. This is a 1960s system, COBOL operating system, without dual authentication, without encryption. And that's still the system they're using. They don't have one that's fixed the problem here today.
So moving forward, we're still in the same mess.
TAPPER: It's unbelievable.
Congressman Jason Chaffetz, thank you so much for your time.
CHAFFETZ: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: Coming up in our politics lead -- money, money, money. Jeb Bush is raising it by the bush-el full. While his billionaire opponent Donald Trump is sucking up all the oxygen in the race for the Republican nomination. So, which is more important: money or headlines?
Plus, he's calling it the dung of the devil. What has the pope so worked up? That story is ahead.
[16:27:03] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. It's time for our politics lead now.
If you've been watching television this week, you probably have heard Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump opining on -- well, any number of subjects. But while the billionaire is busy noisily being as Donald Trump-y as he can be, another Republican presidential hopeful, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, has been quietly making all sorts of trips to the bank.
CNN's senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny joins me now.
Jeff, Trump has been saying he's going to fund his own campaign, but when you look at the amount of cash that Jeb has managed to put away, you wonder if Donald Trump is really going to want to compete in that arena by himself.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, he has enough money, of course. But -- I mean, Jeb Bush and his super PAC announced that they've raised $114 million so far this year. It's certainly an impressive war chest by any measure. It's probably pocket change to Donald Trump, but it puts the Bush team head and shoulders above their Republican rivals.
Well, this week at least, it's Bush's money against Trump's mouth.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'll be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.
ZELENY (voice-over): Donald Trump may be sucking up the oxygen --
TRUMP: We are going to make our country great again.
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How're you doing?
ZELENY: But Jeb Bush is sweeping up the cash. The presidential Republican primary suddenly seems more like a sideshow. Trump is dominating the airwaves.
TRUMP: I'm all over the place.
ZELENY: And expecting big crowds to hear his shard words on immigration.
TRUMP: They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists, and some I assume are good people.
ZELENY: He's moving a Saturday rally in Arizona from the Biltmore Hotel to the Phoenix Convention Center because of high demand.
Expect more tough talk like this on Jeb Bush. TRUMP: Bush is weak on immigration.
ZELENY: It's even getting personal, with Jeb Bush's wife Columba drawn into the fray.
TRUMP: If he loves his wife and I know he does, I hear she's a lovely woman, by the way. So if he loves his wife and she's from Mexico, I think it probably has an influence on him, yes.
ZELENY: That was enough for Bush to start pushing back, gently appealing to voters to ignore his outspoken rival.
BUSH: Maybe you could talk to Donald Trump about that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, exactly.
BUSH: I don't have his number, but I can find it for you. Give him a call.
ZELENY: Bush, who is leading in the polls, said this week he and his allies have raised $114 million in the first half of the year. Trump says he's not beholden to donors.
TRUMP: I don't need anybody's money. I'm using my own money.
ZELENY: Jeb Bush is walking a fine line between elevating the conversation and not getting steamrolled on television by Trump.
BUSH: You scan love the Mexican culture, you can love your Mexican- American wife, and also believe that we need to control the border.
ZELENY: Trump's hunger for attention and the media's endless appetite for him, has made it even harder for other GOP candidates to stand out.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Leadership matters.
ZELENY: Chris Christie is trying to get back into the conversation through a half million dollar advertising campaign, aimed at New Hampshire voters.
CHRISTIE: But if we're going to lead, we have to stop worrying about being loved.