Return to Transcripts main page


Inside Killer's Bobby-Trapped Home; Ted Cruz Accuses GOP Leader of Lies; President Obama Laments Lack of Commonsense Gun Laws; Obama's Trip to Kenya Political and Personal; Turkey Gets into the Fight Against ISIS; KKK Mural in Courthouse Sparks Outrage; Junior Seau to be Inducted into Hall of Fame; Aired 6-7a ET

Aired July 25, 2015 - 06:00   ET


[06:00:28] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, inside the booby-trapped home the theater shooter left behind for new owners. We're talking rigged gas lines, cemented plumbing and a wedding dress in the closet. Does this give police insight into the killers mind before his deadly rampage?



SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I cannot believe he would tell a flat-out lie.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: A Senate stunner. Presidential candidate Ted Cruz calls out his GOP leader for lying. I'm wondering, was there a strategy behind Cruz's blunt talk?

BLACKWELL: Also President Obama begins his first full day in Kenya but this trip is not just about politics. It's also personal.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's a reason why my name is Barack Hussein Obama. My father came from these parts.


PAUL: I want to wish you a good Saturday morning. We're so grateful for your company as always. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you. We're starting this morning with a chilling look inside the mind of a killer.

PAUL: There's new details that we want to show it you about Louisiana movie theater shooter John Russell Houser, including this disturbing look inside the Alabama home that he allegedly trashed after he was evicted. These are some new pictures we're going to show you here.

BLACKWELL: Destroyed rooms, dead fish strewn about. The new owners of the home describe what they found when they moved in. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put cement in every drain. In the sink, lavatory, commode, everywhere you could. Showers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Walked in where he had -- a gas line, a gas log that was unattached and lit with gasoline cans in front.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Waiting for us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was waiting for us -- whoever to come in and for it to blow up.


PAUL: Ana Cabrera is following the story live for us from Lafayette, Louisiana.

Ana, good morning.

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Christi and Victor. We are learning more about John Russell Houser's past. We're also learning more about what happened inside the theater behind me. You can see it is still blocked off, cordoned off with that yellow crime scene tape. Investigators say they're still processing the evidence inside the theater.

We're learning that Houser entered through the font lobby doors and with him he had a 45 caliber semiautomatic high point handgun, a gun that he purchased legally at a pawnshop in -- back in Alabama.

Now we're told after he shot nearly a dozen people, he then left through a side exit door near where his car was parked, but he saw investigators coming towards him and he turned around and went back inside the theater, and then turned the gun on himself.

Investigators still don't know exactly why he went on this horrific rampage, what set him off, or what even brought him to Lafayette. They are trying to retrace his steps right now. They're interviewing people he may have had contact with since he arrived here back on July 2nd or 3rd. He apparently talked a little bit about potential business opportunities.

Investigators are also interviewing his family members and CNN caught up with his brother Ram Houser who says he saw John Russell Houser about a month ago. And that was the last contact they had. Listen.


REM HOUSER, BROTHER OF SHOOTER JOHN HOUSER: We hadn't been close in years. I'm not sure the right -- we were just separated from our family and just different emotional depression issues, psychological problems, and that type thing so.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When was the last time you saw him? HOUSER: Probably about a month ago.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Under what type of circumstance?

HOUSER: He just needed some money to continue moving on, living on, you know, living and surviving, and so we gave him some and that was the last we'd heard of him. We hadn't heard of him probably in 10 years prior to that and haven't heard from him since. We didn't know where he was, we didn't know anything about him. And so this was a complete shock. We didn't have any contact except that.


CABRERA: So Houser was estranged from his family. We know he was once married and he has a daughter. And back in 2008 his wife actually filed a protective order against Houser citing mental health issues. She went as far as to remove guns and weapons from the home and had him voluntarily committed to a mental facility out of concern the safety of the whole family -- Victor, Christi.

PAUL: Ana, what else are you learning, too, about these online rants that were left by the shooter, apparently?

CABRERA: Well, back in 2013 he made more than 200 posts on a political forum and he definitely expressed beliefs that were anti- government, anti-media. In fact in his profile he says stuff like nobody is safe here in the U.S. He says, don't vote, waste of time.

[06:05:10] And I want to read you one in particular that he wrote back in March of 2013. Pretty telling. It says, quote, "It is true that the U.S. is about to fall. Truth comes with it and understanding of death. Rather than live without it, I will take death."

Now again, that was more than two years ago. Ironic perhaps now given what happened here at the theater this week -- Christi, Victor.

PAUL: A very good point. Ana Cabrera, we appreciate it. Live for us there in Lafayette, thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. CNN law enforcement analyst Cedric Alexander joins us now.

And, you know, the Southern Poverty Law Center told CNN that Houser had an obsession with hate, white supremacy for more than a decade. Let's listen to a part of that.

OK. So we don't have the sound bite but let me tell you, there's this allegedly talked about golden don, Hitler, the Westboro Baptist Church which we know that protest the funerals if you've ever seen those huge signs.

I mean, what if anything could have been done to, I guess, create a bigger flag over Houser or to have had prevented this?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You know, we always find ourselves in this position after one of these types of situations, what could have been done in advance but a lot of it has to do with who knows the information, when they know it and how fast they can get it out to law enforcement authorities to get in between that perpetrator and those that might end up being victims, such as what we saw here at the theater.

It is just a horrible and awful situation, but it seemed like we just keep experiencing these reoccurring themes of someone who may have some mental health issues, but then when we think about it, they seemed to be very planned as well, too, which would suggest in some ways that there were some sanity in what they were doing in their own minds.

PAUL: You know, Tom Fuentes said that until we do something about the mental health programs in this program and then the programs to take guns away from people like him, we're just going to keep seeing this over and over and over again. And I want to break that down when we talk about, you know, mental health programs. We know that patient's rights laws have been in effect since the '60s and nobody can be institutionalized against their will.

But they do say that they can't be forced into treatment involuntarily in any state unless they are dangerous. When you look at his background, is there anything in your mind that would have constituted a dangerous enough behavior?

ALEXANDER: Well, certainly some red flags were there.

PAUL: Sure.

ALEXANDER: Particularly in his background but here again it goes back to who knew and when did they find out, and when did they report it to someone in order to get him some help.

PAUL: Who did they reported it to? Let me ask you that. Who can you report it to where it might actually have some impact?

ALEXANDER: When you see someone exhibiting behaviors that are bizarre, that are uncharacteristic of most of us, and you don't have to be a psychologist to figure it out, just a common layperson, there's something really very bizarre with their behavior. You try to intervene and get them help, you try to talk to them, you try to see what the state laws are in your particular state in terms of taking someone, being taken into custody who might be a threat to themselves or someone else.

But here is where it really gets complicated. And I think what in terms of what Tom is referring to, is that mental health is one thing. And gun laws in the country are another.

PAUL: Right.

ALEXANDER: And when they both come together, it can create a serious problem. But we also have to remember as well too that the greatest majority of the people in this country who have mental health issues are people who are not violent whatsoever.

PAUL: Right.

ALEXANDER: So you can't paint everyone with the same brush.

PAUL: Right.

ALEXANDER: But we really do have to go back and begin to look at some of our gun laws in this country and both sides of the aisle are going to have to come together and figure out how are we going to work this out? But, at the same time, the rights of people are not violated who wish to be lawful abiding gun carrying citizens.

BLACKWELL: And that's a difficult balance.

ALEXANDER: That's the difficult balance.

BLACKWELL: Stay with us, Cedric, because we're going to talk about that in a moment. The president expressed his frustration over not being able to pass stricter gun laws and ways to prevent gun violence, so we're going to talk about that.

PAUL: What you're looking at there is video of one of the last time Lafayette shooting victim Jillian Johnson would sing with her band. That's her there in the center playing the ukulele. The 33-year-old is one of two women killed in this shooting. Friends and family say she touched people's lives with her creativity.

Also want to highlight 21-year-old Mayci Breaux, a former student at LSU, she was the other victim. She went to the movie theater with her boyfriend and planned on beginning radiology school in just a few days. Doctors say the other nine victims are expected to make a full recovery.

[06:10:05] Well, President Obama says gun control is his biggest frustration, but what's the solution?

BLACKWELL: Yes. Is reform even possible? We're talking about that next.

Plus new pictures coming in this morning of the president in Kenya. But this trip as we've said is not just about international politics. You'll hear more about his family reunion last night, a big dinner. A live report from Nairobi straight ahead.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The one area where I feel that I've been most frustrated and most stymied, it is the fact that the United States of America is the one advanced nation on earth in which we do not have sufficient common sense, gun safety laws.


PAUL: It was President Obama admitting to the BBC that the fight to pass gun safety laws has been the most frustrating part of his presidency. He made the remarks just hours before the Louisiana movie theater shooting. And we know now that John Houser, the shooter, bought the guns legally, putting the politics of gun control back in focus. But President Obama says he's had to make statements about mass shootings far too many times.


OBAMA: My immediate thoughts and prayers are with the wounded, so at this time, I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping all of the victims and their families, including Gabby, in our thoughts and prayers.

I'm sure that many of you who are parents here had the same reaction that I did when I heard this news.

[06:15:00] As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it's an elementary school in Newton or a shopping mall in Oregon.

These are men and women who were going to work, doing their job, protecting all of us.

We are heartbroken that something like this might have happened again. I've had to make statements like this too many times.


PAUL: All right. Let's talk more about this with CNN politics senior reporter Stephen Collinson and CNN law enforcement analyst Cedric Alexander.

Thank you, gentlemen, both for being here.

Stephen, I want to start with you and I want to look at this poll that came out a few weeks ago after the events in Charleston, a "USA Today" poll that found 52 percent of people believe gun control should not be a key issue among 2016 presidential candidates, 43 percent believe it should be.

Do you see that changing in light of some of the news that we've seen recently?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: No, I don't think we will see it changing. You can see the country is split on it. And as such, there is no incentive for a Republican politician especially to change their position on gun control. You know, the president says he is frustrated and he hasn't given up on trying to initiate some more gun control reforms, but the last time he tried this after Newton school massacre in 2012, he failed. He couldn't get it through the Senate.

There was a bill for an assault weapons ban and tighter background checks and polls also show that the majority of the country actually supports. And he couldn't get it through the Senate and it wasn't just because of Republicans who opposed it, vulnerable Democrats in conservative states also came down against it because it was such a big political lift.

We are heading, as you said, into election year next year. In those circumstances, lawmakers don't want to make tough votes and it could be an issue to motivate the Democratic base. Hillary Clinton has already said she was going to push for tighter gun control laws. But the politics at least on the federal level argue against any kind of concerted push for more gun control laws in the near future.

PAUL: All right. I want to touch on something you just mentioned, Cedric, you also talked about this regarding background checks. The Second Amendment says, I'm going to read to you here, a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. OK. We get that. But when we say well-regulated, a lot of people would argue that is not part of our society today. This is not well-regulated.

How can that change?

ALEXANDER: Well, we certainly live in a very different society today than we did in 1776. But let me say this as well, too. We certainly do need to respect the Constitution. Let me be clear about that in terms of what our rights are, but we also have to be very realistic in a very different kind of way.

I'm a police administrator, responsible in DeKalb County, Georgia, for an example, for over 700,000 people and 1,000 police officers, and every day, our biggest responsibility is go out and protect the public. There are a lot of guns that are out there, a lot of illegal guns that are out there in the hands of the wrong people. And the question becomes, how do we keep guns away from the places they don't need to be in? That is one of the biggest problems that we have.

And the president's frustration quite frankly is the frustration of millions of Americans that are in this country. Is it because we keep seeing these reoccurring themes over and over and over and over, and nothing changes.

PAUL: Can background checks change that?

ALEXANDER: Well, background checks is just one piece of it.

PAUL: Right.

ALEXANDER: It is just one piece of it, but what really has to take place, there is going to have to be some conversation on Capitol Hill in regards to these issues around gun laws in this country, but it cannot be at this place where it is now, where it's politically, it's an issue over here for some people.

PAUL: Right.

ALEXANDER: But for people out here in the community every day and the poor victims that we constantly see dying at the hands of someone who has illegal guns in their hands, we got to revisit this whole issue.

PAUL: But in this case, it was not illegal, as we know in this theater shooting.

ALEXANDER: The possession of --

PAUL: The purchase. The purchase was not illegal.

ALEXANDER: The purchase was not illegal but the use of it was.

PAUL: Right.

ALEXANDER: But, here again, how did that gun get in the hand of that subject, right?

PAUL: Right. Right.

ALEXANDER: And who we suspect, at this point, may have had some mental health issues and we can go back to each case. We can go back to Dylann Roof in South Carolina.

PAUL: Yes.

ALEXANDER: We can go back beyond that. And then -- it has a common theme in there somewhere. And we got to revisit this issue and find some answers around it, because we keep talking about it, but very little is being done.

PAUL: Is being done.

ALEXANDER: Being done. And that, I'm quite sure, is part of the president's frustration with this from what I can interpret by what he's saying.

PAUL: Sure, sure. Stephen Collinson and Cedric Alexander, so appreciate your insight. Thank you.

ALEXANDER: Thank you for having me.

PAUL: So much for being here, gentlemen.

[06:20:02] And we want to keep the conversation going here. Won't you please go to our Facebook page or tweet us. Your thoughts are important to us about gun control solutions and what you believe and what you think could happen or could help. That is important to us. So go ahead and go to those pages, we'd love to hear from you -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Thanks, Christi.

Turkey now hitting ISIS militants in a big way. Turkish jet hitting the militants in Syria and now Turkey is even letting America use its air bases. The question is, why this increase now? We'll talk about that.

And we now know where Bill Cosby says he got those Quaaludes. What we know about the L.A. doctor and why allegedly the doctor was writing the prescriptions.


PAUL: All right. Take a look at what happened in Chattanooga.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Hundreds of people showed up there to pay respects to Staff Sergeant David Wyatt. He and three other Marines, also a sailor, were killed on July 16th when a gunman, Mohammed Abdulazeez, went on a rampage. Wyatt was laid to rest in Chattanooga National Cemetery with full military honors.

PAUL: And new shocking details from the decade-old deposition by Bill Cosby. The comedian admitted to getting Quaaludes to give to women he wanted to have sex with from a Los Angeles gynecologist and cosmetic surgeon. Cosby said Leroy Amar prescribed the drug for a sore back. Amar died before that deposition was given.

BLACKWELL: Donald Trump's campaign has barred Iowa's largest newspaper, the "Des Moines Register" from attending a campaign event. This after the paper's editorial board called on him to drop out of the race. And a "Register" article says the Trump campaign denied them press credentials to attend today's event.

[06:25:09] PAUL: A volcano named Kick 'em Jenny.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Jenny.

PAUL: Hey, Jenny. Rumbling beneath the Caribbean Sea off Grenada's northern coast. It could erupt very soon. And scientists warn that if it does, it could sink ships. They've set up a three-mile exclusion zone around that volcano to try to keep vessels safe. I don't know how it got that name. Kick 'em Jenny.

BLACKWELL: There is probably a really good story there.

PAUL: There probably is and we don't have it.

BLACKWELL: Let's find it.

PAUL: OK. Up next, the fight against extremism. The future of America's economy and a family reunion. What is next on President Obama's Kenya trip?

BLACKWELL: Plus, hooded Klansman on horseback part of a mural in Florida, in a courthouse there. Can justice be served here or should it come down? So I've traveled to Baker County, Florida, to get both sides of the story.


BLACKWELL: Bottom of the hour now. Live pictures of President Obama at the Kenya Power African Innovation Fair. Just one stop on his trip to Kenya. This is his first visit as president to his father's homeland and he praised the country's economic and business potential. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: In order to create successful entrepreneurs, the government also has a role in creating the transparency and the rule of law, and ease of doing business. And the anti-corruption agenda that creates a platform for people to succeed.

[06:30:18] So this is our first global entrepreneurship summit in Sub-Sahara in Africa. We wanted to come here. I wanted to be here because Africa is on the move.


BLACKWELL: CNN's White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski is in Nairobi traveling with the president.

Michelle, he's got a lot on his agenda, both personal and of course official agenda. What is going to happen today?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Victor. And you heard him cover some of the big topics, aside from the obvious events. Anti-corruption is a big one, promotion of democracy, expansion of trade between the U.S. and these two countries and Africa in general, and something the president has been wanting to work on for a very long time so this trip is important.

I mean, we know it's the first time a sitting U.S. president has visited Kenya, but the events today, first of all, the global entrepreneurship summit. The U.S. is a co-host of that. So when you ask the White House, well, why now is the president going to Kenya, they say well, you know, this is a trip he's been wanting to make for a long time. It's not just on a personal level but they point to this summit as being a big deal.

That's really the hook. The U.S. has co-host really a chance to build that relationship and promote entrepreneurship here which is seen as an engine of the economy. And today the White House announced more than $1 billion in commitments both public and private going towards entrepreneurship here in Kenya, and about half of that money will go to women and youth. He also went to this power initiative summit.

This is something that the president launched two years ago to try to double access to electricity and power here in Kenya. Something that is sorely lacking, especially in rural areas. And when the president spoke about this, he said, you know, because it's not like they're going to build coal-fired plants. It's almost as if they're going to bypass dirtier electricity and use things like solar. But he has a number of other things on his agenda including visits to the U.S. embassy that was bombed in 1998 and a state dinner tonight -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Dinner, when you speak of dinner, Michelle, there was quite a lively dinner last night with the entire family there. This is very personal for the president as well, right?

KOSINSKI: Yes. Yes. We were surprised to see that. I mean, it wasn't announced as part of the initial schedule, so to see him meet with about three dozen members of his extended family on his father's side, who live here in Kenya, we just thought, wow, they didn't waste any time doing that. It was nice to see those pictures. The president -- and these people just exuberantly talking together and sharing at least a little bit of personal time on this busy trip.

BLACKWELL: And this is obviously before the food came because they're sitting there over empty plates but still a good time.

Michelle Kosinski, traveling with the president there in Nairobi.


BLACKWELL: Michelle, we'll check back. Thank you.

PAUL: Let's talk about Turkey now because they're launching another round of bombing attacks on ISIS in Syria. In fact for a second straight day, Turkish war planes and artillery have hit ISIS targets across the border in northern Syria. And in a dramatic shift here, the Turkish government now allowing U.S. and coalition warplanes to use Turkish airbases to fight the terrorists.

Retired lieutenant colonel and Pentagon consultant, Robert Maginnis, joining us now.

Lieutenant Colonel, thank you so much for being with us. So I'm going to talk about Turkey and utilizing these airbases because, obviously, it increases operation efficiency we know for the U.S. But is this a game-changer? I mean, help us understand how critical this is to the fight against ISIS and Syria right now.

LT. COL. ROBERT MAGINNIS (RET.), U.S. ARMY: You know, Christi, this is a game-changer. It could contribute to a significant success and the fall of Assad and of course the coherence of the rebels. Now what has happened here is they've opened up Incirlik and perhaps other airbases in Turkey. Incirlik is only 60 miles in Syrian border. What that means is we'll have more payload capabilities, we'll have more sorties over the region. We'll certainly have, you know, persistence over the enemy.

All of that can radically change the equation along the long border with Syria. And of course the Turks has also shifted -- pardon me, shifted their posture, in other words, their military is engaging ISIS along that border. So these are very significant, potentially, radically changing the entire environment. We hoped for this for a long time. Finally, the Turks have recognized that ISIS is a real threat to them and not just to the coalition.

PAUL: Well, the interesting thing is Turkey, as we understand, also bombing Kurdish militant targets in Iraq but Kurdish fighters, they have been effective in battling ISIS, so how do you deal with that contradiction?

[06:35:12] MAGINNIS: Yes, it's tough. The Turks, of course, have been battling the PKK, Kurdish group for many, many years. They're concerned about a Kurdish formation of a country in, you know, parts of Syria, Turkey, and Iran and Iraq. But even the Turks have had forces that have gone into Iraq for many, many decades. So this is not new. But, yes, the Peshmerga, the Kurdish fighters, have been incredibly effective in Khobani and elsewhere. So it's a bit of a mix for us. We want them fighting against ISIS. We don't want them hurting the initiatives shown by the Kurds and the Peshmerga.

And so I'm sure this is a very delicate situation and we're negotiating with them and hopefully we can, you know, be pushing them in the same direction. I suspect that it will continue, though, to be a very tense situation between us and the Turks, especially with regard to the Kurds.

PAUL: Real quickly. FBI Director James Comey said there are concerns about encrypted communications that the FBI cannot access from ISIS. And it compared ISIS militants to needles in a regional haystack. How tough is it to break encryption?

MAGINNIS: Well, you have to have --

PAUL: Without compromising any security, obviously.

MAGINNIS: Well, you know, breaking encryption is -- is a science, and, you know, if you go all the way back to the Navajos we used in World War II, you know, they had their own language and we were able to break -- you know, to continue to communicate things that our enemies, especially the Japanese at the time, couldn't break. And we did the same thing with the Nazis. We have techniques and it will take time and -- but, you know, this is dangerous.

PAUL: Yes.

MAGINNIS: But we will, I think, persevere in the long term.

PAUL: OK. Good to know. Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis, always appreciate your insight. Thank you, sir.

MAGINNIS: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: And up next, presidential candidate Ted Cruz accuses a leader of lying, the majority leader there. On the Senate floor. What happened and how will it affect Cruz's campaign.

Plus, the late Junior Seau is being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame but his family will not be allowed to speak. Coy Wire is following that for us. Stay with us.


[06:42:21] BLACKWELL: Did Texas Senator Ted Cruz violate, at least the rules of decorum, when he tore into his own party leader, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. A rare display here in the 2016 presidential candidate, or at least from one, accuse the Federal Republican of lying. This floor tirade was triggered when Cruz believe that Mitch McConnell had blocked several amendments Cruz and other Republicans offered to a highway funding bill. Here is some of the speech.


CRUZ: I cannot believe he would tell a flat-out lie. And I voted based on those assurances that he made to each and every one of us. What we just saw today was an absolute demonstration that not only what he told every Republican senator, but what he told the press over and over and over again, was a simple lie.


BLACKWELL: All right. So we have with us CNN's Stephen Collinson to talk about this.

So Ted Cruz has done things on the Senate floor there in the chamber to anger and has shocked his colleagues, and he's proud of what he's done, but how rare is something like this?

COLLINSON: It's hugely rare, Victor. You know, the Senate is a boiling part of political egos and political jealousies but, normally, is expressed in a much more courtly, formal way and keeping with the sort of venerable nature of the Senate chamber, so this is hugely unusual to have a member of the rank-and-file of the majority party openly accuse their leader of lying, but it's consistent with the way that Ted Cruz has played politics.

He's playing an outside game. He's come to Washington to bust what he says is a cartel of power between the establishment leaders in the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. He says that, you know, the Republican majority has not actually done much that Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, wouldn't have done if he was still in power. So it's very unusual. But I think we have to look at this also in the context of where the 2016 campaign is now.

BLACKWELL: Yes. I was going to cut you with that.


BLACKWELL: Is he pulling a Donald Trump here?

COLLINSON: Right. You know, Ted Cruz was setting himself up as the rebel rouser of this Republican field. He's not been able to get much coverage over the last couple of weeks because, you know, Donald Trump has seized that role and has made it his own. So I think it's fair to say that Ted Cruz is making a play on the 2016 field here. It's also interesting that although he absolutely hammered Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor, he was the only Republican presidential candidate not to come out against Ted Cruz -- come out against Donald Trump on his criticism of John McCain. So, you know, it's very interesting political dynamics going on here.

[06:45:05] BLACKWELL: Yes. We'll talk more about this later in the show. But that really stood out to our team.

Stephen Collinson, thank you so much. We'll continue the conversation.

Now a painting at a Florida courthouse has some citizens asking this question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I were to walk into this courthouse for any legal matter, am I going to be getting justice?


BLACKWELL: Should the Ku Klux Klan be removed from this mural or should the mural come out of the courthouse altogether? That's ahead.

PAUL: But first, this week's "Culinary Journey" introduces us to French chef Dominique Crenn skilled with pros as she is with a knife. She is the only woman to run a Michelin two-star restaurant in North America and she's known for her innovation and creativity with a poetic side.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: San Francisco. An American melting pot and cultural crossroads. The diversity of food on offer reflects the city's heritage. You'll find Atelier Crenn in the Marina District where the chef and owner Dominique Crenn had created a place of wonder. She is the first female chef in America to have earned two Michelins.

DOMINIQUE CRENN, CHEF AND OVER, ATELIER CRENN: Food is art. I don't know how to paint and I've seen, you know, food was a way of expressing myself. When people come here, they don't just come to a restaurant, they come to my house.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Once diner is relaxed the kitchen is an orchestra of harmonious feel.

CRENN: I remember when I opened the restaurant, I really thought about this being, like, kind of this symphony, I love music, I play piano and flute and I love the way that is symphony. Very harmonious. And I wanted to do that. I love that.


PAUL: You can watch the full show at We will be right back.


[06:50:51] BLACKWELL: America is taking a deeper look at its history as people in many states are rallying to remove the confederate flag and racial tensions are bubbling up over what can be defined as historical or just downright racist.

Look at this recently, this mural in Idaho came under fire for depicting white settlers preparing to lynch a Native America. I traveled to a small county in Florida where another mural is stirring up a pretty big controversy.


BLACKWELL (voice-over): In a quiet, rural county, about 35 miles west of Jacksonville, Florida, hangs a mural. It depicts, in the artist's words, Baker County, Florida's thousands of years of history and prehistory. And thousands of people from across the country have stopped to admire it, some leaving notes of appreciation in its very own guest book.

"Beautiful with the accuracy of the history of Baker County." That's from Marion. Andre thinks, "It's an extraordinary piece of art." Then there's this anonymous message, "Should make the KKK bigger and brighter." Yes, that KKK.

JOHN PHILLIPS, ATTORNEY WITH FLORIDA JUSTICE: The Ku Klux Klan is not heritage. That is a hate group.

BLACKWELL: The simple inclusion of these hooded clansmen on horseback is not what's riled John Phillips and other attorneys with the group Florida Justice. It's that this mural is hanging inside the Baker County courthouse.

Marquita Smith is Phillips' paralegal.

MARQUITA SMITH, PHILLIPS' PARALEGAL: If I were to walk into this courthouse for any legal matter, am I going to be getting justice? Am I going to be treated fairly?

BLACKWELL: Their group has now launched a petition on to remove the mural.

SMITH: It is a pretty mural. But it should be in a place of historic value, like a museum.

BLACKWELL (on camera): Not in the courthouse?

SMITH: Not in the courthouse.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): The artist, local historian, Gene Barber, died several years ago. But in a guide, he explained why many of the elements were included in the mural, the Palmettos, the Panther, the Confederate soldiers. He described the KKK as, "an organization that sometimes took vigilante justice to extremes but was sometimes the only control the county knew over those outside law."

HOYLE MCINARNAY, BAKER COUNTY RESIDENT: It's a bad thing that happened but it's part of what happened.

BLACKWELL: Hoyle McInarnay has lived in Baker County all his life. He started a counter petition to, quote, "leave the mural alone at the courthouse." He's collected as many signatures as the petitioners who want it to come down.

(On camera): And they're offended by the hooded clansmen and some of the other images. You tell them what?

MCINARNAY: Well, if that's the case, then are we going to stop talking about the Holocaust in schools? You have to know your history to be able to stop it from happening again. BLACKWELL (voice-over): But the petition alleges that the mural does

more than depict history. It suggests that it features white supremacist symbols hidden in plain sight.

PHILLIPS: There's symbolism to turpentine, which was used in tar and feathering. There's a copious use of trees and low-hanging limbs. There's just stuff that raises questions of whether he was -- whether there was a deeper meaning.

BLACKWELL: Including this woodpecker just to the left of the clansman. Now widely considered extinct, the bird was once a southeastern U.S. native and, according to the petition and the Anti-Defamation League, a symbol embraced by skinheads.

PHILLIPS: Justice doesn't discriminate, and yet they're going into a courthouse that says it might.

BLACKWELL: Baker County seemingly settled this controversy in 2002 when the mural was dedicated. The chief judge at the time ordered that it be removed from its originally intended home near courtrooms on the second floor, so it was hung on the first floor. And with its tiny Confederate flag, there, it's greeted every visitor for the last 13 years.

So why the controversy now? Well, because this happened.

After the removal of the Confederate flag at the South Carolina state house, Baker County and cities and states across America are being challenged to strike a balance and to consider finding new homes for history.

MCINARNAY: It's the history of the county, that's what people are standing for, is to keep this history alive.

[06:55:02] PHILLIPS: Now we feel like we have to look at history and heritage as -- you know, as a common nation, white, black, red, brown, yellow, green, and that's the issue.


BLACKWELL: Well, a county leader says beyond the petition online, there has been no official requests submitted to the Board of Commissioners to remove the mural. Florida Justice says at least not yet, that will likely soon possibly through court action.

We'll be right back.


PAUL: 58 minutes past the hour. Junior Seau's family will not be allowed to give a speech when the late Chargers linebacker is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Instead, a video commemorating his career is going to be shown and there won't be any mention of the lawsuit his family filed against the NFL over player injuries and brain disease.

Coy Wire is talking about this, this morning.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS: Yes. Big talker, guys. Good morning to you.

PAUL: Good morning.

WIRE: Now Seau's family filed a wrongful death suit against the NFL. This was after the linebacker committed suicide in 2012. He's one of the greatest of all time and he's 43 years old. Doctors believe that brain trauma led to his death so his -- Seau's daughter Sidney had been planning a speech thinking that she'd speak in place of her father at the induction in the Hall of Fame.

Well, we reached out to an executive president with the Pro Football Hall of Fame and he confirmed to us there actually were some discussions early on about that being a possibility, but as it turns out, nobody from Junior Seau's family will be able to speak for him at the induction ceremony. Instead, they'll show a five-minute video commemorating his career.

The Hall of Fame says it has nothing to do with the circumstances surrounding Seau's death. They say it's simply following a policy that has been in place since 2010. This has social media abuzz. So we want to know what you think. This is where we get you involved. Our NEW DAY family. What do you think about this? Should the Seau family be allowed to speak or not? Send us your reasoning on Twitter using #newdayCNN or comment us on our Facebook page.