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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Under Fire After Town Hall, Muslim Question; Arrests in Baby Doe Mystery Death; Friend of Alleged Charleston Shooter Indicted; Two Rockets Fired from Gaza; New Concerns About Secret North Korean Launch. Aired 5:00-6:00p ET
Aired September 18, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:00] ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now, I'll be traveling with Pope Francis on the papal plane. So John, if you have a question for the Pope, tweet me with the #AskthePope. John?
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's all for the The Lead. I'm John Berman. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room.
WOLF BLITZER, THE SITUATION ROOM HOST: Happening now, Trump to the GOP front runner cancels a campaign appearance at the last minute and met a barrage of criticism for failing to reject anti-Muslim comments from a questioner; murder mystery, Boston police now say they know the identity of Baby Doe who was found dead in the trash bag, were the killers under the noses all the time and why were 50 million people saw the sketch unable to identify the victim tonight to arrest; preventable crime, a friend of the alleged Charleston church shooter have information that might've saved lives, stunning new the details that he revealed to CNN as charges are now revealed; undetectable, with North Korea saying it is ready to use nuclear weapons at any time, why is Kim Jong-un going all out to conceal the rocket site, is he ready for a secret launch?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the Situation Room.
When Donald Trump all of sudden goes silent, that's news. The GOP front runner has suddenly canceled a campaign appearance and is out of sight after triggering one of the biggest uproars yet in his very ruckus Republican presidential campaign. Trump is taking a lot of heat right now for not refuting a question that have called Muslims a problem in this country and also stated that President Obama is a Muslim and not an American. Now, Trump's rivals are taking full advantage.
And breaking out, Donald Trump may be putting his money where his mouth is. There is a new report that quotes the billionaire as saying he is prepared to spend at least $100 million in order to secure the Republican presidential nomination.
Our correspondents, our analysts, our guests, they have full coverage of all of today's top stories. Let's begin with our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash. She's got the latest on Donald Trump's all of a sudden very strange silence on this. Hey, Dana, what do we know?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you mentioned, while Donald Trump is off the campaign trail, he abruptly canceled a South Carolina appearance. It was supposed to be starting right now, but his campaign said he has business affairs to attend to and he has been uncharacteristically quiet since he sparked yet another uproar.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Donald Trump is often under fire for controversial things he says, but now it's what he didn't say, failing to correct this New Hampshire voters comments about President Obama.
UNIDENTIFIABLE MALE: We have problem in this country. It's called Muslims. We know our current president is one.
DONALD TRUMP, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIABLE MALE: You know, he is not even an American.
TRUMP: We need this question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But anyway, we have training camps rolling when they want to kill us. That's my question. When can we get rid of them?
TRUMP: We're going to be looking at a lot of different things.
BASH: Today, GOP presidential rivals are seizing on Trump's silence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very inappropriate I think to let that go. You need to look the guy in the eye and say, "Listen. I don't agree with you."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If somebody at one of my town hall meetings said something like that, I would correct them and say, "No. The president is a Christian and he was born in this country."
BASH: Democrats were eager to denounce him, too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He knew or he should have known that what that man was asking was not only way out of bounds, it was on true, and he should have from the beginning repudiated that kind of rhetoric, that level of hatefulness in a questioner in an audience that he was appearing before.
BASH: From the campaign trail to the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People who hold these offensive views are part of Mr. Trump's space. And Mr. Trump himself would be the first to tell you that he's got the biggest base of any Republican politician these days.
BASH: But a stunning 43 percent of Republicans do think the president is a Muslim according to CNN ORC's latest poll despite the fact that Obama is a Christian.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF America: I accepted Jesus Christ into my life. BASGH: Another problem for Trump is questioner also saying Obama is not American since it resurrects something Trump doesn't talk much about now, his leading role and stoking the conspiratorial Birther (ph) movement.
TRUMP: And I said born in Kenya, but I don't know where he was born.
BASH: Prodding the president to prove he was born in the U.S., not Africa.
OBAMA: Yes, in fact, I was born in Hawaii, August 4, 1961.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, last night, Trump's campaign manager told me that Mr. Trump did not hear the questioner that Trump was saying we need to look into that was about terror training camps not about the president being a Muslim. But you know, just to underscore again, we've heard nothing from Trump himself at all, nothing from his campaign and nothing on his Twitter feed, silence, which considering how much controversy what he said or didn't say is generating. It is incredibly out of character for him, Wolf.
[17:05:10] BLITZER: It certainly is. It's not even enough calling you on the phone to some of the shows on various TV networks, nothing at all today, right?
BASH: Nothing. Nothing at all. And just before coming on, I was communicating with his campaign to say, "Are you sure you don't have anything new?" No, nothing.
BLITZER: All right. Maybe he'll call in our show. We'll talk to him if he wants to. All right, Dana. Thanks very, very much.
So what's behind Donald Trump's a last-minute cancellation. Our political reporter, Sara Murray, is in South Carolina right now. That is where that forum is taking place, the forum that Trump was supposed to be addressing right about now. What are you doing over there, Sara?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Wolf, I think there's a little but of grumbling on the grown here that Donald Trump sort of stood voters up at the last minute. There are folks on the ground here who understand that he put out a statement saying he had a significant business transaction. It was supposed to close yesterday, apparently got delayed. That's the reason Donald Trump is giving for why he's not here.
There are some people who are here who has kind of suspect that maybe he just didn't want to answer tough questions, you know. This is not a big rally. Trump would be on stage after other candidates, getting quizzed on a variety of policy issues. So there's certainly some speculation that maybe he wanted to avoid that. And like Dana says, it's very strange we have not heard from Trump at this point. His comments or the comments of the voter at his event last night have been all over the news. It's been drawing a lot of controversy. And I too have been reaching out to the campaign to say, "Look. Is there anything else you guys want to add? Do you want to put this to rest? Does Donald Trump want to repudiate the comments that were made by this voter?" And so far, it's just been complete silence, but the show is carrying on here in South Carolina. There are 10 presidential candidates who will be speaking here tonight. We've already heard from Jeb Bush and Scott Walker is wrapping up right behind me, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. We'll stay in very close touch with you, Sara. Thank you.
Joining us now here in the Situation Room, our CNN political commentator, S.E. Cupp; our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, is till with us today; David Frum, he was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush. He is now a senior editor for the Atlantic Magazine.
So of strange S.E., isn't it that all of a sudden very much controversy erupting as a result of his silence in the phase of what this questioner asked him in this town hall meeting? And all of a sudden today we haven't heard at all from Donald Trump and he goes and cancels an important political forum in a key state, South Carolina.
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is unusual, although Donald Trump is having a not very good week. He had a bad debate showing. Carly made all of the headlines. And he had his rally which he decides to take sort of spontaneous questions and handles the first one like a real amateur. And I don't -- I can't define what Donald Trump thinks about the president and his religion. But clearly, from this, you can tell that Donald Trump is not a very politically savvy person. A politically savvy person would have known how to in fact make the most of that moment and turn it into an advantage. Instead, he sort of stumbled through it, does what he always does, in articulately just says, yes, we're going to look into it, and moved on, and then let everyone else define this moment for him. Regardless of what you think of Donald Trump's politics, he's not very politically savvy.
BLITZER: His campaign says he is working, trying to finalize a very important business transaction right now. He's got to be where he is, presumably in New York at Trump Tower over there on Fifth Avenue. He can't leave. He's got to close this deal. What do you say?
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR ATLANTIC MAGAZINE: No idea. It's not even impossible it could be true. I'm not -- I'm not going to do mind reading. I think a -- I don't think we can complain that there's been too little Donald Trump in this election season. So if he's absent for a day ...
BASH (?): We'll take it.
BLITZER: I thought so (ph). But Dana, I hear you laughing out there. And I know you're speaking to sources among all of the Republican campaigns including the Trump campaign, but it is sort of unusual. A few days after the debate, the critically important debate, 23 million Americans were watching that debate, all of sudden he goes silent on this Friday. So it is a story, if you will. BASH: It is, because as we were talking about it, it is so unusual. Just look at -- look back at kind of the controversies that he has generated over the past few months since he jumped into the race. He has reveled in them. Even when, you know, there were issues like going after John McCain's veteran's record, you know, it goes on and on. He would hit back in a nanosecond on Twitter, in press releases, you know, calling up to television networks like ours on the phone even if he can't get out of Trump Tower. So it's very, very unlike him.
One thing I will say is that over the summer Anderson Cooper did an interview with him asking about this sort of Birther issue and he didn't want to talk about it. He just said, "You know what? I'm not -- I'm moving on. I'm talking but other issues now like jobs and the economy and so forth." So you know, politically, this is a little bit of a balancing act for him because he doesn't want to kind of move away completely from that idea because it does -- for better or worse, it's the kind of thing that many of his supporters want to hear from him. At the same time, he kind of knows that to get a broader electorate support he's got a move on.
[17:10:23] BLITZER: I see. A marked contrast to John McCain, Donald Trump was silent in the face of ugly statements questioned -- by that question in the town hall meeting. I want to plate for you what John McCain did back in 2008 when he was running for president of United States, when he was asked a stupid question by someone in the audience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't trust Obama. I have read about him and he's not -- he's an -- he is not ...
JOHN MCCAIN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, ma'am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No?
MCCAIN: No, ma'am. No, ma'am. He is a -- he is a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about. He is not. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. So what do you think should -- what damage control as far as Donald Trump is concerned? Should he make a statement? Should he apologize, S.E.? What do you think?
CUPP: Well, the time to have done something would have been immediately after the events when he was either told what was said. His line now is that he didn't hear the question, which I don't -- I don't believe, but either right then or early this morning. But to ignore it for an entire day while we all get to talk about it, I think it's a pretty big mistake.
To Dana's point, this is not something Trump should have been unprepared for. He has been asked about it before as sort of the original, Birther (ph), the OB. He had to expect that someone in one of his audiences was going to raise this issue. So again, I think more of this speaks to Trump's lack of political kind of savvy, and you know, expecting these kinds of things down the road and preparing for them. And we'll see if he can clean it up in in time for the next polls to come out.
BLITZER: That's going to be fairly soon. David, hold your thoughts for a moment. I want to take a quick break. We got a lot more coming up. There's a lot of news happening today. We'll update you on everything right after this.
BLITZER: Donald Trump says he has a critically important business deal that he's got to conclude, so at the last minute, he canceled this hour's scheduled appearance of the political event in South Carolina.
[17:17:24] Trump's been under fire all day because of what happened during a town hall meeting he held last night in New Hampshire. Take a look at what happened.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's a great movement going on. And it's a special movement. It's a movement where people want to see our country be great again. They want to see things happen. They want to see the right things happen. They want everybody to get together work, work. You know, the people of New Hampshire, you love to work, don't you? Don't you love to work?
You know, it's very interesting. Coach Ditka in Chicago and people that I don't even know just coming out in favor of Trump. Probably you've heard, but we are going to build a wall at the border. Going to build a wall. People are going to come into this country, but they're going to come in legally. They're going to be legal.
You ask Israel whether or not a wall works. Believe me, a wall properly done, a Trump wall -- a Trump wall works. That I can tell you. That I can tell you.
This wall is going to have a big, beautiful open gate. We're going to have a nice opening. And when people want to come into this country legally and they want to go through the process and it's going -- we all welcome them. Is that a correct statement? I mean, we welcome.
A 66-year-old veteran who was raped and sodomized and killed, unbelievable, by an illegal immigrant. It's just not going to happen anymore, folks.
You know what we're going to do tonight? No speech. Let's do question and answer. You can make them vicious, violent horrible questions. Even though you shouldn't, probably, in life -- how many cameras are lit? Yes, there's a lot of them. Every time I speak now, it's on live television... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a problem in this country. It's called Muslims. We know our current president is one. You know he's not even an American.
TRUMP: We need this question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That's my question. When can we get rid of them?
TRUMP: We're going to be looking at a lot of different things. And, you know, lot of people are saying that. And a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We're going to be looking at that and plenty of other things.
You know, last night was pretty hot. This blows it away. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I applaud the gentleman who brought up the Muslim training camps here in the USA. The FBI knows all about that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But America has also guns pointed at ordinary citizens here. One of the...
TRUMP: Don't get nervous. You're on about seven television networks. Don't get nervous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the bureaus...
TRUMP: Don't choke.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bureau of Land Management.
TRUMP: Go ahead.
[17:20:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Agriculture. Now, they're going into different ranches, shutting them down.
TRUMP: Right. That's right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... regulation. But they seem to be pointing the gun to make sure they get their fees. This is our own government putting us at siege. How can we get in and stop this?
TRUMP: So many things are going to change. You know, these are regulations. But so many things. That's one.
With Trump, you know, there's an expression. I will be the greatest jobs president. That's what you need.
You like Oreos? The cookies, right? I'm not eating Oreos anymore. Nabisco is closing their plant, a big plant in Chicago, and they're moving it to Mexico.
Do you think it's hot enough in this place? Man. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you plan to visit with the pope when he comes
TRUMP: Well, the pope believes in global warming. You do know that, right? In this room it's so hot in here maybe I'll start to believe it myself. This room is hot.
Does anybody have a towel? No, I like the pope. A lot of -- a lot of personality. Good man. Good man.
Yes, ma'am, go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Carly Fiorina...
TRUMP: Say it again, because people might as well hear it. I mean, people have to learn. I thought I'd wait a couple of days before I exposed her business failure, but honestly, it's so ridiculous. Go ahead, tell me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I stocked -- I invested in my stock. I worked for the company for 37 years.
TRUMP: And that was Lucent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was forced to retire.
TRUMP: Headed up by who?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, Carly.
TRUMP: The Carly thing is sort of amazing because a lot of people don't get it. Because Lucent was a disaster. You know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
TRUMP: Lucent was company that she ran prior to Hewlett-Packard. When she bought Compaq she was heading up Hewlett-Packard for a while, a little while, very short while. And then made the decision to buy Compaq. Compaq computer, I guess.
And people that worked there said that company was such a great company until she got involved; and until she went out and she made this horrible acquisition. And it just has destroyed the company, Hewlett-Packard.
And then everyone said she made a good speech yesterday. I don't know. I don't get it. I don't get it.
Nobody even knows how many illegals we have here. Because, you know, we've been hearing for years 11, 11, 11, never moves; it's always 11. Give me a break.
Who believes in global warming? Raise your hand. Wow. Not much, huh? Do you have your hand up? A little? No, no. No. Nobody? One person.
We're going to end, terminate, repeal Obamacare and replace it with something really great that works. That works.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. It was great. Thank you. Thank you.
BLITZER: That was Donald Trump at that town hall last night. We're back with S.E. Cupp, Dana Bash and David Frum.
David, it's obviously vintage Donald Trump last night. Today, as we've been pointing out, canceled this appearance at this important political forum in South Carolina. What did you make of that?
FRUM: I'd like to step out of this co-dependent relationship that we in the news business seem to have with Donald Trump, where we build it up, saying, "Coming up, Donald Trump says something shocking and appalling. Stay there, folks. In a second, we'll have something shocking and appalling from Donald Trump. And now we'll go to our panel. are you shocked and appalled?"
So yes, shocking and appalling.
BLITZER: Are you shocked and appalled?
FRUM: Of course. That's the nature...
BLITZER: No, no, are you?
FRUM: You know, I'm -- I'm used to it. We've heard worse. And this is -- what happened, actually, with the birther business of four years ago was worse.
What is happening today -- I think the interesting part of all of these stories is you need to move the camera to the audience and say, "Why is it that somebody who ought to be a marginal figure in American life has become so central? How have the existing institutions of the country failed?" And that's where the camera needs to go.
There are always -- the failure of American institutions to meet the needs of people like those in the hall...
BLITZER: You worked for a Republican president.
BLITZER: This is your party.
BLITZER: Why is he the leader in the effort to get the Republican presidential nomination by a significant number?
FRUM: Because of a decade and a half of failure by people who run almost every institution. Not just political institutions. Business institutions, military. I'm trying to think of one thing that's happened in the past 15 years
that experts, smart people thought was a good idea. Whether it was making mortgages easier to get, whether it was the Iraq War that I was a part of, whether it was the stimulus or Obamacare that proved to be a success for the people for whose sake it was done.
And when we fail, of course, we leave the stage open for the Trumps.
BLITZER: Go ahead.
CUPP: I get where David's coming from. We're all frustrated having to deal with this clown, frankly.
But I don't buy this binary argument that, because Americans are frustrated with political institutions, therefore Trump. There are so many other political figures and people in positions of leadership from all walks of life that would have the opportunity to rise up and be considered for a presidential nomination besides Donald Trump, who offers nothing in the way of political solutions to the very real problems that most Americans have.
[17:25:13] He's completely inarticulate. He hasn't been loyal to one party or one political ideology. He can't even explain his own political ideology.
FRUM: What we see, this is happening around the world. That as institutions fail, whether it's the euro, whether it's the failure to control borders in Europe, whether it's the failure to deliver economic success, they discredit -- and not just political elites.
You know, we all agree that Carly Fiorina had a wonderful debate. She looked so strong and compelling and convincing. But was what Donald Trump said about her at that town hall false? I don't think it's false. It's true. Actually, and it is weird that you can say, well, the quality of performance is what we judge rather than the quality of result...
CUPP: Her record will be scrutinized. And that's fair. We've already started doing it.
BLITZER: It was scrutinized in 2010 when she was challenging senator Barbara Boxer for the Senate seat in California. And she suffered a pretty significant defeat at the hands of Barbara Boxer, because they went through her record at H-P, and they had a lot of people who were fired as a result of what was going on there. They testified in these commercials, and presumably that's going to happen right now.
Dana, very quickly, in this interview he did grant to "The New York Times," Trump said -- and I'm quoting him now -- "The bigger issue is that Obama is waging a war against Christians in this country." What is he talking about?
BASH: He's trying to kind of appeal to the Republicans who Huckabee was appealing to regarding the Kim Davis situation in Kentucky, at the idea that -- that people in this country who call themselves Christians and believe that they are under assault by the policies of the government. And that is a very real feeling out there, particularly among many Republican voters.
But one other thing just going back to what his reaction was and why he didn't react more specifically to -- to last night's questioner. He also said in this "New York Times" article that Americans like the fact that he doesn't react to things like voter anger and debate questions with the ordinary language of politicians.
It kind of gives you a window into why he's letting this simmer a bit instead of getting out there and either trying to sort of end it or stoke it.
BLITZER: Dana Bash, S.E. Cupp, David Frum, guys, thanks very, very much.
Much more coming up on the race for the White House, but there's other breaking news we're following. Police have just announced arrests in the death of a little girl whose identity has been a mystery until just now.
Also under arrest, a friend of the Charleston church gunman. Could he have prevented that horrible crime that truly shocked the nation and the world?
[17:32:23] BLITZER: There's breaking news in that mysterious death that has baffled police since June. That's when a little girl's body was discovered wrapped in a trash bag on the Boston harbor shoreline. Police called her "Baby Doe" even though millions and millions of people have seen the sketch of her face. Only now have police discovered her identity and have made arrests.
Let's go to CNN's Alexandra Field. She's on the story for us.
Alexandra, what have you learned?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Wolf. We now know this little girl's name. She's 2 and a half years old. Police are able to confirm that now. They says she's Bella Bond and she was from the Boston area. So the place that she was found is not far from the place where she lived those two and a half years.
This picture, the image that was put together of this child after her body was found in a trash bag back in June captivated people. It was hard for people to understand how a toddler could end up in a trash bag abandoned on the shoreline. The image was shared some 50 million times. Police looked for clues for some three months, but finally they got the break in the case just yesterday when someone called in a tip.
Police acted on that information. They executed a search warrant. And today they've been able to announce that they have taken the little girl's mother into custody arresting her and her boyfriend. Her boyfriend, Michael McCarthy, charged with the murder of this little girl. Her mother charged as accessory to murder. The couple will be arraigned on Monday in court here in Boston. And until that arraignment happens police say that they won't be able
to give more details of the case. They've got to allow this to come out in the courtroom Monday morning, but they are quite confident that this is a little girl who is murdered and they say the couple then after the child was murdered did take steps acting together to conceal both her death and to avoid prosecution.
A very emotional case for a lot of people here in this area. People were confounded not just over the fact that this could happen to a toddler but by the fact that no one could help to identify this little girl. Police called her Baby Doe for nearly three months. She now has a name, Wolf, Bella Bond.
BLITZER: And the police did not offer any motive supposedly for this death, right?
FIELD: That's right. They said that they could not at this point offer a motive that they were willing to share. They reminded the room full of reporters here that a motive isn't required under the law but they believe that they have very solid evidence that this young girl was murdered by the boyfriend of her mother, Michael McCarthy who's been arrested. He was taken into custody in a hospital. We're told he was being treated there for something entirely unrelated.
They only went onto say that it was an act of violence in her home but no further details given. We do expect however of course the prosecution would lay out a rather compelling case when they take this to court on Monday.
BLITZER: We've been showing our viewers some video from Facebook when the sweet little girl was still alive.
[17:35:04] All right, Alexandra, thank you.
I want to bring in our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Let's get some quick reaction. What will you make of this?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I listened to that press conference where the law enforcement people were congratulating each other as law enforcement people tend to do. But where was everybody for all these months? This picture was shown over and over again. Where were the relatives? Where were the neighbors? Why didn't someone come forward? This was not an infant. This was a toddler, a 2 and a half year old kid, Dorchester where she lived is just a few miles away from where the body was found.
I think this story is really as bad as it is it may actually be worse when you think of how long it took for anyone to come forward.
BLITZER: And we know according to reports that the mother, two other kids that the mother had her parental rights were terminated for various reasons yet she obviously had custody of the sweet little girl. Now called Baby Bella. What does that tell us about child service responsibilities from authorities in this area?
TOOBIN: You're going to have to answer that -- I mean, the child services is certainly going to have to answer that question. Of all people to look at, people who have a prior record of bad treatment of children, where was their other child? Where was their two and a half year old little girl. This is not a day for congratulations.
TOOBIN: I would think.
BLITZER: A horrible, horrible story. All right. Thanks very much, Jeffrey Toobin. We got some other legal issues coming up. So don't go too far away.
Also coming up, did a friend of the alleged Charleston church shooter have information that might have saved a lot of lives? Stunning new details that he revealed to CNN as charges are now revealed.
And with North Korea announcing it's ready to use nuclear weapons at any time, why is Kim Jong-Un going all out to conceal a rocket site?
[17:41:36] BLITZER: A friend of the alleged Charleston church shooter may have known more than he let on in an indictment against him has now been unsealed. Brian Todd is here with me. He has details.
Brian, what have you learned?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, Joey Meek who spent a lot of time with the confessed shooter in the weeks before the massacre is in a great deal of trouble himself. Prosecutors allege Meek didn't tell them everything he knew about the shooter's plans. We interviewed Joey Meek just after the shootings when he said some disturbing things about Dylann Roof's behavior.
TODD (voice-over): In the days before that horrifying evening in June when nine people were gunned down inside Charleston's AME Church, confessed shooter Dylann Roof went on a rant. That's what Roof's friend Joey Meek told CNN.
JOEY MEEK, FRIEND OF DYLANN ROOF: I mean, he said there was a six- month plan, but he didn't say in specific details. I mean, it's just -- I mean, he had it in his mind. And he didn't really let nobody know.
TODD: Joey Meek is now charged with failing to report the crime as it was happening or immediately afterward. And then lying to investigators when he said afterward that he didn't know specifics of Roof's plan. Today, Meek pleaded not guilty. Reached by CNN his attorney would not comment on the indictment saying she hasn't had time to review the material. Prosecutors are not charging Meek with failing to stop the shootings
beforehand when it was only in its planning stages. Still.
JEFFREY JACOBOVITZ, TRIAL ATTORNEY: He's in significant trouble because the underlying crime here was so shocking to the community.
TODD: In our interview with Meek less than two days after the shootings, he said Roof had gone on a drunken rant shortly before the massacre and said he wanted a race war.
MEEK: I didn't believe him whatever he was saying he wanted to do something crazy and that he wanted a race war.
TODD: Still, Meek said he was concerned enough that night to take action.
MEEK: That same night I took his gun and I hid it. And the next morning I didn't want to get in trouble him said I stole his gun so I put his gun back in his trunk.
TODD (on camera): How do you feel about that now?
MEEK: Terrible. I mean, terrible but then again I can't go back because I was looking out for myself really because I didn't want to get in trouble for stealing a gun.
TODD (voice-over): When we spoke, Meek had his own message for the victims' loved ones.
MEEK: I'm sorry this all happened to everybody. It could have been prevented if people would have taken him serious. But Dylann wasn't a serious person and no one took him serious. But if someone would have taken him serious this would all have been avoided.
TODD: In the week before the shootings Dylann Roof had spent a lot of time at the mobile home outside Columbia, South Carolina, where Joey Meek lived along with Meek's mother and his sibling. Prosecutors will not comment on whether any of those people who lived in that trailer are being investigated, Wolf.
BLITZER: And in your interview with Meek he had details on how Roof's parents felt about his having a gun.
TODD: That's right. You know, he said that Roof's parents gave him money for his 21st birthday. But Meek says that Dylann Roof's parents did not want him to have a gun. Meek said that Roof's parents later seemed to kind of give in on the idea. He said they gave him enough cash for the gun, but he's not sure if they actually knew he was going to buy that weapon. Roof's family could not be reached for comment about that.
BLITZER: All right. Well, thank you very much, Brian Todd, updating us on that.
Also coming up, with North Korea already saying it's prepared to use nuclear weapons there are now new concerns about a secret -- some secret activity in a major launch site. What does Kim Jong-Un have in mind? And it's out of character but Donald Trump is staying silent today
amid a barrage of criticism for failing to reject anti-Muslim comments from a questioner.
BLITZER: We're getting breaking news out of the Middle East right now. Israel says its Iron Dome Defense System has intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza after another rocket fell on an Israeli city.
Let's go live to CNN's Oren Liebermann who's joining us from Jerusalem. Oren, what are you learning?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Two separate rocket attacks this evening. The first one just about an hour ago as you said intercepted on Ashkelon, a city right outside of Gaza. This is a city that knows well the threat of rocket attacks. And just a short time ago one of those rockets intercepted by Iron Dome.
[17:55:05] It is the first Iron Dome interception in more than a year since the end of the last Gaza war. But just a few hours earlier a separate rocket attack that landed in the city of Sderot. It is the first rocket attack since the last Gaza war that landed in a populated area. We have seen a number of these attacks in recent months but normally they land in open fields. This one landed right in the center of this city doing damage to a bus, very light damage to a home, according to police, and causing no injuries but reminding everyone of what happened here last summer and the war here last summer.
Now both of these cities are very close to Gaza, so both of these cities know well the threat of rocket attacks and we often hear occasionally the sirens going off here as rockets come in. Again those rockets normally land in open areas. It has been a few weeks, about three weeks since the last rocket attack but normally these rocket attacks trigger some sort of IDF response, whether it's airstrikes or a response like that.
We haven't heard any news about an IDF response but normally those responses come late in the night, in the middle of the night so we're very much waiting to hear about that at this point -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Oren, we'll stay in close touch with you, thank you. Disturbing information coming in from Israel and Gaza.
Meanwhile, there is also a disturbing information tonight about North Korea. Kim Jong-Un's regime has been warning that it's ready-to-use nuclear weapons against the United States at any time and now the North is trying to conceal feverish activity going out of a rocket site. Is it preparing for some sort of secret launch?
Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. She's been looking into this for us.
What are you finding out, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Pentagon has long said that the North Korean military is all about deception and they believe the North Koreans are up to it one more time.
STARR (voice-over): North Korea has already shown the world it can launch a satellite into space. Now U.S. intelligence believes sometime in the next few weeks, the regime will do it again but this time in secret from this launch pad hoping to avoid the prying eyes of U.S. spy satellites overhead. North Korea insists its only plan -- launching the satellite on top of a long-range rocket. But --
JOE CIRINCIONE, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: There isn't a country in the world that has a space launch facility that looks like this. No country in the world hides their assembly of the space launch vehicle. You can observe it for days, for weeks. North Korea is clearly trying to develop a military capability here.
STARR: This launch facility constructed with concealment as the priority. An underground rail line delivers the missile parts inside this movable building. The parts are unloaded out of view of spy satellite, then the whole structure is moved to the launch pad. At the other end, the missile is assembled with a large crane. Then experts say might look like this. A cover on the launch tower conceals the assembly and fueling of the missile.
The result, the U.S. only sees a missile shortly before launch with little or no warning. if it all works, it gets Kim Jong-Un closer to his apparent ultimate goal.
CIRINCIONE: It's very clear the North Koreans want to develop what they do not have now, the ability to launch a nuclear missile and hit the United States.
ADM. HARRY HARRIS, U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND: You have a leader at North Korea who has nuclear weapons and is seeking the means to miniaturize them and deliver them intercontinentally and that causes me great concern.
STARR: It all comes as Pyongyang says it has restarted a nuclear reactor to make fissile material. The North Korean news agency says the regime's nuclear arsenal is being improved in quality and quantity.
STARR: Now the U.S. believes the most likely date for a North Korean launch is in fact October 10th. The 70th anniversary of the founding of the North Korea's so-called Workers Party, date and anniversaries very important to the regime -- Wolf.
BLITZER: So, Barbara, if this happens, what response is the U.S. considering, if any? STARR: Well, we're beginning to hear from the State Department, also
from the Pentagon if there is a launch of a missile or a satellite as North Koreans say, if there is more movement on this fissile material development, nuclear material development, the U.S. is talking about more sanctions for North Korea but look, their economy is already in a state of collapse.
Hard to see what more sanctions would do to them. Try to work through the Chinese who have long time had communication roots into North Korea but even the Chinese had said recently that some of their communications with the North Koreans had disappeared. This will be a very difficult problem, especially if down the road there is an additional nuclear test.
BLITZER: Yes. And October 10th, that's that date that a lot of people are focusing in on right now.
[17:55:03] All right, Barbara, thanks very, very much. Disturbing information involving North Korea.
Coming up, why is Donald Trump keeping quiet on this day? The GOP frontrunner cancels a campaign appearance at the last minute amid a barrage of criticism for failing to reject anti-Muslim comments from a questioner.
BLITZER: Happening now, silent majority. Donald Trump sparks a new campaign controversy, failing to correct a man calling President Obama a Muslim. A mistaken belief apparently shared by many Trump's supporters. Now Trump has cancelled his speech tonight amid a report he'll spend up to $100 million of his fortune to win the White House.
Thrown to grown. A controversial arrest caught on camera. This teenager says he was just trying to catch a bus.