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Sheriff: Two Bailiffs Killed, Gunman Dead At Michigan Courthouse; Interview With Vice President Joe Biden. Aired 4:30-5:13p ET

Aired July 11, 2016 - 16:30   ET


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

We do have breaking news for you this afternoon.

Two bailiffs have been killed at a courthouse in St. Joseph, Michigan. That's according to the Berrien County undersheriff. We're also told by the undersheriff that the gunmen is dead as well.

As we get new details on this attack, on law enforcement, we will bring them to you.

But let's turn now to our politics lead. This is the time in the political calender when media organizations start to monitor flights and try to read the poker faces of political advisers and send trackers to follow the movements of specific governors and gels and mayors and members of Congress. It is, of course, veepstakes.

And it comes as Republican officials gather in Cleveland today to hammer out a platform and rules for next week's Republican National Convention. That's where Donald Trump is expected to formally become his party's nominee.

CNN's Jim Acosta is traveling with the Trump campaign in Virginia Beach today.

And, Jim, today, Trump appeared with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Tomorrow, we're told, he will appear with Indiana Governor Mike Pence.


Are these tryouts, or has Trump made his pick already, and this is just kind of fun?


And we should also point out, Donald Trump weighed in on the police killings in Dallas and dubbed himself today the law and order candidate. But, as you mentioned, the presumptive GOP nominee, with just one week before the Republican Convention, was out test-driving one of his potential running mates, another sign that his short list for vice president is getting shorter.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Donald Trump seized on the attack on police officers in Dallas as a turning point in the campaign, presenting voters with a critical choice.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am the law and order candidate. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is weak, ineffective, pandering, and, as proven by her recent e-mail scandal, she is either a liar or grossly incompetent, one or the other. Very simple.


ACOSTA: After delaying his attacks on Clinton in the aftermath of the carnage in Dallas, Trump returned to bashing the former secretary of state over her use of a private e-mail server.

TRUMP: Crooked Hillary Clinton is the secretary of the status quo. And wherever Hillary Clinton goes, corruption and scandal follow.

ACOSTA: The Clinton campaign appeared ready for the attacks, with a preemptive video highlighting Trump's past comments, seemingly supporting some of the world's worst actors.

TRUMP: Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, right? You know what he did well. He killed terrorists. He did that so good.

ACOSTA: But at a event on veterans in Virginia, Trump had backup.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We need to stand behind the men and women in blue in this country.

ACOSTA: Just as Trump is in the final days of selecting a running mate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was ripping into Clinton too.

CHRISTIE: That's not a person who will stand for the rule of law. That's a person who will stand for the rule of her.

ACOSTA: Sources familiar with Trump's vice presidential search saying Christie has now been fully vetted, but there are other apparent finalists. Indiana Governor Mike Pence is said to be high on the list, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is actively lobbying for the spot. Pence will be with Trump in Indiana Tuesday.

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: And I'm prepared to make that case anywhere across Indiana and anywhere across this country that Donald Trump would want me to.

ACOSTA: Just days after Trump auditioned Gingrich in Ohio.

TRUMP: Newt has been my friend for a long time. In one form or another, Newt Gingrich is going to be involved with our government.

ACOSTA: But others in the hunt may be losing their luster. Retired General Mike Flynn, who was under consideration, said he was in favor of abortion rights over the weekend.

GEN. MIKE FLYNN (RET.), U.S. ARMY: I think women have to be able to choose what they -- sort of the right of choice.

ACOSTA: Then, today, he seemed to flip, describing himself as pro- life Democrat, while Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin reviewed to CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" she hasn't really been fully vetted.

GOV. MARY FALLIN (R), OKLAHOMA: I haven't been asked for specific documentation, and I haven't had a specific conversation with any of his staff about vice president.


ACOSTA: Now, as for Trump's event with Mike Pence tomorrow in Indiana, there are rumblings back in Pence's home state that the governor could be the odds-on favorite, Jake. We are hearing from sources that state GOP officials back in Indiana are scrambling to find a replacement for Pence to run for reelection as governor.

Pence was going to run for reelection as governor, but a replacement to run for election as governor, as Pence is barred by state law for running for both Donald Trump's vice presidential candidate and for governor. Virginia state law bars him from running for both of those jobs.

And so state GOP officials, Jake, they are scrambling to figure that one out. That activity, according to some state GOP sources back in Indiana, are indicating that that might be a sign of things to come -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jim Acosta, traveling with the Trump campaign, thanks so much.

This programming note, be sure to tune in tomorrow for a special CNN town hall with House Speaker Paul Ryan, hosted by me. That's tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Donald Trump has shocked many people over the course of the campaign season, but one prestigious Trump watcher said perhaps we should have predicted Trump's rise by studying him through one specific lens, in the funny pages.


GARRY TRUDEAU, CARTOONIST: I have been reverse-engineering the hair for a long time now.

TAPPER (voice-over): There are few people who have chronicled the life and career of Donald Trump quite like this man.

TRUDEAU: They go this way.

TAPPER (on camera): It goes northeast. These go east. And then these go north and then turn west.

TAPPER (voice-over): Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Garry Trudeau is the creator of the iconic left-leading comic strip "Doonesbury."

And since 1987, Trudeau has been aiming his pen at the real estate mogul.

TRUMP: I have the best words.


TAPPER: Trudeau has done so many strips about Donald Trump, he has enough to compile a new collection, "Yuge!" The comic strip lampoon everything from Trump's propensity for self-promotion to his tabloid divorces and occasional oversharing.

And, in fact, decades before Trump trailed down the escalator a year ago, way back in September 1987, Garry Trudeau cartooned about a possible Trump presidential run.

(on camera): Were you trying to warn the American people about Donald Trump?

TRUDEAU: I really wasn't. I thought he would go for it. I thought that he would survive long enough to be disruptive, but I completely underappreciated the voters' willingness to suspend common sense.

TAPPER: None of your characters have aged as poorly as Donald Trump, including the characters you have had who have died.

TRUDEAU: I guess he has grown a little bit more grotesque through the years.

TAPPER (voice-over): In true Trump fashion, the Donald hasn't taken the relentless ridicule lying down.

(on camera): This is what Mr. Trump has said about you.


TAPPER: "Most people are like me. They don't comprehend what Trudeau is trying to achieve." And then it's gone on to sleazeball, a jerk, a total loser, and a third-rate talent.

TRUDEAU: Right, all music to my ears.

TAPPER: Why is it? Why?

TRUDEAU: Well, I mean, if you're in my business, you want pushback.

TAPPER (voice-over): For Trudeau, Trump's ire is worn as a badge of honor, his prescient predictions prompting some to call for even more cartoon commentary.

(on camera): Does Donald Trump make you want to resume the daily strip?

TRUDEAU: Well, my wife thinks I have a responsibility to do -- go back to do the daily strip for that reason alone, you know, call from country. But I feel the Sundays is plenty enough.

TAPPER: As a satirist, do you look at Trump with glee or something else?

TRUDEAU: No, I'm terribly concerned about where our country is going. I don't think he cares about the people that he has conned into voting for him one bit. If you were to ask him, what about this guy who is out of work or what about these people who are struggling on this level or this level and this issue and this issue, they are losers. They're losers.

TAPPER (voice-over): And, for Trudeau, that reality is no laughing matter.


TAPPER: Five cops assassinated in Dallas this last week, and now this afternoon two bailiffs have been killed at a courthouse in Michigan. Were they targeted because they wear blue?

Much more on this breaking news this afternoon when we come back.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. We continue to get new information out of Berrien County, Michigan. What we know right now is that two bailiff's earlier this afternoon were killed by a gunman at a courthouse in St. Joseph, Michigan.

That's according to undersheriff in Berrien County, which is in the southwest part of the Lower Peninsula in Michigan, about 45 minutes north of south bend, Indiana.

We are also told that the shooter has been killed and the site has been secured. Let me bring back CNN's Deborah Feyerick. Deb, what else are you learning right now about this tragedy?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So what we know is that the two bailiffs, the court law enforcement officers, were in fact shot and killed. Another deputy sheriff was apparently wounded.

According to the Michigan Department of Corrections, they've got an office inside that building, which is sort of a full service building, all the courts are there.

We are told that a corrections employee on the third floor saw the gunman run by and the shooting is believed to have occurred on the third floor. That's when the civil court, the civil trials takes place.

And ABC local is reporting, Jake, that the man may have been on his way to jail. That he grabbed a deputy's gun and he began to open fire. So that's one of the thing that CNN is now working to confirm, working to verify.

But sheer panic and the entire area was put on lock down while this was happening at about 2:30 this afternoon. TAPPER: It looks like the loss of life of two more law enforcement officers, which is a huge tragedy. Our caveat is always that the information is fresh, new, and just coming in from officials and sometimes they have to come back and revise their statements.

So keep that in mind as we report this breaking news story. Deb Feyerick, thank you so much. I want to talk right now on the phone with Gretta VOlkenstein. She was driving by the court house when she saw the commotion outside the building. Greta, describe to us what you saw.

GRETTA VOLKENSTEIN, EYEWITNESS (via telephone): Flashing lights, police, ambulances, people in shock. Street hadn't been blocked off yet. I was just happening right as I drove by. I pulled into the closest parking lot to go see if I could help some people who were obviously very shaken and had been inside.

I wanted to see if I could help connect them with friends or colleagues, and to give them rides. Nobody wanted to leave because they felt like they got out and their colleagues were still stuck inside.

Then just found out a few minutes later that there were two confirmed dead. That there were shots on the third floor as we were trying to figure out what was going on. We realized it was still -- there were still shootings going, I guess.

We got pushed back to a more secure location several times. And from what I have heard, there were a lot of people in the building still on lock down and had friends texting me once I posted video online saying that they were also in lock done and buildings all around the city.

Nobody knows what is going on. How many people were shot or what the situation was, but there were some people that got out said they had a lot colleagues still in the courthouse.

TAPPER: Gretta, if you could turn down your television that would be better, thank you.

[16:50:06]We're hearing from the undersheriff that two bailiffs were killed and the gunman is dead. You have friends in the building. How are they? What have they told you?

VOLKENSTEIN: The people in front of the building?

TAPPER: Your friends in the building?

VOLKENSTEIN: I don't know if I have any friends that were in the building at the time. I had friends that were in lock down in other government buildings in the town.

TAPPER: Oh, I see. OK, I misunderstood.

VOLKENSTEIN: Yes. And they were hearing reports of that there were confirmed dead in shooting and then they started letting me know that I need to get out of where I was because it was active at my location. TAPPER: All right, Gretta. Right now, the status is what? Where are you?

VOLKENSTEIN: I am at my house about a block away. There are helicopters flying all over the area. More of the city is getting blocked off. Just kind of corralling off the block around the courthouse with guns and the original parking lot I was in, they evacuated to be the triage area.

I don't have any word on how many other people were shot, but they were going to -- they were bringing ambulances in there to take care of people who are wounded.

TAPPER: OK. Gretta Volkenstein, we're glad you're OK. Thank you so much for calling in. We appreciate it.

Let's talk about this all now with our panel, CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan joining Deb Feyerick. Also we are joined by FBI profiler, Casey Jordan, and in Washington, D.C., we have CNN senior law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, and also we have former NYPD detective, Harry Houck.

Harry, let me start with you. In the aftermath of Dallas, what is the feeling among members of the law enforcement community right now? How concerned are they that they have targets on their chest, even more so than they normally do in the job they do?

HARRY HOUCK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: OK, right now every officer hearing this has probably saying to himself, Jesus, not again. Although we don't have any facts here of exactly how this occurred, I'm hearing it is from the third floor and that is a civil court area.

There are two bailiffs that have been killed. Bailiffs are usually inside the courtroom while the court is in session. It appears to me or what it sounds like is that a suspect that would go to jail for whatever, we don't know, had grabbed the gun.

Now it's pretty interesting because usually in civil cases and even in New York, nobody is allowed in the building with a gun. If you're a police officer and you're going through some kind of family court issues, you're not even allowed to bring your gun to court.

So it sounds to me that he probably did take somebody's gun because you can't get into these courthouses today with a gun. You always got to go through something (inaudible) and make your way up there.

So I don't know if this guy was in custody and went up to the courtroom and if he was in custody, he wasn't still handcuffed? If that was civil, that wouldn't have happened. We still need to find out what is going on here.

TAPPER: All right, and Casey, obviously we don't know anything about the shooter right now, but when you target law enforcement, the reason that there are penalties in addition to committing murder or assault or shooting somebody when you do so against a police officer or another kind of law enforcement officer or a judge, it is because they represent the American justice system.

Is there any kind of through line? Is there any kind of common trade when it comes to individuals who target law enforcement officers?

CASEY JORDAN, FBI PROFILER: Well, in this particular case, I don't think it's actually related to a backlash against officers. I think we are talking about an inmate who was in custody, who overpowered the bailiff, took the gun and used it against them as a means of escape, an all in desperation go for broke move.

This is rare but we did see it 11 years ago in Atlanta, in the case of Brian Nichols, who shut the judge, the bailiff whom he overpowered and took her gun, and a court reporter and then fled and ended up shooting several agents as well.

It's extremely rare, but when people think that they may be going to prison for life or losing their fortune or losing their children, they literally go all in. So I don't know that this was such a statement as I want to kill police officers as I want to get out of this or I want to commit death by cop, which perhaps the shooter knew that was going to happen.

TAPPER: Tom Fuentes, let me bring you in. When police officers are killed, it is often a situation where state police and even the FBI get involved because it is considered an attack on our society, on order itself.

[16:55:06] TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, if that's established, Jake, that's true, but usually in a case like this, it's still regarded as local police matter unless shown otherwise that person was either a terrorist or a member of organized crime or international drug cartel.

So I would think in this case it is still a local matter. If I can say I agree completely with Casey about the whole situation there. What's unfortunate now is that if we have a shooting involving law enforcement, especially this week, the real question on people's mind, they want it ask, was the shooter black, was the shooter white?

Were the victims black? Were the victims white? That's where we are at because of other events this week. As mentioned by Paul Callan earlier, this is all too common in courts. Almost garden variety individual tries to get a gun, shoots people in a courtroom, and shoots a judge.

It does happen and it happens too often, frankly, but that's the question. It's now in the contest of the events of this week.

TAPPER: All right, Tom, Paul, Casey, Harry, and Deb Feyerick, thanks so much to all of you.

The FBI director called her handling of e-mails on a private server, quote, "extremely careless." Can Hillary Clinton overcome the trust problems that she has with so many voters? We'll ask Vice President Joe Biden what he thinks coming up.


TAPPER: Welcome back. THE SITUATION ROOM will start in a moment. But first we want to bring you this.

[17:00:57] Orlando, San Bernardino, Charleston, Ft. Hood and now Dallas. President Obama, by our count, will make his 11th visit to a city tragically affected by gun violence tomorrow when he touches down in Texas. This is the latest occasion where the commander-in-chief has had to parachute into a community still grief-stricken by unexplainable loss. And that loss tasks whether this nation is truly united.

Vice President Joe Biden will also address crowds in Dallas. He has testified time and time again, the pain too fresh and too raw for most anyone to bear. After those five police officers were gunned down last week, Vice President Biden said that tragedy touched the soul of our nation and that it's everyone to speak up both for police and for the communities that feel victimized by police.

And Vice President Biden joins me now live. Mr. Vice President, good to see you, as always. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us.


TAPPER: So Mr. Vice President, you just came from a closed-door meeting with law enforcement officials. You've had a long, long relationship with police. You authored the 1994 crime bill that put 100,000 new cops on the beat.

As I'm sure you know, there are some police officers out there who don't feel that President Obama is the ally to them that you are. Some of them say that they feel President Obama has sided against them in various disputes. Did you hear any of that today? And what is your message to those police who have these concerns?

BIDEN: Well, first of all, you're right, Jake. I've known these organizations and individuals who have run them for years and years and years. They're my personal friends as well as we've worked together.

The president asked each of the organizations, fellows, "What do you think?" And they happened to be all men. "Fellows, what do you think I'm not doing? What have you not heard me say?"

And there were two organizations that listed things that they thought he wasn't sensitive enough on and leaning forward enough. But there are also three organizations that said, "Mr. President, I think you're doing it -- I think you're doing it just right."

And here's the point the president made and you reinforced that I said. There's nothing inconsistent with supporting the police and acknowledging the problems that exist in terms of dealing with the communities that, in fact, are feeling put upon. And they're not inconsistent. And the president talked about it, as did three of the leaders of

three of the organizations, of the need for police organizations to say, "I understand why you're concerned in the community, and we are -- we have to be more responsive. As long as you understand that we're doing a job, and the vast majority of us do it extremely well."

That was the nature of the debate, of the discussion. And they went through things that they needed from us they wanted some help on. And they wanted some help on and went beyond verbiage and verbal support and went to money for helping them train.

A police research organization pointed out some police departments get 10 hours of training, and others get 100 hours of training. They said we needed more clarity in terms of how to train forces, like we do the military, on de-escalation.

They talked about, they did raise whether or not they needed more equipment in the so-called 1033 program, you know, the equipment from the military. The president said, "I'll go back and relook at that and see if there's anything you're not getting you should be getting. I'm open to discussion."

But it was a really constructive meeting, and I agree that, with the president designating me, that I would be meeting with them again within the next two weeks with a specific agenda, to go over their lists and also bring in outside concerns of the community as to what isn't, what they're not doing well enough. So I'm feeling good about the direction this is going.

TAPPER: It sounds like a candid meeting, that these two police groups were forthright with some of the concerns...

BIDEN: They did. They were.

TAPPER: ... they had about things that President Obama said. What specifically were they concerned about? And how did the president respond?

BIDEN: The president responded by pointing out, which I don't think they -- they heard loudly and clearly, that he, in fact, has repeatedly been supportive of the police organizations. He talked about it, he gave a list. He said, "I'll be happy to send you all these statements that I have made."

And he said, "But you also have to recognize that there is -- there is still institutional discrimination that doesn't just exist in policing. It exists in many other areas: hiring, housing, et cetera. And you guys."

So then they started talking and said, "Well, maybe we law enforcement organizations should reach out and say, "Look, we understand why you may be concerned about how we deal with you. But here's -- let's have a conversation. Tell us what it is specifically," et cetera.

So it was a real -- it's an overused Washington word. There was real dialogue in there. And so I agreed to sit with them, with the specific agenda that they make up over the next ten days, and begin to go through it as to how and bring in the community, as well. To begin to work through, like I did over the years in the past, in writing a cops bill in the first place. Very specifically how to reach out to the communities and how to reach out to law enforcement, as well. The first time I've ever heard police organizations say, "My guys are frightened. My guys are scared."

TAPPER: Yes. Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani talking about the community that you were just talking about. Said that the Black Lives Matter movement is, in Mayor Giuliani's view, quote, "inherently racist," and he said that some of the methods of the group enables the kind of horrific tragedy we saw in Dallas. What do you think? He is obviously speaking for himself. But there are a number of conservatives out there who share that view.

BIDEN: Look what the president said when the Black Lives Matter people in one demonstration said, you know, kill the police. The sooner the better or some phrase like that. The president condemned it immediately. But that's not -- that's not the black community. That's not the community -- that group, that element of Black Lives Matter doesn't speak for all of Black Lives Matter and does not -- does not speak for those folks in the black community, both middle class and poor, who know they are more likely to be pulled over than the Caucasian guy.

They know that, in many cases, they are -- they are the focus of the police, as opposed to other communities. And so it is just a very broad statement. There are some people in Black Lives Matter who don't want to talk and have dialogue and others who do.

But to make it sound like it's the NAACP or it's a major African- American organization, it is an umbrella of all kinds of people who feel like there is discrimination that exists in some police departments, in some neighborhoods; and they want to talk about it and they want to deal with it.

TAPPER: What do you say to members of the African-American community who have been through this type of thing before? There is a horrific event, and the vice president or the president come out of meeting with police leaders, meeting with community leaders, talked about how things are going to be improved, and then their lives continue to be the way that they are.

Mr. Castile, the gentleman who was shot in Minnesota last week, I read a report that said he had been pulled over something like 50 times before the incident in which he was killed. These are members of the community who feel harassed, and they feel like it's never going to change. What do you say to them?

BIDEN: Well, what I say is we're just going to keep at it. You saw what happened in Ferguson. Two things: the -- the civil rights investigation and the investigation in the state of Missouri said that the shooting was justified.

But they also pointed out that police department was racist. That they funded the police department by constantly pulling over and ticketing African-Americans in the community to help fund the police department, and that stopped. So look, this is a very time-consuming difficult important process.

But the most important thing for both the police to know, as well as in my view, the community to know, is we are relentlessly trying to move forward to bring those community together. And one of the ways to do that, Jake, is to go back to community policing.

You know, we have significantly and on a relative basis cut funding for local law enforcement. The end result is community policing, meaning cops getting out of the car, knowing the kid on the block, knowing who owns the local grocery store, going to the church, the local church and being there on Sundays et cetera. That has -- that's resource intense. And we can't convince our friends up on the Hill, and we've constantly tried to get more money for police departments to be able to go in and do that with the communities. Hopefully, this will change.

TAPPER: All right. The Democratic convention kicks off in a couple of weeks. Just a few days ago FBI director James Comey said that your presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, was extremely careless in her handling of classified information.

A poll out today says a majority of the country disapprove of the FBI director recommending not to charge her. And 57 percent of the country says the incident makes them worried about how she might act as president. Will a majority of Americans vote for someone that they seem so suspicious of right now?

BIDEN: I think they will, because I believe what's going to happen over this campaign is the straightforwardness and honesty of her campaign as to what she would do for them. Look, here's the measure I think the folks are going to apply.

Look at Donald Trump and what he's saying and ask yourself, is it believable? Does he know what he's talking about? Will it solve any of my problems? And look at what she has to say, what she's proposing, and the honesty of her proposal and her willingness to deliver on them. I think that's going to be the determination. That's the best way to deal with the perception that I think that exists now. That is the best way to deal with it, is say what you believe, lay out what you're going to do. Demonstrate you mean it, and I think it's going to be very hard for her opponent to do that.

TAPPER: Mr. Vice President, I have to say, I'm old enough to remember the 1988 presidential primary race when you left after far less serious allegations than putting national security information at risk.

BIDEN: Well, there are two good pieces of news about that, Jake. One is that it is clear I didn't do what I was accused of doing.

And secondly, it was a time when the Supreme Court hearing for the Bork nomination was this play, and I had to make a choice. Do I go out to Iowa and all the primary states and defend myself and fight my way back, as friends like Arlen Specter and others suggested I do? Or do I stay and deal with -- I didn't want to be an asterisk in history, saying, "Biden went out to save his -- to save the nomination, preserve the nomination, and in the meantime, Judge Bork is on the court."

I just asked people who shared my point of view. Imagine it would be if he was a good, decent man personally, if Judge Bork were on the court right now.

TAPPER: But I guess my point is, you left for something far less serious than this charge again the nominee. It must confuse you in some ways.

BIDEN: Well, it's just that I felt there was something more important than my candidacy that I had to take care of, my responsibility as the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

TAPPER: All right. Vice President Joe Biden, I'm being given the hook right now. We always -- we always welcome you. Thanks so much for joining us.

BIDEN: Thanks, Jake, for having me. I appreciate it.

TAPPER: That's it for "THE LEAD." I'm Jake Tapper turning you over to Wolf Blitzer. He's been patient. He's sitting in THE SITUATION ROOM.