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Tonight: Congress Plays Baseball Game Despite Attack; Shooter Posted Anti-Trump Rants On Facebook; Ex-Mayor: "Loner" Shooter Spent Weeks At YMCA; "Washington Post": Mueller Investigating Trump For Possible Obstruction Of Justice; Trump Speaks After Visiting Scalise In Hospital. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired June 15, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan live in our nation's capital today. Any moment now, we are expecting to hear from president Trump from the White House. Of course, as two major stories are unfolding here in Washington.
First, a possible major development in the Russia investigation. The "Washington Post" reporting that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating President Trump for possible obstruction of justice after firing FBI Director James Comey, and the president is not happy about it, lashing out on Twitter a short time ago. We're going to have much more on that in just a moment.
But first, all of this is happening just 24 hours after the shocking attack on Republican lawmakers as they were practicing for a charity baseball game, a baseball game that will still go on tonight.
House GOP Whip Steve Scalise remains in critical condition this morning after a day of surgery for his gunshot wounds that he suffered. And we are now learning more about the gunman who was killed by law enforcement after that horrific attack.
Let's begin with CNN's Boris Sanchez. He is live at Nationals Park where the game will go on. So Boris, what are you seeing there? What do you know this morning?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Kate. Good morning. We are waiting for an update on the condition of Steve Scalise. As you said, he is in critical condition. We understand he had at least one more surgery to go through, but we don't know exactly how he's doing. You'll remember, he was shot in the pelvis, had serious internal bleeding.
From what we understand, congressional leaders have asked that people give his family privacy at this point. Here at Nationals Park, there is an expanded law enforcement presence. We understand that several streets are going to be cleared and closed before the game today with expanded security.
As you mentioned, there was a question as to whether or not this game would even be played today, but House Speaker Paul Ryan came out yesterday and said that it was something that Steve would have wanted us to do. And the hope is that Scalise will be able to watch the game from his hospital room.
It all goes to a good cause. Several charities are benefiting, including one that was added yesterday, the Fallen Officers Fund, which supports the families of officers that are killed in the line of duty, that as we wait to learn more about the condition of those two Capitol Police officers that were hurt in yesterday's attack.
All of this going on as we're hearing more and more details from those congressmen that were at the practice yesterday. Just a few moments ago, Representative Roger Williams spoke out and told us how emotional the moment was for him. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPRESENTATIVE ROGER WILLIAMS (R), DOVE INTO DUGOUT DURING SHOOTING, AIDE WOUNDED: Look it, there was a lot of heroes. And the other thing about that dugout, we had older guys like me in that dugout, and we had 10-year-old Jack Barton in that dugout, generations. We all bonded, so. But it's going to be a good night tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Yes, he mentioned Joe Barton, Representative Joe Barton's sons. Barton is actually the manager of the Republicans. He along with Mike Doyle, his counterpart on the Democratic team, actually took both clubs out to dinner last night to talk about how to bridge the partisan divide and to reflect on their friend, Steve -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Yes, Joe Barton understandably emotional. Everyone emotional who had to live through that yesterday and the game will go on tonight. Boris, thank you so much. We really appreciate it.
Let's turn now to the latest on the shooting investigation itself and the man responsible for this. CNN's Alex Marquardt is in Alexandria at the shooting scene near that baseball field right there. Alex, the FBI just this morning was asking for patience in a message on Twitter. Where do things stand right now?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, asking for the public support in learning more about James Hodgkinson, the attacker. We'll get to that in a second, but I want to point out that it's been relatively quiet here this afternoon.
We haven't seen much of a security presence, but in the last few moments as we're coming on air, a team from the FBI has shown up and I ask my cameraman to pan over there. They're eight agents from the evidence response team.
They are combing the perimeter of this baseball field. You can see several of them crouching down there, looking in the grass, really combing through it, looking, we assume, for more evidence from yesterday's attack.
We'll try to get a sense of what exactly they are looking for. Out here we have the FBI leading the investigation in conjunction with local law enforcement as well as other agencies like the ATF, but the FBI is very much leading it.
This is a federal investigation now because it was Congress people, members of Congress, who had been targeted. We are learning more about James Hodgkinson, the 66-year-old attacker from Belleville, Illinois, including his past brushes with the law.
In 2006, he was arrested after getting into a violent fight with his daughter and her boyfriend. He faced multiple charges, including two counts of domestic battery, aggravated discharge of a firearm, as well as criminally damaging a vehicle.
And then in March of this year, the police were called because he was firing a hunting rifle into a tree. The police essentially let him off with a slap on the wrist, but that month, March, is when he arrived here in Alexandria, Virginia.
[11:05:11]We're also uncovering a number of disturbing anti- Republican, anti-Trump social media rants, including one from March that said "Trump is a traitor, Trump has destroyed our democracy, it's time to destroy Trump and company" -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Those taking on a completely different meaning, obviously, now in light of all this. Alex, thank you so much. Fascinating to see the FBI back on the scene right behind Alex there.
Joining me now to discuss and reflect on all of this is Florida Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis, a member of the Republican Congressional baseball team. He was there yesterday. You spoke along with Jeff Duncan. You both left early from the practice. You spoke with the man -- are you sure now that it was him?
REPRESENTATIVE RON DESANTIS (R), ESCAPED ATTACK, SPOKE TO SHOOTER: Yes, we are sure. And I was at third base, Jeff was at second. I'm throwing balls to Scalise.
DESANTIS: He's turning double plays as guys are hitting balls to us. We felt like we had a good workout in. We said hey, if we get on the road a little early, we can beat traffic back to D.C., so Jeff and I decided to do that. We got into his vehicle and an individual approached us and asked, hey, are those Republicans or Democrats out there? Jeff said, they're Republicans.
BOLDUAN: Did he have a reaction?
DESANTIS: He just kind of nodded and then turned and kind of went towards the field. It was a little odd. You thought about it for like, you know, 30 seconds. Then we pulled away and then kind of went back to the capitol.
But as soon as the news hit that there was a shooting, Jeff and I both said, hey, we've got to report this guy. We didn't know it was the shooter, but as soon as they identified him and showed his picture -- and I wouldn't be able to do a composite sketch for you, but once you see it, Jeff, me, Jeff's aide, we all said 100 percent, that's him.
BOLDUAN: As you mentioned, you were on third base. As we all know what a baseball field looks like, Steve Scalise is at second base. You're at third base. The shooter was outside the third base dugout. You were closer.
DESANTIS: I had a number of guys tell me, it was a good thing you left a few minutes early because you would have been fried toast. I would have been number one in the line of fire. But also just the fact --
BOLDUAN: Have you allowed that -- I almost wouldn't allow the thoughts to go -- have you allowed that to kind of sink in?
DESANTIS: Well, I don't think it has. But Jeff reminded me, he would have had a better shot of us in the car. I mean, if he was there to kill some of us, we were point blank. We had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. And I don't know that he had his rifle on him at the time. I only saw him from the chest up.
He could have only had a pistol on him, but he could have easily gotten rid of three of us very quickly. Why he decided not to start there, we don't know, but it is what it is. I'm obviously thankful that I didn't get shot.
BOLDUAN: Has a night's sleep changed anything? What does it feel like today after a night's sleep?
DESANTIS: I don't think it's totally changed. I think a lot of us -- our thoughts and prayers are with the folks that are fighting, I mean, Steve, you know. These guys, we want them to pull through. The Capitol Police, we're thankful for what they did.
Had they not been there -- had Steve Scalise just decided I'm going to sleep in this morning, I'm not going to go to practice, you'd have 15 members of Congress with zero protection. That glove -- I can stop a line drive or a ground ball. Bullets are not going to be stopped by a baseball glove.
So we would have been defenseless, and I think it would have gotten really ugly. So, I think a lot of us are obviously praying for Steve, we're praying for the others, but we're also kind of thankful that it really could have been a lot worse than what it ended up.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely, you can almost assure it would have been a lot worse if the Capitol Police hadn't been there. The game goes on tonight. What's that going to be like for you?
DESANTIS: Well, I think it's good. It's going to be sad that Steve's not there.
DESANTIS: Any member who played, he was probably the most gung ho about it. I have a baseball background through college. He'd always tell me, Ron, we need you to come out, so I came out this year and he'd see me on the House floor --
BOLDUAN: He wanted you to play.
DESANTIS: -- you're ripping it in BP, so it will be hard not having him there, but it's going to be fun. We can raise at least $650,000 for charity and we think there's more money coming in because of what happened. Wouldn't it be great if we raised a million dollars?
DESANTIS: Having had a really good night.
BOLDUAN: The conversation of course is now what brought this about. There's no way to know for sure, of course. Do you think one party -- everyone's talking about the rhetoric in Washington. Do you think one party is more to blame for where things are right now?
DESANTIS: I don't think that because I hate when people impute things to me because they find someone who may have a view, so I try not to impute that to other people. I'm not going to blame a random Democrat because this guy did what he did even though he had left-wing views.
But I would say that there is some nastiness out there I have not seen before. I mean, yesterday I get a call to my office after this happened. One of my constituents was pleased with what happened and wanted President Trump to be next.
BOLDUAN: That was just yesterday.
DESANTIS: That was yesterday. Another one of my colleagues had a constituent e-mail in and say that's one congressman down, 217 more to go. So you know, that is just the level of nastiness. And I don't think it's being driven by politicians in Washington, I think it's kind of bottom-up, and there's just a lot of nastiness out there.
But here's the thing, politics is not a religion. Politics is a part of our life. It should not consume our lives.
[11:10:00]I don't care if you're right, left, when politics consumes your life and becomes kind of your only fighting faith, I think it becomes more nasty than to understand that, you know what, we may disagree about the role of government, about you know, how much you spend on -- those are important issues. Let's fight it out, but ultimately, that cannot define all of us as human beings.
BOLDUAN: Leave it on the field, if you like, if you want to put it that way.
DESANTIS: Yes. Thanks for having me.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, great seeing you. Thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it. We'll be watching you tonight take the field with your colleagues.
We are also following more major breaking news this morning. President Trump is lashing out at Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his expanding investigation now. The "Washington Post" has a huge report out today, reporting that Mueller is now investigating the president for possible obstruction of justice.
This comes as CNN learns that Mueller will interview top intelligence officials as early as this week as part of the probe. That was likely to include Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers.
This morning the president not staying quiet about this, issuing this statement on Twitter -- a couple statements. The first one -- "they made up a phony collusion with the Russian story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice."
Then also this -- "You are witnessing the single greatest witch hunt in American political history led by some very bad and conflicted people."
Let me bring in right now CNN's crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz. So Shimon, this report from the "Washington Post," this would be opening up a whole new chapter of this special counsel investigation. Where are things?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Yes, that's right, Kate. So, it would -- it's not something that's unexpected. You know, there's been a lot of talk, certainly, that Mueller would come in and look at this. It's something that the former FBI director, James Comey, wanted. Basically, this is the reason why he claims he released, leaked that memo.
So, right now, what we have learned, and basically, what CNN is reporting, is that Mueller has asked to at the very least in these early stages for some information from the NSA and from the DNI, the intelligence agency, for information about what conversations they may have had with the president about possible, some sort of interference, whether or not the president asked them to knock down some of these reports concerning Russia.
And also, Mueller wants information about their conversations they had with the president. We've also been told that at some point he intends to interview the heads of those agencies. That's Admiral Rogers and also Dan Coats, who both testified recently before the Hill where they refused to answer some of the questions.
And also, one of the other key things here is that there was a memo that was written by the deputy of the NSA who's now retired.
PROKUPECZ: Where he was asking, where he basically laid out some information about a conversation that the president had with Admiral Rogers, the head of the NSA. So, he's asking for all that information. It's not clear to us when he's going to get that or when he's actually going to conduct the interviews of the heads of these agencies, but clearly, this shows that this is the direction that the investigation is heading in. It's certainly of interest to Mueller. And early on, at least, right now seems to be the focus of his investigation.
BOLDUAN: All right. A lot of moving parts here. Shimon, great to see you. Thank you so much for the update.
We are going to be analyzing all of this this morning, including what it means that the president is reportedly now, this new development, under investigation, and what this means -- what that does to Mueller's fate. Is that now in jeopardy?
Plus, the father of the American student who was just freed by North Korea, he is speaking out for the very first time about his son's condition and his harsh words for how his son was treated. We'll be right back.
BOLDUAN: This morning, a potential bombshell in the Russia investigation. The "Washington Post" reporting Special Counsel Bob Mueller is now looking into obstruction of justice on the part of President Trump, and the president is already lashing out against that news.
Joining me now to discuss, CNN senior political analyst, Mark Preston is here, CNN legal analyst and Robert Mueller's former special assistant at the Justice Department, Michael Zeldin, and former FBI special agent and current associate dean at the Yale Law School, Asha Rangappa. All thank you so much for being here.
Michael, I had read earlier in the show what the president has said this morning about the news about possible obstruction of justice. You know what, I'm going to pause one second. Let's go to the White House where President Trump is speaking right now.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: -- it's been much more difficult than people even thought at the time. It's been -- he's in some trouble. He's a great fighter and he's going to be OK, we hope. I visited Steve and his family at the hospital last night, and I reassured them that the entire country is pulling for them, praying for them, and that we are here for them every single step of the way.
America's hearts, and we mean this in the truest sense, sends its love. We've got a lot of hearts in this country, great hearts, and they're all sending their love and support to the Scalise family. And Steve in his own way may have brought some unity to our long-divided country.
We've had a very, very divided country for many years, and I have a feeling that Steve has made a great sacrifice, but there could be some unity being brought to our country. Let's hope so.
While at the hospital, I also visited with Special Agent Crystal Griner, terrific young woman, of the Capitol Police, and her family. Crystal is one of the two Capitol Police officers who saved so many lives through her heroism, along with Special Agent David Bailey. They ran right into the fire.
They ran right into those guns and the bullets, and they saved a lot of lives. America salutes both of their courage. They have great, great courage. We all salute them.
[11:20:13]We also salute the men and women of the Alexandria Police Fire and Rescue, and all of the first responders. The timing and the speed and professionalism was incredible. They performed with bravery and with skill.
Finally, our heartfelt prayers go out to Matt Mika, who was badly wounded in the assault. To Matt's family, anything you need, we are here for you. Hopefully, Matt will be OK. In these difficult hours, it's more important than ever to help each other, care for each other, and remind each other that we are all united by our love of our great and beautiful country.
We're joined today by Secretary Acosta, Secretary Ross, and Administrator McMahon, as we prepare to make a historic announcement to train Americans for the jobs of the future. We have a lot of companies moving into this country. You see the unemployment rate is at a very, very low level.
Job enthusiasm and manufacturing, business enthusiasm is at record levels. Never been higher. A lot of good numbers are coming out, including almost $4 trillion in gain to the stock markets since the election, $4 trillion.
We just signed a big deal yesterday for hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of equipment and military equipment going to be made in this country, in our country, for other countries. We've got it going. We have to make sure the people are here and they're going to be well trained.
So, I want to thank my daughter, Ivanka, and her leadership. She has worked so hard on this. She understands how important it is. We're training people to have great jobs and high-paying jobs. And we're here today to celebrate the dignity of work.
It's really a good term, dignity of work, and the greatness of the American worker, which I've been celebrating for a long time. I probably wouldn't be here if it weren't for the American worker, and the American worker sees what's happening in Michigan and in Ohio and in a lot of places that we've had a huge impact on just in a short period of time that I've been here and this administration has been involved.
We have a lot of companies moving in, a lot of plants are going to be built. A lot of plants are being expanded. And big ones are going to be announced very soon. We're going to hear some very big names that I can't tell you about now. We want to get them signed on the dotted line. We don't want to talk too quickly.
Called sign them on the dotted line, right? In just a few moments, I'll be signing an executive order to expand apprenticeships and vocational training to help all Americans find a rewarding career, earn a great living, and support themselves and their families, and love going to work in the morning.
We will be removing federal restrictions that have prevented many different industries from creating apprenticeship programs. We have regulations on top of regulations. And in history, no one has gotten rid of so many regulations as the Trump administration, and that's one of the reasons that you see the jobs and the companies all kicking in so strongly.
I think some very good numbers are going to be announced, by the way, in the very near future as to GDP. So, we're empowering these companies, these unions, industry groups, federal agencies, to go out and create new apprenticeships for millions of our citizens.
Apprenticeships place students into great jobs without the crippling debt of traditional four-year college degrees. Instead, apprentices earn while they learn, which is an expression we're using, earn while you learn.
We're joined today by apprentices who know firsthand how these programs can bring new hope and new opportunities. We're also joined by some of the country's great governors, and I appreciate them very, very much for being here, for being here. We just had a meeting in the cabinet room.
Charles Robell is here with us from Wisconsin, where I just left, actually, yesterday. I was with Governor Walker. Charles is a three- time combat veteran who bravely served our nation, highly respected.
[11:25:10]After Charles came back from the war, he, like so many other Americans, faced very tough economic times. Charles began taking machine tool operation courses from a technical college. He immediately excelled. He was really, really good at it, they say. That's what they say. I haven't checked.
Where is Charles? Come here. Charles, they tell me. I haven't checked it. I want to check you out, but he immediately excelled. And by the end of his year-long apprenticeship, Charles will be making more than $60,000 a year and going up a lot higher than that and he loves what he does.
I think you really love it, correct? Yes, loves it. Charles, we thank you for your service to our country, both in the military and in exactly what you're doing right now, which is so important, and we congratulate you on this exciting, new career. And you're going to have some great future. Thank you, Charles. Appreciate it.
Each of the apprentices here today has their own story and their own dreams. That's what they are, dreams. Apprenticeships teach striving Americans the skills they need to operate incredible machines. And some of these machines are so intricate, so powerful, and, really, the word is, they are incredible.
This is not the old days. This is new and computerized and complicated, and you really have to know what you're doing. But they create amazing products, and to construct skyscrapers that touch the clouds. You look at the equipment today and just go back 10 years ago and 20 years ago, it's from a different world, from a different planet. It's incredible. I just met with the governors from many of the states to discuss how we can work with them to expand apprenticeships and the apprentice programs.
I'm also delighted to be here with CEOs of major companies who support our apprenticeship initiatives and we had a tremendous number of the biggest CEOs in the world here yesterday, and we talked about this also. And they're fully behind it.
Including our effort to help millions of talented, young, American women thrive and flourish in our economy. We are thrilled as well to have with us today Congressman Bobby Scott and Congresswoman Virginia Fox, who care so deeply about this effort. Thank you. Thank you.
The strength of our nation will be determined by our ability to keep jobs in America and we're going to keep them in America. You're not going to have companies fleeing like in the past. There's going to be a big price to pay for companies that want to leave, fire their workers, build a plant outside of this country, and think they're going to sell their product right back into the United States.
Going to be a big price to pay. But we want to keep jobs in America, and we want to train people and hire American workers to fill those jobs, and that's exactly what we're doing, and we're being -- we're really doing a job of it, and I just want to thank all of our secretaries and everybody involved in the process.
Not only will our apprentices transform their lives, but they will also transform our lives in the truest sense. Today's apprentices will construct the roads and bridges that move our citizens. They will bend the metal and steel that shape our cities, and they will pioneer the new technology that drives our commerce.
But as we train the next generation of Americans to do their jobs, all of us here today have to do our jobs. We have to join forces, join hands, and join together to restore the American dream for all of our people.
And one of the parts of the American dream is we are going to come down very, very hard, and we already have. You've seen what's going on the border. On this massive drug problem that we have in the United States and frankly that other countries have also.