Return to Transcripts main page

INSIDE POLITICS

Jury Deadlocked in Bill Cosby's Criminal Trial; Show of Unity by GOP and Democrats After Attack; Sanford: Trump Partly to Blame for "Demons Unleashed"; Ball Park Shooter Filled Facebook Page With Threats; Congressional Ball Game to Go On Despite Attack; Interview with Rep. Chuck Fleischmann. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 15, 2017 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:30:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: -- when this all played out. Take us inside. What happened?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We got the directive that you just need to go into the courtroom. So we did know what was going to happen, then we heard it was a question. But still it was strange and we got in the courtroom.

I saw the jurors file in. They were serious. They were focused. Completely different demeanor from the trial as I have seen during deliberation. But one male juror had his hands crossed as he walked in just sort of defiantly.

There was another juror that I felt had a little smile on the face, just a small one. They sat down and the judge says I do understand that you cannot reach a unanimous decision on any count. And remember there are three counts here of aggravated indecent assault.

So the judge read them what is known traditionally as the Allen charge saying to go back in, you have a duty. I looked at both sides, defense and prosecution, completely serious. Andrea Constand was in that courtroom as she has been for all of the questions they've had. She shows no outward emotion at all. Keeps everything in.

But the thing that was very interesting was before the jurors even came in, for the first time ever, I saw the lead counsel for the defense, Brian McMonagle walk over to Bill Cosby, sit down very close to him and literally whispered in his ear. I've never seen that during this trial. And it was extremely serious.

At the end he patted him on the back. Bill Cosby was not smiling, but obviously the attorneys knew they had just come from the judge's chambers. They knew exactly what was about to happen in that courtroom. John?

KING: And Jean, did the judge give any indication of sending them back in for the rest of today to try? Is there a point at which the judge gives any indication of when he's done?

CASAREZ: It's really a good question because when the jury left, and they are deliberating right now, they've been deliberating for about an hour since they told the judge they could not reach a unanimous verdict,. I heard the judge say to the attorneys, I'm not going to set a time limit on this. That means that he's going to allow them to deliberate as long as they want and they could come back in with another note.

KING: With more questions then. Am I right? Six questions so far?

CASAREZ: Six questions so far. Read back of testimony on all except one question of law.

KING: Jean Casarez for us, live outside the courthouse. Jean, keep in touch as the dramatic developments unfold. Appreciated it very much.

Up next, Republicans and Democrats in Congress united in the wake of this tragic shooting, but can it last?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:36:42] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And Steve in his own way may have brought some unity to our long divide 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The president of the United States at the White House earlier today hoping some unity can come after the horrible shooting yesterday at a baseball field just outside of the Capitol. House Republicans also dealing with the fall of that shooting. They had an emotional meeting this morning opening with a prayer and receiving an update from the sergeant at arms about, among other things, security for tonight's baseball charity game. There's still a sense of sadness and shock here as lawmakers and the White House congressional community try to make sense of a senseless act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: We are united. We are united in our shock. We are united in our anguish. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That unity theme very easy to find this day after as both Republicans and Democrats promise to think twice before escalating their words when debating policy differences.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TIM RYAN (D), OHIO: Well, you know, it kind of cut through all the nonsense we talk about every day and the rhetoric we deal with every single day and it became very, very human seeing them later in a suit and tie on the House floor. There was nothing left to do but give them a hug because there was nothing you could really say that would be adequately deal with the situation.

REP. PATRICK MEEHAN (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Some of the rhetoric that's taking place out there in the political environment is just too vitriolic. And this is a kind of an example in which we sort of give everybody a chance to step back and say, wait a second, maybe there's a better way for us to do this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: There's no doubt the shock is genuine. Also no doubt the talk of being more respectful is genuine. But it will be wrong not to note, we've seen this shock and heard this talk before. Flashback here, six years just after Democratic Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot back home in Arizona.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serves. Such acts of violence have no place in our society.

REP. FREDERICK UPTON (R), MICHIGAN: A lot of us do reach out to the other side and vice versa. And if anything I think this tragic event will put a stronger grip on our relationships on both sides of the aisle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Is there a chance that this one will be different after the Capitol Hill shooting? We heard talk like this after the Gabby Giffords shooting back home we heard talk like this. I was talking to the congressman earlier in the program. After 9/11, we had genuine throughout the country a talk like this. But then some time pass, some intervening events happened and everybody went back to their ways.

Will this be different?

KELSEY SNELL, THE WASHINGTON POST: I spoke to Senator Chris Murphy yesterday and he as an outspoken critic of the nation's gun policies. He was saying that he thinks we are beyond the point where Washington responds to these shootings with any real need to change. He thinks that is -- we've seen so much of it at this point that people will be upset, people will come together, but that is not really changing anybody's minds.

[12:40:00] KING: But often in the past we've lapsed into, you know, the debate about gun control. First reactions (inaudible) I don't question at all the genuineness of the belief of the politicians saying, yes we need to change our gun laws. And you have the Republicans run in Congress and even in the wake of this, even though Republicans are targeted, I don't think anybody here thinks we're going to have any passage of gun control. But normally some policy fight, policy divide comes front and center.

What about the question of respect? You do hear it, again it's very genuine the day after, it was very genuine yesterday that maybe we should talk, get to know each other better. The baseball game is one of the few events left -- Dan and I are old enough to remember Washington a little bit different. Where they did socialize more, Democrats and Republicans. They knew their spouses, they knew more of their kids.

This baseball game is one of the last events left where you actually have Democrats and Republicans, you know, sharing a joke for a good cause, sharing a beer for a good cause. Will we get more of that?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, THE FEDERALIST: Well, that's part of what made this attack even more horrific and symbolic in that way because it was attacking this moment where people do come together. Look, I do not think that there's going to be great comity after this. Because after the couple of days of honest grieving there is a real cynical strain in this to fit in whatever policy prescription you care for and pick whatever villain works for you and to ride those hobby horses to town.

And I think -- look, conservatives yesterday I was saying I think it's problematic when we get into this rhetoric leads and it will lead to violence because what you do is you pick the rhetoric you don't like and say you can't say these things anymore. I think conservatives are very rightfully angry about what happened after the Giffords shooting where it was blamed without evidence on Palin's electoral map and electoral speech when it had nothing to do with that. New York Times perpetuated that lie yesterday or in an editorial today.

But I still think and I caution speech, political speech is valued in this country. We have a lot of leeway. Incitement is a real thing but speech is not inevitably lead to violence. And if you start making those conclusions all the time about those speech you don't like, that's a bad road to walk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is something you said about rushing down the rhetoric.

HAM: Yes, look, I'm an advocate for that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just think that the conclusion can be a little problematic sometimes.

KING: But one of the issues -- the issue of that when you have the conclusion is that people are, a, looking into their prism of politics, but b, always looking in the rearview mirror. Congressman Steve King, Republican of Iowa did a radio interview in which he blamed Barack Obama. He said Barack -- President Obama divided the country, (inaudible) to this and he said, I think some of these is the fruits of that labor. Laying some of it at the feet of the past president. That's one Republican congressman.

Now here's Mark Sanford saying, you know what, I think President Trump shares some of the blame.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I would argue that the president is at least is partially, again, not in any way totally, but partially to blame for demons that have been unleashed, whether it's what I saw at a senior center back home and people saying f you, and f you and f you to each other. And at a retirement center where they can see each other playing croquet the next day. Or with what happened -- again, not with what happened yesterday but the fact -- you know, you've got the top guy saying, well, I wish I could hit you in the face, (inaudible) and I'll pay your legal fees, that's bizarre. We ought to call it as such.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I don't think anybody can forget whatever grievance they have about something that happened last week, last month, the last campaign, the last president. Is there a way for these guys to let guys leading the political discourse and put that in a box and put that away and (inaudible) borrow Al Gore's lock box and put that away and start fresh looking out the windshield, or is the rearview mirror always inevitably the trip wire?

HAM: I attempt to everyday but I think the competitions we're going to have now is well, your rhetoric is worst. That's the competition we're going to have now. And I just think it leads us down a bad road.

(OFF-MIC)

DAN BALZ, THE WASHINGTON POST: There is a level of disrespect that exists today that didn't exist in the past. And whether it's here in this Capitol or here in the capital city or around the country. I mean, we see it in a variety of ways. One thing we know is that people view the opposition in much more negative and in many ways personal ways than they used to. And that's -- I mean, that took us years to get to that point. It will take years to pull back from that.

An event like this reminds people of some of the commonalities we have, whichever side of the spectrum we're on. But the other aspect of it is when you go to the specific policies, Republicans want their agenda. Democrats want their agenda. And there is at this point very little space in the middle to compromise those two agendas.

So when you get back to these fights it's kind of an all or nothing. And that perpetuates the idea that somebody is a villain.

KING: Somebody is mean, somebody is evil and then it escalates from there. Thanks everybody for coming in. I want to move now.

Today, investigators trying to piece together the portrait of a gunman (inaudible) deciphering how James Hodgkinson went from an angry man, disillusion with politics, to someone willing to massacre congressmen in cold blood. The would be assassin filled his Facebook page with threatening post targeting President Trump. Quote, Trump is a traitor. Trump has destroyed our democracy. It's time to destroy Trump and company.

The Secret Service spokesman told CNN yesterday, the shooter's post did not rise to any level that would put him on the agency's radar.

[12:45:01] Our CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Tom Fuentes joining us now. Tom, the challenge now -- and this shooter is dead so nobody can interview him. What can investigators do hopefully to crack cases down the road to retrace the last few weeks, the last few months to figure out how did he go from an angry frustrated citizen, there are many of those, to someone who was willing to take a firearm, come to Washington, D.C., and target congressmen?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: John, that's a huge part of the investigation right now is to determine, you know, the evolution of his mindset if they can figure it out to what led to him shooting yesterday. And the problem is, you know, at what level do his friends, neighbors, colleagues, have a clue that he might do this in addition to the postings, to corroborate the postings on social media, or is this all in his head in which case law enforcement is not in a position to read his mind. So they look at -- and especially at secret service, they look at thousands of these on a regular basis and they have to evaluate on the continuum at what point does this go to where it crosses the line of they need to send agents out to find this person and talk to them.

And then even then if all he's doing is rhetoric like this and not being specific as to a plot, there's only so much they can do with that. So that's where the problem is going to come in as they're looking -- they're going to be looking for what might have been missed that could have been done, that wasn't done. But they may not even find that for sure.

KING: And so help the laymen out there who's learning about this gentleman, the shooter who tried to kill congressmen. Calling him a gentleman, that's the way I was raise but he pulled a gun on a congressman and staffers and tried to kill them. He had multiple scrapes with police. He broke into a neighbor's home in the past. He was arrested for domestic battery and arrested for firing his gun apparently in the direction of neighbor's houses.

That's his public record of dealings and, you know, crossings with law enforcement. Then you have all the social media posting, things that are publicly available. Some people would say why weren't those dots connected enough to get him on somebody's radar screen? But is that enough?

FUENTES: I don't think so. At this point, we may learn more that it should have been. But, so far what you're looking at is all of these altercations that he had with family members, neighbors and the police, at no point did he ever get convicted of a felony which would deny him the ability to purchase and own these weapons legally. He didn't get to that point.

And then the issue here is you have all these family members, apparently a daughter pulled out of the house by her hair, another friend hit with the butt of a gun across his face, shooting, you know, in his back yard where the police get called because the neighbors are disturbed. But no one puts that together with apparently with the Facebook postings and social media postings and then contacts law enforcement and says, you know, I'm worried about him. Especially if they knew that he had moved to the Washington, D.C. Metro area which would put him in proximity with a lot of people such as what happened yesterday, the Republicans practicing their baseball team.

So I think that at some point we have to see, you know, if someone should have known enough or knew enough about these threats that they should have called the authorities and then they could deal with t. But up until now I don't see it yet. It may come up in the investigation. We haven't seen it yet.

KING: Tom Fuentes, appreciate your insights as that investigation continues. We know they're still scouring the crime scene today. They're back in Illinois talking to family and friends. Tom, appreciate your insights.

Up next, it's a century old tradition but tonight's congressional baseball game is perhaps the most meaningful and hopefully unifying we've ever seen.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:51:32] KING: Welcome back. Two words to take on extra special meaning tonight. Play ball. It's a rallying cry today for the whole of Washington and I hope the country as lawmakers get ready to lace them up in today's congressional baseball game just one day after a deranged gunman nearly massacred Republicans in the middle of an early morning practice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ROGER WILLIAMS (R), TEXAS: We need to play this game. It's baseball. It's America. And when America gets punched, America punches back and we'll do that tonight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Joining me now, one of the congressman who'll be on the field even though he was injured yesterday. Chuck Fleischmann from Tennessee. Congressman, appreciate you being here today. Are you doing all right?

REP. CHUCK FLEISCHMANN (R), TENNESSEE: Doing OK. Thank God, my injuries are slight compared to some of the injuries that the folks who would have been shot received. And my good friend Roger Williams broke his ankle diving for cover from the shooter. But we're going to play tonight for America and for baseball and for unity and for all the right reasons.

KING: And for Whip Scalise, who I think if we could (inaudible) and go ahead with this ball game.

FLEISCHMANN: He would. Steve Scalise is a dear friend, he's a great American, he loves baseball. He's a talented player. And you're right, he would say, go ahead and play this game and give it your best. KING: What's gone through your mind in the last 24 hours? This was a man who clearly had anti-Republican leanings. He had put them on social media. We don't know what send him over the line. But what's going to your mind when you're thinking about this kind of animosity, this kind of hatred that you're having an early morning practice? Throwing baseball around, it's the most all Americans you can get.

FLEISCHMANN: John, it was a routine practice. This was something that I've done for the last seven years during baseball season. We don't even have protesters come to our practice. People come up and see us, they're always very nice. It's so sad that someone would take violence into their own hands, open fire on innocent people where children are there, people coming from all over the country to see us and be with us and support us. It's so sad.

When you can't be safe at a baseball field in America, something is wrong. This is clearly a deranged individual. Thank God for the Capitol Police. They did an excellent job. They saved our lives.

KING: Amen. I want us to talk mostly about tonight, your thoughts on tonight. But just take me back for a minute yesterday just having -- once the adrenaline gets out of your system, maybe you're talking to your other teammates who were there, have pieces of this puzzle come together in a way that's different today or you just --

FLEISCHMANN: I'm very thankful today. I realize how close I came probably for the first time in my life to actually being shot and killed. I've never experienced live and active gunfire like that. But I was just very fortunate that this gunman, who was very close to me, didn't choose to shoot me. And that could have happened.

Again, the Capitol Police kept us as safe as they could. Two of them were injured. But today I realize it's great to be an American. We still live in the greatest nation that the world has ever seen. And our freedoms and our traditions, baseball, our bill of rights. We can't let the bad guys win. And I think that's a theme that I have heard from Republicans and Democrats alike.

And despite the level of the rhetoric, long before there were Republicans and Democrats, there were wigs, there were other political parties. There's been divisiveness in our country before. But our core principles are still there, are still great. And I just hope and pray for a brighter day for America in the future.

[12:55:01] KING: You mentioned historically the bickering and the argument. What do you think is different now that maybe brings more of this? There's been political violence, we can go way back pre- social media, pre-television, pre-radio. Political violence is as old as the republic or as old as any other forms of government as well. But what do you think is different now?

FLEISCHMANN: I think now largely because of the technology and the 24-hour news cycle which has had tremendous benefits. I remember as a kid growing up, I would wait to see Walter Cronkite at night on the news and that was it or maybe in the morning. Now it's 24/7 and that's had a lot of benefits. But I think the fact that there is so much coverage from so many sources and that some people in America, whether in the entertainment business, in other businesses, tend to be a lot more vitriolic in their speech and what we have got to do as Americans.

And I think as elected leaders is say, we cannot have violence. That cannot be part of the equation. We have got to have vigorous debate. Our founding fathers had it. We need to have that for the benefit of the people. But violence can never be part of that equation.

KING: Your friend Steve Scalise loved this game.

FLEISCHMANN: Yes.

KING: And I say this with all respect and as a compliment. He's a bit of a clown. He likes to play around. He has fun, he has spice. He teases the Republicans as well as he teases more of the Democrats.

He can't be there tonight. You're going to be there. Tell me about the game and why it matters more. It's an amazing cause. It raises great money for D.C.-based charities. But what else is it about tonight?

FLEISCHMANN: It's about telling the American people that despite our differences as Republicans and Democrats, we are all Americans first and foremost. That our heart goes out. We have great values as American people. Our heart goes out to Representative Scalise, to all who were shot, to all who were injured.

But I want to bring a theme of optimism. One of the reasons I ran for office in 2010 was because I felt the country was going in the wrong direction. I want to see our optimism come back as a nation. I had a meeting with Democrats just a few weeks ago, Republicans and Democrats came together on a topic, North Korea and it was amazing.

When I saw the will power, the brain power that we had at that table, working in one direction, it was amazing. When we come together as Americans, nothing can stop us. So my message for tonight is God bless America, God bless baseball, God bless the injured, but let's hope and pray for brighter days.

KING: Amen to that. Congressman, appreciate your time today. If you see the congressman on the field tonight. He'll have a hat saluting some African-Americans back home and predominantly (inaudible) back home that's back on the field playing baseball. Amen to that as well.

Thanks for joining us on the Inside Politics. After a quick break, Wolf Blitzer takes over our special coverage. Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1 p.m. here in Washington, wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us. We're following two major stories right now.

First, sources tell CNN --