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Air Force Mistake Allows Texas Shooter to Buy Guns; Gubernatorial Elections Test GOP's Embrace of Trump Message; Harvey Weinstein's Spy Network. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired November 7, 2017 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:31:45] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. You're watching CNN.
More on breaking news of this Texas church massacre. Today, we are learning this gunman escaped from a mental health facility. This is back in 2012. And of the multiple big questions, one of them is, how is this shooter, with a criminal military record, able to legally buy guns. Turns out, Air Force did not report to a national database that would stopped him. The Air Force and Pentagon now launching full reviews to find out how this happened.
With me now, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Corn, also a former military attorney.
Colonel, thank you so much for joining me today.
I know you have all the same questions we have, right, the fact that the shooter had no disqualifying information to prevent him from buying a gun, despite the two accounts for domestic violence and violence. And I understand all reviews under way, but how was the break down? How was this not reported?
LT. COL. GEOFFREY CORN, FORMER MILITARY ATTORNEY: Well, it seems to me that what is being exposed from the reporting we are seeing now is a consequence pf a lack of what a military commander would call unity of command or unity of effort. There are all sorts of players in the process of how this information gets transmitted from the military to the national criminal information system. And I think one thing that's going to be revealed by this review is that because there is not a very clear indication of who is supposed to do what and when they are supposed to do it, these convictions are falling through the cracks.
BALDWIN: I'm hearing you on a lack of what military commanders call unity of command. But if I may, is it fair to say someone screwed up? Someone screwed up?
CORN: Well, I mean obviously I think there is no question, and I think the Air Force has acknowledged this, this was a criminal conviction that should have been reported to the FBI. So, yes, mistake that was made. But I think the systemic issue is the issue we should be concerned about. We have the JAG officers that prepare the trial, we have base police or military police responsible for in putting data into the system. We have intake at the military prison that should provide a redundancy to input that information into the system. Then a piece of this that we are not really sure of yet is how these records are translated when they go into the FBI database, and is there some screening mechanism at that point that is dropping it off the system? And all of this needs to be looked at. I think you'll quickly see a directive from the secretary of defense indicating exactly how this is to be done and validated in the future.
BALDWIN: And I could add to our list what two Senators are proposing Democrat and Republican in a second.
But I don't know if you've paid attention to the developments. Now we have information from the El Paso Police Department this guy suffered from mental disorders. This is a direct quote. "And officers were advised he was a danger to himself and others," as he had, quote, "already been sneaking firearms onto Holloman Air Force Base."
How did --
BALDWIN: -- this man legally buys a gun, is my question?
[14:35:11] CORN: Well, we know how he legally bought the gun. He legally bought the gun because none of this background information was properly uploaded into the national database. And if the system --
BALDWIN: All the red flags though?
CORN: What's that?
BALDWIN: All the red flags from his past. It was properly reported.
CORN: That's right. The red flags should have been included into this database. If he was arrested by the military police authorities, the security police, when he attempted to bring these unlawful weapons or improper weapons on to the base, that should have been included in the database as well. So the point here is this is obviously a tragedy and it's a terrible tragedy. He should not have been able to buy these weapons. And I am familiar, your producers did tell me about this proposed legislation.
BALDWIN: Senator Flake -- let me tell everyone else -- Senator Flake and Senator Heinrich plan to introduce legislation closing the loophole that they say the shooter exploited that would require the military to report domestic violence convictions to the databases for gun background checks.
Go ahead, sir. Final thought.
CORN: Right. The loophole or the potential problem is that the provision of the law refers to domestic violence. But in military courts we don't distinguish crimes between misdemeanor or felonies. Now, interestingly, the Air Force military justice regulation acknowledges this and indicates it doesn't matter whether you are convicted by general or special court martial, if it's a conviction for domestic violence, that is supposed to be stamped on the record of the conviction in bold letters. What the regulation doesn't indicate, though, is who is supposed to take that and input it into the database.
CORN: So much of this will have to come from DOD and the secretary of defense directing the subordinate services to tighten up the process of how we make sure these convictions are properly reported.
BALDWIN: Yes, like we said the Pentagon is reviewing. We will wait to hear from guidance from the top.
Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Corn, thank you so much. I'm not frustrated at you. I'm just frustrated. Thank you so much for your time today.
CORN: I think we are all frustrated.
BALDWIN: Yes, yes. I know we are.
CORN: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
Meantime, it is Election Day in America. And President Trump, obviously, he's not on the ballot, but his rhetoric and agenda are all over it. What to watch for. What races will be a big test for his presidency?
Plus, an army of spies. New reports on the shocking lengths that the disgraced movie producer, Harvey Weinstein, went to, to intimidate his accusers and the journalists working to break their stories, next.
[14:42:03] BALDWIN: It's Election Day for millions across the country. And what happens today could signal how the all-important 2018 midterm elections will play out. You have the two key gubernatorial elections, closely watched, both in New Jersey and Virginia. Both states supported Hillary Clinton during the presidential election.
In the New Jersey race, Republican Kim Guadagno is facing off against Democrat Phil Murphy. President Obama has campaigned for Democrat Ralph Northam while President Trump is tweeting his support for Republican Ed Gillespie. All of this happening as new CNN polling shows both parties are in trouble. More than half of Americans in the country are not happy with both the Republicans and Democrats.
So let me bring in two ladies, Maeve Reston, CNN national political reporter, and Juana Summers, CNN politics editor.
And, Maeve, just to hone in on here, why are both parties going to crunch all the numbers and so important and think how much this will be indicative of 2018 midterms?
MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: I think everyone wants to answer tonight is what does the climate, political climate look like for Republicans in this tumultuous age of Donald Trump. Everyone is looking ahead to these huge midterm races next year that will determine control of the House and the Senate. And in Virginia, New Jersey has been a little bit of a sleepy race. But you have Ed Gillespie tweeting with President Trump but didn't campaign with him. Ed Gillespie is trying to run his own race hitting big issues that Trump has like on immigration. So we are trying to see whether or not a Republican that is appealing to independents, and those undecided voters in northern Virginia, whether that kind of Republican can prevail. Right now, it's obviously looking better for the Democrat. Virginia has been trending Democratic in recent years but very good bell weather. And on the side of that equation, we'll be looking tonight if the Democrats do not win in Virginia, much more pronounced civil war within the Democrat party. Northam is a candidate who a lot of people have talked about Hillary Clinton, very moderate. A lot of folks in the Bernie Sanders wing of the party are not happy with him as candidate. And you are seeing, basically, this war between the two factions in the Democrat party bubbling under the surface and potentially exploding after tonight if he does not win.
BALDWIN: Well, when you saw the poll numbers, Juana, that's what I want to jump to. You remember your Magic Eight Ball, not so good for both parties. New poll numbers show worst favorability rating in 25- plus years of polling. And Republican Party is even lower. Why?
[14:45:08] JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICS EDITOR: Absolutely. I think Maeve really hit the nail on the head. Both parties you are seeing strive on which way it should go. I think it's important to note the time line. Holding consistently since September. But a lot of soul searching for the party in the era of Trump, not a traditional Republican. But Democrats we are seeing the civil war starting to simmer among the party left over from 2016. Some of the revelations coming to the surface now in Donna Brazile book. What I saw troubling in the numbers for Democrats, some numbers among constituent, those are two groups that Democrats need and historically have been able to mobilize. Whether they are able to continue to do that we'll tell you about in the important midterms in 2018.
RESTON: Yes, if they can get the turnout work tonight.
RESTON: -- really bad for Democrats. Can their turnout operation work tonight?
Stay tuned to CNN. We'll be watching the election turns.
Maeve and Juana, thank you so very much.
Coming up here, stunning new reports on Harvey Weinstein and how he tried to suppress stories about sexual misconduct allegations against him. Did he hire spies to act as advocates for women who accused him of rape? We have incredible new details.
[14:51:04] BALDWIN: New revelations in the Harvey Weinstein scandal. The "New Yorker" publishing this latest bombshell details how, in the fall of 2017, disgraced Hollywood mogul hired an elite team of spies to secretly collect information on dozens of actresses and journalists, with the explicit purpose of stifling allegations of abuse. According to the reports, some spies used to work for the Mossad, the Israeli equivalent of CIA. And two of those officers used false identities in order to spend time with actress Rose McGowan, who has accused Harvey Weinstein of rape. One accuser, I should say, one person even poses as accuser journalists pursuing reporting to see how deep and what these journalists had on him. So we now know this operation did not stop the publication of these reports.
And next my guest, the "New York Times" reporter who originally broke the Harvey Weinstein wide open, Megan Twohey.
Thank you for being here.
Also with us, CNN intelligence and security analyst, Bob Bair, former CIA operative.
So you'll be excellent on explaining the capabilities of these Mossad agents.
But, Megan, starting with you, you cowrote your report on this with your colleague, Jody Kantor, who was contacted by one of these Black Cube agents, posing as accuser. Tell me more about that.
MEGAN TWOHEY, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Right. So what we learned yesterday from Ron in excellent story there were people that were hired by Harvey Weinstein to not just dig up dirt on the female accusers, but try to figure out what journalists were doing, who were working to break the story open. And one of those people who was contacted, my colleague, Jody Kantor, claiming she was a woman's rights advocate to get her in conversation, which didn't go very far, but was interesting thing to revisit in light of this story.
BALDWIN: Bob Baer, who are these elite Mossad agents? Who are they? And what are they capable of?
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE & SECURITY ANALYST: They are a nasty bunch. They were mostly doing over the years assassinations, but of course they are doing character assassinations. And they have the full range of skills to collect information on people, whether it's meta data, property records, put physical surveillance on them, and after they make accusations against Harvey Weinstein, under credit them and saying this person is not reliable. And once a group like this gets after you, they can make life very difficult and do the same with journalists and going to editor saying this is not responsible. This is a bad group of people. And I didn't think this could get any nastier, but it has.
BALDWIN: It has. And if you read in the piece, Megan, he talks about Rose McGowan, and how she felt she was, her words, "gas lit."
What more do you know about what happened with her?
TWOHEY: So I think that it's a good point to sort of shift the attention off of the journalists in this case, you know, we are a tough bunch. When we go to work every day, we take on powerful people and investigate those who we suspect of wrongdoing or abuses of power. We are doing that with the support of our editors, with very powerful attorney, "New York Times" attorney behind us and the resources to go up against these guys.
BALDWIN: The accusers.
[14:55:00] TWOHEY: But I think the story -- the real takeaway here is what happens when powerful people deploy their resources in efforts to undermine accusers, and basically attack the women who are coming forward with allegations against them. And I think that this story has shed light on this serious problem, which Harvey Weinstein, obviously, went to extraordinary lengths. But I think there are a lot of people who have been in positions where they have been accused of sexual misconduct or suspect that's about to come to light and go to great lengths to suppress that and silence the women that don't have the resources that we do to fight back.
BALDWIN: One of the agents, to give some details -- Bob, you can respond to this and we'll close this out -- wrote to Rose McGowan in e-mail, this guy posing, "Hi, love, how are you feeling? I want to tell you how brave I think you are? XX."
This person met with Rose on a couple of occasions. A whole trust obviously involved in this. She believed in this false identity. Is this -- does this surprise you, Bob, the lengths they went to?
BAER: No, Brooke, it's typical trade. It's called a false flag. Send somebody in with ulterior motives. It's just incredible that you are taking a professional intelligence service to cover up rape and harassment. I mean, come on, this guy, it's time he goes to jail. This is just incredible and unacceptable to bring Mossad into a case like this, to destroy piece women's lives.
BALDWIN: The machine that Harvey Weinstein enlisted to help him.
Bob, thank you.
Megan, thank you very much.
And thank Jody Kantor over at "The Times" as well.
Coming up next, back to our breaking news. We are getting a stunning firsthand account on survive or on the church shooting on Sunday morning in Texas. What she says the gunman yelled when he opened fire. Her story is next.