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Report: White House Briefing as Trump Fumes Suggest Mueller Probe Illegal; Numerous Pedestrians Struck by Van in Toronto; Waffle House Killer Caught. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired April 23, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: -- great deal of confidence in a number of members across the board that remain part of his team, his national security team. A great group of people, and the president as been working very closely with them. Most of those individuals have been part of the administration for some time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A couple questions. Two questions. Going back to the issue of Eric Garner, a couple weeks ago, when I asked you about Alton Sterling, Stephan Clark and the issue of Eric Garner, you said it was a local issue, does this White House give the directive now to the justice department that it's a local matter and that's why it's been held up? Is that what's going on with this Eric Garner case?
SANDERS: I can't speak to anything specific in an ongoing process that's taking place with the department of justice, we haven't given specific instruction to them, other than to follow the law. And when it is a local issue, there's not a lot we can do. When the department of justice has a role to play, we want them to be independent and follow the law on that front.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you said -- the president was very clear in his statement about this issue, he said, there's a revolution going on in California. So many sanctuary areas want out of this ridiculous crime infested and breeding concept. What did he mean by breeding?
SANDERS: The president has recognized this is a major problem. And a lot of people even in California want to see the issue of sanctuary cities addressed. The president is doing what he can.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does he mean by breed something when you think of breeding, you think of animals breeding populating.
SANDERS: I'm not going to begin to think what you think. Breeding can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. The president is talking about a growing problem. I don't have anything to add.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted to ask you about Afghanistan, there's been a number of attacks in Afghanistan the last two days, this is the first fighting season after president announced his policy. How do you see the situation on Afghanistan now?
SANDERS: I'm sorry what's the last part of your question?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you see the situation in Afghanistan now?
SANDERS: We're continuing to move forward with the strategy that was announced. And I don't have any other policy announcements at this time. One last question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two quick questions. One to just to define what the president meant about breeding. He's not talking about people having babies, yes?
SANDERS: Not that I'm aware of, I'd have to ask him to dig into that deeper. I just said not that I'm aware of, and I would have to ask him to be more specific.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, in regards to the Mueller investigation.
SANDERS: Guys, I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With regard to the Mueller administration, I understand this administration says it's -- there's no collusion, so if we take the president add his word, he can't be aware of anything that went on underneath him by everyone that works for him. If there's someone that worked for him, underneath him, that is guilty or prosecuted by the Mueller team, would he not support those who did wrong, even if he was unaware of it?
SANDERS: We want everyone to follow the law, I'm not going to comment on a hypothetical situation. The president has been clear, he and his campaign were not involved in collusion, if he had, I'm pretty sure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not asking that --
SANDERS: If he had, you guys would have found that out. I'm addressing that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He would support --
SANDERS: The president would absolutely support the law and individuals following the law. What the president doesn't support is a year wasted distracting the world and the country from the great things that are happening in this country. From talking about issues that Americans actually care about. That's what the president would probably tell you to stay focused on, and with that, thanks, guys, we'll see you tomorrow.
BALDWIN: There we go, Sarah Sanders back behind the podium there, after a bit of a break, after the president had been in Florida. I want to get you straight to Toronto, there are reports that a van has hit multiple pedestrians in Toronto. Jason Carroll is following those developments for us this afternoon, what's going on?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: According to Toronto police, this happened about 1:30 then. At approximately 1:30, a white van jumped a curb and struck a number of pedestrians that were walking there on the sidewalk. Police initially had reports that as many as 8 to 10 people may have been struck by this van. But then they came out with a report after that, indicating it was too early at this point to give a specific number of those who were injured or worse. The van at this point described as a white van that jumped the curb, struck the pedestrians and then took off. Obviously, what you have right now, is a number of police there on the ground searching for the driver of that van trying to get a handle on the number of injured, but once again.
[14:05:00] Possibly 8 to 10 people injured. That was the initial report, then police coming out later and saying, they needed more time to confirm that number. This occurring in an area that's north of downtown Toronto, you see the aerial footage there of the aftermath of that jean, we're going to bring you more information as soon as we get it to you. Brooke?
BALDWIN: Still so early, we don't know, accident, something more nefarious, our mind goes to the vehicle being used as a weapon, as has been done in incidents past. We just don't know. We'll get you back on tv. The White House briefing wrapped up a bit ago.
I have CNN senior White House correspondent Pamela Brown joining me. CNN's senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson, and Vermont Law School professor Jennifer Taub who is a white-collar crime expert.
Ladies, good to have all of you on, and Pamela, let's start with the questions on North Korea, this is all ahead of this potential high level meeting between Kim Jong-un and the president, the president tweeting about it over the weekend and the crux of the comment from Sarah Sanders today is that the U.S. will not lift sanctions on North Korea, until the U.S. sees concrete actions by North Korea to denuclearize.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think what you're hearing from Sarah Sanders is a tempered response. In the wake of the news from North Korea on Friday, there was some excitement from White House officials that North Korea said it would put a stop, at least temporarily to nuclear testing and so forth, I think as it settles in, and the reality is, that look, North Korea isn't going to give up its leverage. I think what you heard from Sarah Sanders today, more as I said, the tempered response saying, we're not going to lift sanctions until we see concrete action, we're not going to be naive saying past administrations have been, we're not going to be that way. So, a built of a tougher stance there, when it comes to North Korea, what stuck out to me was if you parse the words.
When it comes to Scott Pruitt, amid all these headlines, week after week, there's a new revelation, now we learned that he did in fact, despite the denials, meet with that lobbyist who is tied to that bargain condo he was staying in, where he was getting a really good deal. Sarah Sanders saying, we are continuing to review the report. So, sort of leaving the door open there for interpretation after a weekend of White House officials continuing to defend Scott Pruitt, saying the president does have confidence in him.
And there's Robert Mueller and the continued questions in the wake of the president's tweet storm over the weekend. Two dozen tweets from the president. I kept getting the flashes on my phone all weekend. BALDWIN: Can I get you to hold that thought? We're getting some
breaking news. Stand by, we're getting breaking news with regard to that waffle house shooting in Tennessee over the weekend. We all got alerts on this one as well. Awful story. Several people killed, this deranged man ends up running out of there, after four young people lose their lives. Runs out nude, and there's been a manhunt ever since. Nick Valencia, if you can hear me, you're live. What's the news you have now?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the metro Nashville police department verified twitter account, murder suspect Travis Reinking accused of murdering four people in the Waffle House early Sunday morning is in custody, arrested just moments ago. We were reporting live now, reporting live on HLN a few minutes ago, when we saw an increased activity. There's a command post just behind here on the camera, we saw a dozen or so police vehicles, as well as federal agencies. Including a bear cat headed in this direction away from the waffle house, this is the direction that the apartment complex where Travis was staying.
That's the officials from all agencies were looking for him, and the last credible sighting of him was around 8:30 a.m. Sunday. This is a man who walked into the Waffle House completely nude with the exception of a coat. He was able to back into his apartment complex, put on a pair of pants and continuing on the run. Again, just a few seconds ago, we're now learning from the metro Nashville police department that this murder suspect is in police custody.
BALDWIN: Nick, stay with me, I have a couple follow-ups for you. You describe the direction of escape where he went. Do you have any idea how they got him?
[14:10:00] VALENCIA: Not yet, no. This is all developing and coming to us minute by minute here, in the last several minutes. It was just a very short tweet from the metro national police department. And minutes after we saw a lot of police activity, about a dozen or so cop cars heading in that direction. And now they're breaking the news to the world that he is now in police custody.
BALDWIN: Talk about, before we get back into his history, trying to trespass at the White House, and having guns taken away from him, in this part of Tennessee, people have been -- I imagine not being able to breathe knowing that this man has been on the loose. I mean, schools were on lockdown, the whole policy of not allowing visitors, you know, parents and that kind of thing in the schools, not allowed in the school district for fear of this man, right?
VALENCIA: They hadn't had a credible sighting of him since 8:30 a.m. on Sunday. And this community, you talk about the lockouts, no guests or visitors on the public-school campuses. I walked to a strip mall here, behind our cameras, there's a public shopping center there. There were a lot of anxious people. They were sort of looking behind their backs to make sure everything is safe. You've been in situations like this with a man on the loose, you know what it's like, they don't know where this person is. He's accused of murdering four innocent people, someone who has a terrible history of mental health problems. Someone that is capable of anything, not the least murder, this is someone who is thankfully in police custody.
BALDWIN: Nick, let me bring in another voice, Steve Moore, former FBI. Thank goodness they have him. He is in custody. Just peel back the layers over the last let's say 12, 24 hours. What has law enforcement doing to find them?
STEVE MOORE, FORMER FBI AGENT: When he's on foot like that, you're going to set up some type of perimeter, it's not going to have to be huge, because he's on foot, but you're going to have to be careful that he doesn't carjack somebody, steal a car, get out that way. But while they've been working on electronic things, maybe as a cell phone. Whatever they can do, they are also bringing in the perimeter, they have people out there, the s.w.a.t. teams are all trained for woodland operations, they were bringing that perimeter in closer and closer.
BALDWIN: So -- the crux of this is what we don't know yet, right? Because this happened in the last couple minutes. Nick mentioned mental illness. I read reports at some point this morning, he thought Taylor Swift was stalking him, reports that at one point because of what he tried doing over at the White House, that his guns were taken away, handed over to his father, and one presumes the father gave his guns back. Tell us more about his past?
MOORE: What you're seeing here is just a de-evolution of a person's personality. He's starting to lose it, for lack of a better word. You know how hard it is to take away somebody's guns. They did it. This guy had enough of a background that police and the FBI were willing to say, no, no, no, no. We will go out on a limb and say he can't have them. And he ends up getting them back, through his father. You have a guy getting worse and worse, showing all sorts of leakage from a psychological standpoint. All sorts of different episodes, and you give him firearms. It boggles the mind.
BALDWIN: It's a whole other conversation, we'll get to Nick. And the hero that was able to toss the AR-15 and toss it over the counter to save lives. Are you surprised given bits and pieces of his past that he lasted this long on the run?
MOORE: I'm kind of surprised. I mean, the last he was seen, he was wearing shirts and -- pants and no shirt, so how is he going to be in the woods in a cold rain? So Yes, I'm surprised, my fear was, that somewhere, he -- that he was number one armed, he had gotten into somebody's house and was holding somebody at gunpoint.
[14:15:00] And so, I'm not sure whether that -- you know, I haven't heard any indication that that was the case, that was my big fear, come morning, we would find something horrible.
BALDWIN: Steve, stay with me, do we still have Nick Valencia? He's on the phone, OK. As nick's probably getting more information as this is all breaking right now, and developing, we have nick now. Nick Valencia, let me ask you a question, as we've been talking to Steve a little bit about this man's background. The young people who were sitting there in this hero who grabbed the guy's gun. VALENCIA: Well, according to my colleague, Diane Gallagher, there
were 20 people inside the Waffle House at the time of the shooting, four people were killed, but if not for the heroic actions of James Shaw Jr. Who doesn't want to be mentioned as a hero, he was trying to save his own life, and he made the split-second decision that he was going to fight. He was going to make that shooter drop the gun many he has a burn on his hand from grabbing that ar-15 and tossing it behind the counter. He was grazed by a bullet. He no doubt saved a lot of lives when he did that and decided to confront the gunman. We know this shooting happened around early morning hours after 3:00 a.m. on Sunday morning.
It was packed in there, and James Shaw Jr. told the affiliates he wasn't supposed to be at this waffle house, he had gone to another waffle house, that was too crowded, he made his way here. After he scuffled with the gunman, that's when reinking took off running. I was on the phone just now with the national police department trying to get more details about how he was captured, in what capacity, where he was at. Those are all questions we're trying to get answers to right now, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Appreciate you trying to do that. I know you'll get the details, Nick. Thank you so much. If you are just joining us and you've been following this horrific story out of Tennessee. This fatal shooting, four young people shot and killed inside that waffle house, the man nude, ran off into the woods, after the hero. Let's say his name again. James Shaw Jr. Grabbed his gun and tossed it to the side. We know that he has now been apprehended, this individual you are looking at there is now in custody, how law enforcement caught him, that is question number one. We're working through that. Steve hall's been generously standing by with me, former FBI about Steve, again, just walk us through where authorities would have looked for this man, and the process of -- I doesn't turn up, initially.
MOORE: If you don't get limb within 24 hours, you have to make the assumption he's gotten out into the general population. And then what you're going to be looking for is any stolen cars, any people missing, any petty crimes, where money or food was stolen, you're looking at a guy who really is going out with nothing. You're going to be looking at anything going on many then you have the electronic type of information, where they can set up on major thoroughfares, license plate readers, to see if any cars have been reported stolen, going past that area. What you have to do is think about what -- if you were in his position. What would he need to do to gets away? You have to get clothes, you have to get food, you have to get transportation and money. Those four things are what he's going to be looking for. And that's where you're going to be directing your attention. The other thing is it that he had -- you know, people say, well, maybe he didn't have a wallet. He's got a gun probably. And that is great currency, when you're trying to get that kind of stuff.
BALDWIN: Steve Moore, thank you so much. I want to ask you to stand by, I know Nick is trying to get some answers out of the Nashville police department who I'm sure is plenty busy with this suspect in custody. [14:20:00] I want to hit pause on this breaking conversation and
return to the original breaking story out of Toronto, to try to figure out what has happened here after this white van jumped a curb. And still waiting on numbers, Jason, do we know anything on injuries or motive yet?
CARROLL: Still waiting on numbers. We know that paramedics are there on the scene, treating people there on the sidewalk as we speak. Also, the CBC, Brooke, is now reporting that the driver of that van is now in custody. Just to recap what we know happened. It was just about 1:30 north of downtown Toronto when a white van jumped a curb and struck numerous pedestrians who were there walking on the sidewalk. Initially police came out and said they believed that anywhere between 8 to 10 people had been struck. They later came out with another statement after that, saying they could not confirm the number of those who were injured there on the ground.
We have aerials there, can you see the white van in question there in the shot that you see there, that is the white van, that jumped the curb and struck those pedestrians. Justin Trudeau just made a statement, we'll be bringing details of that statement to you shortly. Paramedics are on the ground treating people who were injured wen a white van jumped the curb and hit a number of pedestrians. What we're trying to determine at this point, motive for what happen e happened was it an accident, was it something more.
BALDWIN: Do you know anything about this part of town, this thoroughfare? Late lunch hour I'm thinking. How busy, do you know any of that?
North of downtown Toronto, it's a busy section of town, there's a mall nearby, the subway service located right where the accident happened. It has been suspended. It's a busy section of a very downtown patrol house area. You can draw some conclusions, once again we're waiting to hear specifically from investigators in terms of specifically what happened here. Brooke?
BALDWIN: Just stay with me, Jason, do we have any idea the type of van? Is it a generic white van, a rental? Moving van, anything?
CARROLL: Looking at the images, it appears to be some sort of rental van. That's what it appears to be in terms what have specifically happened there, that is what investigators are trying to determine. We've seen situations where -- in places like London, here in New York, we've seen situations where we've had people get behind the wheel of a car and take matters into their own hands. We don't know at this point what has happened here in Toronto, with specifics in terms of this particular incident. That's what we're waiting to hear from investigators.
BALDWIN: Jason, thank you so much. For the reporting side of this. Art Roderick on the analysis, CNN law enforcement analyst with me now on what's happened there in Toronto. We still don't know as far as how many injuries are concerned, how many people this could have been an accident, this could have been something more nefarious. What are law enforcement doing to assess this very minute? ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: The key part is the
debriefing they're putting this individual through, it's a good thing he's in custody, they can do the debriefing as quickly as possible. And announce that to the public. Everyone is waiting to hear exactly, was this a legitimate car accident, was this possibly some type of attack, so that's going to be the key. I mean, unfortunately, every time we report on one of these, motive is the key here, and we have to come to the motive as quick as possible.
BALDWIN: What else? What else are they doing beyond the driver himself.
RODERICK: Once they've identified the driver, they're going to go into his social media, look into his residence, do search warrants if need. They'll get on his social media, they'll look for any -- where he works, where he was just prior to this accident. And they're going to put all this information together. And they should come up with a motive fairly quickly here.
BALDWIN: Art, thank you, everyone please stand by. We have to take a quick commercial break. Following two breaking stories this hour, one, a white van jumped the curb and injured a number of people. The specific number we don't know. Number two, here he is, this is the photo of the Waffle House killer in custody. Do you want me to go to Nick?
[14:25:00] Nick Valencia. We have the picture in the back of the cop car, they got him.
VALENCIA: He was arrested behind the apartment complex in that wood line area where he was last spotted about 8:30 a.m. on Sunday. The metro Nashville police department, they're putting pictures up of him apprehended. We don't know if he was taken into custody without shots being fired, that's a question I just asked the police department and the feds as well, they're going to get back to me on that. We know a lot of agencies were working to try to find this guy over the course of 30 plus hours, including state, local and federal law enforcement agents. Brooke?
BALDWIN: That is huge. Thank you so much. As we look at that picture here, you think about the families four young lives lost in that waffle house, and here he is. They got him, he's in custody.
[14:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: We're back with two breaking stories. You're watching CNN. Number one, want to get you back to Toronto. And play some sound from the Prime Minister of Canada, Trudeau, just spoke about this incident involving. A white van. Jumped a curb, hit a number of pedestrians walking along the sidewalk there. Just north of Toronto. Here first is the prime minister commenting officially.
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: Our hearts go out to anyone affected, we're going to have more to learn, more to say in the coming hours. And -- BALDWIN: As this is all just coming in, we have no idea of the extent
of injuries, how many injured, we just know it's multiple. That is Toronto, where we're keeping a close eye.