Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Lion Air Crashes with 189 Aboard Minutes After Takeoff; Serial Mail Bomb Suspect Appears in Florida Court; Social Media Network Used By Suspected Jewish Synagogue Shooter Shut Down; Eleven Killed in Deadliest Anti-Semitic Attack in U.S. History. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired October 29, 2018 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: -- the other an anti-Semitic gunman who killed 11 people this weekend at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. It marks the deadliest attack on Jewish people in the history of this country.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: We want to make a couple of things clear this morning. You will not hear his name, you will not see his face at all on our broadcast today. We will remember the victims of this massacre and show their faces, tell their stories.

Last night thousands gathered to remember them in Pittsburgh. But there is a mixed reaction as to whether President Trump should be welcomed in that community.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LYNNETTE LEDERMAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: I do not welcome this president to my city. He is the purveyor of hate speech.

RABBI JEFFREY MYERS, TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: The president of the United States is always welcome He is my president, I am a citizen. He is certainly welcome.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: What is the president doing with his platform, with his voice this morning? He is launching fresh attacks against the media.

Joining us live form Pittsburgh, CNN correspondent Jean Casarez.

You've been spending a lot of time there. It is a sad, it's a heartbroken time in that community. Tell us what's happening this morning.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as the morning continues in this entire community, the reality is that this is a federal court case. And we are right here in front of the federal court in Pittsburgh. The initial appearance of this defendant is at 1:30 today. It should be a very short appearance, but extremely important because it is of a constitutional nature. The charges will be read. He will be asked if he understands the charges. He can be represented. And then the case will go on from there.

Now this is being prosecuted as a hate crime. There are 29 charges. And what makes this a potential death penalty case is the following charge. The intentional obstruction by force in the free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death. There are 11 counts. And those, obviously, are for the 11 victims in this case.

Now this case cannot even be brought, in general, without the expressed consent of the attorney general of the United States or his designee and it had to be in writing. And as you know, it was Saturday night when these charges were filed, hours after this shooting.

There is also a charge of the intentional obstruction of religious belief resulting in bodily injury. Those are the four police officers. There are also firearm charges for having a firearm, using a firearm and discharging that firearm. Those are enhancement charges that lead to more penalties and finally, this is a death penalty case, if it is designated by the attorney general and if murder can be proven. The actual killing of using malice of forethought -- Poppy, John.

HARLOW: Jean Casarez there for us in Pittsburgh outside the courthouse. Thank you very much.

With us now CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano, retired FBI supervisory special agent, also with us, Joey Jackson, who is a CNN legal analyst and a criminal defense attorney.

Thank you both for being here. Let's talk first, James, to you, about, you know, the FBI and how they can police speech. Right? So many warnings on Gab, this social media site, that we'll get into a little bit later on the show. But what can and can't law enforcement and the FBI do when it comes to policing the internet and distinguishing between hate crimes and free speech, and hate rhetoric and free speech?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Good question. 1791, we got the First Amendment, which allows us to speak, and it covers satire, and it covers hyperbole, and it covers a lot of the awful things, the offensive things that these two incidents last week brought to bear.

It's difficult, Poppy, in this sense. A hate crime is a crime motivated by prejudice and bigotry towards a race or ethnicity or sexual orientation or religion with intended violence. Hate speech is different. It's speech. There's no violence attached to it.

HARLOW: But are you saying if the authorities saw all of this on Gab.com and this guy was top of their radar, this very likely would have happened anyways?

GAGLIANO: The best that they could have done under this circumstance -- because if I took that case, if I took that Gab account, took that to the Southern District in New York or to any of the districts in the country, prosecutors would look at that, you know, was it heat of the moment? You know, is it a credible threat? Is this some guy popping off?

The only thing that the FBI can do in those situations, and my bosses, when I worked with the Southern District, made us do it many times, is called a knock and talk. You go to the individual, you knock on the door, you show their credentials, you ask them what they meant and you try to determine and discern whether or not it's credible.

SCIUTTO: Joey, what struck me is that this is similar to what you see following a terror attack, right? Because oftentimes there will have been social media postings by the suspects.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes.

SCIUTTO: You saw this in San Bernardino. Then there's discussion of whether, you know, I mean, following that, there was even talk of checking people's social media before they entered the country, right, to look for warning signs. Not so much whether it's illegal to post that kind of stuff. That's another question. But whether that gives folks looking to prevent these attacks an opportunity to do so.

JACKSON: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Are there differences between the way the law and law enforcement treat if it's terror speech versus other kinds of hate speech?

[09:05:07] JACKSON: You know, it's a great question, Jim, but it's a very difficult balance and it's a difficult balance because, you know, this is the land of the free, right? It's the home of the brave. We pride ourselves in our freedom and our democracy. And what we can do and the liberty that this country provides. And you have to balance that against the backdrop of people who can say anything they want to an extent, we know that there are limitations even on first speech, right, free speech.

You can't yell fire in a theater, right? You can't yell bomb in someplace else. But the realities are that after the fact it's so tiring to talk about this because you look after the fact and there are all of these blueprints that you can argue give law enforcement the opportunity to have prevented it. But how do you prevent somebody's ability to express themselves?

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: Get a radar screen, right?

JACKSON: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Because oftentimes law enforcement will be vilified for having missed the warning sign of a terrorist before this because they posted something. You know, how do you do like a stop -- a knock and talk thing?

JACKSON: But here's the interesting thing real quick, Jim, because on this Gab site, it's sort of -- you know, it was this site that allowed people to basically express what they wanted to express. It prided itself in having that ability to do so. And so while the site will be very helpful in a prosecution to determine that motivation and that it was predicated upon hate, it's very difficult in advance. It gets them on the radar but it's not enough to make the arrest.

GAGLIANO: It's also critical to building intent which is part of motivation, which becomes part of the crime. Remember there's two things we need to charge a crime, right? We need an actus reus, the actual act, and the mens rea, the criminal intent. So these social media platforms give you that.

But, Jim, to your point, unfortunately, sometimes it's in hindsight because there's so much crazy stuff in the dark corners of the internet if we arrested everybody or knock and talk with everybody, we just don't have the resources.

HARLOW: Quickly, death penalty? I mean, we know that the U.S. attorney is pursuing that.

JACKSON: Yes.

HARLOW: How likely?

JACKSON: I think it's very likely. I think that this is a very unsympathetic case, Poppy. There's no more disturbing, you know, disgusting event than when people are practicing their faith, they're worshipping, they're innocent. And you go and you disrupt that. And that's the very reason why the death penalty is a penalty that applies to this case and I think that certainly that's something that they'll get moving forward.

SCIUTTO: Joey and James, thanks very much.

Our next guest has a long history at the Tree of Life Synagogue where this massacre took place. She was married there in 1975. Her daughter was married there just eight years ago. Her grandfather was part of the groundbreaking at the synagogue back in the 1960s. Joining us now is Meryl Ainsman. She serves on the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

First of all, Meryl, let -- I should share with you our thoughts, our prayers for you for what you and your community has gone through here and just ask a very basic question, how are you? How are your fellow community members coping this morning?

MERYL AINSMAN, BOARD CHAIRPERSON, JEWISH FEDERATION OF GREATER PITTSBURGH: Well, we're doing all right. We are a very, very strong community. Most of us -- like you just said about myself, most of us have long roots here and really feel that this is a community which is home for all of us and for our children.

Last night we had a vigil. I'm sure you have probably been talking about that already, where thousands of people showed up, thousands of people from the Jewish community, from the Muslim community, from Christian community, from the Hindu community, from the Sikh community. And we were comforted so much to have everybody together. We have been hearing from our friends and people we never even heard

of, from literally around the world. But the support that we're getting is extraordinary. And the support that we're getting just together finding every chance we can to gather, to help each other, the last few days have been rather extraordinary, something I've never experienced in my whole life.

HARLOW: And look, Meryl, you were so close to a number of these victims, Cecil and David Rosenthal, you knew the brothers, Irving Younger you also knew. When we look at what is happening in the broader context, you have the Anti-Defamation League saying anti- Semitic attacks are up 57 percent in this country. When you look at the totality of what is happening, what do you want Americans to do most in their name?

AINSMAN: Love and not hate. Now I'm sort of a student of this. I spent a lot of reading time reading about the holocaust, about Jewish current affairs. I read many different Web sites out of Israel. I read about this has been going on in the world for centuries, but even just in the past few years, it's been -- it's prevalent in Europe, it's certainly prevalent in Israel.

We never thought it would hit here, though. This is our own little corner of the world. And there is something I would like to say. I was thinking this morning that you -- there's a list now that everybody -- there's a litany of names, Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland.

[09:10:03] I don't want Squirrel Hill to be on that list. I want people, when they hear Squirrel Hill, I want them to think -- kind of dreary here now but it's usually a beautiful, verdant green neighborhood filled with families, filled with children, filled with people just going along in their daily business. And I really do not want this heinous act of this horrible individual to taint the reputation of our community, our city or our community.

And our city even -- I mean, our city, you cannot imagine the outpouring from the other faith communities here. And it's not just today. It happens all the time. We have interfaith groups, we have intra-faith groups. This is not who Pittsburgh is and I really want to get that across to the country and to the world. Please don't keep us on that list in that way. We want to be known for our goodness, not for this.

SCIUTTO: We will remind people that every opportunity we get. As you know, the sad fact of the long string of tragedies you mentioned there is that they become after battlegrounds -- in the act of violence, they become battlegrounds in the public debate about what needs to be done, how to heal the wounds, prevent the next attack like this.

Let me ask you, from where you're sitting, what does America need most right now? Set aside America. What does your community need most right now to hear, to see, to make a difference?

AINSMAN: Well, certainly our community needs to see that there is rightful justice done with this perpetrator. There's no question about that. But to be honest, I'm not even sure really that community is exactly there yet. I think the names have not been out for more than 24 hours there. I don't know if your camera is showing behind me, there's already a memorial outside the Tree of Life with names.

HARLOW: Yes, we see it.

AINSMAN: It's taken a while for the names to sync in. I was at the Jewish community center on Saturday for hours and hours, waiting with the families until they were told about their loved ones. Hours and hours, because it took the FBI that long to be able to go into this horrible crime scene and identify the people.

I've never suffered, thank God, a tragedy like this before or to myself personally but I just can't imagine what these families are going through as each hour ticked by. And they know, if your loved one is not coming home, they know they're not coming home, but until you hear that final word there's such pain and there's such anguish.

And so I think -- I think we'll get to that point where it becomes a political issue or where it becomes a gun issue or it becomes those kinds of issues but for me and the people I talked to right now what we're trying to do as a community and not just from the federation, we've been sort of in logistic mode. We were responsible for planning the vigil last night. We've been hosting a slew, an unbelievable amount of visitors from -- political visitors from around the country, from Israel.

So we've sort of been in logistic mode but that's going to start to quiet down now. The funerals, I believe, are starting tomorrow. I'm going to try to get to every funeral, even those I did not know. But everybody, and I'm sure you've heard this before. Whether you knew the person individually, you likely knew their parent or you knew their cousin or your cousin's cousin. It's just that kind of community.

HARLOW: Meryl, thank you for sharing this with us. And we will all do our best, and we will all do our best to make sure that Squirrel Hill is remembered for all the beautiful things and the beautiful people that you noted. Thank you for sharing your memories of all of them with us.

SCIUTTO: Thank you. Thank you.

AINSMAN: I really appreciate that.

HARLOW: All right. We do have other breaking news. Very sad breaking news for you this morning. An Indonesian plane carrying 189 people has crashed into the sea just minutes after taking off from Indonesia's capital of Jakarta. According to officials the plane requested to return to base just about 12 minutes after taking off, but did not indicate an emergency.

So far, six bodies have been recovered from the crash site, but high waves and strong currents are making the search and rescue operation now even more difficult. Let's go to our Will Ripley, he joins us for the latest. Will, I

mean, reading about this, this was a very new plane constructed this year. What do we know?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It was delivered back in August to Lion Air. It's a Boeing 737 Max. It's the newest model. Has an excellent safety record thus far, only 800 flight hours for this aircraft. So it would really be unprecedented aviation experts say for there to be a massive technical problem. But there really isn't any indication what could have caused this plane to go down.

Apparently the plane needed a repair the night before the flight but it was a repair that they were able to do very quickly. The plane passed all the preflight inspections. The pilot felt comfortable enough to take off. Maintenance crews gave it the green light. It was only in the air, though, for 13 minutes. And just a few miles into the flight, really, that the pilot called air traffic control in Jakarta and said that they wanted to turn around and go back, but that never happened. Instead --

[09:15:00] Instead, radar shows the plane dropped very quickly from 5,200 feet down to 3,000 or so before it disappeared from radar screens all together.

You know, the flight crew was experienced with more than 11,000 hours of combined flight time. Weather conditions, some scattered thunderstorms, but nothing that could pose a risk to an aircraft like this. One hundred and eighty nine people, as you mentioned, including two infants and one child on board. Just a tragedy for the families who are waiting right now for answers.

HARLOW: Of course, Will Ripley, thank you for that, update us as you get more.

SCIUTTO: Also today, the suspected serial bomber facing charges in a Florida courtroom. What we are learning about that investigation.

HARLOW: Also the social media network, Gab, used by the suspected Pittsburgh shooter to spout anti-Semitism and hate has been shut down, but is vowing again to go online very soon. What role does social media play in spreading all of this hate? We'll be right back.

[09:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: The man accused of mailing 14 pipe bombs to President Obama and several other prominent Democrats will make his first court appearance in just a few hours in Florida. Cnn's Rosa Flores, she's live outside the federal courthouse in Miami. Rosa, how far did things go today or is this just a quick first step?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it definitely is. And this is his first appearance since Cesar Sayoc was arrested on Friday. Now, during this first appearance, this is for the five federal charges stemming from the Southern District of New York that include the illegal mailing of explosives. Now, generally speaking, this is a very quick proceeding. Sayoc would

learn about the charges against him and then the judge would ask him if he needs an attorney or not. Now this is a very high-profile case, and the Southern District of New York has already expressed that the prosecution will happen there.

So the other thing that needs to happen, Jim, is also a removal hearing, in essence, to transfer him from Florida to New York. Now, that could happen today, it could happen this week, it's unclear. But as you mentioned, we will learn more today at 2:00 p.m. -- Jim?

SCIUTTO: Rosa Flores, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Back with us, James Gagliano and Joey Jackson to talk about all of this. So Joey, to you first. The law enforcement officials are reporting to Cnn, told Cnn that Sayoc apparently said after he was arrested that the pipe bombs wouldn't hurt anyone. Does that matter at all to prosecutors here or in his defense?

JOEY JACKSON, LAWYER: Well, I could tell you representing defendants, they say an awful lot of things, some true, some very untrue. And as a result of that, you never place your reliance in what a defendant said, you replace it in reality. And if the reality is that these devices represented a real danger, then that's problematic. And why is it problematic? Because it meets out the charges that he sent these devices that were, in fact, explosives.

SCIUTTO: And Chris Wray, the FBI director called them IEDs. I mean, he left -- he didn't leave any --

HARLOW: Yes, it's true --

SCIUTTO: Chance with that. With the Pittsburgh case, the fact that it's a hate crime adds to the severity of the charges that will follow. In the case of the serial bomber, the fact that he was targeting former presidents, in particular, does that add to the severity of the charges he's likely to face?

GAGLIANO: Those would be separate charges, so to your point, yes, it would add to that. And I wouldn't be surprised if they don't bring terrorism charges at some point in time. They don't charge him with, you know, building, transporting and sending WMDs because that's what those IEDs are, they're weapons of mass destruction.

The FBI, believe it or not, since World War I has kind of tracked hate crimes, we didn't call it that then. And then certainly during the civil rights era, you know, we all remember the 1964 Mississippi burning case --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

GAGLIANO: There was a need for the FBI to step in, in those situations because at that period of time you couldn't get convictions for murder of white men who had been accused of killing a Jewish man -- I'm sorry, two Jewish men and an African-American. So in this instance, yes, I think there will be additional charges added on to this, people arguing in the face(ph) of this stench(ph) without a difference.

I say that's not true, in many instances, the federal government is the only way that you can truly --

SCIUTTO: Right --

GAGLIANO: Get justice in these situations --

SCIUTTO: Yes, all right, James and Joey, of course, we'll follow all the developments in the legal cases following these acts of hate. As Pittsburgh mourns and the entire country mourns along with them, we're going to also spend a lot of time remembering the stories, the names, the faces of the lives lost.

[09:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: This morning, we are learning more about the 11 people who lost their lives in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre. And frankly, that's the way we would like to spend most more of our time because those are the lives.

HARLOW: Right --

SCIUTTO: They gave their lives. Memorial services for two of those victims will begin tomorrow.

HARLOW: You're looking at them on your screen right now. And let's always remember their names and their stories. Jessica Dean is with us in Pittsburgh to help us do just that. Jessica?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to both of you, as you said, so very important to take a little time and really learn more about these 11 people who had such deep ties to their community. So we want to tell you about each one of them and give you a little background on who they were.

We want to start first with Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, age 66, he was primary care physician who served so many people here in this community. We're told he was always wearing a bow tie and had an infectious laugh. Then we went to brothers, Cecil and David Rosenthal, ages 59 and 54.

They were known as sort of ambassadors at Tree of Life. A lot of people recall them standing at the back, welcoming you when you came inside. They were inseparable. Many people said they really looked out for one another. And a nonprofit here in Pittsburgh that supports people with disabilities said that they were well respected members of that community and called them extraordinary.

Also 97-year-old Rose Mallinger; she was a former school secretary, she regularly attended the synagogue. She was also described as spry, vibrant and the matriarch of her family. Again at 97 years old. Also a married couple, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, ages 84 and 86.

The Simons were married here at the Tree of Life Synagogue back in 1956. They were described by a neighbor as gracious and dignified and that they wanted to give back to people. They were very active within the Jewish community and the community at large as well.

Also Daniel Stein, 71 years old, he went to temple every Saturday, he was retired, and remembered for his dry sense of humor.