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Synagogue Shooting Suspect Appears in Court; Source: Authorities Believe Suspicious Package Sent to CNN in Atlanta is from Bombing Suspect; White House Denying That Trump Fanning Flames of Violence; Synagogue Posted Deadly Intentions on Website. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired October 29, 2018 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now. Held without bond. The gunman accused of slaughtering 11 Jewish worshippers appears in a Pittsburgh courtroom, held without bond as he faces federal murder and hate crime charges. There's new information about the extremist website described as a cesspool, where he signaled his intentions.
[17:00:24] Intercepted bomb. Another apparent pipe bomb is found in the mail, this time sent directly to CNN headquarters in Atlanta. It's similar to 14 others allegedly sent by an extremist Trump supporter who made his first appearance in federal court today.
Fanning the flames? The White House angrily denies that the president shares any measure of responsibility for provoking the Pittsburgh massacre or the package bombs. But is his incendiary rhetoric fanning the flames of hatred?
And bordering on escalation. The president uses the term "invasion" in connection with the would-be immigrants and is sending 5,000 active-duty troops to the southern border. What are they guarding against?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
With the nation rocked to its core by Saturday's massacre of Jewish worshippers in Pittsburgh and the mailing of more than a dozen pipe bombs to top Democrats and critics of President Trump, two suspects made initial court appearances today, even as the White House ignores the president's latest inflammatory rhetoric and denies he's that in any way stirring up hatred and violence.
I'll speak with Congressman Mike Doyle, who represents the Pittsburgh area where the synagogue attack took place. And our correspondents and specialists are standing by with full coverage.
Let's begin with CNN's Brian Todd and the investigation into the mass murder at the Pittsburgh synagogue.
Brian, what is the latest?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we have new information tonight on the alleged shooter's social media rants in the days and even in the minutes leading up to the massacre. And we've learned that federal prosecutors have initiated the process
to seek the death penalty for the suspect, who made his first appearance in court today.
TODD (voice-over): Entering court in a wheelchair, wearing a blue shirt, handcuffed, the accused synagogue shooter, Robert Bowers, who was shot by police, but is now out of the hospital, appeared before a federal judge in Pittsburgh. Tonight, he's behind bars. Prosecutors say Bowers is a flight risk and a danger to the community.
SCOTT BRADY, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA: We will have the opportunity to present evidence demonstrating that Robert Bowers murdered 11 people who were exercising their religious beliefs, and that he shot or injured six others, including four of whom were police officers responding to the shooting.
TODD: Bowers faces 29 federal charges, some of them punishable by death.
BRADY: Rest assured, we have a team of prosecutors working hard to ensure that justice is done.
TODD: Authorities say the 46-year-old Bowers opened fire inside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh Saturday, during shabbat services, using an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and three Glock handguns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seven-one! Seven-one! Contact! Contact! Shots fired! Shots fired!
TODD: Just minutes before storming the building, Bowers posted a social media message saying, quote, "I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics. I'm going in."
He posted that message on Gab, a social media platform which bills itself as a free-speech alternative to Twitter and Facebook, a platform established in 2016 that's been closely tracked by anti-hate groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center.
RICHARD COHEN, PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: Gab is a cesspool of hate, some of the ugliest stuff out there on the Web. And it's because Gab is kind of the wild, wild west, lots of anti-Semites, lots of racists, lots of very hardened bigots have flocked to it.
TODD: Gab denies supporting violence and says it contacted the FBI in the wake of the shooting.
Meanwhile, a new and terrifying account from inside the synagogue during the massacre. Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, seen here removing the Torah from the synagogue today, says shortly after the shooting began, he instructed people in his sanctuary to get down on the floor and hide between the solid oak pews. He says he was able to help some people in the front of the sanctuary get to exits or closets. But the people hiding in the back area of the sanctuary, he says, were exposed. RABBI JEFFREY MYERS, TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: I turned back to see if
I could help the remaining eight people in the back of my congregation. At that time, I could hear the gunfire getting louder. It was no longer safe for me to be there, and I had to leave them. One of the eight was shot, and she's survived her wounds. The other seven of my congregants were gunned down in my sanctuary. There is nothing I could do.
TODD: Now Rabbi Myers says President Trump, who plans to go to Pittsburgh tomorrow, is always welcome there, but the president's visit has caused a split among leaders of the Tree of Life synagogue. A former president of that synagogue, Lynnette Lederman, says the president is not welcome in Pittsburgh. She calls him, quote, "a purveyor of hate speech," which White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has vehemently denied -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting. Thank you very much.
Also appearing in court for the first time today, Cesar Sayoc, the Florida man accused of mailing a series of pipe bombs to leading Democrats and critics of President Trump. Another device addressed to CNN directly in Atlanta was discovered today at a nearby post office.
Our crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz is joining us right now.
First of all, what can you tell us about this latest package and apparently a hit list of others that were on this guy's, you know, desire to go after?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. They were on his desire. These were people that certainly, had law enforcement and the FBI not stopped him, probably would have received these packages.
It's a list of, oh, some have told me is in the hundreds. Some of the names are repeated on this list. And there are names from media folks to entertainment folks to public figures and political figures. So there's a whole range of people that are on this list.
The FBI today was reaching out to people that are on this list, just to give them a heads up that, "Hey, you know, your name was on this list." But, you know, law enforcement sources I've been talking to are stressing that there's really no threat for these folks. That out of abundance of caution, they're reaching out to them, letting them know, you are on this list.
But everyone is breathing a sigh of relief. They hope that by stopping him it ends it. They don't know for sure that there won't be other packages that will be received by others. So that is why they have notified the people on this list to say, if you do get anything, watch out. And certainly, that is a concern.
And the other package, obviously, was the one that was sent to Atlanta today. It's exactly the same thing as we've seen in the other packages. That was received this morning at a post office in Atlanta. And the bomb squad there is dealing with it. They took it. It's safe. And it's going to be in the custody of the FBI. And they'll probably, you know -- it will be additional charges that Sayoc will likely face.
BLITZER: But this one was addressed directly to CNN.
PROKUPECZ: It was. To our Atlanta headquarters. Yes. It says it on the package. It says CNN, Atlanta.
And certainly, you know, it's good that everyone is aware. People are being cautious about this, and they're aware of it that this may come in the mail, certainly at all the post offices. So they're keeping an eye. And no one has stopped looking. They're still concerned, Wolf, obviously, that there could be other packages.
BLITZER: What did the suspect have to say for himself when he appeared in this federal court today?
PROKUPECZ: So he -- you know, he was visibly emotional. There were tears in his eyes. He didn't speak much. His attorney did speak after court. He said that he's represented him before. And usually what you would hear from these attorneys, he's innocent until proven guilty. But certainly, you know, no one expected him to say anything.
We'll see. He's going to have another court date soon. This one will be in New York, which is leading this case, which is overseeing this case, the Southern District of New York. He's going to have future court appearances. He'll likely be indicted. And he could face a lot of new charges. So we'll see what happens there in New York.
BLITZER: I assume he will. All right. Thanks very much for that, Shimon Prokupecz.
With the nation stunned by the latest violence, President Trump is keeping up, perhaps even stepping up his inflammatory rhetoric. Let's go to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, for the very latest on that front -- Jim.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. The White House says the president and first lady will travel to Pittsburgh tomorrow to remember the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre.
But the White House is offering no apologies, no regrets for the president's rhetoric after he once again referred to the press in this country as the enemy of the people.
ACOSTA (voice-over): With his own incendiary rhetoric under a microscope, President Trump will visit Pittsburgh Tuesday and come face-to-face with a community that is divided over his mere presence. After the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The American people reject hatred, bigotry, prejudice and violence.
ACOSTA: White House press secretary Sarah Sanders angrily pushed back on any notion that the president's tendency to rip into his adversaries had anything to do with the carnage in Pittsburgh or the pipe bomb sent to Democratic politicians and CNN over the last week. The latest package to CNN discovered today.
SANDERS: The very first thing that the president did was condemn the attacks, both in Pittsburgh and in the pipe bombs. The very first thing the media did was blame the president and make him responsible for these ridiculous acts.
ACOSTA: That's not true. CNN was covering the details of the investigation into the pipe bombs when we were forced to evacuate our news room after one of the bombs was delivered to our offices.
But the president is hardly toning down his act, once again tearing into the caravan of migrants heading to the border, tweeting, "This is an invasion of our country, and our military is waiting for you."
Gunman Robert Bowers had also seized on the caravan before he shot up a synagogue, writing in a social media post, "I have noticed a change in people saying 'illegals' that now say 'invaders.' I like this. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society likes to bring in invaders that kill our people."
[17:10:02] MARK HETFIELD, PRESIDENT AND CEO, HEBREW IMMIGRANT AID SOCIETY: There's no question that the toxic environment that we're now in of hate speech has not been helped by the president's words. Absolutely not. About the caravan, about refugees, about Muslims. This has to come to an end.
ACOSTA: The president has also gone back to blaming the media, tweeting, "The fake news media, the true enemy of the people, must stop the open and obvious hostility and report the news accurately and fairly. That will do much to put out the flame."
But the White House declined to say which outlets it deems to be the enemy.
(on camera): Can you state for the record which outlets that you and the president regard as the enemy of the people?
SANDERS: I'm not going to walk through a list. But I think those individuals probably know who they are.
ACOSTA: Would that include my outlet, which received a bomb last week?
SANDERS: I don't think it's necessarily specific to a general -- broad generalization of a full outlet. At times I think there's individuals that the president would be referencing.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Even after Sanders defended the president's use of the terms "enemy of the people" and "fake news," she falsely stated Mr. Trump's margin in the 2016 election. SANDERS: And he got elected by an overwhelming majority of 63 million
Americans who came out and supported him and wanted to see his policies enacted.
ACOSTA: But here is a reality check. The president lost the popular vote in 2016 by 3 million votes.
And as for the media blaming the president for Pittsburgh and the pipe bombs, the press has reported on the suspects in both cases. But news outlets have also noted the concern, growing concern, coming from all sides of the political spectrum that the president's rhetoric has gotten out of hand, creating a climate where, potentially, violence can happen. Words matter -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Jim Acosta reporting for us. Thank you very much.
Joining us now, Congressman Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, whose district includes that Pittsburgh area where the synagogue is located.
Congressman, our hearts go out to all -- all of your entire community there, and all of the people impacted. First of all, how is the community holding up right now?
REP. MIKE DOYLE (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Wolf, thank you for that, Wolf. And I can tell you that Squirrel Hill and the Pittsburgh community is a very resilient bunch. This is a -- this is a great neighborhood in Pittsburgh, where people of all races, all religions, live together, and something like this is just unimaginable. But they're strong, good-hearted people. And when something like this happens, they come together and they support one another.
And the entire Pittsburgh community has been supportive. We had a vigil last night that over 5,000 people, that you couldn't fit them all in the Soldiers and Sailors Hall where it was. And we heard not only from the three rabbis who were directly -- their congregations directly affected, but by people from every faith tradition in the Pittsburgh area offering support. It was an emotional night, but it was an inspiring night. And the rabbi that said it the best from Tree of Life Synagogue is that hate has no place in Pittsburgh.
BLITZER: Some Jewish --
DOYLE: We're going to get through it.
BLITZER: Yes, I'm sure you will. And you have a terrific Jewish community, a terrific community in Pittsburgh to begin with. Some Jewish leaders are openly saying now in Pittsburgh that they don't want a presidential visit tomorrow.
What do you say? Do you want President Trump to come to your congressional district and speak?
DOYLE: Well, I think the focus should be on the families. Tomorrow, nine families are going to bury 11 people. And I know where my focus is tomorrow. It's going to be at the services. I'll be attending one of them. I think that's where the focus of most Pittsburghers are.
I want whatever the families want, whatever the congregation wants. This is -- this is about them. It's not about the president or anybody else. It's about those families who have lost loved ones and are mourning. And if they want the president there, then that's fine with me. But it should be their decision, not anyone else's.
BLITZER: What would you like to hear publicly from the president?
DOYLE: Well, the president has the largest megaphone in the country. And he should use it to help unite the country. And unfortunately, that's not what he does.
I think if this is going to stop, the example should start at the top. And if the president would start using his megaphone to help unite Americans, maybe that would become contagious, instead of the sort of things that we've been seeing recently in this country on down.
This has happened in races in our state in Pennsylvania, where a candidate for the governor of our state has talked about stepping on another candidate's face with golf spikes.
[17:15:00] What -- what makes people speak like this in -- in the public discourse that are running for high political offices? It's just not acceptable, and everybody needs to look in the mirror and ask themselves, what are they doing to put an end to this?
I think the responsibility starts at the top. But it goes all the way down to every American.
BLITZER: Yes. I think you're right. Do you think the federal government, Congressman, is prepared to deal with this clear increase, this dramatic rise in domestic right-wing terrorism, especially directed at the Jewish community?
DOYLE: I think this is horrific. And there has been a spike.
The Jewish community here in Pittsburgh is just in shock. We're all in shock over this.
I think we need to start -- you know, we monitor some of these hate sites like this particular one that the shooter was on. And when you combine that kind of speech on a hate site with the fact that this owned 21 weapons, there should be a red flag that goes up about that. A person like that should get a visit.
I just think that we need to be more vigilant and more aware, all of us as citizens, that when we see someone who speaks this way or exhibits that kind of behavior, or we see a posting on a website or on any social media, it's everyone's responsibility to report that. If somebody says something threatening or hateful, that we should know about it. And I think it's all of our responsibility as people on social media to say something when we see it. BLITZER: In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Congressman, the
president suggested the massacre could have been prevented if the synagogue had better security. What's your reaction to those remarks?
DOYLE: This shooter shot four police officers: two patrolmen and two SWAT officers. These were highly-trained individuals with weapons. And in the SWAT team's case, with weapons that were even more so than you'd see on any normal security officer.
The idea that the answer for our country is to arm everybody, I think is ridiculous. I don't think any Pittsburgher wants to see armed security in their churches or synagogues. And you could speak to the congregants and ask them what they think. But you could speak to the congregants at the Tree of Life Synagogue and ask them what they think.
But I think the suggestion that the answer to this is to arm everybody in the country doesn't make sense, whether it's a school teacher or whether it's people in our churches.
I think the answer is, when you see mass shootings, why do Americans, why do civilians, have access to military-style weapons whose only purpose is to kill lots of people quickly? That's what an AR-15 does. And if you want to solve some of the problems of mass shootings, then let's take these kinds of weapons out of the hands of civilians.
BLITZER: I understand, Congressman, you have a personal connection to two of the people who were lost in the shooting, Cecil and David Rosenthal. I'd like to give you a chance to speak -- to speak a little bit about those victims, what it means to you and to your community.
DOYLE: Well, I want to be clear. I didn't know the two brothers personally. I know their sister, who is a friend of mine, and someone I've known for a long, long time. And I was with her briefly at the scene when this first happened, before we knew what exactly had happened to all of the people inside. And as it turns out, unfortunately, she lost both of her brothers.
So it's her that is a friend and an acquaintance that I've known a long time. And that's the service I'll be attending tomorrow, to pay my respects and to -- to give her a hug and tell her how sorry I am that this has happened in her family.
BLITZER: Please pass along our deepest, deepest condolences to the family, Congressman. May they rest in peace. That is so, so sad. Thank you so much for joining us.
DOYLE: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Up next, new information emerging about the extremist website described as a cesspool where the accused synagogue shooter signaled his intentions.
And President Trump will visit Pittsburgh as the city is gripped by grief and horror in the wake of the synagogue massacre. Will his visit help or hurt?
[17:24:00] BLITZER: The gunman held for the massacre of 11 Jewish worshippers appeared in court today, facing federal murder and hate crime charges, even as we learn more about the extremist website he frequented.
Our senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, has been digging into that. Drew, what are you learning?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: He seems to be a loner in real life, but online, he was a very strong racist who had a home at one particular website, Wolf.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Just before authorities say he entered this synagogue to kill 11 Jews, the killer posted his intentions online. "I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered," he posted. Screw your optics. I'm going in."
Where was that? On a social media site you most likely never heard of, but it turns out Gab.com has become an online home for those who love to hate.
HEIDI BEIRICH, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: What you find is just an absolute cesspool of the most vile commentary that you can find. Extreme misogyny, anti-Semitism, racism. There are thousands and thousands of people on there who trade in the ugliest propaganda that mankind can create.
[17:25:05] GRIFFIN: Gab is currently not operating. An online statement says the company has spent the past 48 hours proudly working with the DOJ and FBI to bring justice to an alleged terrorist.
Until now, the site has put few restrictions on its users. A former company official told CNN Gab does ban users who call for violence, child porn or drug trafficking but not hate speech.
According to the site itself, Gab's mission is very simple: Defend free speech and individual liberty for all people.
On Saturday evening after the shooting, Gab users were calling the shooter a hero. On its website, Gab says it's the alleged shooter who holds sole responsibility for his actions.
And when CNN tried to get reaction from Gab on why the suspect's profile had been altered after his arrest, Gab tweeted, "You have our statement. Deal with it."
The Southern Poverty Law Center said it's no surprise to anyone the shooter's online home was Gab.
BEIRICH: It was the first place that we looked, actually. GRIFFIN: The suspect posted about the infestation of Jews. He
reposted calls for Jews to get out or leave. He promoted a conspiracy theory that it is Jews helping transport migrants in the migrant caravans in Central America, repeatedly calling those migrants "invaders," using language common on right-wing TV and radio.
He linked the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society, HIAS, an organization that helps resettle refugees, to those caravans. "HIAS likes to bring in invaders that kill our people," he posted. On Saturday morning when he wrote, "I'm going in," he was going into a synagogue that hosted a HIAS service just a week before.
GRIFFIN: And Wolf, an Anti-Defamation League study released just this year found a staggering expansion of online harassment coincided with the increase in offline anti-Semitism. The study specifically pointing to fringe Internet communities, including Gab, Wolf, where anti-Semitism messages begin and quickly spread to the mainstream -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Horrendous situation indeed. All right. Drew, thank you. Drew Griffin reporting.
Coming up, the White House angrily denies it, but was the Pittsburgh synagogue gunman inspired in any way by the president's incendiary rhetoric?
And with the massacre of Jewish worshippers and the mailing of pipe bombs, are hate crimes and extremism on the rise right here in the United States?
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're following multiple new developments in the investigation of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre. The gunman made an initial court appearance today, and we're learning more about his interactions on hate-filled social media websites.
[17:32:24] Also today, the Trump White House denied the president's rhetoric encourages extremists.
Let's talk about all of this with our analysts. And Laura Jarrett, first to you. What are the federal investigators -- and you cover the Justice Department for us -- looking into right now as they try to figure out what motivated this gunman?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is really a case like so many we've seen, where the warning signs are truly hiding in plain sight.
Tonight, investigators are reviewing surveillance camera footage. They're conducting witness interviews, but they're also scrubbing social media. In particular, the suspect here, Robert Bowers, had a robust account on Gab.com, which is described as a cesspool of rants for places or people who were kicked off of Facebook and Twitter. And he had a number of anti-Semitic rants on the page, including rants about a Jewish resettlement organization trying to transport members of the migrant caravan that we've heard so much about.
So tonight, investigators are truly trying to compile a picture of this man's motivations.
BLITZER: Phil Mudd, what stage is this investigation in right now?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: It might look simple, cut and dry. He's -- the man is obviously out of the hospital; he's in custody. So you might say let's walk away and move on. I would disagree with that. This is not that simple.
If you look at this situation, you not only have the subject, you have the question about whether there are people around him who were either sympathetic -- that's interviews. And there should be interviews going on right now, for example, with people who were communicating with him on social media, or if he had friends who were talking to him.
But there's a secondary question, and it's really tough to get at. Regardless of whether they supported this particular act, is there a group of people out there who share his views and may themselves generate another plot? So getting that second order, are there people around him, I think is a lot of tougher than this first question of what motivated this guy.
BLITZER: You know, Gloria, the White House is strongly pushing back on this suggestion that the shooter was motivated, at least in part, inspired by the president's angry rhetoric. And we know that the president often comes up with some pretty angry rhetoric.
In his final post on an extremist website -- and we've been pointing it out all day -- the shooter echoed a lot of what we hear from conservative media outlets, including FOX News. Here's just a sampling of the past few days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not a caravan. It's an invasion.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Overwrought coverage of this invading hoard.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Literally marching to the U.S. in what would be a mass invasion.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE/FOX NEWS COMMENTATOR: It looks like an invasion. Doesn't look like a family reunion.
JEANNE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: And on your way out, you can tell the Democrats, George Soros, and the angry mob that's coming here, you either come the right way like everyone else, or be ready to face the military and a one-way ticket back to where you came from.
(END VIDEO CLIP) [17:35:09] BLITZER: And Gloria, I'm going to show our viewers a post.
This is six days before the shooting from -- from what he said: "I have noticed the change in people saying 'illegals' that now say 'invaders.' I like this." So this whole nation of an invasion is something he liked.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, this is like a game of telephone. It's some perverted game of telephone, to be quite honest about it.
I mean, the president himself even tweeted on the caravan, using -- using the word "invasion," saying, "This is an invasion of our country and our military is waiting for you." Of course, threatening.
And then you have -- you have the shooter saying, "I like this." You have this parroted on FOX News.
And so, look, you're not going to draw a straight line between A and B here. I mean, Phil, you know more about this than anybody. But you take a look at everything. You take a look at the general conversation and the shooter is like, "I've noticed a change. And, you know, I like this."
Well, suddenly they're invaders. Suddenly, the military is going to be there. Suddenly, they're hordes as, you know, Jeanine Pirro has said. And it goes -- it goes on and on. And it's a bad game of telephone. And very dangerous.
BLITZER: As you point out, the president tweeted today, once again, "This is an invasion of our country."
BLITZER: He used the word "invasion." "And our military is waiting for you."
As you know, Chris, there seems to be sort of a revolving door. FOX News, the White House. The president clearly spends a lot of, quote, "executive time" watching FOX News. What's your analysis?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Well, I mean, I think there are a couple of things.
One, we don't know him all that often, because he's very low-profile. But remember, Bill Shine, who was one of the highest-ranking members of the FOX News Channel network, is now installed -- I don't know his exact title, but he's effectively a communications adviser to the president of the United States. Not unimportant.
The other thing is, and I think Brian Stelter, our colleague, has pointed this out. Donald Trump, particularly on Twitter, but generally speaking, acts a lot more like what we've come to associate with a conservative talk show host than he does a president of the United States. So in some ways, I'm not terribly surprised. Because to Gloria's
point, it's sort of a chicken and the egg. Did Donald Trump come up with t? Did he watch Jeanine Pirro? Did he watch Hannity? It's this sort of constant, vicious circle that I think, for the most part, Donald Trump is doing, not necessarily because he believes it, but because he knows it works, politically speaking.
The problem is, there's lots and lots of people out there who are hearing this and are inspired, motivated, listening, who don't know that Donald Trump is doing this to rally his base. People come up to me all of the time and says, "Donald Trump really hates the media."
I say, "Let me stop you right there. Donald Trump doesn't hate the media at all. He loves the media. He consumes more media. He knows our names. He knows what we write. He knows stories we've written, good and bad about him. he knows what we've said on television about him."
This is a schtick. He is doing this because it works for him politically.
BORGER: Well --
CILLIZZA: But people don't know that. And they say and do things, as we've seen, that don't lay at Donald Trump's feet. But these are -- these are impacts from the way in which he conducts himself.
BORGER: And, it's -- you know, I don't think he really has ever understood the job of the president's -- of the president.
BORGER: So, you know, his job, sure, he's campaigning; he wants to win an election, et cetera, et cetera. But his job is not to divide.
BORGER: After something -- after something like this occurs. Or to inspire something like this. Which, again, we can't draw a line from A to B, but we do know the president's language. And we hear the president's language.
And when there are, you know -- there are pipe bombs that are being sent to members of the media and we are the enemy of the people, it's hard not to say, "Wait a minute. What's the connection?"
BLITZER: He said today, "The true enemy --"
BORGER: The true enemy of the people.
BLITZER: "-- of the people." Everybody stick around. There's a lot more. We'll be right back.
[17:43:35] BLITZER: We're back with our reporters and our analysts. And Phil, take a look at this graphic: anti-Semitic incidents in the United States over the last decade. There's always been incidents, but there's been a dramatic spike over the past year or so. And the U.S. law enforcement, they've got to deal with that.
MUDD: They do. And let me tell you why this is difficult.
In the past, when I used to be in the business, you could face an organization that had a central locus. You go back to the al Qaeda organization.
The problem you see with some of the groups you're talking about today is fragmentation. You can't go after 1,000 groups who have ten members and ensure that you can penetrate every one of them.
Once you find them, if they're significant, they want recruits. We could get into, when I was at the FBI, those organizations, but with that kind of fragmentation, you can't follow everyone.
And the second thought I'd offer is once they get on social media and find somebody two states away that validates their views, the likelihood they become more extreme increases. You can't follow all these people.
BLITZER: You know, Laura, a few years ago, the Department of Justice publicly announced that they would renew and have a stronger focus on what they called domestic terrorism. Is that still the case?
JARRETT: Officials at the Justice Department, Wolf, would tell you that prosecuting hate crimes remains a serious and significant priority.
But the issue is, these are tough cases to make. It is not every day that you have a suspect like the one we have in Pittsburgh, who actually announces at the scene of the crime that he's there and he intends to kill the group at issue.
And so even though there's a statute on the books, and people are using it, about 50 cases, indicted defendants, have happened since January of 2017. But these are hard, very difficult cases to make Wolf.
BLITZER: You know, Gloria, I want to get back to this because it's so significant. I know, over the past year, even longer, so many people have gone to the President -- friends of his, supporters of his, high- level people -- and pleaded with him, stop calling the media the enemy of the people. But he refuses to do so, and it's hard to understand why.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the reason why is that he has to have an enemy. He always has to have an enemy. I mean, Donald Trump likes to say he punches back and so he has to presume that somebody is punching at him without any good reason.
And so even today at 8:03 in the morning, he said, you know, the fake news media, true enemy of the people, must stop the open and obvious hostility -- to whom, that would be to him -- and report the news accurately and fairly. That will do much to put out the flame.
Well, let's talk about the flame and where the flame comes from. You know, this is Donald Trump, once again, just setting up a bogeyman over there and saying, you know, this is the thing that I got to punch at and I'm president so I can do it.
BLITZER: Chris, doesn't he understand that this can inflame, that this will, you know, endanger journalists out there because there are some fanatics who will listen to him? Well, if they are the enemy, we've got to do something about it.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Does he understand it? Yes, I think he does. I just don't think it's the primary concern in his mind. I think the primary concern in his mind is partly exactly what Gloria said, which is he needs a foe, always has, and partly because he knows it has worked for him since the start.
I mean, if you look -- if you want to look for a consistent strain in what Donald Trump believes from June 2015 until today, his anti-media rhetoric is one of the only things that has always been out there.
The other point to make, Wolf, I think is every president prior to Donald Trump, they -- many of them failed in this attempt. But they had, I think, a fundamental belief that the White House and the presidency is a position of moral leadership. That it is incumbent upon you to try to take the high road.
Now, you know, Nixon, Bill Clinton -- I understand people on Twitter that, in fact, they don't always meet that. But there was a sense that the presidency meant that. It connoted that you try that.
Donald Trump has no such -- there is no moral authority that he views he needs to live up to. He does what is good for him, and he doesn't do what is bad for him. It's that simple.
BLITZER: All right, everybody stand by. There is more news we're following. Including there's new information on the search for what caused an airliner with 189 people aboard to plunge into the ocean, killing everyone.
[17:52:30] BLITZER: Investigators are trying to determine the cause of a deadly airliner crash. All 189 people aboard a Lion Air jet died when the plane went into the ocean shortly after taking off this morning from Jakarta in Indonesia.
Our senior international correspondent Ivan Watson is in Jakarta for us. So, Ivan, what happened?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a fatal mystery. How come a brand-new Boeing 737, belonging to a low-budget Indonesian airline, tumbled out of the sky shortly after takeoff with 189 crewmembers and passengers on board?
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WATSON (voice-over): On the surface of the Java Sea, pieces of what's left of Lion Air Flight 610. Rescuers and divers now searching around the clock for the flight data recorder or black box and fuselage of the doomed plane.
The aircraft crashed Monday morning just minutes after takeoff with 189 passengers and crew on board. Indonesian authorities say they have little hope of finding any survivors.
BAMBANG SURYO AJI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SEARCH AND RESCUE AGENCY OF INDONESIA (through translator): My prediction is no one survived because we only managed to retrieve body parts that are incomplete.
WATSON (voice-over): It was supposed to be a routine domestic flight of about an hour from Jakarta to Pongal, Penang. But 13 minutes after takeoff, the captain requested to return to the airport. Moments later, the brand-new Boeing 737 disappeared from radar.
Technical issues with the plane were reported the night before, but the airline's CEO said engineers repaired the problem and determined the plane was ready to fly.
Indonesia's President visited relatives of passengers and ordered an investigation into the mystery of why a brand-new plane tumbled out of the sky so shortly after lift-off.
WATSON: So, Wolf, authorities say that they do not see any signs of burns or some kind of explosion on the debris they've pulled out of the Java Sea thus far.
Meanwhile, the relatives of the 189 passengers and crew, they are in this agonizing vigil. I talked to a 14-year-old girl whose mother was on the plane. She told me that her mom was A very kind person, and she doesn't understand why this happened and perhaps that's God's way -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Awful situation. All right, Ivan, thank you very much. Ivan Watson in Jakarta for us.
[17:55:00] Coming up, as the nation is rocked by the massacre of Jewish worshippers and the mailing of pipe bombs to CNN and critics of President Trump, two suspects made court appearances today while the White House denies the President's volatile rhetoric is fanning the flames.
BLITZER: Happening now, fueled by hate. An accused killer in court facing 29 charges for the slaughter of 11 people inside a Pittsburgh synagogue. Tonight, new details of his social media postings that read like a roadmap to murder.
[18:00:08] Target list.