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Latest on Aurora, IL, Shootings; Democratic Candidates for 2020 Presidential Election Out Stumping; Trump Emergency Declaration Discussed; Report: Several Killed As Protests Erupt In Haiti; Missionaries And Nurses Trapped In Haiti As Protests Sweep Country; Two Men Arrested In Connection With Alleged Attack On Empire Star Jussie Smollet Released Without Charge; DNC Cyber Security Head Issues Stark Warning To Candidates; Vatican Defrocks Top U.S. Cardinal Over Sex Abuse Claims. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired February 16, 2019 - 12:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: Hello again everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin with new details on that shooting rampage in Aurora, Illinois. Moments ago police gave an update. It happened inside the Henry Pratt Manufacturing Company in a suburb of Chicago yesterday.

Police say the gunman was Gary Martin, a 15 year veteran employee who was being fired that day. We shot and killed five of his co-workers and injured five police officers before dying in an exchange of gunfire with police.

Reports say Martin went to his local connivance store yesterday morning. Clients there said he seemed fine. The big question investigators are trying out if Martin planned the shooting.

We're also learning more about the victims today.


KRISTEN ZIMAN, AURORA, ILLINOIS POLICE CHIEF: We would also like to provide limited information on the employees of Henry Pratt who are victims of yesterday (inaudible).

Clayton Parks of Elgin, Illinois, Mr. Parks was the human resource manager at Henry Pratt. Trevor Wehner of DeKalb, Illinois, Mr. Wehner was a human resource intern at Henry Pratt and a student at Northern Illinois University.

Russell Beyer of Yorkville, Illinois, Mr. Beyer was a mold operator at Henry Pratt. Vincente Juarez of Oswego, Illinois, Mr. Juarez was a stock room attendant and fork lift operator at Henry Pratt. Josh Pinkard of Oswego, Illinois, Mr. Pinkard was the plant manager for Henry Pratt.

Another shooting victim, a male employee of Henry Pratt was treated at an area hospital for non life threatening gun shot wounds sustained during the shooting incident. Preliminary investigation indicates that the deceased victims were located in the same general area of the Henry Pratt facility.

While this investigation is ongoing we believe that there was only one assailant.


WHITFIELD: That deadly Aurora, Illinois shooting triggering a strong reaction from a number of Democrats on the 2020 Presidential campaign trail, some of them calling for the gun control debate to be front and center.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D) CALIFORNIA: We know that America has been offered a false choice on gun safety laws. The false choice suggesting you're either in favor of the second amendment or you want to take everybody's guns away.

That's a false choice. It's not true. That's not what has to happen.

BETO O'ROURKE, (D) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: The reason that this countries talking about gun violence and stands a chance to do something about it is not because of people like me already in positions of power, not members of Congress, not the President.

It's young people who have forced the conversation in marching for all our lives or holding people like me accountable.


WHITFIELD: Other Democrats running for President also reacting on Twitter. Senator Corey Booker tweeting, "my heart is with the loved ones of the victims of the horrific shooting in Aurora, Illinois that has left five people dead and more injured, but we know our thoughts and prayers are not enough. Congress must take action to prevent gun violence".

Senator Elizabeth Warren also sending this tweet highlighting what she calls common sense gun reforms that Americans support and criticizing Congress for "not lifting a finger to change the gun laws in the year since the Parkland shooting".

Right now a number of Democratic Presidential candidates are out on the campaign trail and as the 2020 race for the Democratic nomination heats up so does our coverage. We have a team of correspondents covering the candidates as they stump (ph) in states with early primaries and caucus.

Let's begin with one of the big name Democrats who has not yet announced if he will run for the White House. CNN's Leyla Santiago is covering Beto O'Rourke's visit to Chicago. So Leyla what is the plan for Beto in terms of making an announcement or a decision?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well he was asked just in the last 24 hours and his answer really hasn't changed. He's thinking about it, that's what he continues to say. We expect him to have an answer by the end of the month on a decision, but here's the thing.

Where he is today at the U.S. Hispanic leadership conference in Chicago is key because of location. We are just an hour away from Aurora where, as you've covered, they had that deadly shooting.

So while this is a conference, four Latino leaders where he will likely talk about key things like education, health care, immigration. There's a chance he could also talk gun control. Now he is someone who in the past has said, "Look I'm not here to take away anyone's guns", but he's also someone who often brags about having an F rating with the NRA.

So we're still waiting to see exactly what he decides to focus on in the hour or so here at this conference, but where he's been recently has been in places of people that says have sometimes been forgotten. He's visiting a lot of community colleges. In the past month he's been to...


SANTIAGO: ... to universities and community colleges in New Mexico, Texas, New York, last night Wisconsin. And if you're someone who is seriously thinking about somehow tapping into that Obama coalition of young voters that may feel forgotten, Wisconsin might be a good place to start with that.

So while he continues to say, "I'm thinking about it, I haven't made a decision. I'm waiting to talk this out with my family". You and I both know that actions often speak louder than words and he sure is sort of acting like he's reaching out to a lot of voters right now.

WHITFIELD: OK, leaning toward the yes, possibly, Leyla.

SANTIAGO: We'll see.

WHITFIELD: We will see. We'll see, Leyla, thank you so much in Chicago.

All right let's go now to CNN's Kyung Lah who is in Columbia, South Carolina where Senator Kamala Harris is hosting a town hall soon. So Kyung, what does Harris have planned today? This is at least her second visit in a very short amount of time to South Carolina.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes and she is trying to maximize any sort of good will she has after announcing. This is her second visit here to South Carolina as you point out, Fred.

She right now is walking through Columbia, South Carolina where she is meeting various owners - store owners, small business owners who are black women. Black women in this state absolutely critical, she considers them her base, her path to winning the primary in this state, but she is walking and chewing gum at the same time, if you will. Just a few minutes ago she tweeted about universal back ground checks,

gun violence in this state especially powerful, especially potent because of what happened at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Yesterday she stopped there, she laid flower, she paused outside of the church and she made them a private visit.

She wanted to honor the nine people who were filled during bible study and then you heard her earlier, Fred, they're talking powerfully about how you can be pro second amendment at the same time also support universal back ground checks and the elimination of assault weapons.

So what we're seeing from her, Fredricka is trying to talk to those issues that South Carolina holds near and dear, the creation of a small business economy lead by black women as well as trying to protect the lives of black lives here in South Carolina, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Kyung Lah there in Columbia thank you so much. All right let's talk further, with me now is Mark McKinnon who served as a senior advisor to the George W. Bush and John McCain Presidential campaigns and is a host of Showtime's THE CIRCUS, which airs on Sundays.

And Karen Finney, a former spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign and a CNN political commentator, also with me is Tim Mak the political commentator for NPR. Good to see all of you.


WHITFIELD: All right, so Tim let me begin with you in this push by number of Democratic candidates to make gun control a major issue on the campaign trail. In the past Democrats have usually tried to avoid this very decisive (ph) issue, but then Aurora, Illinois made it particularly, I guess, poignant and topical for so many of these candidates to speak out.

So what, overall, would be driving the decision for candidates to say let's talk about gun control?

TIM MAK, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, NPR: Well the conversation about gun control has really changed over the last decade. It used to be something where the NRA could command respect of both some moderate Democrats and most Republicans, but we've really seen that it's become a polarizing issue.

Once the Democrats took control of the House they decided that they were going to make gun legislation one of their major priorities. Last week they held their first hearing on gun violence in almost a decade and they're going to be voting on legislation in the House regarding back ground checks probably by the end of this month.

It's a major issue for Democrats and I don't think that there are a lot of Democrat's who are going to be running for President who can't get behind this sort of legislation.

WHITFIELD: But Mark you just heard Kamala Harris saying there's a distinction. It's not about taking away your guns completely when talking about controlling matters. So will it be up to Democrats to work really hard to try to send this message of protection of second amendment rights at the same time calling for restrictions that don't necessarily mean taking your guns away?

MARK MCKINNON, SHOWTIME HOST: Yes it's a fine line in thinking about some of those primary states that are going to be important. They're not all coastal a lot of them are in Middle America and so that's the trick.

You've got candidates out there like Michael Bloomberg who's been very forward leaning on this for a long time. And so given the attention this issue is getting because of all these national tragedies if somebody like him that has been out front on these issues for a long time can get some traction just because they've been working on it for a long time.

But you know this makes you think...


MCKINNON: ... or makes me think with the President calling a national emergency on the border how easily it would be for a Democratic President to call a national emergency on an issue like this.

WHITFIELD: And so Karen, there was I think some universal thinking that after Parkland things were different. After Las Vegas things would be different. Is it? Is it still a difficult battle particularly for Democrats to embark on?

FINNEY: You know here's the thing I want to be clear about, Democrats - it's not that this is an issue for Democrats. This is an American issue and I think the issue landscape in the country has changed quite frankly.

I mean consider the fact that in 2018 you had 15 Republicans who had an A rating by the NRA who were replaced by a Democrat who had an F rating by the NRA. So when you think about the fact - I can just tell you for myself.

Last fall so many friends of mine, Republicans and Democrats had their children coming home, second graders, third graders. One told me, "well my daughter came home and said, guess what we did today, mommy? We got M&M's for being able to hide in the closet without making a sound".

That was an active shooter drill. Now when your child is coming home and you're having that conversation it becomes a very different issue for parents regardless of your political affliction as you're thinking about the violence that your children are being exposed to.

And the fact that this is on the minds of your kids so I think what you're seeing is in 2020 it's going to be a national conversation and I don't think any candidate is going to be able to get away from having the conversation. Particularly think about the fact that where Kamala is today, for example, in South Carolina in communities of color.

The way this issue impacts our communities very different than in the way the NRA would cast these issues. So it's going to be a very different conversation 2020.

WHITFIELD: So, Tim, might this be a turning point for what has always been a powerful NRA lobby that perhaps some of the power is being taken away just by virtue of recent, very huge, sizable events?

MAK: Yes, the year since Parkland has been a pretty negative one for the National Rifle Association. You could see from their reporting on their finances that their fundraising is down, their political spending is down and they're facing a sustained opposition in the group funded by Michael Bloomberg, "Every Town for Gun Safety", that they've never seen before and they acknowledge how much of a problem this is creating for some of their lobbying efforts.

The NRA's influence has been on the decline but they still remain a major force to be reckoned with.

WHITFIELD: Yes. So Mark, do you feel heading into primary season right now, 10 Democratic candidates potentially when all is said and done, maybe even more that there may be a real mirror image of what we saw in the Republican pool of candidates in the last election or will this be distinctively different?

MCKINNON: Oh I think it's going to be a lot like the last Republican primaries. It's going to make the circus look like a zoo.


MCKINNON: We had 18 candidates as I recall back when we started this thing and I think there's that many now already on the Democratic side. So I think it's going to be fascinating.

I think we've got a lot of really good candidates out there, very diverse set of candidates that kind of cross the ideological spectrum, the demographic spectrum, the age spectrum, so we're going to have a lot of fun covering this race over the next couple of years.

WHITFIELD: But what about that whole climate of civility? I mean, Karen do...


WHITFIELD: ... that was lacking, right?


WHITFIELD: ... in the last election and there almost seems to be like a collect (ph). You think about all the tweets, whether it was Warren, Gillibrand, all congratulating each other for being in the race. I mean does that kind of set the tone of, their might be civility amongst all these competitors?

FINNEY: I think you're going to see it be a much more civil - we're not going to have someone, for example like Donald Trump saying the kinds of things that he said during the Republican primaries and during the Republican debates, but I just want to go to one other thing when we're talking about this gun debate here in our country.

Remember that Mark Kelly just got into the race for Senate in Arizona. He is a national - he and Gabby are national leaders on this issue. So just by the virtue of the fact of his being running for Senate in 2020 I think that's going to be a really powerful person.

And I hope that Democrats will actually push the NRA to explain how does (inaudible) infiltrated by a Russian operative rather than - I think we need to keep them on defense and sort of turn our fire outward rather than at each other. I hope that's how we maintain civility in 2020 among our candidates.

WHITFIELD: Yes. All right, Karen, Tim, Mark thank you so much. Of course don't miss Mark McKinnon on the new Showtime series, THE CIRCUS.

And of course join CNN Monday night as 2020 Presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar takes questions in a New Hampshire town hall moderated by Don Lemon. That's Monday night 10:00 Eastern right here on CNN.



WHITFIELD: Welcome back. As the ink was still drying on President Trump's declaration of a national emergency along the southern border, the lawsuits were being drawn up, and Trump gave them even more ammunition with his comment.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everything else, we have so much, as I said, I don't know what to do with it -- we have so much money, but on the wall they skimped.

So I did - I was successful in that sense but I want to do it faster. I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this, but I'd rather do it much faster.


WHITFIELD: Yes. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler sent a strongly worded letter to the President announcing his plans to investigate the emergency declaration.

CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood is in West Palm Beach, Florida so Sarah the President is golfing today so it doesn't feel like he's too worried about an emergency?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well Fred, yesterday he and the White House both acknowledging the likelihood that this could get tied up in courts and although...


WESTWOOD: ... White House officials have said that they crafted this declaration with these almost inevitable court battles in mind, this was as much a symbolic move as anything else.

President Trump was under pressure from allies not to sign a bipartisan spending package unless he could at least claim that he was trying to supplement it with additional federal funds. That spending package, by the way, gave him less than half of what he had asked for in terms of wall funding.

So now he's trying to unlock roughly $6 billion with this emergency declaration. It's going to come from a few different sources, for example from the Treasury Departments Forfeiture Fund, from the Pentagon's Drug Interdiction Program.

Now there are a couple of things that Congress can try to do to stop this from happening or at least slow down the process. One of them is to pass a resolution of disapproval and House Democrats have already said they plan to pursue that. And another is investigate, as you've mentioned House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, a Democrat, already saying he plans to hold hearings about how this declaration came together.

The Trump administration could also face some other kinds of legal challenges, for example interest groups. They could challenge the constitutionality of the declaration in court and land owners with private property along the southern border they are likely to bring cases to try to stop the government from using eminent domain to seize their land when it comes time to build along the southern border.

So there are a lot of road blocks facing the Trump administration before officials even see a dime of that $6 billion. Right now, Fred, the only money guaranteed to go toward construction to the wall is that $1.4 billion including in the spending package that Trump signed yesterday.

WHITFIELD: All right, Sarah Westwood thank you so much. So this is what we know about some of those lawsuits.

One was filed by El Paso country and three non-profit organizations. They claim the order violates the concept of separation of powers. The American Civil Liberties Union also announced it's intent to sue.

Before Trump even finished his event in the Rose Garden he laid out how he thinks his case just might unfold in the courts.


TRUMP: We will have a national emergency and we will then be sued and they will sue us in the ninth circuit even though it shouldn't be there and we will possibly get a bad ruling and then we'll get another bad ruling and then we'll end up in the Supreme Court and hopefully we'll get a fair shake.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk more about this and how it just might be playing out. Joining me now, former New York prosecutor Paul Callan and Robert Mueller's former special assistant at the Justice Department Michael Zeldin.

All right good to see you both. All right, so Paul you know the President revealed that he had been thinking about it. He knows the sequence of events potentially and how it would be challenged and even in today's WASHINGTON POST reporting that attorneys within the White House and the President have been talking about this since early 2018 about how to go around Congress.

So how much has the President undermined his case?

PAUL CALLAN, FORMER NEW YORK PROSECUTOR: Well I think he has undermined the case by kind of suggested that it's not really a national emergency. He's just using this as a way to get the wall built and this is one of many options I think he felt he had.

But on the other hand in terms of what happens in court, first of all the fact that these law suits have been filed already I think they're premature. They're not - sometimes the Judges say they're not right for adjudication. In other words, nothings happened at the border yet so what are you trying to prevent?

The second thing is that there's a doctrine that the Supreme Court often invokes and other federal courts do that if it's a political question, a question of a fight between the legislative brand and the executive brand a lot of times the Supreme Court backs off and defers - doesn't get involved in the fight.

And this law has been invoked probably 50 times in the past by numerous Presidents ranging from things as little as the flu they declare national emergency. So it's going to be very interesting to see how it turns out in court.

WHITFIELD: So Michael, do you see lower court will resolve this matter? That perhaps the executive brand is over reaching here?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, FORMER ASSISTANT AT JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: This is complicated. I think that - and I agree with Paul that there is a lot of sort of premature legal activity here.

The thing that first has to happen is whether or not this declaration of a national emergency is lawful and properly supported. There's nothing really that defines what a national emergency is in these laws and so it may be that the first test is to see whether or not he has met some standard that a court affirms as a true national emergency.

But courts generally...

WHITFIELD: Meaning because as it's written now it really is at the discretion of the President?

ZELDIN: That's right. And it is what the President sees it to be in some sense and courts have been, in some respect... [12:25:00]

ZELDIN: ... pretty differential to that initial declaration by the President as Paul says that it's been invoked a lot of times over the last years. Then the question becomes, what happens when they start acting upon the national emergency?

When they start trying to use the military, for example to build the wall or they divert funds from the Asset Forfeitures Fund or from FEMA Relief. Will that then provide a basis for there to be standing to sue and will they be able to prevail on the use of these diverted funds.

Then you've got as the set up (ph) piece indicated all these private citizens who's property will be taken away in the eminent domain they're taking your private property by the government.

They've been sued a lot since 2006 under this Fence Act that Obama assigned - that signed that was taking property and most of the property owners have lost those suits, but we're in 2019 and there's still litigating the 2006 Secure Fence Act. So the end game here may be, Fred that they just play out the clock and hope for 2020 to change this policy.

CALLAN: Could I just add, Fred also...

WHITFIELD: Yes, go ahead Paul.

CALLAN: It's kind of interesting. I was looking at the wording that was used in the President's actual proclamation and most people I think would agree and you see references in the law that something that threatens the health, safety, or welfare of the American people could be a national emergency.

That's why for instance when you have a flu epidemic it's often used. Now he starts to use those words by suggesting this is a military emergency in that aliens are crossing the border and are endangering the health, welfare, and safety of the American public.

He also says in the proclamation that because we don't have adequate facilities to deal with families that are crossing the border illegally that there's a hint that their health, welfare, and safety will be threatened by a lack of adequate security at the border.

So he's using words from the statute to try to justify the use of this very, very unusual Presidential power.

WHITFIELD: But at what point would he have to actually establish it while you get this double prong challenge? You've got citizens who are challenging and then you've got Congress who will challenge, well that's not how funds were appropriated and now the President is taking it upon himself to re-appropriate funds. So at what stage...

CALLAN: It's a classic battle.

WHITFIELD: Yes. CALLAN: Classic battle.

WHITFIELD: So at what stage will the President have to establish those things?

CALLAN: His classic battle between the legislative brand and the executive brand on a constitutional power and usually the Supreme Court is supposed to step in and decide who's got the right position on that. We'll have to see.

WHITFIELD: Yes. So this is what Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee tweeted after the announcement saying, "My initial assessment is that what President Trump announced is legal whether or not it should be legal is a different matter. Congress has been ceding far too much power to the executive brand for decades. We should use this moment as an opportunities to start taking that power back".

So Michael, what is he laying the ground work for? How potentially would they do that?

ZELDIN: Well by exercising their constitutional prerogatives, for example we've seen this debate a lot in the wars that have been exercised by Presidents, by executive privileged power in a sense. There have been no war declarations for many of the wars that we're presently fighting.

Congress should have the right to declare war under the constitution. Congress has not really put up much of a fight about it. So Lee is trying to say we, Congress, have been at fault here. We have ceded too much authority we need to sort of assert our muscle whether there's a willing to do this around this issue or more broadly remains to be seen, but he's right.

I think if you believe that President's have taken it upon themselves to do things unilaterally and that's not the structure of our country constitutionally then the legislative brand has to step up and do something on its own behalf.

WHITFIELD: Michael Zeldin, Paul Callan, we'll leave it there. Thank you.

ZELDIN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, coming up the U.S. is urging American's to get out of Haiti amid protest against the government there. Tourist and missionaries are trapped as demonstrations grow in the streets. What's behind the unrest, next.


[12:34:06] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. is calling the ongoing unrest in Haiti a dangerous situation and is amping up its travel warning to the country. Several people have been reportedly killed in protests over the past week against the country's president. Zain Asher has more on the escalating violence and demonstrations in the capital. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAIN ASHER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): Protesters running from tear gas, clashes with police, barricades and fires, stores looted. These are the scenes of anger paralyzing Haiti's largest cities after more than a week of deadly unrest. That demonstrated the demanding their president's resignation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I'm in the situation because of the Haitian President. I can't go to school. He is a thief. He must go. If not, we'll burn down this whole country.

ASHER: Accused of corruption, the administration remained silent for days as outrage grew. Then in a televised addressed on Thursday, the president issued a defiant response.

[12:35:10] JOVENEL MOISE, HAITIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We have already had a series of transitional governments that have given a package of disasters and disorders. I will not leave the country in the hands of armed gangs and drug traffickers.

ASHER: As the security situation worsens, Canada has closed its embassy and dozens of foreign tourist reportedly found themselves stranded of the road after Haiti's largest airport were blocked.

The U.S. has ordered all non-emergency personnel and their families to leave and advising U.S citizens not to travel to Haiti due to crime and civil unrest, citing widespread violent and unpredictable demonstrations.

Meanwhile humanitarian aid agencies are evacuating some staff who have been working to provide relief for the impoverished nation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While the work has basically ground to a halt, public transport has been more or less nonexistent and it's unsafe to go out in cars because you don't know where roadblocks will be and or demonstrations.

ASHER: Haiti remains one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere. And after a devastating earthquake in 2010 that killed more than 200, 000 people, despite international efforts to help, the state of the economy remains in state of disarray.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The price of the dollar is going up and up and up. We can't stay in this situation. There will surely be a revolution in the country.

ASHER: Besides sky rocketing inflation, reports of a long running corruption scandal are also fueling unrest. Billions of dollars earmarked for social development in Haiti allegedly went missing sparking anger among citizens with little left to lose.


WHITFIELD: Zain Asher, thank you so much. So, eight nurses from Canada have launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for an evacuation out of Haiti. They are trapped at a Christian Charity compound because of those violent anti-government protests. They need $9,000 and have already raised more than $16,000. CNN spoke to one of the nurses who described the scene outside their compound.


TRACEY HOTTA, NURSE TRAPPED IN HAITI (via telephone): The pastor that is the director of the compound has instructed us not to go outside into the community across the highway that it's where the roadblocks are. So we're here. We can get people to come in and can still provide health care for them and feeding programs. Schools have been shut and we do have a school on the compound.

We are safe here, but they will not let us to go outside the compound.

SHELBY ROSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What kind of help do people need amidst these violent anti-government protests?

HOTTA: I think -- I mean, I'm not a political person but I think that admitted want the president to step down so that they can -- they're very destitute down here and the ones that they're actually treating (ph). They live in hot basically some sort of have no running water. They have no bathrooms. They have zero health care.

So they're very, very destitute here. And I think they're just taking desperate measures to try to make a change for themselves.

ROSE: You and the other nurses launching this GoFundMe page in hopes of raising money for your own evacuation. Do you have any concept of when it could be that you're able to get out?

HOTTER: We have secured a helicopter ago about 9:00 o'clock last night. We secured a helicopter which is a Haitian helicopter but to get land (ph) on Monday.


WHITFIELD: All right that nurse tells CNN, that helicopter would land at the compound and then fly them directly to the Port-au-Prince Airport.

All right, a new twist in the alleged attack of TV star Jussie Smollett. Why did police release two men just hours after they were arrested?


[12:43:08] WHITFIELD: New questions surrounding the alleged attack on Empire Star Jussie Smollett. Over the past 48 hours, police arrested two suspects, interrogated them and then set them free. The police saying they have new evidence from those conversations but they are silent on what that evidence is. CNN's Ryan Young join us to help sort through this very complicated case. So, Ryan this -- you know, this began with police initially saying the attack of Smollett, you know, may have been a hate crime. And they, you know, maintain they will keep -- they were tackling it very seriously. But where is it now?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean really so many twists and turns in this case. So many people paying attention to this, Fred.

I mean, look, people want to know exactly what happened. This happened in a certain area of Chicago. A lot of attacks don't happen like this in that area so people want to have questions of course about this.

But let's go back to yesterday. Last 48 hours have been quite crazy. The two men who were picked up, who were then not charged but were arrested have not been charged and they've been released. And of course police have talked about this new evidence they have but so far they haven't told us what that new evidence may be.

But this all goes back to January 29. And I see the photo that we have up there -- the two persons of interest. That's who police were looking for and they were able to tracked these two men down base upon that.

When they arrived at the airport, they were met by detectives. They were brought in. They were questioned for several hours. But then, of course they were released. But going back to the actor, he says he went to subway, January 29th to get something to eat. On the way back, he was attacked. He said they yelled slurs at him. He said they put a rope around his neck and poured bleach on him and so he said he fought back.

Well since then of course police have been trying to ask questions about which direction did they run in? Did they attack get captured in all the videos surveillance in the area? According to the actor, the camera was pointed in a different direction. But since then 12 detectives have been working this case nonstop. And what we know so far is no only have they're even working in this case but they had developed several leads.

[12:45:04] And that course that led us to the two men but since then of course there's this big question about what happens next. And of course they want to talk to the actor once again to kind of figure out how all these details sort of converge.

But a lot of questions about this, the actor himself feeling the heat, Fred, because social media has taken on a whole different questioning about whether or not the actor's story even stands up at this opponent.

WHITFIELD: And do we know when this new conversation between police and, you know, Jussie Smollett might happen?

YOUNG: Well, you know, that is the other big question here. You know, you have those 12 detectives are probably working another weekend on this case. We do know they had bits and pieces and of course every time they release more, they have to make sure it all lines up.

But the one that they talked about at one point, his phone records and the fact that the actor gave partial phone records. Will he give them more phone records at this point so they can go through this? What we do know is of course now police will be resetting this investigation going after it. Hopefully that new evidence, they'll talk to us about it, maybe on Monday or Tuesday so we can get some more about the twist and turns in this wild story.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ryan Young in Chicago, thank you.

All right, still ahead. The Head of Cyber Security at the Democratic National Committee is issuing a stark warning to presidential candidates. We'll explain next.


[12:50:51] WHITFIELD: A sobering warning for Democrats heading the campaign trail in the raise for the White House, the Head of Cyber Security for the Democratic National Committee says now is the time that hackers may try to target candidates. That's because the campaigns haven't had enough time to put a security plan in place to counter hacking threats.

I want to bring in CNN Law Enforcement Analyst and former Secret Service Agent for President Obama, Jonathan Wackrow. So Jonathan as we enter the 2020 election cycle what are the risks that campaigns I should be most focused on?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well listen, I look at it in two big buckets right now. I'm in an agreement that, you know, focusing on Cyber Security issues for campaigns is actually critical at this moment in time for the candidates that have either -- have an exploratory committee out. Those who have, you know, already launched their campaigns and those who are actually just in still in the process of about thinking about running.

You know, foreign hostile actors are actually looking keenly at these campaigns to find vulnerabilities around the -- in the cyber domain, of how they can infiltrate the crown jewels, if you will, of data that these campaigns have.

So, when I think about those crown jewels it's the -- what is this -- it's the donors. It is the donor lists. It is their strategy, its polling data. Everything that these campaigns hold, you know, close is potential data that can be actually stolen.

In the other bucket, I look at physical security. You know, right now, these campaigns have in candidates have really run, you know, physical security operations of, you know, a low optic. The whole point of a campaign is to, you know, put the candidate out front to get them the greatest exposure as possible. But that inherently has a security risk to it.

So really right now it's the two sides. It's the physical security risk and the Cyber Security risk that is most critical.

WHITFIELD: Is there a way that they need to be preparing, you know, how did they address all of these potential holes?

WACKROW: Listen. You know, Fred, at the end of the day this comes down to awareness and setting up a culture of security awareness within the campaign. So whether it's from a Cyber Security standpoint or a physical security standpoint, you know, campaign leadership has to understand the threats that they face, the vulnerabilities of their actions and the best most pragmatic way to approach mitigation. That is where the problem lies though, just the temporary nature of campaigning.

You know, they focus, you know, attention on messaging. They focus on giving the candidate out there. But these sort of administrative functions are sort of tangential to their overall operation. However, I think that we've seen from 2016, the midterms in 2020 that, you know, this is a critical point where campaigns need to focus on these risks.

WHITFIELD: Yes. All right Jonathan Wackrow, thank you so much.

WACKROW: Thank you, appreciate it.

WHITFIELD: All right, gunfire on the job. A community in mourning today after police save a disgruntled worker opens fire on his colleague in Illinois. Police released new details within the last hour. An update coming up.


[12:58:13] WHITFIELD: The highest ranking Catholic figure is being expelled from a priesthood after a Vatican trial found him guilty of sexually abusing minors. Here's CNN's Delia Gallagher.



DELIA GALLAGHER, FAITH AND VALUES CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was once a prince of the church and a friend of presidents. Former Washington D.C. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick enjoyed a spectacular career at the Heart of Power in Washington and in Rome.

When the U.S. Cardinals were summoned to the Vatican by John Paul II in 2002 at the beginning of the sex abuse scandal, Cardinal McCarrick was the reassuring face of that crisis. Advocating zero tolerance for abusers even as there were unrevealed allegations against him.

MCCARRICK: I can't see how anyone in the United States today would cover up something like that.

GALLAGHER: Theodore McCarrick, was created a Cardinal in 2001 by John Paul II. Around that time, an American priest wrote to the Vatican to warn them of rumors that the Cardinal was sexually abusing seminarians.

But no action was taken for years, until according to the Vatican under Benedict the 16th, McCarrick was quietly advised not to travel or to be seen in public and live a discreet life of prayer and penance to avoid further rumors of his sexually misconduct with seminarians. A recommendation which the Cardinal seemed to ignore as he continued traveling and appearing in public even at the 2013 Conclave that elected Pope Francis.

But, then in June last year, accusations that McCarrick had abused a minor were found credible by an internal church investigation in New York. Although McCarrick maintains his innocence, he resigned as Cardinal, something that has rarely happened in the history of the Catholic Church.

Finally he was brought to trial at the Vatican, though by now, 88- years-old and infirm he did not attend in person.

Delia Gallagher, CNN, Rome.


WHITFIELD: And we got so much more straight ahead in the Newsroom, and it all starts right now.