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Manhunt For Woman Linked to Colorado School Threats; Current And Ex-White House Aides Dreading Mueller Report Release; Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) Presidential Candidate Faces Down Anti-Gay Chants At Iowa Rally. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired April 17, 2019 - 10:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: Top of the hour. Let's get straight to the breaking news. Right now, a manhunt underway in Colorado for an armed woman who the FBI says is infatuated with the Columbine mass shooting. Authorities are searching for 18-year-old Sol Pais. According to the FBI, Pais arrived in Denver on Monday and immediately went to a store, where she bought a pump-action shotgun and ammunition.

And as the manhunt unfolds, hundreds of thousands of students are being kept out of school at numerous schools in that area. This comes just days ahead of what will be the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.

CNN's Correspondent, Scott McLean, is live this morning in Littleton, Colorado. You've been following this. I spoke to a sheriff in the last hour, really, I don't want to say, panicked, but a very serious manhunt to look for her. Is there any progress?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, no reported sightings in the last 24 hours, Jim, but we are learning more about this 18-year-old woman, Sol Pais. We know that she's a high school student in Miami beach, that was confirmed by the local school board. We know that her father is a musician.

And according to the Miami Herald, the reporter actually went to her home, spoke to a man who identified himself as her dad. He said that he lost touch with her on Sunday. He also said he believes she may have some sort of mental issue or mental problem but he thinks she is going to be okay.

That seems to be the concern from law enforcement, these vague threats that she has made, these non-specific threats she's made and this infatuation that law enforcement says that she seems to have with the Columbine school shooting that took place 20 years ago on Saturday and with the shooters who carried it out and killed 13 people.

Now, the information initially that sparked all of this came from the FBI in Miami. How they got hold of it is not clear. But yesterday, by the time they got to Denver, by the time they were able to investigate, there were actually many schools put on lockout. That means it's business as usual inside the school, but no one was allowed to come or go. And even when they did release those students, they had a lot of security and a lot of police there on hand.

In response to today's situation, given that she hasn't been found, there are some 20 school districts -- not schools, school districts that have been closed down. We're talking about hundreds of schools. It's really hard to overstate just how significant that is in a city the size of Denver.

I'll review what the Denver public school has put out. They said, in collaboration with other Denver metro area school districts, all of Denver public schools will be closed on Wednesday, April 17th, due to the ongoing safety concern. All facilities and programs are closed for the day. There will be no afternoon activities or athletic competitions. I can also tell you, Jim, that the Jefferson County School District, they will be meeting today with their security folks to try figure out how they go forward. They're holding a press conference later on this morning as well.

One other interesting thing to notice, that the FBI was asked last night in a press conference what they would actually charge her with. And they didn't have an answer. They just said that, look, they're working with the U.S. attorney to figure out what charges would be appropriate, asked what they would do if they came across her, they said they would arrest her and try to hold her as long as they legally could. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Scott McLean, thanks very much.

For more on how this manhunt is unfolding, let's bring in FBI Supervisory Agent, former, Josh Campbell. Josh, good to have you on this story. So they're taking this very seriously. You don't close down a dozen schools and massive school district around Denver, tens of thousands of students affected unless you're taking the threat seriously, in part, because she bought a shotgun, she has this infatuation with Columbine. They used a shotgun in Columbine. Explain what authorities are doing right now to find her.

JOSH CAMPBELL, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: So an incredible step here, Jim, closing down these schools essentially, obviously, very disruptive but it shows the seriousness with which law enforcement is taking this case.

Now, the FBI and law enforcement agencies across the country, they get hundreds, thousands of tips that come in daily, weekly. And they have to sift through them and determine what is credible and what's not. And they go through this process to determine if a threat comes about, is it specific and is it credible? What we're hearing from law enforcement officers here is that this is not specific, which is why you see so many schools being locked down as a precaution, but they are deeming this to be credible.

Now, the second aspect of an investigation, when you look at that through the lens of investigators, you're trying to determine, does this person have the intent and the capability? If it's just intent and they're not able to get their hands on weapons or act on whatever that intent might be, then that's another issue. Here, we know that she went and purchased a shotgun. So this is someone that authorities believe not only has the intent but has the capability.

They are sparing no expense here. This obviously (INAUDIBLE) with someone who is on the ground there, a law enforcement officer said it's all hands on deck, federal, state, local, fanning out, trying to find this person, trying to stop a potential threat.

SCIUTTO: When you look at other schools, Parkland included, of course, in the post-mortem, a lot of the focus is on underreaction, right? They were warning signs, why didn't the school district, why didn't police react.


I imagine the decision makers in Denver are affected by other incidents in the past as they operate what appears to -- under what appears to be an abundance of caution here.

CAMPBELL: Yes, that's right. And you go back and look at Parkland, obviously, there were signs that were missed there, where you had tips over coming in, which was -- appeared to be a failure by law enforcement. No one wants a repeat of that. Whenever something happens, if there's an incident, the most gut-wrenching thing that can happen to a law enforcement officer or agency is to know that there was something there that you could have stopped, tip, a lead, something coming through the transom (ph).

So, here, we see law enforcement officers taking this very seriously. And, again, we don't know the specific nature of that tip that came in from Miami that was then shared to officials in Colorado, but at least it rises to that level that's giving them enough concern. And I don't think we can lose sight of the fact also as we hear that this person had some kind of infatuation with Columbine, that we're coming up upon the 20th anniversary of Columbine, which, again, as you're a law enforcement officer, you're looking at the totality of the circumstances, that's one important data point. Is this someone who is trying attempt to do some type of copy cat attack? Obviously, law enforcement officers are taking this very seriously.

SCIUTTO: April 19th. Just very quickly, Josh, all the talk of gun laws, et cetera, following shootings, so she hasn't committed a crime. Let's say they catch her tomorrow, hadn't committed a crime. Can the police disarm her?

CAMPBELL: So they could. But, I mean, if they come out and she has a weapon, then that's a no brainer. I mean, they will try to put a stop to any potential threat. I think they have enough there that they could describe to a judge, for example, that they wanted to take action.

I think the question is, you know, it's two-fold. There's this issue, obviously, what would she be charged with. Right now, law enforcement officers are focused more on stopping a potential threat. And if that involves coming up interdicting her, making contact with her, conducting an investigative, they are going to do that. Again, their focus right now is public safety. A second order issue will be what do you do with her after that? Right now, they're just focused on getting her.

SCIUTTO: Getting her in. Josh Campbell, thank you very much.

CAMPBELL: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: other news we're following, anticipation, apprehension, dread, disappointment, all of it building by the hour here in Washington a day before the public release of at least some, perhaps a large portion of the Mueller report. I do say some because for almost a month now, Attorney General Bill Barr has been scouring the roughly 400-page document for materials that he considers, and it's up to him, off limits and that he never plans to release. Hence, the disappointment among House Democrats who are poised now to send Barr a subpoena for the full report intact and uncensored, along with any underlying evidence uncovered by the Special Counsel.

At the White House, staffers are said to be on eggshells, fearing the report will lay bear their own cooperation with the Special Counsel, thus infuriating the President. They're worried about their own skin. One source says, and I quote, he is going to go bonkers.

I'm joined now Georgetown law professor and CNN Legal Analyst, Carrie Cordero. So first, let's look at this report and what new we could learn when you see the fuller report here. It strikes me that on the obstruction of justice side of the ledger, that may be most interesting, because that was the tougher call for the Special Counsel. He really could mean he was kind of split. And he did say he was not exonerating the President, which leads me to believe he found evidence of obstruction, which we may see.

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. That's really the piece that I'm most interested to read about, Jim, when we go through the obstruction piece, does it support the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General's finding, which they put in their four-page letter that said they didn't think is a matter of law, that the facts laid out in the Special Counsel's report met the standard of obstruction. When we see the actual facts, which those of us who have been observing this case publicly for so long, can put together a pattern of activity that the President engaged in, just in public, let alone what he did privately, how did those facts look to an outside observer and to folks on the Hill and the public and does that conflict with what the Attorney General assessed?

SCIUTTO: It's interesting. Because the President put out a Tweet last week, I believe we have it, that seemed to me to be telegraphing what their defense is on the obstruction of justice. And he said, in effect, in short form that we were fighting back, in effect, on obstruction, saying the whole report is garbage but we were fighting back, seeming to indicate, which is not an unusual argument. The first time we've heard that argument from the President or supporters to say, this is what the President does. You attack him, he fights back. That's not obstruction. That's just a guy trying to defend himself. CORDERO: It is. Although the President doesn't -- in many things that he does, he doesn't seem to have an appreciation between the line between activity that is just political versus activity that potentially is law breaking. And that just seems to be a line that he doesn't seem to have awareness of or just simply disregard.

SCIUTTO: Or care about.

CORDERO: Exactly. And so we'll see in what I understand will be a White House rebuttal. They're drawing up some type of rebuttal memo as to what they expect to be in the report. Will that be one of the arguments?

SCIUTTO: On the Russia side, the conspiracy side, we already know a fair amount there about, for instance, the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016.


But there are some questions, Michael Flynn, who, by the way, pled guilty to a federal crime about these conversations with the Russian Ambassador during the transition, possibly about sanctions. I mean, there is a possibility that we'll learn more details, if not, evidence of wrongdoing about what kind of, one, communication there was back and forth there was with Russia between the Trump campaign or transition team, but also, crucially, what the President knew about those communications.

CORDERO: We may find out some of what the President knows. I think that part of this part regarding the campaign's interactions with Russian government officials and how that paints potentially a picture of inappropriate, if not, illegal behavior is going to be one of the areas that I'm going to be looking for redactions for derogatory information. In other words, if there are individuals in the campaign, for example, members of the President's family who are not public officials, but who there is derogatory information, in other words, meetings that they had with individuals related -- that were Russian surrogates or related to Russian intelligence, is that going to be a part of the report that is released publicly? We don't know the answer to that question.

SCIUTTO: Barr did say that for people currently sitting in public office, he would not protect that information.


SCIUTTO: So, for instance, if it affects the President, we may see that.

CORDERO: Right, because that would potentially be certainly an obstruction, possibly on what we call the collusion issues. That could potentially be the basis for impeachment inquiries.

SCIUTTO: Got it. Carrie Cordero, always good to have you.

Joining me now is former Ohio Governor, John Kasich. Governor, it's always good to have you on.


SCIUTTO: I wonder as you await this report tomorrow, should the President be anxious about this or is he and his supporters -- have they already moved on?

KASICH: Well, I kind of think, Jim, in a way that it's been baked in now that Barr categorized this as no obstruction. And I think his supporters -- I'm not sure they're sitting with bated breath waiting to take a look at this report. I must tell you that I've been out for the last, I don't know, couple of weeks and have had a number of speaking appearances with questions that come from me from communities or from young people. I've not been asked a question about this. I'm just sitting here thinking about it. I'm not so sure what impact this is going to have.

Look, I think we're so tribal now that the key is how much does Barr put out, okay. Does Barr put out a lot of things that can finally settle this or is there so much redacted? And I guess they're going to explain why they're taking certain things out. Is there so much redacted that it remains an open question?

To me, the most -- put out everything you possibly can and let's just get beyond this is the way I would like to see it. But there will be some things in here, no doubt, that will be embarrassing to some people, including the President.

SCIUTTO: So there is the political reality. And I do think you're right on that, just my own kind of non-scientific polling of folks as they look forward to this. But you also see it in some of the polling as to where this priority is. There's a political rally but there's also that should, right, what should be done. Because if there is evidence in there, more than what we know, for instance, the President's effort to obstruct justice here, would you be disappointed if your republican colleagues gave that a pass?

KASICH: Well, I don't want to get ahead of ourselves, Jim. I mean, look, you have to see what it is. And I don't know what the republicans will say. I mean, when I think back to, you know, the things I've read, really, because I wasn't that engaged with Watergate, at some point, the republicans say said, Mr. President, we've got this evidence and information and here is the consequence.

I don't want to compare the two. Let me be clear. I don't want to compare the two. But I think at times, there will be members of the Republican Party, if they see something that's particularly damning that you will have members that will come out and say something. But, by and large, you know, it will break down along party lines. And the question is, is there ever going to be enough there for the democrats to move on?

And, frankly, I think there's a degree of risk that they carry politically. Because if you look at the polling, I don't just mean the polling, just talk to regular people, they've sort of moved beyond this, Jim. And they're thinking what are you going to do to make my life a little bit better? What are you going to do to make sure my kids have a better future? So there's a danger on dwelling on this. And we've just got to see where it plays out because I can't predict what's going to be in this report.

SCIUTTO: So let me ask you this. As you know, one of your former republican colleagues, former Governor of Massachusetts, William Weld, he is in the race as a republican, to challenge this republican president, he is encouraging other republicans to join him, including yourself. I want to ask you this. When a sitting U.S. President, republican, has an 89 percent approval rating within his party, can a GOP challenger make a credible run against him?


KASICH: Jim, if he's got 89 percent approval, why would you think there's a credible chance right now?

SCIUTTO: Yes, that's my point. So have you eliminated that possibility?

KASICH: No. It's -- look, one thing we know about this time and about politics, in general, is what's true today is not necessarily true tomorrow. You know, I've been saying all along -- you know, look, first of all, I'm on CNN. My job here is not to be promoting myself. My job here is to do an analysis. And I think I've been very fair since I've been on the air. You know, I've been direct about democrats. I've been direct about republicans. The deal for me, personally, is --

SCIUTTO: So that can be directed (ph), and I respect that because --

KASICH: Yes, I don't know, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Are you not ruling it out?

KASICH: I have -- all of my options remain on the table. When the time comes, when I make a final decision, you're going to be one of the first million to know.

SCIUTTO: That is quite an honor. Well, you gave us a straight answer.

KASICH: I'll put you in the first hundred thousand because I like you. I'll let people know. But this is is -- look, what I'm interested in now, getting this report out, having this clear the air and move on to issues that are critically important. What are we going to do about the rising cost of healthcare? What are we going to do in this country about income inequality? What are we going to do about the environment? Those are the things I'm focused. I don't wake up every day looking at polls or thinking about me and my political future. I just want to be a good voice.

I'll tell you what my voice is, Jim. It's to tell people stop fixating on the big shots and start paying attention to what you can do to change the world where you live. I tell people this all across this country and I'm going to continue to do it because power comes from the bottom-up, not the top-down. So I'm a little bit more interested right now in my neighbors and what I can do as opposed to what the heck all these politicians are doing in Washington.

SCIUTTO: I hear you. And I can hear that in a stump speech at some point, I'm just saying. I did hear you say all your options are on the table. We'll keep listening. Governor Kasich, thanks very much.

KASICH: You're a good man, Jim Sciutto.

SCIUTTO: I'm in the top one hundred thousand. I mean, that's higher that I'd expect it to be.

KASICH: I'm going to move you a little closer. I'm going to move you up to the top ten. How is that?

SCIUTTO: I'll take it. Thanks very much.

KASICH: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, anti-gay protesters go after 2020 democratic presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg, at a rally of his in Iowa. How he responded? It was ice cold, ahead.

And moments ago, firefighters in Paris revealing the devastating inferno at Notre Dame Cathedral was the most complicated fire they had ever encountered. We're going to be live in Paris with new details coming up.



SCIUTTO: 2020 democratic presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg, faced down anti-gay protesters at a rally in Iowa. Buttigieg is gay, he's married, his husband -- he married his husband a year ago. Listen to how he and the crowd responded to those hecklers.


MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN): Freedom is what's at stake in the idea of whether a county clerk gets to tell you who you ought to marry.

Speaking of things -- hello again. Speaking of things that are at stake that do not belong to a single political party, the good news is the condition of my soul is in the hands of God but the Iowa caucuses are up to you.


SCIUTTO: Ice cold. Joining me now is CNN Senior Political Analyst, Mark Preston. I mean, that was quite a response, not just from him but from the crowd.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Quite a response. And he goes on to say too that the gentleman believes in what he is doing, I believe in what I'm doing. We should be able to believe what we want to believe. In fact, giving that gentleman the ability to believe what he wants to believe, but yet don't be oppressive, don't push it upon me. And I think that's a message right now that is really working well for Pete Buttigieg.

SCIUTTO: Because people don't like to be preached to. It reminds me of this chicken fillet answer, right, saying, you know, I like the chicken. I suppose we can kind of come to some sort of agreement. This is key because this gets to a bigger picture as to how democratic candidates respond to Donald Trump, who has been known to level an attack or two on his opponents. Let's listen to how Buttigieg talks about this versus Beto O'Rourke. Have a listen.


BUTTIGIEG: When he said something that isn't true, we have to say so. When he does something wrong, we've got to call it out. But then we've got to move on very quickly because a really robust message for my party can't be one that revolves around the personality of somebody from the other party.

FMR. REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX): This is the test of all tests for us. It's not just that he's partisan, it's not just that he's divisive. He is hateful. He is racist. He is encouraging the worst tendencies amongst our fellow Americans.


SCIUTTO: What's the right way?

PRESTON: We don't know yet. In democrats, they're still trying to figure that out. In fact, when I saw the Mayor of South Bend respond that way -- and as I've been watching Beto O'Rourke on the campaign trail, I was trying to figure out who is going to benefit early on. And right now, it's probably Beto O'Rourke in a sense that that's where all the energy is on the left. They really want to see Trump taken down.

The reality is though, Pete Buttigieg might do better in Iowa or New Hampshire where you have more of a pragmatic voter, very concerned about their politics but certainly more pragmatic and probably want to defeat Donald Trump more so than they want to vote for somebody that they just believe in.

So having said that, still very early, but Beto O'Rourke might get the liberal base on his side.


Pete Buttigieg, in the long run, might be in a better position.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you about those protesters there, the anti-gay protesters, because our reporting is that they were out of state. And it strikes me that that is part of a strategy, therefore, to drop down in there. Is that something we're likely to see more of? PRESTON: I think so. And, in fact, it was Randall Terry. He's a very well known anti-abortion activist. Not only are we going to see the likes of social conservatives showing up at these democratic rallies, and there's going to be a lot of them, not only in Iowa but New Hampshire, South Carolina, all across the country.

We're also going to see democratic groups showing up. They may be pushing climate change. They're going to be pushing poverty. They're going to be pushing criminal justice reform. You're going to see such action on the side of activists from both sides of the political spectrum that is going to be a very, very heated couple of years, let alone the candidates.

SCIUTTO: President Trump is not shy about attacking these political opponents, particularly the ones that worry him, but he's laid off a couple opponents so far. I don't believe that he has gone personally after Kamala Harris yet. Is that right?

PRESTON: Never say never.

SCIUTTO: Okay. No, I'm not saying, but yet, do we expect him to go after Buttigieg? Because I imagine, he will attack when he feels that person is a threat to him.

PRESTON: And right now, he doesn't feel he's a threat to him. If you look at the polling, you're seeing Buttigieg certainly increased his standing in the polls but it hasn't been a mediocre rise. When I talk to you, we're charting it, noted how that it's been a slow rise for Pete Buttigieg. Once he gets to a certain point, then you will see the President come after him.

SCIUTTO: It's amazing, because a month ago, we wouldn't have been talking about this and lo and behold, a credible candidate.


SCIUTTO: Mark Preston, always good to have you.

Joining us live from New Hampshire this Monday night, for the first major candidate event of the 2020 presidential campaign, Senator Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg all on the same stage, back-to-back. This a CNN Town Hall event. It's going to be huge. That's Monday night starting 7:00 P.M. Eastern time only here on CNN.

Just released, texts revealed that Chicago's top prosecutor called Jussie Smolette, quote, a washed-up celeb who lied to cops. What else she said in those messages to her staff, what it says about her recusal, that's coming up.