Return to Transcripts main page
CNN RIGHT NOW
School Shooting Near Columbine Is America's 35th Since Fall; Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) Discusses School Shootings, Guns, Mueller Report, Bill Barr Contempt; Iran Retreats from Nuke Deal, Threatens Uranium Enrichment & Trump to Roll Out New Sanctions; Trump Asserts Executive Privilege over Mueller Report. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired May 8, 2019 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[13:30:00] GEORGE BRAUCHLER, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, 18TH JUDICIARY DISTRICT, COLORADO: My heart goes out not just to the victims in this case but there are those that won't be classified as victims that are feeling it this morning, right now. Moms and dads looking at each other, making decisions about whether or not to send their kids to school in one of the greatest school districts in the country because they don't feel safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go to national correspondent, Ryan Young, who is on the scene following this.
This happened less than 24 hours ago. What are authorities saying there, Ryan?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very tough. We have seven miles away from Columbine. The focus is to try to figure out why the shooting happened. You have two suspects who are involved in this case, one a juvenile female and one a male, who will be in court sometime in the next two hours or so.
But there's a lot of people here giving a lot of credit to Kendrick Castillo, a young man who was in the classroom who saw the gun. He reacted without thinking about anything else except trying to stop the gunman.
Listen to this young lady who was in the class talk about the hero who stepped up and paid for it with his own life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NELL GASCIK (ph), STUDENT: They all risked their own lives to make sure that 10, 15 of us got out of the classroom safe and were able to go home to our families. They risked their own lives so that we could all have our own.
NIKI GASCIK (ph), MOTHER OF NELL GASCIK (ph): If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have my baby today. And I can't imagine that I will never be able to thank them. I have no words other than what a hero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG: Brianna, how normal this is becoming when you have people in a class deciding to fight back? After Kendrick was hit, his other classmates jumped on top of the shooter. I was asking that young lady, hey, did he say anything. She said, no, the gunshots did the talking. In fact, right before he started firing, he told everyone not to move. That's when Kendrick sprung up. We know there was a private security guard who was here, who also confronted the other shooter. Deputies nearby responded within two minutes. They still heard the gun shots going on. Unlike so many years ago, they rushed in to make sure no one else got shot.
But you understand the pain in this community when you see that mom shaking and her tears and the feeling of pain here. You really know that people want answers. In fact, this young lady was telling me one reason she was talking to us today, one of the reasons she wanted to face the cameras is because she wanted everyone to know Kendrick's name. That is so important at this point. We are talking about a young man who will graduate in a few days, who was on the school's robotics team. But he stood up and took that shot. It's so unfortunate and so painful for this community. So many people asking why this continues to happen.
We don't know what the motive was or whether or not they left it behind. Authorities are trying to figure out whether they got the gun and maybe if they left a manifesto or something else behind. Right now, no big answers.
KEILAR: We will not forget Kendrick.
Ryan Young, thank you so much.
We are joined by Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier, of California.
Congresswoman, it is, indeed, a busy day on the Hill. We have a whole lot to talk about. But I want to ask you about the shooting first. You know personally the horror of gun violence. You were shot five times during the Jonestown massacre. What are you, as a survivor, as someone who knows how awful this is, what do you say to all of the people in this country who have become uncomfortably numb to these shootings?
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): So the scars that all of these young people will bear the rest of their lives is something that we should not under estimate. I did a town hall with Parkland high school students and one of the local students stood up and said, I have a nightmare every night. And I only wake up from that nightmare because my alarm goes off. These are soft targets now that are schools and churches and synagogues. And we cannot allow this to become the new normal. So allowing young people to have guns -- look at what they did in Florida where those young kids from Parkland went to the state legislature and said, we want no guns purchased under the age of 21, we want bump stocks to be banned and we want a three-day waiting period before you can buy a gun. They were able to do that in three weeks. Yet, look at Congress. We passed a comprehensive background check bill that is sitting on the Senate floor. And I guarantee you Mitch McConnell has no intentions of bringing it up. I bet every family in that Denver area right now is grieving and wants to have our country do something.
KEILAR: Does it, in your mind -- it seems like Congress never does anything on this. Does it come down to students like the Parkland students? Some of these students are high school students. We just heard from one of them. Does it come down to them having to -- they shouldn't but does it come down to them being the face of this?
[13:35:10] SPEIER: Well, they are the face of it right now because we have a lot of gutless wonders in Congress that aren't willing to stand up to the NRA, which has become a shadow of its former self and people should wake up to that. I'm proud to have an "F" grade from the NRA. I wear that pin with great honor. I think it's time for us to think about all the kids in this country, all the worshippers in churches and synagogues, and how the soft targets have become just rife for the picking. Having guards, having teachers with guns is not the answer. The answer is getting some really strict laws on the books so that young kids can't access these guns.
KEILAR: I want to talk about what's been going on in the Hill, an extraordinary vote, it's coming up, on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for refusing to hand over an unredacted version of the Mueller report. What does this really do? Does this really do anything in the end?
SPEIER: This is turning up the heat. There's no question that holding him in contempt will throw it to the courts and we will have to hope that that will be expedited. Congress has the right to access the underlying documents of the Mueller report. There's no question about that. I can't imagine a court ruling otherwise. But they are throwing every obstacle in our way because the president has, in many respects, become a dictator. He is trying to prevent Congress from doing its oversight function. We won't accept that. If necessary, we can do what's called inherent contempt, which means we can call on the sergeant-at-arms to bring in Mr. Barr and have him appear before the full House and then either he testifies or he is fined --
KEILAR: Do you really see that as happening? We talked with some legal experts who suggest that is not going to happen.
SPEIER: Legally, we have the power to do that. We are using the --
KEILAR: Should Congress -- should the House of Representatives do that?
SPEIER: Well, I am one of those that believes that we will not get the respect we deserve at a co-equal branch of government until we act a little more aggressively in asserting our authority, which we have, to access these documents. We have a right to know what the underlying documents have. We have a right to access the tax returns of the president to determine whether or not his engagement with foreign countries is, in part, why he will not touch Putin and why he is willing to cozy up to him.
KEILAR: Do you think the attorney general should go to jail?
SPEIER: I think the attorney general should do his job. And that means turning over those underlying documents. When you have over 600 former U.S. attorneys basically making the case that this is a no brainer, that there was obstruction of justice, and then you have an attorney general who spins it as a P.R. person would and suggests that he did not obstruct justice suggests to me and I think to many others that he is no longer the attorney general for the United States of America, he is the attorney for the president.
KEILAR: Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thank you for joining us.
SPEIER: Thank you, Brianna.
KEILAR: President Trump is set to roll out new sanctions against Iran today as they retreat, in part, from the nuclear deal. Former defense secretary, Leon Panetta, will join me to talk about what this signals.
[13:43:25] KEILAR: Now to the rising tension between Iran and the United States. President Hassan Rouhani announced today that Iran will partially withdraw from the landmark nuclear deal that was signed in 2015. He says Iran will no longer abide by limits on stockpiles of enriched uranium. This move comes a year after President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement. Also, the U.S. military is increasing its military presence in the region. The Trump administration says there's, quote, "specific and credible intelligence" of plans by Iran to target U.S. forces.
We have former defense secretary and former CIA director, Leon Panetta, with us, joining us from Monterrey, California.
Thanks, Secretary, for being here.
LEON PANETTA, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY & FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Good to be with you, Brianna.
KEILAR: Secretary Pompeo made this unscheduled stop in Iraq instead of meeting with Germany's Merkel. He was there talking to Iran's next-door neighbor, key ally in the region, as this situation is escalating. Are you concerned that the situation could go in a bad direction?
PANETTA: I don't think there's any question that it could go in a bad direction because the tensions are escalating on all sides. And the problem is that there's a danger of miscalculation as those tensions increase. All you need is someone to make a terrible mistake, shoot off a missile, shoot down a plane and, suddenly, we are involved in a military confrontation. This whole situation is very dangerous for the world.
[13:44:59] KEILAR: So when you see what Democratic Senator Tim Kaine said, he said he is worried that President Trump is leading the U.S. toward war with Iran. This is a statement that he said, quote, "Trump's White House has taken a series of actions to increase tensions, including misrepresenting the regular deployment of the "USS Abraham Lincoln" as a warning to Iran. Let me make one thing clear, the Trump administration has no legal authority to start a war against Iran without the consent of Congress."
Do you share his concerns and, specifically, do you share his concerns about how the Trump administration is handling this?
PANETTA: Well, look, these tensions are increasing, but the issue right now is the kind of intelligence that we have with regards to what steps Iran is taking. I mean, if those are credible intelligence threats that indicate that they are in the process of trying to develop an approach to attacking our forces, then I think the United States has to take steps to make sure we take steps to defend our forces. I think the deployment of a carrier into that region, which is something we have had -- we've always had a carrier there -- so I can understand the concern of using this as an indication that we are taking extraordinary action. The fact is we have always had a carrier there and we should have a carrier there in order to make sure that we can defend our forces if these intelligence threats prove to be real.
KEILAR: Secretary Mike Pompeo said he discussed this threat with Iraq's president and prime minister. Let's listen to some of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: I talked to him about the importance of Iraq ensuring that it is able to act and protect Americans in their country. (INAUDIBLE). I wanted to let them know about the increased (INAUDIBLE) and give a little more background so they would have enough information that they were doing all that they could to provide protection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: What all does the U.S. need to do when it comes to Iraq to make sure that this situation remains stable?
PANETTA: We've been cut off.
KEILAR: Sorry, Secretary, can you hear me? It's Brianna. Can you hear me?
We will take a quick break and try to get Secretary Panetta with us. We'll be right back.
[13:52:20] KEILAR: Back now with former defense secretary, Leon Panetta. And I want to get your perspective, sir, since you were former White
House chief of staff in the Clinton administration, you were there for some pretty contentious times, the beginning of the Whitewater independent counsel investigation. I want to get your take on this standoff between President Trump and congressional Democrats. The White House, at this point, is refusing pretty much any and all requests for testimony and documents that pertain to investigations of the president. How do you see this situation?
PANETTA: Well, I think our forefathers are turning over in their grave right now watching this. Because our forefathers were very clear that they didn't want power to be centralized in any one branch of government particularly in a king or a president and not in the legislative branch and not in the courts, so that is why they established our system of checks and balances. This president has basically taken a position he won't adhere to that system of checks and balances. And for that reason, it obviously jeopardizes the way our democracy functions. So at some point, the courts will have to rule, I think they will rule in favor of our system of checks and balances. The real question now is, how long is it going to take before that decision is made.
KEILAR: As a former chief of staff, what is the responsibility of people around the president when it comes to what is really obstinance?
PANETTA: You know, the way it's operated in the past, you kind of pick and choose the different requests made from Congress. There are some you will cooperate with and there are some where you might exert executive privilege, there are some where you will try to negotiate some kind of resolution. But you do this on case-by-case basis. What this administration has done, which is unheard of, is to take a blanket approach that they're not going to give anything to the Congress. They're not going to cooperate in any way with the Congress. And that is just an out-and-out rejection of our constitutional system of checks and balances. That is why -- it isn't just politics. Very frankly, it is dangerous to our system of governing.
KEILAR: Secretary, thank you so much. Leon Panetta with us. We appreciate it.
PANETTA: Good to be with you.
KEILAR: This just in, the Department of Homeland Security is moving toward a new plan that would have Border Patrol agents conduct the initial interviews for migrants seeking asylum. This is an idea pushed by White House special adviser, Stephen Miller. Immigration advocates are afraid this could make the asylum claim process more difficult and that it could result in improper deportations. There are also concerns about putting an extra responsibility on Border Patrol agents who are already over-burdened.
[13:55:13] Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are appearing together -- have appeared together with the royal baby for the first time since his birth. We're going to tell you his name and how they chose it.
Plus, the president lost more than nearly every other American taxpayer over a decade. Lost more money. This is just one of the revelations from some of his exposed tax transcripts, including a mysterious income that is raising eyebrows.