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Police Violence in Houston Last Night; Attorney General Barr Begins Review of Surveillance Issues; Supreme Court Justices Anticipating a Revisit of Roe v. Wade. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired May 14, 2019 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:31:24] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Investigators want to speak with an eyewitness who recorded a deadly police shooting near Houston. I want to warn you, what you're about to watch is disturbing.
In this video recorded last night, you can see an officer trying to arrest a woman in the parking lot of an apartment complex. Police say she had several outstanding warrants. You can hear her voice there.
Moments later the two are seen struggling. The officer fires his taser.
SCIUTTO: Throughout, the woman can be heard screaming that she's pregnant. Police say when the officer tried to handcuff her, she got control of his taser and used it on him. That's when the officer grabbed his gun and fired. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.
Ed Lavandera, he's been following the latest developments from Dallas.
Ed, tell us what you're learning here.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this video, Jim, is nearly 40 seconds long. Police have described the release of its video on social media as "disrespectful to all involved," but it paints the clearest possible picture we have at this point, of what unfolded there just before 11:00 p.m. last night in Baytown, Texas, which is just outside of Houston.
Officers with Baytown Police say that, as you mentioned, this officer had tried to tase this woman and that this woman had gotten control of the taser, and that's when he stepped back and fired five times.
In that video, you can hear the woman telling the officer to stop harassing her. You can also hear the sizzling charge of the taser, deploying there. But it's also very hard to make out exactly at which point, who has control of the taser. The video is dark.
But we are told by police officials, that there is body camera footage of the -- of the altercation. And if you look closely at the video, also, you'll see some white flashes, which appears to me to be perhaps the cell phone of the victim and the -- the screen there, kind of flashing a white flash on the screen.
So it's not clear whether perhaps she was also recording the incident as well. But the officers in Baytown say that the officer who fired five times, was struck by the taser.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIEUTENANT STEVE DORRIS, BAYTOWN, TEXAS POLICE: He wasn't injured to the extent that he needed to go to the hospital. But like I say, if you've ever been struck with a taser, it's a very painful experience. So there was, I'm sure, a great deal of pain involved there, when he was struck with it.
RAQUEL CUELLAR, NEIGHBOR: Sometimes, you would see her, you know, get into it with people around the apartments, but nothing too, you know, bad. It's just, you know, just typical her. She's not a bad person. She didn't hurt nobody she would just walk around, smoke her cigarettes and walk her dogs.
LAVANDERA: So residents we've heard from there say that the woman who was shot and killed last night was a well-known fixture in that apartment complex. Investigators say they're still trying to piece together everything that unfolded last night -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Ed Lavandera, thanks very much for covering this truly disturbing story.
[10:34:29] Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he's about to sit down with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Next, what is hanging in the balance as this meeting is happening, and what President Trump wants -- hopes to accomplish.
SCIUTTO: This breaking news just in to CNN regarding the attorney general's investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation. Let's get right to CNN's Laura Jarrett.
Laura, what do you know?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, we're learning a little bit more about some of the agencies that are involved in Attorney General Bill Barr's review of surveillance issues.
And I'm told from a source familiar with the effort, that the CIA director, Gina Haspel, as well as the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, as well as the FBI director, Chris Wray, are all helping the attorney general with this review, really suggesting that a broader interagency effort at the highest levels of national security and national intelligence, are looking into the origins of the Russia probe. And as Barr has talked about, whether the spying was properly predicated or not. [10:40:02] Obviously it's a controversial issue, one that the
president has pressed for for the better part of two years. Democrats on Capitol Hill's looking at this very closely.
And, you know, we had wondered why Gina Haspel was at the Justice Department in recent weeks, and so it now makes sense. Some of the puzzle pieces coming together, that she's working with Barr on this. The two have known each other, as well as Dan Coats, Barr has known for years. So they are friendly, they have a good working relationship.
And as we reported, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut is leading this effort. His name is John Durham, he's the top federal prosecutor there, has been well-known in Democratic and Republican circles, working on public corruption issues for decades. And so he is working on this in close collaboration with Barr. Now all of these agencies are really working with DOJ at the helm of this effort.
And we're also told, another U.S. attorney, John Huber, who has been out in Utah, had been tangentially sort of looking at this. He was tapped by the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to look into it. We had wondered, "Well, what is he still up to? What's his role?"
I'm told that he is no longer actually involved in this issue. Durham is heading up the 360-degree review, and that Huber's work on some tangential issues related to the Clinton Foundation -- a whole other issue -- should be wrapping up soon -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Laura Jarrett, thanks very much.
SCIUTTO: Well, we're joined now by CNN national security analyst James Clapper. He was director of national intelligence during the start of this investigation into Russia. So now you have your replacement as DNI, Dan Coats, involved; the CIA director, the FBI director.
I should note in testimony on Capitol Hill last week, said that he had seen no evidence of spying or illegal activity at the origins of this probe. What's your reaction to this investigation?
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, in the first place, I would have thought the logical thing to do would have been to have let the Department of Justice inspector general investigation complete. What I'd read, that it is nearing completion. So seems to me, the logical thing to do before launching off into at least one or two other investigations, is wait until that one's done.
And I know the DOJ I.G. is very thorough and he's a critic. And, you know, there -- he will -- he will have done a thorough investigation. So to me, in the first sense, since it would have been more logical to let that play out.
SCIUTTO: Do you -- are you concerned, here, that these administration officials and the attorney general are doing this for political reasons rather than for the existence of any evidence of wrongdoing --
CLAPPER: Well --
SCIUTTO: -- the start of this investigation?
CLAPPER: -- you have to wonder about that. Is there a political dimension to this. Obviously, complies with a longstanding request of President Trump, that the investigators be investigated.
As far as I know -- again thinking back, you know, contemporaneously when I was DNI, I didn't see anything improper or unlawful. And I think we're losing sight here, of what the big deal is, which is the Russians. That's what started all this.
SCIUTTO: Yes, yes.
CLAPPER: The predicate for this was what the Russians were doing to engage with members of the Trump camp. And now, we know that there were dozens of such encounters or attempts, many by known identified Russian operatives.
So to me, kind of the implicit message is, here, "Well, it would have been better had we ignored the Russian meddling," which I think would have been completely irresponsible.
SCIUTTO: So shamelessly here, but just to mention, I've got a book out today. It's called "The Shadow War," and it is about exactly these things --
TEXT: Jim Sciutto in conversation with Dana Bash, CNN chief political correspondent, May 14th at 7:00 p.m. Eastern; Barnes and Noble, Upper West Side, 2289 Broadway, New York, NY 10024
SCIUTTO: -- Russian interference in the election, which continues, by the way, in 2018 --
SCIUTTO: -- the expectation, it will continue in 2020 as one of many fronts in a war that Russia is fighting against the U.S., deploying satellites in space, a new great game in submarine warfare.
How important is it that this president will not go there and call out Russia as a major adversary of the U.S. in this conflict?
CLAPPER: Well, I think it's very serious, very disturbing that he of all people, and because of the unique bully pulpit that only he has access to, has not called out the Russians. Regardless of what, you know, the impact it may have had on the election.
This is a threat to our democracy, to our very system. And as your book, which I thought -- I think is great -- points, out, you know, we're in a new form here, a new era of warfare, which involves, you know, combat at less than kinetic, physical damage levels. And it's much more subtle, it's harder to detect but it's there and I think your book lays it out in a very readable, interesting and informative way.
SCIUTTO: I should note, I interviewed Director Clapper in addition to a number of other former and current senior U.S. military and intelligence officials. And what struck me -- and credit where credit's due.
[10:45:05] Because you and others grant that the U.S. was not quick enough on the uptake here, to recognize what China was up to. But have come around now -- Russia and China were up to. But have come around now to recognizing and saying, "Work has to be done now to protect the country --
SCIUTTO: -- to win this conflict, in effect. Now you have the U.S. secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, in Russia on President Trump's orders to find common ground, to improve relations. Is the ground set for improved relations between the U.S. and Russia?
CLAPPER: Well, I don't think so. I do remember, recall very distinctly when we briefed President-elect Trump on January 6th of 2017 here in New York, Trump Tower.
The president-elect remarking that, "Gee, wouldn't it be great if we could get along with Russia?" And I remember responding, "Yeah. When -- on those cases where our interests converge." And right now, I'm having trouble figuring out, you know, where those -- where those interests are, where there's convergence. Perhaps in a strategic arms context, I don't know.
But in a sense, this trip is essentially, in a way, homage to Russia, which is a big deal to them because that -- it reinforces their claim as a great power and all that. But, you know, what might come of it substantively (ph), I don't know.
SCIUTTO: We'll see. Director Clapper, thanks very much for taking the time this morning.
CLAPPER: Thanks, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Thanks so much for your straightforward commentary and analysis that helped make this book --
CLAPPER: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: -- come to be. Director Clapper.
To reiterate, "The Shadow War," it's out today. Gets at Russia and China, an undeclared war on the U.S. They're fighting against us. We're not responding to it (ph). And if you're in New York tonight, my colleague Dana Bash and I, we're going to sit down at the Barnes and Noble up at 82nd and Broadway, and have an in-depth conversation about this, in person. You're very welcome to join.
Other news we're following this morning, is Roe v. Wade in danger? Why one Supreme Court justice's warning about overturning precedent seems to indicate that he is worried about that landmark abortion ruling, perhaps, being overturned.
[10:52:08] SCIUTTO: Today, the Alabama senate is set to begin debating a controversial bill designed to ban virtually all abortions in that state. This comes as states such as Georgia, Ohio and Mississippi have also signed into law bills that ban abortions when doctors can detect a heartbeat.
Anti-abortion advocates know the laws will be challenged in court, and are hoping the matter will land before the U.S. Supreme Court and its now-solid conservative majority.
Now, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is sounding an alarm about the risk of overturning precedent in general, and the danger that could mean for Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that affirms a woman's right to an abortion. Joining me now, CNN supreme court analyst Joan Biskupic.
Joan, always good to have you on here. And it seems like Breyer was making a broad point about precedent in general, but specific to Roe v. Wade.
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's right, Jim. He actually cited as evidence for regard for precedent, a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that affirmed Roe, to say -- I think it was signaling that, you know, abortion could be on the table.
But it's interesting Jim, how all of these parties are getting positioned. You referred to what's happening in Alabama today, and what happened in Georgia last week. Anti-abortion forces are out there trying to pass laws. Abortion rights advocates are trying to craft their arguments to counter these laws.
And now we see, in yesterday's action, the justices themselves positioning their views of precedent. And this is why it matters, Jim. It's not just that -- you know, that they take these abortion cases one at a time. The Supreme Court builds its rulings on past rulings.
And what Justice Breyer said yesterday was that you -- you conservatives in the majority struck down a ruling for no good reason, other than that you had the votes to do it and you could do it at this time.
And he said at the very end of his dissent from that ruling, what will be next.
SCIUTTO: Yes. All right. You know, it's interesting because I thought at the confirmation hearings, they all talked about how they were going to respect precedent. But anyway, times change, I suppose. You have the advantage of just having written a book on the chief justice, John Roberts. Do you have a sense of where he might come down on this? And is he, in effect, the swing vote on this?
BISKUPIC: He is, Jim. And I would say, to your last remark, don't just listen to what they say, watch what they do. Because Chief Justice John Roberts is now at the ideological middle of this court, now that Justice Anthony Kennedy has retired. He was the centrist conservative who, both in 1992 and as recently as 2016, cast the decisive vote to uphold abortion rights.
[10:55:03] And now, we have the chief in that spot. And the chief has voted before against abortion rights, and he's voted to uphold strict regulations. So -- but he also has this great regard for the stature of the court and what people see in the court. And I think Justice Breyer yesterday was also talking to Chief Justice John Roberts.
SCIUTTO: Joan Biskupic, no one knows Roberts better than you. Thanks very much.
BISKUPIC: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: Just moments -- just moments from now, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, they'll meet face-to-face as tensions over Iran grow, a whole host of issues. We're going to be on top of all of the breaking details.