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Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Talks His Gun Control Plan, Pentagon And Intel Officials Hesitant To Inform Trump Of Cyber Attacks On Russia, Iran Enriching Uranium, Attacking Tankers; O.J. Simpson Joins Social Media: "A Little Getting Even To Do"; Police Closing In On Mastermind Behind David Ortiz Shooting. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 17, 2019 - 14:30   ET



[14:34:05] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back.

Democratic Congressman and 2020 contender, Eric Swalwell, says ending gun violence isn't just the centerpiece of his campaign, but also that it should be the centerpiece of U.S. politics. Today, he traveled to Virginia to unveil a plan to do just that, right in the NRA's backyard.

And Congressman Swalwell joins us now.


You're taking your plan right to the NRA. What do you want people to know about what's in it?


That's because this isn't about the NRA, but they have, for too long, been in the way and prevented us from doing anything about it.

And I stood today in front of gun violence survivors, trauma surgeons, community leaders, people from Chicago, Houston, Indiana, and from all over our country who are saying enough is enough.

Not only are we going to ban and buy back assault weapons under my plan -- I'm the only candidate calling for that -- we're also going to invest in the root causes of gun violence in many of our cities. Like, just the lack of education and jobs or gang violence prevention programs.

[14:35:04] But also put in place a licensing requirement and an insurance requirement. Again, we believe we're the only campaign calling for an insurance requirement on all firearm purchases in America.

CABRERA: A number of candidates have already put out their gun law. Gun licenses are a part of those in their proposals, similar to driver's licenses. Cory Booker is talking about banning assault weapons and high-capacity

magazines and expanding background checks to include purchases from unlicensed sellers. Kamala Harris has said she'll ban all imports of A.R.-15 style weapons. That's just to name a few.

You listed a couple of points of your plan. What makes your plan better?

SWALWELL: Well, it's led by somebody who is a father who worries about his own son's safety at school. As president, I'll worry about your kid's safety every day.

As a prosecutor -- I worked in Oakland, California, for seven years. I've seen the causes of street violence.

And as a Judiciary Committee member in the House, I worked to help pass background checks and have authored a No Guns for Abusers Act. So from all angles, I've worked on this issue and will be ready on day one to lead on it.

But I'm also not afraid to seize the momentum we have. We have beat 17 NRA-endorsed members of Congress this last election cycle. I'm ready to negotiate up rather than down on all of these issues.

CABRERA: All right. You're on the House Intel Committee. I want to ask about this new blockbuster report from "The New York Times." The paper says, Pentagon and intel officials have stepped up to cyber attacks on Russia's power grid. And that they're hesitant to give the full details to the president, because they fear he may cancel or reverse all of this action or even discuss it with foreign officials.

Congressman, I'm just going to ask you, straight up, do you consider President Trump a national security risk?

SWALWELL: Yes, I do. He has invited the Russians to attack us again. He has not disclosed to us his financial arrange arrangements with the Russians he and his family have talked about in the past. And he's failed to act against them, to punish them for they did in the last election. He's gone the other direction, reducing sanctions, pulling us out of Syria at their request.

As president, I would directly confront Vladimir Putin. And I would work, as someone who has done this on the Intelligence Committee, meeting with foreign leaders and going to war zones to get our friends back. That's really going to be critically important, is that we will spend more on national defense in our country if we have fewer friends or if we have the wrong friends, like the Russians, North Koreans and Saudis.

If we don't have the right friends, like our traditional allies, we'll have to spend more and the next president has to immediately get our friends back.

CABRERA: At a time when Russia is conducting cyber attacks, you also have Iran enriching more low-grade uranium days after attacking civilian ships in the Middle East, according to the intelligence. And now you have the Republican Senator suggesting taking military

action against Iran. Listen to this.


SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): These unprovoked attacks on commercial shipping warrant a retaliatory military strike.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN ANCHOR: Are you -- you're comparing the tanker war in the '80s to now and saying that that's the kind of military response you want to see?

We can make a military response in a time and manner of our choosing. But, yes, unprovoked attacks on commercial shipping warrant a retaliatory military strike against the Islamic Republic of Iran.


CABRERA: Congressman, here we have a member of Congress saying Trump and his administration does not need Congress' authority and that the events of the past warrant a military strike. Your reaction?

SWALWELL: We do not need to go back to war in the Middle East. We should not be taking strikes against Iran. We need leadership on this issue, Ana, where all we've gotten is inconsistency and showmanship.

North Korea acts the same way that Iran does. They have the same capabilities. They're out of compliance with the United Nations and most missile treaties, and yet the president is exchanging love letters with their president and their leader. And with the Iranians, we have a completely different policy. And that's -- goes to the president's inconsistency.

What I believe we should do is continue to isolate Iran. They're a bad actor. They have threatened us. They have threatened our ally in Israel. But do that, again, through leadership and having our alliances put sanctions pressure on them, going to the United Nations.

Where the president brings showmanship on those issues, I would bring leadership.

CABRERA: Do you believe what you're hearing from the Trump administration in terms of their assessment of the attack in the Gulf of Oman that happened last week? Do you have any reason to doubt the intel on this?

SWALWELL: I can't comment on the intel on the House Intelligence Committee. I can just talk about the larger issue here, which is that we had a nuclear agreement with Iran.

I would rather address Iran's bad acts, whether it's funding terrorism, its human rights abuses, or just the way it conducts itself in the world, without Iran having a nuclear weapon than with Iran getting back to having a nuclear weapon.

And, again, our president has made us in more danger by pulling us out of that treaty and putting in place the scenario where Iran could get a nuclear back. He's brought, again, just chaos to that region when we need leadership.

CABRERA: Respectfully, I know you don't want to get into the specific intel, but to the question, is there any reason to doubt the intel and their assessment and what they have presented to the American people, saying they have no doubt that it was Iran who is behind these attacks.

[14:40:11] I know your colleague, Adam Schiff, who chairs the Intel Committee, said there's no question in his mind Iran is behind those attacks. I just want to give you a chance to get on the record if you have any doubt.

SWALWELL: I'll just say, at this point, I'm not questioning our Intelligence Community. I am questioning the judgment of a reckless president who has been proven to have lied to the American people over 10,000 times, and somebody who has put on his team, people like John Bolton, who has never found a diplomatic solution that he didn't want to bomb.

We cannot go to war in the Middle East. And we now have a Congress that may have to say, no war in Iran. And that may be something we should vote on.

CABRERA: All right, Congressman Eric Swalwell, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

SWALWELL: Of course. Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: And 25 years ago today, the infamous white Bronco, that chase involving O.J. Simpson took place. But now Simpson is joining social media, saying he's got some getting even to do. We'll talk about the legal risks he's taking.


[14:45:32] CABRERA: Well, 25 years ago today, America stopped to watch this all play out. Former football star, O.J. Simpson, leading police on a slow-speed chase in a white Ford Bronco. It was June 17th, 1994. He was formally charged with the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

Simpson was supposed to surrender, but he didn't, which led to one of the most memorable live-TV moments in the past 50 years. It was captivating enough to interrupt coverage of the Stanley Cup, and the NBA finals.


LARRY KING, FORMER CNN HOST: OK. I'm going have to interrupt this call. I understand we're going to go to a live picture in Los Angeles. Police believe that O.J. Simpson is in that car? OK. Police believe he is in that vehicle. Let's pick up what the KCAL broadcaster is saying.

UNIDENTIFIED KCAL REPORTER: At this point, that the officers would do just about whatever they would do in any type of a pursuit.

KING: Now they're telling me they believe that this vehicle is registered to Al Cowlings, one of O.J.'s friends, a teammate at Southern Cal.

Now police radio saying that Simpson has a gun at his head. Police radio saying that Simpson, the passenger in the car, has a gun at his head --


KING: -- which has explained why they haven't been stopping and why they haven't moved up alongside.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It's hard to believe something like this could happen, where he is now running for his life here. He is a fugitive on the run. Authorities following him, believe -- they believe he is in this vehicle right now on the west 91 near the 110 Freeway.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The police now know where he is. We have found him. The door is opening. And let's see what happens now. We will watch with you. This is the driver's side of the vehicle.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK. Someone just got out of the vehicle, approaching the front door. Dressed in black. And it looks like they entered the front of the house there. Possibly O.J. Simpson. At this point in time, from this vantage point, it was difficult to see or positively identify that individual.


CABRERA: Remember that? Simpson was ultimately acquitted of the murders.

He has been largely silent since getting out of prison in 2017 after he served time for a kidnapping and armed robbery in Las Vegas.

Silent no more. He joined Twitter Friday with this selfie video with a message to followers.


O.J. SIMPSON, FORMER FOOTBALL PLAYER & FORMER ACTOR: Hey, Twitter world. This is yours truly. Now, coming soon to Twitter, you'll get to read all my thoughts and opinions on just about everything. Now, there's a lot of fake O.J. accounts out there. So this one, @therealoj32, is the only official one. So it should be a lot of fun. I've got a little getting even to do. So God bless. Take care.


CABRERA: CNN Legal Analyst, Areva Martin, is an attorney and legal affairs commentator, and Mark O'Mara is a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor.

Areva, he says he's going to set the record straight, and he's, quote, "got a little getting even to do." What does that even mean?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't know, Ana. What's so amazing about O.J. Simpson is, 25 years after that infamous chase, he still has the ability to attract major news. No matter what he says, what he does, where he goes, people are still so interested in him.

He joined Twitter on Friday, as you said, and already he says he say he has over 50,000 followers. People want to hear what O.J. Simpson has to say.

CABRERA: Actually, it's over 600,000 followers.

MARTIN: OK. Well, update. So that must have happened in just -- over the weekend. So clearly, he'll be past one million probably by the time we end this broadcast.


It goes to my point that O.J. Simpson remains incredibly popular.

I don't know what score he has to settle or who the people are that he plans to get even with. I do know that the Goldman family continues to try to collect on the $33 million civil judgment they got against O.J. Simpson. And I do know that they're not happy about him taking to Twitter. And there's been some backlash against him.

He's already tweeted about not having intimate relationship with Kris Jenner and not being the father of Khloe Kardashian. Maybe he just wants to set the score straight as it relates to rumors swirling around his personal life.

But he needs to be careful. Twitter is an open forum, and anything he says, if he starts to make defamatory statements about people, they can be used against him. So he's not immune to finding himself being hauled back into a civil court and possibly facing some kind of civil damages.

[14:50:16] CABRERA: OK. Let me pick up on where you just kind of ended that remark.

Mark, what are the risks of either stepping in something or saying something? What would test the boundaries of legal limits of what he can say?

MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he's allowed to say whatever he wants. He has a First Amendment right to say it. A whole bunch of people, I think the number now is over 650,000, willing to listen to him.

But, you know, he's -- kind of a bit of a caricature of himself. I think a lot of those followers are following him to see how he's going to mess up or what he's going to do the next sort of slow-speed chase down a highway. Only this one is going to show itself on Twitter.

But if he's not careful, as Areva said, what he says about, be it the Goldman family, any of his other accusers or any of the other people out there, are going to be just what they are, public statements that he could be held accountable for.

And while he is always perceiving himself to be either above the law or at least immune from it, I think he needs to be very careful how he presents, and the getting even he wants to do, because what it's going to expose him with, and there's a lot of people out there who still have him in their crosshairs.

CABRERA: I think what's so surprising here, Areva, that he popped up on Twitter suddenly. He's had a pretty low profile since his release from prison in 2017. Here we are 2019. Do you think this is just about O.J. trying to reclaim his celebrity status?

MARTIN: Yes, that's always interesting about him. After he was acquitted for double homicide, everyone thought, you know, go to Florida, play golf. You know, live your life very quietly to avoid the limelight. He doesn't seem to be able to do that.

I think, you know, he's been bitten by that bug of popularity, of being a public figure, of being someone that, you know, the public craves to know about and learn about.

And I think his foray into Twitter, his announcing via video he's back is another example of his inability to live a low-key life. And those 650,000 followers, not all of them are fans. A lot of people are hoping that he does make some kind of mistake, because a lot of people don't believe that he has been held accountable.

Now, we know he's been acquitted for the double murder. He served time for the bribery charges in Nevada. But a lot of people still believe that he has escaped justice and are hoping he makes some kind of mistake. So he needs to be very careful.

CABRERA: Mark, I know you've had high-profile clients. Is this common they want to remain in the spotlight?

O'MARA: Without question. I've had some of my clients who have been in the spotlight do almost anything that they can to stay in the spotlight. It's called, you know, celebrity-itis. Once you get it, you'll do almost anything. And sometimes you get more and more outrageous, whether it's wanting to fight somebody on TV, pay-per- view, or whatever you might be able to do to get yourself and keep yourself back in celebrity.

And of course, O.J. was a phenomenal celebrity for decades, until the event happened 25 years ago, and then he sort of found himself, you know, as he did for the past 20 years.

And I just think that Twitter is one of those platforms where anybody can have a voice and anybody can be heard, and sort of get yourself back into the spotlight. And I think we're going to see a lot of tweets, a lot of videos, from the real O.J., and it's going to be a constant comment area for us for the next few months.

CABRERA: We'll have you back, as we can continue to follow.

Mark O'Mara and Areva Martin, thank you both. MARTIN: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: Now to our breaking news. This afternoon, a senior Iranian official says the U.S. and Iran are heading toward confrontation. We're going to go back, live, to Tehran.

Plus, new details on the deadly standoff today when police say an armed man walked into a federal courthouse in Dallas.

[14:54:10] And a new report on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 and why the pilot is at the center of a theory.


CABRERA: Police are on the hunt and getting closer to the alleged mastermind who they say put a hit on former Boston Red Sox all-star, David Ortiz. Ortiz was shot in the back last Sunday at a club in the Dominican Republic. Authorities have made several arrests. A tenth suspect, in fact, appears in court today. Two suspects were already serving time in prison.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann is in Santo Domingo.

Patrick, how close are police to nabbing this alleged mastermind of the hit and what have you learned about this person?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are checking in with sources, checking our phones all throughout the day, because they have told us that it could happen at any moment. They said, as of last week, this week, they planned to tell us not only the motive, but also who made the call to have David Ortiz shot, who hired the hit man?

They say he's not someone in custody, that person, and so we are waiting. Obviously, somebody with ties to organized crime because so many of the people involved here either have been in jail, are currently in jail or have criminal ties. A lot of people involved with the drug world here. So it's a pretty sordid cast of characters.

And a complicated hit is what we have been led to believe, that it was not just one guy on a motorcycle. There were a number of people, now more than 10, that have been arrested. Police are looking for several other fugitives.

And they say when they catch this mastermind, that he is going to jail.