Return to Transcripts main page
Man With Neo-Nazi Ties Accused Of Plot To Bomb Synagogue, Gay Clubs; El Paso Shooter Told Police He Was Deliberately Targeting Mexicans; Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Convene For Gun Safety Forum; Biden Resists Calling Trump A White Supremacist; Report: Trump Insiders Think Democrats Labeling The President "White Supremacist" Will Actually Help Him Get Re-Elected; Escaped Tennessee Inmate Suspected In Prison Official's Death; White House Tells ICE To Conduct More Raids; Kids Face Long Term Psychological Damage From Parent Separation; NYT: Officials Say Jeffrey Epstein Has Committed Suicide. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired August 10, 2019 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We're always glad to have you with us. Nine o'clock right now. Good morning. I'm Christi Paul.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell. CNN's NEWSROOM starts right now. And breaking news this morning, a Nevada man with neo-Nazi ties is under arrest for plotting to bomb synagogues and gay nightclubs. This picture you see of him is from September of 2016, but he was not charged for that 2016 incident.
PAUL: Now, the Justice Department says they found bomb-making plans at his Las Vegas home. CNN's Polo Sandoval with us now. Polo, what else do we know about this incident and the arrest?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, his name is Conor Climo. Investigators releasing the arrest affidavit here just recently, the result of a massive federal investigation here. They say that Climo, a 23-year-old security guard from Las Vegas, maintained encrypted conversations with a white supremacist group that would encourage various attacks and that would include attacks on government infrastructure, but also minorities, members of the Jewish community and also LGBTQ establishments as well.
In fact, in some of those encrypted conversations, according to investigators, he even mentioned plans to potentially target a synagogue in the Las Vegas area as well as a bar that he believed was a gay bar in downtown Las Vegas. Well, investigators moving in, arresting them, as you mentioned, found some evidence there that was recovered in his home as well as possible schematics that would involve executing this kind of attack which, of course, was never realized here.
We also understand that he did have various recruitment efforts that investigators say proved to be fruitless. CNN is currently trying to not only reach out to Climo, but also a representative of his and we have not yet heard back. He does face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Again, these are all allegations right now, but important to put things into context here too, Christi and Martin. This is -- we're learning about this just seven days after this crazed gunman made his way all the way to El Paso and then opened fire on a crowded Walmart and then, of course, yesterday, based on the latest investigation, we find out that he admitted that he was specifically targeting members of the Hispanic American community, mainly Mexicans.
PAUL: Yes. Very good point. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much. And Polo leading us into our next story here because we actually have new video from the shooting in El Paso last Saturday. I don't want you to be caught off guard. I want you to be ready for this because this is hard to watch. There's some upsetting images here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know about this gunman. How are you doing there? (ph)
PAUL: The cell phone video shows the Walmart parking lot just moments after the attack. You hear people yelling for help. Others are running from the scene. Victims are seen laying on the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: The man accused of killing 22 people and wounding 24 others, as you heard Polo say, did tell police that he was deliberately targeting Mexicans. The arrest affidavit says he told police that he was the Walmart shooter straight up and sources say he picked El Paso because he wanted the attack to be far away from his hometown which is near Dallas.
The shooter's been charged with capital murder and is being held without bond. that shooting is being treated as a case of domestic terrorism.
and most likely a lot of conversations about El Paso in Iowa today because that is ground zero in the presidential race and the candidates are focusing on what to do to stop these shootings.
SAVIDGE: Right now, 17 Democratic candidates are set to speak at a newly organized forum on gun violence. Last night, the candidates spoke at the Iowa Democrat Wing Ding dinner and several of them talked about what's happening and what to do about it. Joining us now from Des Moines is Rebecca Buck. She is of course CNN political reporter and, Rebecca, what do they have to say?
REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, good morning, Martin, Christi. Of course we're here at the Iowa State Fair where nine candidates today will be coming through, giving their speeches at the traditional soapbox. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, two of the top candidates in this race will be among them. But over this whole Iowa week, this has been such an important week on the political calendar with these traditional Iowa stops, but the specter of gun violence and rising hate in America has really been coloring this entire week for these Democratic candidates, dominating the conversation among the primary field.
And we heard a bit of that last night in Clear Lake, Iowa about two hours north of here where Democrats lined up to speak at the Wing Ding event. It's a traditional Democratic fundraising event here in Iowa, a very important stop on the political calendar and gun violence and rising hate in America were top of mind for these Democrats. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[09:05:00] BERNIE SANDERS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American people want, are begging Congress for common-sense gun safety legislation.
KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a president who's brave. We need a president who will take on the battles that no one else will. we need a president who will bring Congress together to pass the Green New Deal, put a price on carbon, get health care as a right and not a privilege, take on the NRA and end gun violence in this country.
KAMALA HARRIS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I strongly believe that Mitch McConnell should have called us back to the Senate to vote on the bill out of the House for reasonable gun safety laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCK: And we likely will hear much more of this discussion today. Last night, a number of the candidates also touching on the rising hate in America and the president's role, they say, in promoting that hate and driving that hate. Today, the candidates, much of the field will gather here in Des Moines close to the Iowa State Fair for this gun forum where many of them will talk about their proposals to curb gun violence in America, to take on this challenge, also talk about the root of the problem.
As we've heard from many of these candidates, they believe the president has a role to play and his rhetoric has a role to play. So it'll be very interesting to see where the field comes down. There's been something of a divide as Democrats have been talking about is the president a white supremacist? Is he merely moving this ideology? We'll be watching here in Des Moines for more of that here today. Martin?
SAVIDGE: And we'll be looking for more reporting from you. Thank you, Rebecca Buck. And as Rebecca just pointed out, dividing the Democratic field right now whether or not to explicitly call President Trump a white supremacist. Several of the candidates have said yes, he is. A few stopped short of calling him that saying that he supports or he condemns -- or condones, I should say, white supremacy. Here's frontrunner Joe Biden. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe everything the president says, has done (ph), encourages white supremacists and I'm not sure there's much of a distinction. As a matter of fact, it may be even worse. In fact, if you're out there trying to, in fact, curry the favor of white supremacists or any group that in fact is anathema to everything we believe.
So whether he is or is not a white supremacist, he encourages them, everything he does. He speaks to them. He's afraid to take them on and if you notice the one time he used the word white supremacy, he was -- you know, it was not -- he talked about sleepy. He was awful sleepy in the way in which he talked about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Now, as the Democratic field focuses on whether the president -- whether they're going to call out the president as a white supremacist, whether he is one, some in the Trump camp are reportedly saying they're happy to hear that decision.
SAVIDGE: Yes. They say that his supporters will be emboldened by the accusation because Democrats are alienating them. We talked about it earlier this morning with CNN Political Commentator, Errol Louis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But I'd say, look, there's a possibility that that might be true. On the other hand, when it comes to something as serious as what we've just seen, if you can't, as a Democratic politician, speak out in defense of the base of the party, members of the base of the party, black voters, Latino voters who in this case were recently targeted by a domestic terrorist attack, if you can't speak out for them because you think, you know, trying to game it out somewhere down the road, you might lose a few moderate voters or swing voters or something like that, then you have no business trying to run to become the President of the United States.
I mean, you know, it certainly puts the politicians in sort of a tricky position and I think the clip that you just showed, Christi, illustrates how veteran politicians like Joe Biden handle it and how different they are from somebody like Tom Steyer who was a novice who's never run for office before where he'll say yes, the president's a white supremacist.
Well, yes, that's going to cause some problems for him down the road because that's pretty harsh language to use. The whole point of American politics is to not go into those dark places, but to have a more civilized discussion.
PAUL: Exactly. So I wanted to ask you about one of the lines in the "Axios" report from a Trump official is they're trying to make the case that anyone who supports this president is a racist. They're talking about nearly half the country when we just try to put this into some sort of perspective because some people might look at this and say they're not just attacking the president. they're attacking me. Do you think that that is valid?
LOUIS: Not really. I mean, it's a valid tactic. I certainly understand what they are trying to do which is to say if, you know, for whatever reason you support the President of the United States, you have to swallow all of it together and these people who are attacking some of the more extreme and indefensible positions and words and statements and attitudes of the president are -- that they're also attacking you.
Well, you know, that very divisive stance is in fact what the problem is here. You know, it's not as if you have to say I'm going to live with every single awful thing that the president does because I like the tax cuts or something like that.
[09:10:08] It's not the way it is supposed to work. It's not the way people vote. It's not the way the people -- the way the country is governed. If people want to point out that the president has said and done some awful things, and he has, they should feel free to do so and the idea that this is going to somehow alienate a bunch of people who might also disassociate themselves from some of the worst things that this president has said and done, it just doesn't make any sense at all.
So I think to a certain extent you've maybe got Trump's campaign whistling past the graveyard because they can read poll numbers like everybody else and they know that he's in a bit of trouble right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: And we thank Errol Louis again for being with us this morning. Listen, we have to shift gears here to what's happening in Tennessee. A 64-year-old prison official is dead and there is a manhunt right now for her alleged killer who is an escaped convict. Curtis Ray Watson was doing mowing work when he used a tractor to escape from West Tennessee State Penitentiary 45 miles northeast of Memphis.
SAVIDGE: He's now wanted for the killing of corrections official Debra Johnson who was found dead in her home on prison grounds three hours after Watson was seen at her home. Watson was six years into a 15-year sentence for aggravated kidnapping. He is considered extremely dangerous.
PAUL: Up next, she just spoke at this morning's presidential gun forum in Des Moines and she just took calls for gun control to Mitch McConnell home town. We're talking to Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for gun sense in America.
SAVIDGE: Plus, President Trump says Kim Jong-un apologized to him for recent missile tests. So why did North Korea launch more missiles this morning?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PAUL: Fifteen minutes past the hour right now and at least 680 undocumented immigrants were detained during raids this week on seven meat processing plants in six Mississippi cities. I know that you've been watching the videos. I know that it's hard to watch a lot of it. Some of the video that I think really stands out to us is the video of the children. They're crying. They're begging for their parents.
President Trump said raids like these are a, quote, "very good deterrent for undocumented immigrants" and the White House has told Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to conduct dozens more raids like this, but we see these images and we wonder. I spoke with Dr. Louis Kraus, he's chief of child psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center, and asked him what happens to children's minds and bodies when they're separated from their parents in such a jolting forced way. Here's what he told us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOUIS KRAUS, CHILD PSYCHIATRIST, RUSH UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: What is really horrible here is the concept that they have this well-put- together raid, this horrific raid on these parents for God knows what reason, but nobody thought through about what to do about the children without their parents, what type of interventions they're going to need. It's as though nobody cared.
PAUL: Let's remind everybody what was happening with these children, what they were left with. Let's take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad didn't do nothing. He's not a criminal. Governments, please put your heart. Let my parent be free with everybody else please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, can I just see my mother? Please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said to my mom take care of the kids because the immigration has now captured me. I started praying to God to let them go. I hope you come back and that God protects you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She didn't do nothing wrong. She isn't a criminal. Hispanic people, they don't come here to hurt or injure anybody. They come here to make a better future for their kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Dr. Kraus, when you hear that and when you see that, I'm wondering ...
KRAUS: Yes. It's ...
PAUL: Go ahead.
KRAUS: It's heart-wrenching.
PAUL: Yes. KRAUS: And, you know, again, there was no forethought in regards to the impact of the children. I look at this, you know, any reasonable person would have looked at it and thought through, if you take away the one or two parents from these children, what do you need to do to help these children? No thought about it. It's essentially child abuse.
PAUL: Representative Tim Ryan tweeted that it's state-sponsored child abuse. What's the long-term effect for these children?
KRAUS: Well, the long-term effect can be quite serious. Even with just a short-term removal from the parents, you worry about acute traumatic issues, you worry about long-term depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, the development of post-traumatic stress disorder. You know, as I said, there is almost perhaps nothing more traumatic to a child than to have the sudden loss of your parents and dependent on the age of the children, especially these elementary school-age children, this is just beyond words to describe in regards to the impact on these poor kids.
And that nothing -- that the government did nothing to prepare for this. Any reasonable person would have known the trauma that these kids were going to go through and the interventions that they were going to need and nothing is in place.
You know, there have been studies with Eastern European orphanage kids where they've been removed from the parents. The trauma of what occurred often results in permanent damage to the child. You know, we talked about the development of anxiety symptoms, of post-traumatic stress disorder. These are often permanent changes that you can try to help support, but the scars and the damage may always be there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: We thank Dr. Kraus so much for being with us. Listen, we've got some breaking news we want to tell you. According to "The New York Times," they are reporting right now that Jeffrey Epstein -- of course the financier who had been indicted on sex trafficking charges -- that Jeffrey Epstein has committed suicide this morning. We're going to have more on the other side of the break. Do stay close.
PAUL: I'm Christi Paul. Glad to have you with us.
SAVIDGE: Good morning. I'm Martin Savidge. Nice to be with you and we have breaking news this morning.
PAUL: According to "The New York Times," "The New York Times" reporting that officials say multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein has taken his own life in a New York jail. SAVIDGE: Epstein pleaded not guilty to charges of trafficking dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14, forcing them to have sex with his powerful friends. Joining us on the phone now is Julie K. Brown, an investigative reporter for the "Miami Herald." It was her reporting that really reopened the Epstein sex abuse case. Thank you for joining us. First of all, your reaction of the news.
JULIE K. BROWN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, MIAMI HERALD: Well I'm pretty surprised. You know, he had tried -- allegedly tried this before so you would have thought that they would have been paying pretty close attention to him and had, you know, people really watching him. He should have been on suicide watch as it -- as it is so it's kind of surprising.
PAUL: There's word that he hung himself. It was an apparent hanging in the jail. Again, that's according to "The New York Times" and that's their reporting from other officials and this is coming -- what's interesting about this is one of the other lead story today were these hundreds of pages of previously sealed documents that were unsealed yesterday from one of his accusers, Virginia Giuffre's defamation suit. Tell us about -- tell us about that.
[09:25:01] Do you -- do you think that he had gotten word that that had happened?
BROWN: Yes, of course he got word of that. I mean, this is -- the documents that were released yesterday were pretty damning. They included the names of some very powerful people and, you know, he doesn't look like he's going to be -- he would have left jail anytime soon. Sort of the walls were crashing in on him and this is a man that isn't used to living life like this.
I mean, even when he was jailed here in Florida, he had a pretty cushy existence (ph) of being able to leave the jail everyday with his own valet and going to his office and greeting guests and so this kind of, you know, jail treatment that he was having in New York was a far cry from anything that he had had here before or ever really in his life.
SAVIDGE: Reportedly his body was found at 7:30 this morning in a Manhattan jail. Do you have any idea what happens to the investigation now? I mean, of course it still continues. There are other people that are named, but it's a devastating blow regardless.
BROWN: It is but, you know, there's other records that they can get. You know, they did a search warrant at his home and they probably have other witnesses who, especially now quite frankly, you know, all this time a lot of people who knew what he was doing were afraid to talk. They were really afraid of him and so the question now becomes how many of those people are really going to stand up now and finally say, you know, I know he did this and I was a witness to it and I was just afraid to talk in the past.
So in some ways, it might open up the case even more because there will be people that maybe will not be as afraid to talk now.
PAUL: Wow. Julie, you've done so much reporting on this. In all of the time and effort that you've put into digging into this story, what has surprised you most?
BROWN: I think what had surprised me most is that, you know, that there were so many people. This was -- you know, he was almost hiding in plain sight. There was so many people that knew or suspected or saw things that were wrong and, you know, it's kind of upsetting to think that these girls were sort of almost, you know, collateral to some people's careers who kind of decided that this wasn't an important story or important enough of a crime that they should have pursued it or stood up and said, you know, look, we've got to do something to stop him.
SAVIDGE: Is there a sense -- and I'm not sure if I'm putting it the right way but, you know, that he's cheated everyone here? He's obviously avoided punishment, prosecution and so many people who were waiting to see him get his punishment now will not.
BROWN: I don't know if that's really an issue. I think that they want to see justice done and there are still some people out there that were accomplices in this. He had several employees that scheduled these girls day in and day out. One of them whose name has been prominent and it was, you know, throughout the documents that were released yesterday was Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite who really helped groom some of these girls according to the court documents released yesterday.
So I think that this case kind of will probably refocus on her and other people in her -- in her group that helped him.
SAVIDGE: And the people you were talking about that you think now that could come forward that maybe don't feel (ph) as much threatened, are we talking about victims or are we talking about those who actually worked for Jeffrey Epstein? Who is it you envision now may be freer?
BROWN: Both. I think this unburdens a lot of -- a lot of people in various sides of this case. Certainly there are a lot of victims who've been afraid to come forward. There have been a lot of people who worked for him that signed, for example, non-disclosure agreements. One woman that I spoke with just recently, she had said she had to sign $1 million (ph) non-disclosure agreement.So, you know, those agreements, I would think, I don't know how valid they would be at this point.
Of course there's other people that are probably afraid that in some ways they helped -- they were not only complicit, but by helping him, they also committed crimes. So we'll have to wait and see how Geoffrey Berman, the prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, you know, refocuses this case.
PAUL: All right. Julie K. Brown with the "Miami Herald" there, investigative reporter who has done so much in depth reporting on this. Julie, we appreciate your perspective. Thank you for taking a few moments today to clue us in, to give us your reaction.
Again, the news this morning that Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself in a New York prison. He has committed suicide. We have legal analysis of what happens now for these alleged victims. Stay close.
PAUL: Breaking news this hour, officials say multi millionaire Jeffrey Epstein has taken his own life in a New York jail.
SAVIDGE: Yes. Epstein pleaded not guilty in July. That was the charges of trafficking dozens of underage girls some as young as 14 years old forcing them to have sex with his powerful friends.
Joining us now is CNN Legal Analyst, Paul Callan and Elie Honig on the phone. Paul, let me start with you. First and foremost, I guess, the big question now is what happens to the federal case that was moving forward?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the federal criminal case will end with his death. These criminal cases do not proceed after the death of a criminal suspect. But on the civil side, where people are suing for money damages, those cases will continue. They'll now be converted into an action against the estate of Jeffrey Epstein.
And he -- presumably, from press reports has a substantial estate. So, I would expect the Epstein case will continue full force after, you know, after a brief period of time, while the lawyers manage to substitute the estate in for Jeffrey Epstein himself.
PAUL: Elie, do you anticipate that there could be even more civil cases brought now?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST (on the phone): Over the last several weeks and months, this scheme, this ring, even wider than initially reported. We saw documents unsealed just this week that showed that there were more than dozens, perhaps hundreds of victims.
And as Paul noted, there's a substantial estate left behind here. And so those victims, I do expect to see more and more of them coming forward and seeking compensation for the serious damage that was done to them.
PAUL: So, Paul, let me ask you this, if you've got a case against him. You come forward. Even in a defamation suit that we were talking about from -- that was settled in 2017, of those documents that came out today, or late last night, if you've got a civil suit against him, what more do you have to have to prove your case, other than just your word, Paul?
CALLAN: Well, you're going to have available pretty much the same amount of information you would have had available, even if he were still alive. Because, remember, in those civil cases, it's unlikely that Jeffrey Epstein would agree to testify. He would assert the Fifth Amendment and refuse to testify.
So the lawyers in those cases have to prove through collateral evidence. Through other kinds of evidence and other witnesses of which there probably are many, the facts of the case. But, of course, in many instances, in sexual abuse litigation, the case often comes down to the victim herself, or himself, and their word against the defendant.
So, they manage to corroborate aspects by saying, for instance, that they complained to somebody else around the time the incident happened. They might use records to show that they were in the proximity of Epstein during that period of time. There are ways to collaterally support their claims.
But frankly, I'm not sure that their difficulty in proving their case will change enormously. There's a lot of research that has been done on him now and thousands and thousands of pages of discovery that's already been generated. So, I think you'll see these cases going forward.
And I think that it's likely that some of the victims will still be able to prove very strong and compelling cases in courts around the United States. I think you'll see cases filed elsewhere, as well as the ones that are now filed.
SAVIDGE: Elie, we were talking to Julie K. Brown, the investigative reporter from the "Miami Herald" just before the break. And she was thinking that perhaps now with the death of Epstein that more people would come forward. In other words that they have been afraid or fearful for whatever reason to speak out. Now, that may not be the case and we could see more voices added to this, do you expect something like that?
HONIG: I do. I agree with Julie. I think she's right.
And I've dealt with a lot of victims of sexual assault, sexual violence. And there is always a fear factor. They will ask prosecutors and detectives, where is he? Is he locked up? Is he still around? Is he still a threat? Can he still do things to me?
That is -- we're talking about long-term trauma that stays with these victims for years and years after the event happened. And so I think something like Epstein (INAUDIBLE) no longer around, or alive, will make it easier for these victims to come forward. Because while he was locked up already and that is important and that makes a difference, there is still is a fear factor.
Does he have other people who can help him? Or he hire someone to come harass me. And now that's gone.
So, I do agree with Julie Brown, I think she's right. I think this will make it easier for victims to come forward and I think it will reduce the fear factor for them.
PAUL: You know, Paul --
CALLAN: You know, Martin --
PAUL: Go ahead, Paul. CALLAN: I just -- yes, I just wanted to add, Christi, that New York has recently amended its sexual abuse laws, creating the ability for virtually any victim regardless of when the sexual abuse took place to file a lawsuit. Now, this is a big development in New York. Other jurisdictions are doing it as well.
So, I think you're going to find that many victims who were sort of closed out of lawsuits because they let too much time pass will now file new lawsuits against Jeffrey Epstein.
PAUL: So, Paul, let me ask you this, from this defamation suit and the hundreds of pages that were released just yesterday, regarding the suit involving accuser Virginia Giuffre, again, that was settled in 2017, we want to point out, she was alleging abuse by him and others.
And there were some really big names involved in that. She was alleging that she was abused by former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, by Prince Andrew, by Attorney Alan Dershowitz. Where -- and they have -- we need to be very clear here they have vehemently denied any of these allegations. Some even denying they even knew her.
Where does it stand for those people that were accused? These high- profile names?
CALLAN: Well, they're in a really terrible situation, because in some -- with respect to some aspects, lawsuits may not even be filed against them but their names are going to be prominently mentioned, probably for years to come as these Epstein lawsuits wind their way through the courts. But you could also expect that there could be actions against other prominent individuals' file, as lawyers pour through the discovery materials that have now unsealed by the courts and as investigation into Epstein's background continue.
So, I'll tell you, this case is going to be a huge highly publicized case that's going to really go on for years. The only thing that I can think of that was as big was the O.J. Simpson case where of course there were two full trials, a civil trial that followed the criminal acquittal. I think much like that you're going to see this Epstein case living on in the public media for many years to come.
SAVIDGE: All right. And, Paul Callan, we thank you for joining us. And also, Elie Honig, thank you as well.
CALLAN: Thank you, Martin.
SAVIDGE: To the breaking news of the apparent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein who was found in around 7:30 this morning according to "The New York Times" deceased in his New York jail. We'll have more news, after this.
[09:45:45] PAUL: If you're just joining us, we have news, this morning, breaking news, that Jeffrey Epstein, the financier who was indicted on sex trafficking charges has taken his own life. As he was in jail in Manhattan.
Kara Scannell, CNN's Kara Scannell on the phone with us right now. She has been covering this case since Epstein's first arrest. Kara, what can you tell us about what we know regarding this apparent suicide?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on the phone): Well, Christi, two law enforcement sources have told CNN that Epstein died by suicide overnight at around 3:30 this morning Eastern Time. He was taken from his jail cell in cardiac arrest and then he died at a local New York hospital. So, that is the latest details that we have now confirmed that Epstein has died by suicide.
This was just two weeks after Epstein was placed on suicide watch when he was found in his jail cell with some injuries to his neck. So, this has escalated in the past two weeks with Epstein now dead by suicide.
SAVIDGE: Any idea how this could happen? Because just as you point out, he had attempted something like this, previous. I presume authorities know that he is a potential risk. And yet, here he is able to, as reports are saying, hang himself while in this jail?
SCANNELL: That's a great question, Martin. This is something that the law enforcement officials and the Bureau of Prison will be investigating. Because if he is in suicide watch and they know that he has already apparently attempted to harm himself, how does this happen now that he was actually able to commit suicide while under the watch of the prison.
And the pressure on Epstein has not subsided. If anything, it has only gotten worse as more details have emerged from civil law suits from some of his previous business partners, with the media, digging into his relationship, and exposing some additional questions about just his wealth, his connections with people. All this pressure building on him at this investigation was continuing.
So, it's a -- it's a very big unopened -- unanswered question of how he was able to do this while he was under the protection of the Bureau of Prison at this very high-security jail in lower Manhattan.
PAUL: We talk about -- we were talking to Julie Brown, "Miami Herald" investigative reporter, about essentially, you know, his mind-set at this point. I mean, there were hundreds of pages of previously sealed documents that were just unsealed just yesterday.
They had some really lurid details. They were from a defamation suit involving one of his accusers, Virginia Giuffre that was settled in 2017. Do you think that even behind bars he heard about the fact that those details were going to be released publicly?
SCANNELL: I would not be surprised at all. He knew leading up to this, the judge had ruled a couple of weeks ago just before he was actually arrested that these documents were going to be unsealed. So, he knew that while he was still a free man.
Then these documents come out, you know, deposition by Virginia Giuffre, where she talks about how she was kept a sex slave by Epstein and one of his accomplices or his friends and then goes into greater detail about how she was forced to have sex with Epstein and then she says taken to the -- to meet with a long list of very prominent men.
So he knew this was going to come out. And this is only the first wave of documents that were going to be unsealed. There's a whole additional set of documents that will be unsealed in the coming weeks. There is going to be more information coming out.
He was under intense pressure. He tried everything to stay out of jail while he was awaiting his trial. His lawyers were proposing he stay in his New York mansion with security guards and satellite tracking devices. So, he knew the stakes here were very high because he faces -- he faced up to 45 years in prison if he was convicted of these charges just in New York.
SAVIDGE: All right. Kara Scannell, thank you very much. She has been covering the Epstein case for some time now for CNN. Thank you and I'm sure we'll be talking again.
PAUL: We'll be right back.
SAVIDGE: We'll be right back.
PAUL: Fifty-three minutes past the hour right now, we've been talking to you about the apparent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein, the financier who was indicted on sex trafficking charges. We will continue to follow that, get you more information throughout the morning. But we do have to shift gears here.
SAVIDGE: We do. We want to turn to another story that we've been talking about a lot. How do the presidential contenders hope to solve the rampant gun violence in America? And that is the question that is being put to 16 of them who are participating today at a gun safety forum in Des Moines, Iowa, happening right now.
It is a quick response to last week's back to back mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, but gun violence is an ongoing problem that kills 100 people a day and wounds hundreds more.
PAUL: The forum was organized by three groups, Everytown for Gun Safety, Students Demand Action, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. The founder of that group, Shannon Watts, just spoke at the forum. She's with us now.
Shannon, thank you for being with us. Have you heard any ideas? Have you heard any proposals since you've been there that give you hope that there's change on the way?
SHANNON WATTS, FOUNDER, MOMS DEMAND ACTION FOR GUN SENSE IN AMERICA: I have. Not only what we've heard a couple of the candidates who have already spoken say, but also conversations we've had backstage where they're feeling very emboldened and empowered to act on this issue, and it is really becoming a priority in their policy platforms, which is so important going into the 2020 elections. They know they have the majority of American's support, even gun owners, and that this has to happen.
SAVIDGE: Do their words mirror the things that you want, you and others who want fast action on legislation?
WATTS: We are asking for two simple things. We're asking for a vote on background checks, which already passed the House. It would require a background check on every gun sale in the country, and we're also asking the Senate to vote on a strong red flag law, and that allows family or police to petition a judge for a temporary restraining order to disarm someone who seems to be a danger to themselves or others.
These are common sense, research proven effective tools that we need to make sure that we have put in place at a federal level.
PAUL: All right, Shannon Watts, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. You are the founder. We appreciate you taking time for us today. Thank you.
WATTS: Thank you.
SAVIDGE: And a reminder we'll have more on the breaking news of Jeffrey Epstein in the next hour of NEWSROOM. Stay with us.
PAUL: We have breaking news to talk to you about this Saturday, August 10th. Thank you for being with us, I'm Christi Paul.
SAVIDGE: And I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell.
Welcome back to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world.