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Questions Emerge After Jeffrey Epstein's Apparent Suicide; 2020 Democratic Candidates Storming Iowa; Friend Who Gave Dayton Shooter Body Armor Faces Charges. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 12, 2019 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: And NATO calls "Skyfall" -- a nod to James Bond there -- that is a prototype of deep concern to the West.

The Russians are working on a prototype for a nuclear-powered cruise missile, if they could ever make it work, it would give that missile extraordinary range to travel thousands of miles powered by some kind of nuclear device on board that would be its fuel. It would have significant range, it could hold the U.S. at risk.

The prototype so far, by all accounts has not worked, and they do believe this explosion last Thursday at this site in Northern Russia was in fact caused either by an explosion of the missile prototype or components.

There was a release of radiation by all accounts, so that too, causing a good deal of environmental concern in that part of the world.

All of this being closely followed by U.S. and European Intelligence Services, who want to know from the Russians exactly what happened there. And right now, no surprise, the Russians are not exactly telling all they know according to the officials we're talking to -- Brooke.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: No surprise there. Barbara Starr, if you get more information, pass it along. Thank you very much. Let's get to this story.

Just days after he was removed from a temporary suicide watch, Jeffrey Epstein, the multi-millionaire accused of sex trafficking as well as sexually abusing girls as young as 14, a man who had connections to royalty, the rich and the powerful, including President Trump and former President Bill Clinton was found dead of an apparent suicide in his Manhattan jail cell.

Officials making the discovery just over this weekend in the protective housing unit where Epstein had spent the last couple of weeks. The news, shocking everyone from his own victims to Members of Congress, several of whom have demanded a full investment. And today, the Attorney General William Barr vowed to pursue those responsible.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I was appalled, and indeed the whole department was and frankly angry to learn of the MCC's failure to adequately secure this prisoner.

We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation. The FBI and the Office of Inspector General are doing just that. We will get to the bottom of what happened and there will be accountability.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: And for the women who suffered under Epstein's decade-long assault, his death is sparking new anger and frustration. One of them issuing a statement that reads in part, quote, "We have to live with the scars of his actions for the rest of our lives, while he will never face the consequences of the crimes he committed, the pain and trauma he caused so many people." So let's not forget the women here.

Shimon Prokupecz, CNN's crime and justice reporter. Ed Gavin is the former Deputy Warden for the New York City Department of Corrections. So gentlemen, thank you so much for being here. And to you, sir, on the investigation. We know that the AG said that there will be accountability. So where are we now in the investigation? And what are the next steps?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: I think they're moving rather very aggressively. It's very obvious. I think those were some strong words there from the Attorney General.

So obviously, everyone very concerned about what happened here. The highest profile, possibly for a suspect, for someone who is being housed in a jail in a facility where technically he should be safe to have this happen, is definitely something that is concerning. And for investigators, everyone is really angry.

And when you think about the irregularities here, it's all on the guards, it would appear at this point. At least, that's what we're being told. Guards were supposed to monitor him every 30 minutes. They were supposed to check on him because of where he was being housed in the special unit. They weren't doing that.

There's also a lot of questions about why was he alone in this jail cell. Because he just came off of suicide watch, he should have been in the jail cell with someone. He was alone. So there's a lot of questions about those decisions.

And obviously, why was he taken off suicide watch? That we don't know yet. I mean, it was only a basically a week that they had him on suicide watch. You had this attempt that Jeffrey Epstein tried to kill himself, and then what happens is for about a week, they're monitoring him -- psychologist, the staff at the jail -- they're talking to him. They're seeing him on a daily basis.

And then something happens and they decide, you know what, we're taking him off suicide watch. He's going back into the special unit, but they were supposed to keep an eye on him. And something here went wrong.

BALDWIN: You bring up a bunch of points and Ed, I'd love to have you react to some of these great questions he is bringing up. You know the MCC really well. It's my understanding there are cameras everywhere. So to his point about the guards and also about, if from what I read, if one is suicide watch, do you only stay on suicide watch for 24 to 48 hours and that's it? Like why weren't they watching him constantly?

[14:05:08] ED GAVIN, FORMER DEPUTY WARDEN FOR THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: Well, the B.O.P. -- the United States Bureau of Prisons, they bungled this from the onset. As you recall, I was on your show on July 23rd, when he was in a cell with another individual. That individual was charged with quadruple murders, kidnapping, drug possession. His own attorney said he had psychiatric -- that he was suffering from depression. Why did they put him in with that guy in the first place?

Jeffrey Epstein should have been placed on suicide watch as soon as he got into that facility, and he should have been on suicide watch up until this point.

Now everyone wants to blame the Correction Officers. Okay, this happened on the midnight shift. It was discovered at 6:30 in the morning.

BALDWIN: Right.

GAVIN: So, on the midnight shift, the Correction Officers -- he was placed in general population. So he had to -- they had to make tours and inspection every half hour. Okay. Now, I believe they should -- all Correction Officers who do a good job, they should make tours at frequent intervals.

But on the midnight tour, the best -- your best friend is your flashlight. Okay, you have to go in and look at every single cell. You have to check for respirations. You have to check for signs of life.

BALDWIN: Every half hour.

GAVIN: No, constantly. In my book, the way I would do it, when I was a correction officer back in 1982, I would do it at frequent intervals. You're mandated to do it every half hour.

Now, had he been on suicide watch, he would have been on a 15-minute watch where they would monitor him every 15 minutes.

BALDWIN: But if he had been -- this is the part that I think people just aren't familiar -- if you're on suicide watch, remember, he had had those injuries, people weren't quite sure if they were self- inflicted or not. He had been on suicide watch. So why take him off? Is that typical to either of you guys?

PROKUPECZ: So it is typical. Look, there are -- the constraints on a prisoner, on someone who is being housed and he would know this better than I would probably, but you know, it's a huge undertaking also for the staff --

BALDWIN: Overtime. It's costly.

PROKUPECZ: Overtime, it is costly and it also requires a lot of monitoring. Obviously, he was meeting with psychologists here on a daily basis. And they kept monitoring him and I think also, you want to give, I would assume inmates a little more freedom if they are deserving of it, that perhaps you lessen the constraints and maybe the suicide watch was constraining him and he could have been arguing to be taken off suicide watch.

His lawyers could have argued to have him taken off suicide watch. We don't have the entire story yet. But that is a big focus.

BALDWIN: What about the point that he no longer had a cellmate which is against policy? Where was his cellmate?

GAVIN: Well, you know, I think not every inmate has to have a cellmate. One of the things that we do -- and for good correction policy is to deploy what we call suicide prevention aides. They are inmates, and they assist the Correction Officers of patrolling the cellblock to check for signs of life, to make sure these inmates are alive.

That's something that probably wasn't done and should have been done, could have been done. But I think there's a conspiracy at foot here. That's -- I think -- I don't understand, I mean, I used to designate -- I essentially monitored cases in New York City Department of Correction back in 1990. Okay.

And Jeffrey Epstein is what we would call a newspaper gangster. He is highly notorious. You would think that that the Bureau of Prisons would do everything possible. Review his rap sheet, look at his relatives, look at his visitors. You realize that this guy is a man of means. He had a great life and he went from this great lifestyle into a prison cell. They should have been -- this guy never should have come off suicide watch under any circumstances.

So my thing is, I want to know, did the Chief Physician authorize it? Did the Warden authorize it? Did the Deputy Warden authorize it? Who did?

BALDWIN: Yes.

GAVIN: I see a conspiracy because this guy has got nothing but kid glove treatments from the time he was arrested in 2008. He was given a jail cell -- the Florida Sheriff in Palm Beach let him stay in his own wing. They gave him home detention.

BALDWIN: Right, in the end, he only ended up serving 11 months.

GAVIN: Were police -- outrageous.

BALDWIN: I hear you. They've got some explaining to do. But I want to come back on the point about the cellmate that there is a belief he may have tried to commit suicide previously. The jail transferred the cellmate which by the way is against policy. That is fact. Ed Gavin, thank you so much for your expertise. Shimon, thank you very much. We'll come back to all of this, because I know this is what everyone is talking about.

But also this, the race for the presidency, the 2020 Democratic candidates have been storming Iowa, who is first in the nation caucus, it is less than six months away.

The latest polls from the state show former Vice President Joe Biden holding his lead with senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris in second and third place and you see here, by looking at the numbers just how much closer Warren has gained on Biden's lead since that last poll.

CNN Senior National Correspondent, Kyung Lah is with me now. And I saw you on that bus this morning with Senator Kamala Harris and you asked her about her Iowa strategy. What did she say to you?

KYUNG LAH, SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What she specifically was talking about her Iowa strategy, she didn't want to come out and say that she is not going to pay attention to South Carolina.

But certainly if you look at the amount of time that she has now committed here in Iowa with this bus tour, the amount of time she spent, a new ad, a six-figure ad that's rolling out both on television and on digital and the amount of resources. She has more staff that we saw go into place on the July 4th week.

[14:10:12] LAH: All of this is adding up to certainly saying that they are taking Iowa very seriously. They understand that there has to be a strong showing in Iowa, if they want to make it to South Carolina, where her true strategy of women and women of color in South Carolina will lead her to the nomination.

So in order to get there, she has got to do well in Iowa, and it is very evident by the amount of time that she spent here on this bus tour. Her fifth day, Brooke, this is the last day of her bus tour going river to river across Iowa -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Let's watch what she told you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's about listening as much, if not, more than I talk. So that at the end of this process, not only we win, but that we will be relevant, that is very important to me. And so this five-day bus tour has been about just, you know, five continuous days of being able to frankly go to places where you know, there may not be an airport, but there are people who deserve to be heard and seen. And I'm really enjoying it. I'm really enjoying it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: You know, and it certainly looked like she was enjoying it this week, Brooke. I mean, we saw her have a great time at the Iowa State Fair. She's been certainly more engaged with people taking the time to really talk to people one-on-one and it was extraordinarily hot as she was flipping some of those pork chops at that State Fair. And she was smiling the whole time, Brooke. Clearly, looking like she's in her element here.

BALDWIN: Kyung, thank you. David Chalian is our CNN political director. And maybe I don't know, you may get mail in Iowa for as much time as you have spent there. What were your key takeaways?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, a couple things, just picking up where Kyung left off. This strategy shift for Harris, which has been in movement, Kyung has reported on it a few weeks ago, it just was so apparent now, this need to lean into Iowa. And here's why, and this is probably is my biggest takeaway.

Iowa is always important, Brooke, you know that. It is first, it always dictates who has momentum that really blazes a path to the nomination. I think it may be even more important this time because what we're seeing from Democrats in every poll is that they have this electability thing on their mind. They want to choose the nominee that they think is going to have the easiest time defeating Donald Trump.

And so right now, Joe Biden has that as a strength in his candidacy, in his sort of candidate profile. And if he loses Iowa, that really pierces a hole into that whole strength that he has, as the one seen -- the winner, right?

And so I ask voters all the time, but you tell me, electability is important. What is that? How do you judge it?

BALDWIN: Yes.

CHALIAN: What do you know --

BALDWIN: What do they say?

CHALIAN: And they have lots of different answers? They don't have -- they're like, "Oh, that's a good question. I haven't thought of that." But what I do know is that voters are going to judge actual election results, like caucus night in that calculus.

And so somebody else emerges the winner out of Iowa that really I think does --

BALDWIN: Sets the tone?

CHALIAN: And it potentially takes away a key strength Biden has.

BALDWIN: On Biden, he released a gun proposal today. What are the specifics of that?

CHALIAN: So you saw in "The New York Times," he wrote an op-ed about bringing back the assault weapons ban. Now, that is something he writes about that he and Dianne Feinstein, the California Senator led the fight in 1994 to get it in place. It was only a 10-year ban, and then it lapsed. And there was not a successful attempt on the part of Democrats to get it renewed. He is calling for that.

The political reality is that's not -- that's not in the cards. That's not where the math is in the Senate right now. But after I think we saw these shootings, and these just tragic events of a week ago, this became a front and center issue.

It is something that all the candidates were talking about. They had this big forum in Iowa on Saturday. And so Joe Biden is trying to own an issue that he has been associated with in terms of calling for the return of an assault weapons ban.

BALDWIN: I was talking to someone a little bit from Moms Demand Action, who is from Iowa, owns a gun, but you know, believes in a bit of gun reform, so we'll talk to her. She was there on Saturday morning. David Chalian, thank you very much.

CHALIAN: Sure. Thank you.

BALDWIN: Breaking news in the investigation of that gunman in the Dayton, Ohio shooting. We are learning about charges against one of his friends. So, stay tuned for that.

Plus, after this controversial ICE raids where children and their parents were separated, the White House is warning, there is more to come. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:19:06] BALDWIN: We are back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Here's the Breaking News in the mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio where nine people were murdered.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio is announcing new charges against a friend of the Dayton shooter. A law enforcement official tells CNN he is accused of providing the body armor to the shooter, and now this individual faces Federal firearms charges.

CNN's Ryan Young is following the story for us. And so first of all, who is this friend? And what was he aware of?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, that's the big question that we all obviously had for days now in terms of how this investigation would sort of fall out of the next few days.

We know the man charged, his name is Ethan Kollie, and apparently he was purchasing parts of these weapons in order to help hide it from Connor Betts' parents. So what we figured out is he bought the upper part of the AR-15, that body armor that you're talking about and then the drum of that weapon.

As you remember, as we were standing out there, the fact that this Trump had a hundred rounds of ammunition made it so deadly and that's why those officers from Dayton who responded so quickly to this, were able to stop tragedy because looking at all the weapons and the amount of armor that he had, if he would have made it inside that club, we know the carnage could have been way worse.

[14:20:20] YOUNG: Now, let's not diminish the fact that he did kill nine people still in that area, and so many people were injured. But police have been investigating this since that very moment.

I remember the moments after that shooting, less than 24 hours later, they released that video of him working his way down the street before those cops were able to surround him.

What they've been able to figure out since then, is that this man was helping to get some of those parts together. And they believe he had no knowledge of this attack. So this friend was helping him hide stuff from his parents. But at the same time, right now, detectives and police and Federal investigators don't believe he actually knew this attack was going to happen.

One of the other things that came out in this news conference, Brooke, which is quite interesting is they've been able to get into the shooter's cellphone and they're starting to go through information in that cellphone, so maybe they will figure out some connection here because of course, everyone in this community is trying to figure out what was the motive of this crime.

A lot of rumors right now, but nothing solid in terms of what Federal investigators are moving forward with. But so far, that's the reason why they're moving forward. There was also some controlled substance found at Ethan Kollie's house which is -- you can't have a firearm and a controlled substance, so he will be facing charges on that as well.

And one thing they made a point of saying is if anyone is connected to this crime, they are going to go after them with the full force of the law. So you can see Federal investigators doing their work less than a week later after the shooting in terms of putting some of these pieces together.

Let's not forget Connor Betts shot his own sister, and one of his friends was injured outside that same bar where he did the shooting.

BALDWIN: Ryan Young, thank you very much for the update there. And speaking of Dayton, Ohio. John Legend, surprises survivors and families after the mass shooting there. I'll talk live with someone who went to this impromptu concert there. Coming up.

And the President always puts a spotlight on illegal immigration, but now new rules could keep some legal immigrants from coming into the country. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:26:44] BALDWIN: Moments ago, the Pew Research Center released a new poll and found that 23 percent of Americans think there should be a national law enforcement effort to deport all undocumented immigrants here in the United States.

Obviously, illegal immigration has really been the focus of the Trump administration who just did that record setting sweep of undocumented workers last week.

But now we're learning of an administration move on legal immigration. The President announced a new Public Charge Rule that will make it harder for lower income people to get green cards by marking it against their case if they use certain kinds of public assistance, and the acting head of Trump's Citizenship and Immigration Services didn't shy away from the fact when he announced the change today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR OF THE CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: We certainly expect people of any income to be able to stand on their own two feet. And so if people are not able to be self-sufficient, then this negative factor is going to bear very heavily against them in the decision about whether they'll be able to become a legal permanent resident.

A poor person can be prepared to be self-sufficient. Many have been through the history of this country. So let's not look at that as the be all and end all, it is not the deciding factor, which is why we continue to use the Totality of Circumstances Test.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Ken Cuccinelli, by the way once served as a CNN legal commentator. CNN's Maria Santana is here now to explain. You've done some amazing, amazing reporting on all of this. So, thank you so much for coming on. Isn't the issue illegal immigration?

MARIA SANTANA, CNN EN ESPANOL ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, if you have listened to the President, for the last few years, when he makes his speeches, we have heard him say time and time and again, "If you want to come to the country, you have to do it legally." That he is not opposed to legal immigration, what he railed against is illegal immigration.

But now we have this rule, which would severely limit legal immigration to this country by making it harder for people who can't support themselves financially to come and stay in the United States.

Now, let's be honest, Brooke. The people who are doing very well in their own countries, those aren't the people that leave, those aren't the people who leave their friends and families behind to pursue what we know as the American Dream.

It is people who come from very poor countries where there are no opportunities for education, or jobs to support their families who want to come here. You know, we're supposed to embrace these people. But that would dramatically change that.

BALDWIN: So whether -- if you are someone who needs a little help, some public assistance in this country as you are applying for a green card, what services would hurt your case?

SANTANA: Well, under current regulations, the public charge term mainly refer to people who are getting some form of cash assistance. But this would broaden the types of federal programs that people use that would hurt their cases.

You're talking about people who use Social Security -- there it is on screen -- food stamps, people who use Medicaid, who need help with housing.

Now, there are some exceptions to this and we heard Cuccinelli talk about that. So I want you to hear what he had to say about the people that wouldn't be impacted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUCCINELLI: Importantly, this vital rule has no impact on humanitarian-based immigration programs for refugees and asylees. No impact on refugees or asylees. And it clarifies the exemption for trafficking victims and victims of domestic violence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:30:09]