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Dorner's Fate Unknown after Fire
Aired February 12, 2013 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to update you on the fugitive ex-police officer Christopher Dorner. He was found dead. We're standing by for a live news conference in California with details. Anderson Cooper has been watching this story unfold moment by moment.
Update our viewers here in the United States, Anderson, and around the world on what's going on.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Wolf, obviously that's a prerecorded picture that you're looking at from hours ago, darkness has fallen in the region. It's dark actually. See what's going on the site. We believe the fire is out, the body of Christopher Dorner, what authorities believe to be Christopher Dorner has been recovered from the burned wreckage of that cabin.
We have multiple sources telling CNN that, though DNA confirmation has not been -- has not been presented, has not been brought forth, we're told by authorities that could take anywhere from several hours to several days. We're anticipating a press conference from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department as well as a press conference at LAPD headquarters. We anticipate -- we're monitoring both of those press conference locations . We're going to bring that to you as it happens, of course.
But I want to check in with our Miguel Marquez who is on the scene not too far from where that cabin where Christopher Dorner apparently made his last stand and died.
We don't know, Miguel, whether or not he was killed by sheriff's deputies, whether he died in the fire or whether it was a self- inflicted gunshot wound.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there were reports as sheriff deputies were moving in that they heard a -- what sounded like a gunshot going off in that cabin as they moved toward him. But it's not clear whether it was actually a gunshot or something else, just exploding in that cabin.
LAPD has confirmed to our own Tom Fuentes that it is in fact Christopher Dorner's body that was pulled out of there some time ago. We're not sure if they took him farther up the mountain or brought him down this way into San Bernardino for the forensic testing. But that's one thing that they plan to do at some point either tonight or later on. We suspect, we hope, at this press conference that San Bernardino Sheriff's Office will be holding here shortly, they will be able to confirm with greater certainty that it was Mr. Dorner but clearly because they're not able to get a facial recognition or anything on him that would -- that would identify him clearly that the damage to his body must have been fairly great, but just an absolutely wild afternoon after he got holed up in that -- in that cabin, one deputy shot and killed, another one badly injured.
It seemed that sometime after that he tried to make an escape attempt by setting off a gas device or a smoke device but was forced back into the cabin, was not able to get out and eventually what set off that fire, it's not clear if he set off the fire or if the gas that the -- the SWAT team pumped in there set off that fire, but it was the conflagration that ended, just ending a terribly horrible chapter in southern California history -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, and you know, we should just caution our viewers some of these reports again are initial reports and so that -- you know, are likely to change as you well know as -- as the hours progress and as more information is learned, as more people are debriefed, some of these -- some of the operational details, and there's a lot we still don't know.
As you see -- excuse me -- law enforcement personnel at the LAPD headquarters are approaching, a live shot location, our Randi Kaye is standing by there.
Randi, this would be the first time we've heard from them in several hours.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. In fact, Anderson, a whole group of them has been huddled here all afternoon. The mayor has been here, the chief of police, Charlie Beck, Mayor Villaraigosa, has been here, along with them, huddled in there all afternoon.
The public information officer is part of that group there behind me that you saw coming out. They're making their way to the microphone. We hope to get some new information. It's unclear if the mayor or the chief will be coming out to speak as well.
The mayor came out a little bit earlier today, Anderson, offered his condolences to the families, those who lost loved ones and certainly all of those people involved in this. It's unclear if he's had any contact at all with the family members of those involved here.
KAYE: But they --
CMDR. ANDREW SMITH, LOS ANGELES POLICE: I have a couple of quick announcements and quick updates. First of all, let me say that the hearts of all of the Los Angeles Police Department, Chief Charlie Beck, and the men and women of the LAPD family go out to the San Bernardino County Sheriffs tonight. We know they suffered a tragic loss. We know what it's like to lose a fellow officer. And it breaks everyone's heart to know what those poor officers and their families are going through tonight.
So on behalf of the Los Angeles Police Department and Chief Charlie beck, our deepest sympathies go out to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department for their loss tonight.
I want to clarify a few things about the incident that occurred in San Bernardino with respect to the shootout and the burning cabin that's been out there. First of all, this is a San Bernardino County Sheriff's investigation. They have the lead on this particular part of the investigation. San Bernardino County Sheriffs suffered the loss when their deputies tried to take this individual into custody and they will be conducting the follow-up investigation into that incident.
I'd like to clarify some information that has been put out there or rather some misinformation that has been put out there. I just got off the phone with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. That cabin is still too hot for anybody to make entry. There has been no body located inside of that cabin. That cabin has not yet been searched because the fire is still too hot as of five minutes ago for anybody to go into there.
Any reports of a body being found are not true. No body has yet been found in there. Any reports that the body has been identified as Christopher Dorner are not true. No body has been identified and no body has been located.
I am not sure where this information is coming from and how it got attributed to the Los Angeles Police Department. This is the official point of reference for LAPD, so your information should be coming out of the Joint Information Center here. Any future information coming about that investigation is going to come from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and their Public Information Office will be providing that.
Until we have confirmation, A, that a body was located and, B, that that body belongs to Christopher Dorner, the Los Angeles Police Department is going to continue on with its high profile protection detail of our officers. We're going to continue to provide protection to our officers and those families that have been identified as possible threats.
In addition, we're going to continue to provide security to all our critical facilities here in Los Angeles until, A, a body is recovered, and, B, that body is determined to be that of Mr. Dorner. So until then, that's as much information as I have. We will have another briefing tomorrow morning at 8:00 in the same place.
I'll give you an update on anything the Los Angeles Police Department or our joint task force has to add, information about what's occurring in San Bernardino will be coming from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.
I have a very quick moment to take a question or two. So I'll have a Spanish speaker here that's going to answer your questions in Spanish as soon as I'm done. Quick questions, one or two, and I can answer them.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)
SMITH: Well, that was a mistake. If someone said that it was all clear two hours ago, that was certainly a mistake. Because as I mentioned earlier, that burned cabin has not even been entered by investigators yet. The cabin is still too hot as of about eight minutes ago for our officers to go inside or for the San Bernardino County Sheriff officer to go inside.
So we're still on a holding pattern to search that, to see if there's a body in there and if there's a body in there to determine if it's Christopher Dorner. And let me -- let me add that recovering bodies out of burned buildings as you may know is very difficult and it's difficult to identify the remains of someone in a building and that could take days or possibly even weeks to do a DNA analysis or a forensic dental analysis depending on the condition of the body.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Tell us about the investigation, 1,054 clues and why you're still chasing down those leads, sir.
SMITH: Well, until Mr. Dorner has been identified as either deceased or he's got handcuffs on him and he's sitting in a jail, we're going to continue as though he's still out there. We just want to make sure and -- on an abundance of precaution to make sure that all our officers and the citizens in Los Angeles are safe.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you also looking for accomplices? Is that a possible --
SMITH: As this investigation unfolds, anybody who has assisted him, assisted him in hiding from the police department, assisted him in avoiding capture or assisted him in any way is criminally culpable and I can assure you that the Los Angeles Police Department and the District Attorney's Office will leave no stone unturned to find out if in fact someone was assisting this man in his -- in his terrible crimes and his eluding capture.
OK. Last question.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: We are still on tactical alert.
SMITH: We are still on a tactical alert. We're still maintaining high profile in all our -- all our facilities to make sure that they're secure and we're still maintaining security on all our protected employees.
I'll turn it over to our Spanish speaker for a few minutes here. Officer Norma Eisenman.
COOPER: You just heard from Commander Andrew Smith of the Los Angeles Police Department saying that despite what CNN and a number of news agencies have reported based on multiple sources they say no search has yet been made of that cabin, that it is simply too hot. He said as of eight minutes ago when he talked to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, which is the lead investigative agency on this -- on this site, it's simply too hot to go in and search for a body.
Therefore he says no body has been found in the wreckage because there has been no search and certainly no identification has been made. He said any form of identification because of the difficulty of finding a body in a -- in a fire like this might take days and/or weeks.
Tom Fuentes, former FBI assistant director, is joining us now.
Tom, you had heard from multiple sources that there had been identification. What do you make of now what the LAPD is saying?
TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well, I find it very interesting. Yes, reports had come out supposedly from officers at the scene that they had made an identification or at least one officer had identified a body at the scene as Dorner. You know, that's what was coming out to a number of people, you know, a number of people, and including the media, so the fact now that they're saying otherwise is very interesting and we'll just have to wait and see what turns out here.
COOPER: In terms of -- you know, we anticipate a press conference from San Bernardino Sheriffs Department and again it has been a very difficult day for them not only because of the -- the kinetic nature of this operation but they've lost one officer and another officer has been in surgery and expected to recover. So it's obviously they're suffering a great loss in that area as well as having to mount this investigation now.
But what are the steps? What takes place now? I mean, if they say the structure is too hot to actually search, what is the -- what is the procedure? I mean, what does the rest of the night look like?
FUENTES: It looks like they're sitting and waiting and they're keeping an eye on that place that no one leaves even though it would look like it'd be impossible at this point for somebody to survive. You do have multiple buildings and it appears from the earlier pictures that not every building that was part of that compound burned down. So it's just going to be keep it surrounded, sit on it, wait until tomorrow morning if they're able to get the fire department on it, and try to cool that down and, you know, once they -- let it just completely burn out or try to put the fire out.
At some point they have to wait for it to get cool enough to go in. Normally that could take even more than one day. But we'll see what happens tomorrow morning.
COOPER: So -- just to clarify the information that you had been hearing, was this based on just one officer on scene saying that Dorner had been found?
FUENTES: Well, I don't know. But, you know, from past experience it could be as little as that, one person sending it out and then multiple -- people hear it and instead of it being attributed back to the original person, it sounds like multiple people reporting it. And so, you know, that's what was being said and it sounded pretty well and I think the other issue with this is that I look at the scene and looked at it earlier and said, you know, what has not been happening and that is if there is no body in that location and they think there is a possibility he got out, why weren't hundreds of people -- what you don't see is hundreds of police officers searching that mountain.
You don't see the roadblocks being maintained or intensified. You don't see additional resources arriving to relieve the officers that have been working around the clock so there is a number of things that are not taking place that indicate to me just by observation that they believe this could be over, and to say that there's no body in that location or it's not located yet, I think it's -- you know, it's difficult to say exactly how they're trying to put it that, all right, if there is a body still in there, if they have to wait until the embers cool to be able to go in there, so be it.
But I -- you know, just watching this, I can't imagine that if they thought there was any possibility that Dorner survived or got out of there and escaped, ran through the police line, then you wouldn't see this relaxed stance that's going on at that location. You wouldn't -- you wouldn't see everybody, you know, acting as if it's been resolved if it's not been resolved, so I am going as much by the body language of people at the scene as much as what's being said publicly.
COOPER: Also we know that they have not allowed firefighting vehicles to enter the area and last report we got about an hour or so ago is not only are the roadblocks been lifted, but they were allowing fire vehicles to go up there. That also would seem to indicate a certain level of comfort with the security in the situation whether or not they have actually started pouring water on the structure we simply don't know.
We don't have visual on the scene because the images we're seeing were taken earlier in the day because it's now too dark to get an overhead vantage point.
Do you know the specific report that had been allegedly or may have come from one officer on the scene or one person on the scene, was there any level of detail to it about where a body might have been found because I know from talking to the family that owns this structure, they said not only was -- there was a one-level structure about 800 square feet I believe it was and then a basement structure that was big enough to stand in as well as an attic space?
FUENTES: No. There was no specifics as to that and also you had the statement, you know, from the Marshal in Los Angeles that Dorner tried to escape from that building, shots were exchanged, and he used the expression that he was pushed back in. I think what he meant was just that when -- when fire was returned he retreated back into the cabin and I think that was another indication that he did not get away. COOPER: Right.
FUENTES: That you have officers observing him, reentering the cabin, you know, by whatever circumstance happened and in a situation like that, if the police were shooting at him as he is retreating to the cabin, and the cabin probably has thin wooden walls, there is a good possibility that he was shot in that -- in that exchange and was diving back into the cabin already wounded and possibly mortally wounded.
COOPER: Yes, I also saw --
FUENTES: So that's another indication he did not get away.
COOPER: I should also say I saw a more recent report from the "L.A. Times" that may raise questions about whether there was an attempt by him to escape through the back. Again, these are -- a lot of these are initial reports and as we know from war zones and also from interactions like this, often the initial reports turn out to be false as more people are debriefed. So we're trying to learn more.
FUENTES: No, that's true, and --
COOPER: Yes. Go ahead.
FUENTES: Yes, Anderson, if I can add that in a command post situation, you know, if -- you know, one of the things that happens when every agency is trying to be as open and cooperative as possible with each other, if a piece of false information comes in, and gets disseminated, then the fact that it's going to many different agencies makes it look all the more real. So that's one aspect, a negative aspect, if you will, of information being immediately shared with other agencies because if that information turns out to not be exactly accurate, there has been a widespread of bad news.
COOPER: Right. Hey, Tom, hold on if you will for just a second.
Our Randi Kaye who's down -- been monitoring the LAPD press conference has some new information.
Randi, what are you hearing?
KAYE: Anderson, I just pulled the Public Information Officer Andrew Smith aside after that press conference just to clear up, is there a body, is there not a body, and he said he was talking to a gentleman, an officer who is standing right next to that burned out cabin and he said he was looking at the embers, he was looking at the fire, he was looking at the heat. He said there was no way anybody was able to go inside there.
He said he's not even sure if they're going to be able to get in there tonight as much as they'd like to. They may have to wait until daylight to see what they're dealing with and he said and even once they get in before they could remove any type of body if there is one they'd have to photograph the scene. He said that would take hours. They would never have removed a body if there was one so quickly. So it is going to take some time. We probably won't have any answers until tomorrow even if they got a body or not and then it may take weeks, he said, before they can positively identify him as Christopher Dorner.
COOPER: Randi, we're still anticipating a press conference from the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department, correct?
KAYE: That is correct. That's about 100 miles from where I am, and they are expected to speak, and earlier in the night the spokeswoman there had said, Cindy Bachman, has said that she wasn't sure if it was Christopher Dorner inside the cabin, she wasn't sure when they would know, that we'll see if she -- if she has to say matches up with what the LAPD has to say because the LAPD says it is San Bernardino County who is handling this investigation and the follow-up and the positive identification of whoever it was inside that cabin. So we'll see what she had to say here very shortly.
COOPER: All right. Well, obviously conflicting reports, some confusing reports. We're going to have to continue to follow or going to be continuing to follow it all throughout this hour. We'll a special edition of 360 at midnight tonight, East Coast Time, with all the latest information.
Let's go back to Wolf right now -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Clearly, Anderson, this mystery is continuing. We'll stay on top of the story.
We're also about to get the first results of our poll of Americans who actually watched the president's State of the Union address.
Do Americans think he's taking the country in the right direction? We're going to find out.
Plus we'll check in with our focus group in Virginia to find out what they thought about the president's speech. Stay with us. Lots more coming up.
BLITZER: We have the first reaction coming in right now to the president's speech from our instant poll of people who actually watched his State of the Union address. More than half, 53 percent, describe their reaction as very positive, 24 percent said they were somewhat positive, 22 percent said they had a negative reaction to the president's address.
We polled speech watchers before and after the president's address. After the speech more people believed his policies will move the nation in the right direction, 71 percent said that, compared to 65 percent before he spoke.
This is a poll, by the way, only of people who watched the president's speech. We must point out probably won't surprise you that more viewers were Democrats just as Republicans tend to watch a Republican president's address in greater numbers.
We're going to have more results from this instant poll coming up, but there is more here to dissect.
Let's go back to Chris -- Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thank you, Wolf.
Our team is limitless. We have new contributors. We have Van Jones, we have Margaret Hoover, we have Cornell Belcher and we have Ana Navarro.
So nice to have you all here. Did you catch the poll numbers?
VAN JONES, FORMER OBAMA SPECIAL ADVISER: Sure.
CUOMO: Did you catch them? Do we want to talk about the polls? Or did you not catch them --
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, as a pollster I think we should talk about the polls.
CUOMO: All right. Sure. All right. Go ahead. And so when you hear those numbers, it seemed like there was, like, a 20-20-20 split across how much approval there was in general. Does that sound right?
JONES: Well, yes, but I thought it was really impressive because only 22 percent had a negative opinion, the rest was favorable or more than favorable. And so what that means is that in a 50/50 country the president did very well, and I think this president actually did something pretty remarkable. He kind of head faked the whole country. People thought this is going to be a partisan speech, this is going to be a fired up speech. He came forward with very, very bipartisan positive proposals. Many of them the Republicans have liked before and I think it actually threw Marco Rubio off.
Marco Rubio did not respond to the president's speech. He responded to a completely different speech. I think the president did very well.
CUOMO: You say he's thrown off. You're not referring to --
CUOMO: You're not --
JONES: Not the water moment.
CUOMO: Let's see if I can get --
The social media is all about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But unfortunately that's what they will remembered about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Marco Rubio reached -- Marco Rubio reached for a water bottle. He was speaking for a long time.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: We should not give that any more airtime than it deserves because it undermines the content of what was a very important speech and a very important response to the State of the Union in my humble Republican view.
JONES: Well --
HOOVER: I will say, though, what is interesting, Van is right. What we saw was classic Obama. Right? We saw bipartisan rhetoric in order to cloak liberal policies and it is very effective --
CUOMO: You were about to say yes and you were like --
ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Bipartisanship is in the eye of the beholder.
NAVARRO: And I suspect that there's a lot of eyes that are not -- that didn't see it as bipartisanly as you did. And on Marco Rubio, let's remember, who he's being compared to. Let's compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. Let's compare him to Bobby Jindal.
BELCHER: He's a lot better than Bobby Jindal.
NAVARRO: Nobody is going to say tomorrow that Marco Rubio screwed this up. He did a terrific job. He laid out a very clear alternative. He talked about Republican values. He talked about free enterprise. He talked about his own roots in a very emotional way. I know his neighbors. I knew his father. I know his mom. What he was drawing from was from a very deep place within and I thought he did a terrific job.
BELCHER: I have one -- I have one sort of overarching issue with Rubio. Before I get to that --
NAVARRO: Yes, we might beat your next candidate.
BELCHER: No. (LAUGHTER)
BELCHER: Before I get to that, I do want to sort of say that thematically what you heard from the president wasn't dramatically different from what you heard on the campaign trail. I mean, what really was sort of the unfolding of things that we advanced on the campaign trail. By the way, a winning thematic what you saw unfolding there. My problem with Rubio and I actually think he did do a fairly good job because this is about style. Most of the substance won't be remembered.
But from a frame standpoint, this is what my problem is for Republicans. And really as a strategist, not as a Democrat, but as a strategist. You can't look at losing, you know, the popular vote, what, four of the last five elections, and then say that your fundamental framework about setting up government as a straw man and the president's for big government and big government is bad, and think that you're going to -- that's a winning framework.
It just is not. You're not going to win the majority framework right now, the majority, that Obama majority right now with that rhetoric. The Republican Party, they have to refresh their framework. They do.
NAVARRO: You see, I actually agree with you completely. I think it was the rhetoric on just about everything elsewhere where we went wrong, whether it was gay rights, whether it was immigration, whether it was Hispanic, whether it was women, whether it -- that, you know, took us -- down the wrong path.
JONES: Let me tell you one thing about Marco Rubio. Marco Rubio is dangerous for Democrats. He is dangerous. I was so glad he picked up that water bottle because where he was going, he was getting -- he was getting emotional. Marco Rubio is to the heart what Paul Ryan is to the head. Paul Ryan is dangerous because the strength of his intellect. This is a smart guy, Marco Rubio, but when he connects, that last 90 seconds, Marco Rubio, he is dangerous for Democrats.
BELCHER: You can't disconnect him from the policies. That is what --
JONES: Fair enough. Fair enough.
BELCHER: Who voted against the -- you can't --
JONES: I hope he does more stuff like that. His ideas are extreme. The Tea Party loves this guy. But he is dangerous for Democrats because he can connect in a way that other people with those ideas cannot.
NAVARRO: And they love him so much they got Tea Party (INAUDIBLE) --
CUOMO: Ana makes a strong point. What does it mean that the Tea Party wound up putting out their own guy tonight? What does that say about Rubio being Tea Party or more to the middle of the Republican Party and what does it mean about the Republican Party?
BELCHER: I thought Rubio was one of the Tea Party guy, by the way.
HOOVER: What it means is when the Tea Party started in 2010 it was a huge grassroots movement that was very disorganized and not centralized at all, much time has passed that the Senate had a lot of time to distinguish itself and to differentiate itself in many ways and Marco Rubio rode that wave and in many ways he embodies the values of fiscal conservatism, of free market economics that is going to grow the middle class, but he doesn't represent some of the policies that frankly Rand Paul represents.
NAVARRO: Look, I've known Marco Rubio for 20 years. We have grown up in Republican politics together in south Florida. Him, you know, campaigning, volunteering, running for office, always as a Republican. Marco Rubio was a Republican way before there was such a thing as a Tea Party when a Tea Party is when two older ladies went to drink tea. So --
You know, he is a Republican who embraces a lot of what the Tea Party stands for, certainly the smaller government and many of the other things. I think what the Tea Party wants is to keep its own brand, to keep itself alive and relevant.
CUOMO: Let's hold on that for one second because I have to defer to my colleague, Wolf Blitzer. I'm going back to Wolf right now -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Good discussion. We're going to get back to you shortly. The most powerful and emotional moment of the president's speech perhaps came right near the end as victims of gun violence stood and cheered and shed tears in the House gallery.
The president demanded up or down votes on his proposals to end gun violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nat and Cleo are in this chamber tonight. Along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. They deserve a vote.
(APPLAUSE) They deserve a vote. They deserve a vote. Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek and Tucson and Blacksburg and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence, they deserve a simple vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The president demanding a simple vote, he says, on some of the key issues involving guns in the United States.
Let's go back to Capitol Hill, Jake Tapper is standing by with a guest -- Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Wolf. That's right. I'm sitting here with David Keene. He is the president of the National Rifle Association. Joining us also the chief congressional correspondent of CNN, Dana Bash.
And, David, I want to start right there with what Wolf played. President Obama talking about background checks, talking about tough new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals, trying to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets. They deserve a vote. Can the NRA support at least allowing votes on these issues?
DAVID KEENE, NRA PRESIDENT: There are going to be votes on some of these issues but we can't control the Congress. This thing -- the one thing that sort of upsets me a little bit is the president is trying to use emotion to force things through before they've been rationally debated, argued and examined, and that's a mistake because that's the way you get to bad policy.
There are going to be some votes on some of these things. Some of these things may have more support than others and some of them may, you know, drop along the way as we -- as we head to the final days of this confrontation on Second Amendment rights.
TAPPER: Well, one of the issues that was -- is allowing a vote on these things, I don't want to get too much into legislative minutia about the building behind me, but the Senate often blocks a bill if you don't have 60 votes, John Boehner, the House, whoever the speaker of the House is, controls what gets voted on and John Boehner has, you know, historically not allowed votes on this.
Will the NRA at least allow these things to happen without telling members of Congress we'll hold it against you if you allow it to happen?
KEENE: Well, you know, if some of these members of Congress that are stuck in the middle and are in vulnerable districts do vote, that might not go very well for them in the future. It isn't a question of whether they're going to vote or not, it's a question of how they vote, but we're interested in doing is getting members of Congress, members of the Senate, to listen to their constituents and to vote to protect the Second Amendment because we think if you have a debate on these issues, if you have a debate on what's effective and what isn't effective, that what we come out with at the other end of this maze that is the -- the congressional bill making machine is going to be reasonable, is going to be all right.
But you know, the president wants to force these things through, and we discovered just today that there was a Justice Department memo prepared less than a month after Newtown which suggested that a so- called assault weapon ban would only work if it was -- if was included forced buybacks, in other words, confiscation of semiautomatic rifles.
We also learned that the Justice Department had recommended that if you're going to have a -- a universal background check, as the president likes to call it, it would have to be accompanied by the creation of a national gun registry. We oppose the national gun registry, we certainly oppose the confiscation of firearms that are legally used widely and commonly used by law-abiding Americans.
What the president needs to do is deal with the problem of gun crime. He had with him the parents of a girl that was shot in Chicago.
KEENE: She was shot by a gang banger who was out -- after having been arrested for a gun crime and in Chicago federally gun crimes are not prosecuted so that today the mayor and the state's attorney suggested they had to have tougher criminal penalties on gun crime in Illinois and Chicago because -- they didn't say this but because the feds aren't prosecuting. We support that.
TAPPER: Dana Bash spoke earlier with somebody, and he had a question that he wanted to pass on.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Mark Kelly, of course Gabby Giffords --
KEENE: I know Mark, sure.
BASH: -- husband, you saw -- you saw him in those pictures. I spoke to him. He said he wanted to know from you is why in 1999 did the NRA support background checks and now you no longer do after all of these tragedies?
KEENE: Well, we do -- we support background checks in the way that we did then but at that time the NIC system, that's the National Instant Check system, was new and we were told everything was going to work fine, the computers were going to work, there weren't going to be any problems. Everybody that ought to be in the system would be included. We were lobbying then and urging that those who've been adjudicated to be potentially dangerously mentally ill should be put in the system. That hasn't happened.
In fact, Mark testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee to the effect that in Arizona alone there are over 100,000 people that should be in that system that aren't. Our argument is at this point what you need to do is fix what you have put together. We have had to go to Congress on occasion and urge that money be appropriated to run that system because it's -- you know, they put it together and then they let it sit, and now they want to expand it.
We to want make sure it works and works effectively before you talk about applying it to other people and expanding it.
TAPPER: All right, David, we have to go to Wolf Blitzer who is in studio right now -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jake, thank you. We have some more numbers coming in from our instant poll of Americans who actually watched the president's speech tonight. Let's take a look at the reaction when it comes to the issue of guns.
Before the speech 61 percent said the president's policies on guns would move the country in the right direction. That went up after his speech to 70 percent. The percentage of viewer who thought his gun policies would move the country in the wrong directions went down slightly after the speech.
Remember, this is a poll only of people who watched the president's speech. More viewers were Democrats just as where Republicans tend to watch a Republican president's address. But just wanted to share those numbers with you.
Tom Foreman is standing by with a reality check on what President Obama had to say about gun violence.
Tom, what are you finding out?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, that poll number is fascinating to me. In part because another big bad number that a lot of people here in Washington have been paying attention to, 32,000, just short of that. In 2011 that's how many gun deaths there were in this country. Two-thirds of these were suicides. If we factor those out, if we go down to about 11,000 homicides or cases of somebody shooting someone else, the picture does not necessarily get a lot clearer when you try to go through this and figure out how gun legislation might make a difference and in part that's because of what the president has targeted with this along with the Democrats.
For example, we've heard a lot of talk about this idea of going after a ban on some kind of so-called assault weapons, many voters would say this is a no-brainer. They've heard about Colorado. They've heard about Connecticut. They've seen guns like this associated with very big bad headlines and they say why not just get rid of them? Well, here is the issue there.
Would you really make the big difference you would like to make, even people who are very much in favor of gun control. Let's bring in more guns, rifles and shotguns over here. If we were to take all the rifles over there and all of these guns combined, and put them altogether, those rifles would account for only 4 percent of this big number up on the wall over here.
Let's swap that out and go to shotguns. Look at this. Another 4 percent, so the problem is even if you go after these types of weapons, all these long guns over there, you're still going to only touch less than 10 percent of the homicides that were created in -- in a single year.
So what do you have to do? If you really want to go after the number of gun deaths and you think that gun legislation is the way to do that, you almost certainly have to talk about these, handguns, because the truth is, this is the weapon of choice when somebody wants to kill somebody else in this country. Seventy-two percent of all of the gun killings in this country happen with handguns, so the bottom line is, when the president talks about public support and there is a lot of public support, the question is, what policy is that support really aimed at and is that the policy that could actually make a difference -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Good point, Tom Foreman. Thanks very much.
We're going to have more from our instant poll of tonight's speech watchers. You're going to see what they think about the president's proposals to grow the economy.
Plus our focus group in Virginia is standing by to tell us what they thought of the president's State of the Union address.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of the situation in Big Bear, where earlier it had been reported that Christopher Dorner's body was believed to be inside that cabin, a body was found and had been removed, although a final identification had not been made. LAPD officials just a short time ago saying that in fact has not occurred, the wreckage, the burned out wreckage of that cabin where it's believed he made his final stand is still too hot to enter, that no body has been removed. And San Bernardino County Sheriffs Department officials have said the same thing, that it's too hot to enter.
There's a press conference going on right now. Let's listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Learning more about how long they think this person believed to be Christopher Dorner may have been at that house or cabin on Club Drive?
CINDY BACHMAN, SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY SHERIFF'S SPOKESWOMAN: I have no idea he's been there.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And -- do you know when did these two ladies --
BACHMAN: Does anybody else have any questions?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you tell us what that is? BACHMAN: I'm sorry?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Cars that are being towed out behind you? Can you tell us what that is?
BACHMAN: I have no idea.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Those two ladies --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Call 911 be eligible for the reward?
BACHMAN: I don't know. That's not up to me.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you saying that reports that say the body was inside the house, (INAUDIBLE) those reports are false?
BACHMAN: There was a suspect that fled into the forest, barricaded himself inside a cabin, engaged in gunfire with deputy sheriffs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. OK.
BACHMAN: Shot two of our deputy sheriffs and killed one, and we believe he is still inside that cabin that caught fire.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But no one has (INAUDIBLE) has found --
BACHMAN: No one has been inside the cabin. It is not safe to go in there.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Cindy, can I ask you about the deputies that were injured and the one that was killed, did you personally know them?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This must be --
BACHMAN: I am not talking about them.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But it must be painful for the entire office.
BACHMAN: It is painful for every person associated with the law enforcement family across Southern California. They have been working together closely on this search for the last six days.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) Can you confirm there's a body inside the house?
BACHMAN: Have you been here listening to what I have been saying?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yes. BACHMAN: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I'm getting conflicting information.
BACHMAN: There is no conflicting information. They have not been inside the cabin. It is not safe to do that.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Right.
BACHMAN: They believe there is a body in there. They have not yet been inside. It is not safe. Yes, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) taken a hostage?
BACHMAN: I don't know anything about hostages. My information is that the victims of the car theft were not injured.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Cindy, what was the (INAUDIBLE)
BACHMAN: I am not aware. I only know that there was a fire there. That's the only information that I have.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Any idea what type of weapons or ammunition --
BACHMAN: No, I don't have any information on that.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And that was a vacant -- a vacant cabin, was it not?
BACHMAN: It was described to me as a rental and there was no one there.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Cindy, just again --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Cindy.
BACHMAN: That's OK.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you just reiterate again the rundown? You believe there is a person in there and you believe it could be possibly Dorner?
BACHMAN: Right. We believe -- correct. We believe --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Into the mike.
BACHMAN: We believe that there -- that the person that barricaded himself inside the cabin and engaged in gunfire with our deputies and other law enforcement officers is still inside there, even though the building burned, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And do you have any more information about the Forest Service officer who was apparently shot at?
BACHMAN: No, I don't. I don't.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK.
BACHMAN: Thank you very much. We'll put out some information if we have a press conference tomorrow. We'll get that information out to all of you. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Cindy.
COOPER: OK. So you just heard from Cindy Bachman, the spokesperson for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department saying that they believe that the person who engaged in gunfire with their deputies, killing one of their deputies, earlier today from the location of that cabin, they believe that person's body is still inside the cabin. They believe that person is dead but the body is inside the cabin and the cabin that has burned down. But it's too hot to enter and they have not actually physically removed a body from the cabin as had been reported earlier.
We still have multiple sources who say they believe it was Christopher Dorner who was inside there.
Let's go to our Miguel Marquez who is standing by listening to that press conference.
Obviously confusing and conflicting information, Miguel. Try to explain to our viewers what we know, what we don't know, and what is believed from other sources you're hearing from.
MARQUEZ: Yes, I think why it's a little conflicting and confusing right now is San Bernardino Sheriff's Office wants to make sure, 100 percent, 110 percent that it is in fact Christopher Dorner in that cabin. It is a very sensitive time. They have lost one of their own, another one is probably coming out of surgery now or perhaps still in surgery, it's been a very tough week for law enforcement community across the entire Southern California.
A lot of people have been looking for this guy. There's a lot of excitement to get that news out that they do in fact have him but you know, I have it from a federal official, Tom Fuentes has it from federal officials who spoke to LAPD officials that it is in fact Christopher Dorner in that house. His cell phone, and this is something I learned earlier in the day, didn't think much of it at the time.
You know, his cell phone popped on at one point after he engaged the wardens, the Fish and Game wardens, and it is possible that that somebody was able to get in contact with him and actually confirm at least by voice that it was in fact him.
The other glaring huge piece of information we have here is we are at -- this was a giant roadblock just a couple of hours ago and now every single member of law enforcement has left. They clearly do not believe that Mr. Dorner presents any threat to this area anymore. Just an unbelievably horrible tragic day that has unfolded here after he reared his ugly head again, killed a sheriff's deputy and wounded another one -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. That seems to clear it up. Seems to be they just want to make extra careful that they have all of their I's dotted and their T's crossed before in fact confirming that it is the body of the man they've been looking for, Christopher Dorner.
We're going to have our continuing coverage in about 13 minutes from now. We'll have a live edition of "360" all the way through to the 1:00 a.m. hour.
Let's go back to Wolf Blitzer right now -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Anderson. Thanks very much.
Getting back to the State of the Union address, the CNN team has assembled a focus group of Republicans, Democrats, and independents, all of them found something they liked in the president's speech but was it all the same? You're going to hear from the focus group when we come back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: More reaction to the president's State of the Union address. Let's take a close look at how our focus group of Virginia voters responded to the president's speech tonight. We measured, we measured their reaction while they watched. The blue line represents Democrats. The red line is Republicans. The yellow line is for independents. And they all managed to find something they liked.
Take a look at this. Here is the president's best moment of the night with independent voters. That happened at around 9:55 when the president spoke about Afghanistan and bringing more U.S. troops home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Tonight I can announce that over the next year another 34,000 American troops will come home from Afghanistan. This drawdown will continue and by the end of next year our war in Afghanistan will be over.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: There is a lot Republicans certainly didn't agree with but there were a few exceptions. One happened at 9:48 when the president spoke about immigration reform and what he sees as a pathway to citizenship.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Real reform means establishing a responsible pathway to earn citizenship. A path that includes passing a background check, paying taxes, and a meaningful penalty, learning English, and going to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally.
And real reform means fixing the legal immigration system, to cut waiting periods and attract the highly skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will help create jobs and grow our economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You saw Speaker John Boehner applauding. Democrats gave the president high marks overall but the strongest moment came at 10:10 when he spoke about guns and mentioned some of the most well known shooting victims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Hadiya's parents, Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. They deserve a vote.
They deserve a vote. They deserve a vote.
Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Erin Burnett is with that focus group in Virginia. She's joining us now.
Erin, pretty fascinating stuff.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN'S "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT": It was pretty fascinating stuff. We're here at the University of Richmond with a group of folks who -- thank you so much for your patience tonight with all the breaking news we've had on CNN. But let me just start by a show of hands how many of you thought the president did a good job?
And, Wolf, that should give you a sense of how things were, pretty overwhelming.
Now a lot of you might say well, they're all Democrats. No, not true. Twelve of them are Democrats, 12 of them are independents, and eight of them are Republicans. So the president got a lot of bipartisan support in this room and as you heard there, the high for the Democrats that you just heard Wolf play was about gun control. And it was about that moment talking about Hadiya Pendleton, of course the girl who had performed at his inauguration.
I want to just go to Manuel over here. He's an independent. Tell me why what you thought that what the president said on gun control was so compelling.
MANUEL, FOCUS GROUP PARTICIPANT: Well, I thought -- I thought that he captured the frustration of the nation in our inability to make sensible laws. I have friends that own guns. But I think that even they understand that it is important to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill and those people who are criminals. And any laws that we can make to at least prevent those kinds of things I think is high time and I think the nation is ready for that law. And I think Obama captured that mood.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you. And others have said here, Wolf, you know, that they like what the president was saying, look, put it to a vote, up or down vote, you can vote how you want on a background check but at least have the courtesy, Congress, of having a vote on it.
I want to go now to Markell (pH) to talk about the high for Republicans and the highs for Republicans, as Wolf said, was on border security. Talking about background checks, taxes, meaningful penalties and leaning English. You heard John Boehner, as Wolf said, was applauding there, one of the few times he actually did.
You're also a Republican. And that was the high for you.
MARKELL, FOCUS GROUP PARTICIPANT: Yes.
BURNETT: What did you like about what the president said about immigration?
MARKELL: I appreciated that he spoke about border security and homeland security and enforcement in addition to immigration reform. Obviously America is a great place for people to immigrate to legally but I appreciated his focus on enforcing the laws that we have and the borders that we have.
BURNETT: And then one other thing I wanted to highlight. A lot of people here are other things they were interested in, Wolf. One of them was when the president was talking about terrorism. There were some Democrats here right that were a little concerned about that because they felt that perhaps he was referring to drone policy so we had a conversation here in the room about that and about the president's kill list.
Another thing, though, was on the economy. I want to highlight this, Wolf, in terms of -- I mean everybody approved of his view on guns, immigration, troop withdrawal, education, overwhelmingly in this room, where it was the most split was will the president's policies create jobs. Fifty-six percent in this room said yes, 44 percent said no. That was the closest that we had and the area that stood out was minimum wage. A few people were talking about that.
Eric (ph), let me -- let me ask you your point of view and of course your party affiliation. What you thought about what the president said about minimum wage. ERIC, FOCUS GROUP PARTICIPANT: I am independent voter and I believe that the -- there's two problems with the minimum wage increase would be the cost of doing business would go up and that would just be passed on to the consumer, so hamburgers would go from six bucks to nine bucks, the other problem was that, I think, is entry level wage for young people coming into the workforce won't be able to make that barrier at $9 an hour.
BURNETT: I want to make a point, Wolf. A lot of people brought this up. But of course independents and Republicans were the only ones who didn't like what the president had to say about minimum wage. There wasn't a single Democrat here who said they had a problem with the comment when he talked about a $9 minimum wage.
Let me just give you each a chance since you all overwhelmingly approved of the president, Marco Rubio, you also had a chance to watch him and rate every moment of his speech. How many of you thought Marco Rubio did a good job?
And as you can see, some, Wolf, but not as many. Why did you think so?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know, it's a -- that's a tough job, and he hadn't done a whole lot of that before so typically the response is, you know, it's tough to do. I thought he did a fine job.
BURNETT: Even though he needed a drink of water?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, my mouth is dry right now, too. I could use a drink of water.
BURNETT: Sometimes everybody can get a little nervous. They said Polar Spring may have been the biggest winner tonight. Right?
All right, well, thanks so much to all of you. We really appreciate your coming out and again your patience tonight.
Wolf, let me send it back to you on the studio.
BLITZER: And please thank all of the folks for sticking around and helping us. That I appreciate their reaction to what the president had to say.
We're watching what's going on, the reaction. We're also watching the breaking news coming out of Southern California right now and right at the top of the hour in about a minute or so we're going to have a special edition of "AC 360." Anderson Cooper is standing by until then.
Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer. Our coverage continues right after this.