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Capitol Police Whistleblower Alleges Jan. 6 Leadership Failures; Trump Records Birthday Message for Rioter Who Died During Capitol Attack; 3-Year-Old Boy Lost in Woods Found Safe After 4-Day Search; Maryland Couple of Accused of Trying to Sell U.S. Nuclear Secrets. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired October 11, 2021 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: A scathing new accusation sheds light on alleged failures that may have worsened the January 6th insurrection.
An anonymous whistleblower, who identifies as a former high-ranking Capitol Police official, says department leadership withheld vital intelligence and didn't act once the violence began.
CNN's Whitney Wild is tracking this for us.
Whitney, what can you tell us about these really disturbing allegations?
WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, this left is extremely detailed. It's 16 pages. It was first reported by "Politico."
And it makes two major claims here. And it claims that two of the top U.S. Capitol Police officers failed to act on January 6th as the violence unfolded.
The letter also says that former acting chief, Yogananda Pittman, lied to Congress earlier this year.
The whistleblower says in the letter they are -- again, they are a former high-ranking officer with 31 years at the Capitol Police Department.
This person came forward because assistant -- now Assistant Chief Yogananda Pittman and Acting Assistant Chief Sean Gallagher played a role in disciplining officers for actions on January 6th.
But this person feels that neither one of them was ever held personally accountable for their failures that day.
Some of the allegations are mere conclusions of other reports. But this letter takes particular aim at Pittman and Gallagher and accuses conduct of investigating their missteps -- Pamela? BROWN: That seems to be a big deal, that one issue raised this
allegation that Assistant Chief Pittman hasn't been honest about how threat intelligence was shared.
WILD: Absolutely. So specifically, the whistleblower is taking issue with what she told Senate investigators.
According to a Senate report released earlier this year, Pittman said the department had intelligence as early as December 21st that showed that people were commenting on a blog about confronting lawmakers, about bringing weapons to the rally on January 6th.
She said that information was shared with command staff. The whistleblower says that's not true.
Here's a quote from the letter. "Never shared it with the rest of the department, particularly those commanders with real operational experience. If provided, this information would have changed the paradigm of that day."
Pamela, a spokesman denied to "Politico" that Pittman lied to Congress. But it's a very startling accusation.
BROWN: It certainly is.
Whitney, what else did the whistleblower say?
WILD: Well, there's another significant allegation. And we talked about it at the beginning here a few moments ago. But the allegation is that neither one of these leaders took any significant action as a riot broke out.
The whistleblower claims to have been in the command center for some time on January 6th and said -- here's another quote -- "What I observed was them mostly sitting there blankly looking at the TV screens showing real-time footage of the officers and officials fighting for the Congress."
A law enforcement source defended these two officials saying, instead, they were focused on protecting lawmakers. And reminding us that, in the end, not one member of Congress, not one staff member either, was hurt.
And overall, Pamela, the Capitol Police executive team told CNN a lot has changed since January 6th, a lot of these problems outlined in the letter have been addressed under the new police chief, Tom Manger.
But certainly, a startling list of accusations that will very likely get more scrutiny.
BROWN: Whitney Wild, thanks so much for that reporting.
For more on this let's bring in CNN legal and national security analyst, Asha Rangappa. Hi, Asha.
So how significant are these allegations? And do they fill in the gaps regarding what went wrong on January 6th?
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Pamela, these allegations go to one thread of the whole big picture about December 6th, the thread that deals with the law enforcement response during the events of January 6th.
And in particular, whether it was a failure of intelligence. Did they just not have the information about what was going to happen or was it a failure to act on the intelligence?
Which would imply, you know, more deliberation or kind of intentionality in refusing to get involved.
Pamela, just to put this in the big picture, this kind of gives us a sense of the big scope of what the committee has to investigate.
Because there's three big buckets here.
There's the bucket dealing with the Department of Justice, which, you know, the pressure that was being put there, which the Judiciary Committee has been looking into.
There's the bucket about the events leading to January 6th, Stop the Steal, pressure on the vice president not to certify the vote.
And then the events on January 6th itself, which involve the Pentagon, law enforcement, coordination between the White House and the rioters.
So this is one thread of that bigger picture but one that the committee needs to investigate fully.
BROWN: They have a lot on their plate, for sure.
I want to ask you, one of the people who died in the attack was rioter, Ashli Babbitt.
And former President Trump has framed her as a martyr. And in a birthday message for her, he called on the DOJ to reopen the investigation into her death.
Now we want to note that the officer who shot her was previously cleared. The Justice Department found no wrongdoing.
But what do you make of this?
RANGAPPA: Pamela, it's important to note that the Department of Justice looked into this and did not find that officer acted inappropriately.
Babbitt was trespassing, as they were trying to protect members of Congress, and he fired a shot believing that it was justified use of force. But what's important here is Trump is trying to create a narrative where Babbitt was acting righteously. And this is sort of furthering the idea that the rioters were there for a righteous and patriotic cause.
I think it's important to note that, you know, had he conceded the election, like every other previous, you know, president has after losing, she probably would be alive today.
But, you know, it's important for him to turn the tables and make sure that his narrative is paramount in order to continue that sense of fighting for a cause that he wants his supporters to have.
And that's incredibly dangerous because it, I think, foments more violence in the future.
BROWN: And that's such an important point that she probably would be alive today had it not been him spewing his lies.
Asha, thank you so much.
RANGAPPA: Thank you.
Well, officials are calling it a miracle. A 3-year-old little boy found after going missing in the woods for days. Details next.
BROWN: Well, in Texas, a happy ending to missing child case some describe as miraculous. A 3-year-old boy who vanished into some woods near his house is expected to be released from the hospital today.
Christopher Ramirez was found safe and sound over the weekend three days after disappearing. After a frantic search, he was found about five miles from where he went missing.
CNN correspondent, Rosa Flores, joins us live.
Wow, what a great ending to this story, Rosa. Authorities are planning a special homecoming for Christopher. Tell us about that and how he was found.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I talked to the sheriff about it. He says that they are planning something special. I'll tell you about that in just a moment.
But the sheriff says that there are just so many tears and laughs of joy because this little boy has been found. And the big question of, how in the world did he survive in the woods, the sheriff says he doesn't know.
But here's what we do know. So 3-year-old Christopher Ramirez went missing on Wednesday. And according to a very emotional press conference that his mother had, he went missing right after they got home from being at the store.
This mother says that she turned around, the little boy was missing. She started screaming. And it was her neighbor who told her that this little boy was running down a road following their dog.
Now the sheriff says that, at one point, there were about 300 people searching for this little boy in a forest that is between Houston and College Station.
He says that there were about 48 agencies, federal, state and local. They were using every tool in the toolbox, helicopters, drones, ATVs, infrared, you name it.
And it was actually a Good Samaritan, according to the sheriff, who found this little boy. This Good Samaritan does not want credit. He does not want to be identified.
But here's how the sheriff says that he got involved. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON SOWELL, SHERIFF, GRIMES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: He said I have a spiritual feeling and Bible study. He says I don't want the news that much.
He says I just heard about it and said, oh, my goodness, that's not too far from here as the crow flies, if you use the phrase. And he just did that.
And it -- it was such a nice feel to get that call that we have him. He's alive. And he's crying. Those three factors made our day.
I can only imagine what the little boy went through. Thank goodness he's OK. That's all that matters right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FLORES: Now, Pamela, the sheriff tells me that the first thing this little boy asked for was a Coca-Cola. They, of course, gave him to that.
He was transported to the hospital where he's been in observation ever since. He had scratches and bruises from the tough terrain where he survived. And of course, he was dehydrated and he's has been in observation.
And the sheriff tells me that this little boy wants to be a police officer or a firefighter when he grows up. And so that's why they are doing everything they can to make this homecoming for this little boy so special.
The sheriff tells me he plans to deputize him as a junior deputy sheriff. And they are going to welcome him home with lights and sirens and everything, Pamela, to make sure that this little boy is home safe and happy.
BROWN: He is being spoiled, and he deserves that.
What a story, Rosa. Thank you so much.
FLORES: Thank you.
BROWN: Well, the Boston Marathon is taking place today for the first time since 2019. Among those running, Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema, part of a field of some 18,000 runners who had to show either a negative COVID test or prove they were vaccinated.
Also in the race today, Andrew Kaczynski, of CNN's "KFILE," running in memory of his baby daughter, known as Beans, who died of brain cancer. Team Beans is running to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer research. And we are cheering them on today.
Well, a Maryland couple was caught trying to sell nuclear secrets, even going to great lengths by hiding codes in peanut butter sandwiches. How the FBI tracked them down, up next.
BROWN: So it sounds like a plot from a spy novel but the FBI said it was all too real. A Maryland couple has been arrested and charged with trying to sell U.S. nuclear submarine secrets to a foreign country.
Authorities say the arrest resulted from a year-long FBI sting operation involving secret dead-drop locations and cryptocurrency.
CNN justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider, joins us with more on these alleged plots.
So, Jessica, what can you tell us about this couple and the nuclear secrets their accused of trying to sell and peanut butter sandwiches?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they put in some very covert measures to try to get this info out there.
Pamela, they're accused of tempting to sell classified information about nuclear submarines to a foreign government, everything from how these high-tech subs are designed, how they operate.
And this all started when a U.S. Navy nuclear engineer, Jonathan Toebbe, allegedly reached out to a foreign country in 2020 -- we don't know which one -- and he offered to hand over government secrets about nuclear-powered warships in exchange for cryptocurrency.
So that foreign country, they turned the offer over to the FBI and that began this month-long undercover operation.
So Toebbe allegedly went to three different spots between June and August of this past summer to drop off the information. And he actually packaged the information on S.B. cards, classified info on S.B. cards, that he then put into different methods. A peanut butter sandwich being one, a Band-Aid wrapper, also a wrapped gum packet.
He was tracked the whole time when he was doing the drops by the FBI and he was in constant communication with an undercover agent.
He even provided codes that would reveal the classified information, and all the while collecting $100,000 in cryptocurrency payments.
But, Pam, eventually, the FBI caught up with him this past weekend in West Virginia.
And he and his wife are accused of acting in concert together. The wife actually being accused of acting as a lookout when they would go drop the information off. So they both have a court appearance scheduled for tomorrow.
This whole time, they thought they were in communication with a foreign country. They were actually in communication with a undercover agent -- Pam?
BROWN: What a story that is.
SCHNEIDER: It is.
BROWN: Jessica Schneider, thank you for the latest on that.
And thank you all for joining me on this Monday. Ana Cabrera, back tomorrow.
And the news continues next with Alisyn and Victor.
See you today at 4:00.