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Ahmaud Arbery Trial Continues; QAnon Shaman Sentenced; House to Vote on Censure Resolution Against Paul Gosar. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired November 17, 2021 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIM WEHLE, FORMER ASSOCIATE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: Just calling balls and strikes, that's the ideal judge.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: That is the ideal judge.
We will continue to watch developments in Kenosha.
Thank you for your time today on INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you back here tomorrow.
Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage on this very busy news day right now. Have a good afternoon.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. We have a busy hour unfolding right now here in the NEWSROOM.
Let's start with what's happening on Capitol Hill right now and a debate under way over rules to censure Republican Congressman Paul Gosar and strip him of his committee assignments over that video he tweeted a little over a week ago that appeared to depict him killing a fellow member of Congress and attacking the president.
CNN's Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill for us.
Lauren, where do things stand right now?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this debate just getting under way on the House floor.
And you are hearing a powerful rebuke from Democrats, who are arguing that if any chamber should know the dangers of talking or trying to encourage violence and what can happen, it should be members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
You heard that point from Representative Mary Gay Scanlon, a Democrat from the state of Pennsylvania, who was arguing really about the facts that remember what happened with the insurrection. Remember the fact that violence or talking about violence can always be taken seriously by followers of members of Congress.
That is what Democrats are arguing on the floor today as they debate this resolution and the rule on this resolution to strip Paul Gosar of his two committee assignments, as well as censure him. Republicans on the other side of the aisle are talking about how this is unprecedented, how they are arguing this is setting a dangerous future for the House of Representatives, in which one party can strip another party's members of their committee assignments.
But Democrats saying this is just so serious that this action had to be taken today. In fact, I asked the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, about that earlier. She said, any time you were talking about threatening members of Congress, or, in this case, potentially even the president of the United States, it deserves and warrants law enforcement's attention.
So a serious debate on folding on the floor. We expect in just a few hours that vote on censure, as well as stripping Paul Gosar of those two committee assignments will pass the House of Representatives. We also know that there are at least two Republicans who will cross the aisle and vote with Democrats on that resolution, those two members, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, Republicans who have defied their leadership in the past -- Ana.
CABRERA: Lauren Fox, thank you. Keep us posted.
Let's continue this discussion with CNN political commentator Ana Navarro and former Republican Congresswoman from Virginia Barbara Comstock.
Congresswoman, Kevin McCarthy is not even condemning what Gosar did. What kind of leadership is this?
FMR. REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK (R-VA): Well, this is a sad day. I mean, it was sad when they had to strip Marjorie Greene of her committee positions, which I supported, and I certainly support this today.
And it just saddens me to see members that have to even deal with this, instead of doing what happened before with Steve King in a previous Congress when he made outrageous statements. And let's remember, these are very dangerous statements, I mean, really unprecedented.
And to not call this out, to not -- it certainly warrants censure. It certainly warrants getting off its committees. I certainly hope it will go to the Ethics Committee, because this needs to stop. I mean, after January 6, you still have Donald Trump out there egging this kind of thing on.
You have Steve Bannon this week, who is egging this type of thing on, and really his surly response to being indicted is certainly ugly too. And we know there are dangerous people out there. And one of them, the Shaman guy, was just sentenced to three years.
But this is a dangerous situation that needs to be defused. And I really wish leadership would take that on.
CABRERA: The Shaman, we're going to talk about in a moment, but he's not a sitting member of Congress, remember.
COMSTOCK: No. No. CABRERA: It just seems like a bar for lawmakers is getting...
COMSTOCK: Well, he's not too different from -- yes -- not too different from some of these guys in there right now. That's what sad.
CABRERA: So it just feels like the bar keeps getting lower and lower and lower.
Now, the thing is, Ana, by day's end, it is expected Gosar will be centered. He would be the first member of Congress since 2010 for that to happen to. And he will be stripped of two committee assignments. And still he has yet to show any remorse or apologize for what he did.
Just this past weekend, Gosar wrote an e-mail saying he finds the -- quote -- "faux outrage infantile and hyperventilating and shrill accusations that this cartoon is dangerous to be laughable or intentionally hyperbolic."
That is his quote. So, clearly, Ana, he has not learned a lesson.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He's not remorseful.
Listen, what else do you need to know about Paul Gosar, other than his six siblings detest him, to the point where they endorsed his opponent and made an ad against him? These are the people that know him best. I mean, all of us can have a problem with one sibling, two siblings, but six?
And I think this is very, very serious. And you talk about the lowering of the bar. And I'm going to again refer to Kathy Griffin, who I know personally, who went through all sorts of hell after she tweeted out that joke about Donald Trump, which I thought was in poor taste, and which so many of her colleagues and friends condemned.
She lost her job. She was interrogated under oath. She was put through the wringer. And she is a comedian. This is Paul Gosar, a member of Congress, pretending he is being funny and making a joke with a colleague who is not just one of the 435 Congress members. She is also in the committee that he sits in, House Oversight.
And so it is very appropriate for him to be stripped of that committee, because Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should not have to endure a toxic workplace. And sitting in a dais next to the man who is tweeting out these videos joking that she's getting killed by him. If that's his idea of a joke, really, he doesn't belong in Congress.
But this is a symbolic censure. It's really up to the people of Arizona, the people of his district, to decide whether this is the man they want representing them in Congress.
CABRERA: And, by the way, he won his primary in 2020 with 63 percent of the vote there in Arizona.
I do want to take a step back, though, for a second, because this is bigger than one man in Congress, bigger than Paul Gosar. You have some Republicans who would rather strip committee assignments from the 13 GOP lawmakers who voted in favor of the bipartisan infrastructure bill than do this for Gosar.
You also have a leader, Kevin McCarthy, who tried to put election deniers on the January 6 Committee. Other Republicans are straight up stonewalling that committee. The Republicans who are speaking out against election lies, like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, are in the minority. Cheney lost her leadership post in Congress, was disavowed by her own state party, despite being one of the most conservative members of the House.
Kinzinger isn't running for reelection. You have former President Trump, who just defended Capitol rioters who were chanting "Hang Mike Pence." And then you have Marjorie Taylor Greene, who just admitted she's not vaccinated, has refused to wear a mask on the House floor, and has spread conspiracy theories about lifesaving vaccines and so much more.
Congresswoman, this is the GOP today. This is your party.
COMSTOCK: Yes, well, those aren't people that I have supported, and I have actually actively worked against them.
I think it's clear that anybody would be fired in the workplace or even taken out of a high school or college with similar-type behavior. In some cases, some of these things that these people do in the workplace, you might recommend mental health help, because -- as I think Mr. Gosar's family has indicated.
So, yes. No, this is incredibly troubling. That's why I signed a letter with a bunch of former members about attacking those Republicans who voted for the infrastructure project and trying to strip them of their leadership roles. I spoke out in favor of them. Charlie Dent, a former member also, had organized that.
So we're trying, those of us who want to have...
CABRERA: Right, but these are all former. But you are all former.
CABRERA: How did these voices become the loudest and most powerful?
COMSTOCK: They are loud, but they aren't necessarily power -- yes.
NAVARRO: Let me -- one of the problems is, Ana, that the Charlie Dents and the Barbara Comstocks and the Ileana Ros-Lehtinens of the Republican Party have lost primaries, lost generals, retired or died. And so there's less and less voices willing to stand up for truth and
a moral compass. I woke up this morning thinking, where is the moral compass of the Republican Party? And it's all this level of complicity and silence and cowardice, because they want to keep their seats and their political positions at any cost.
They have lost their identity as humans, as Republicans, as statespeople, as states men and women, in order to keep their posts. We see it with people like Lindsey Graham. We see it with -- I could sit here and spend the entire hour naming Republicans who have compromised their principles.
In the meantime, you see people like Rob Portman from Ohio, who was one of the key voices in crafting that bipartisan infrastructure bill, retiring. And that is a huge loss to the country and to the Republican Party, because he -- because these Republicans, these reasonable Republicans are getting replaced by the Marjorie Taylor Greenes and the Madison Cawthorns of the world.
CABRERA: Right, exactly.
And so, to that point, if the people who aren't with the conspiracy theorists or the more extreme elements of the party choose to not speak out, out of fear, Congresswoman, where is their power?
COMSTOCK: Well, listen, I think you had people like Fred Upton, who came, I know, on CNN and other shows explaining the death threats he got because of things that Marjorie Taylor Greene is out there calling them traitors.
And so I'm working to help people like Fred Upton, like John Katko, who was attacked in conference this week. Now, John and Fred are very popular members, even among the current Republicans, so they are not going to be stripped of their leadership roles.
And I think the more those of us who can stand up for the John Katkos and the Fred Uptons and Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and those who are trying to get these things done, I think even though their voices aren't the loudest voices in the room, I do think they represent a lot of silent majority of Republicans who would like to see sanity return, and are sick of this sort of environment of Republicans being like they're in a battered women's shelter and afraid to come out and say anything, because Donald Trump will attack them.
I think the more -- you have to stand up to bullies. And the more people do that, I think you will see people like John Katko and Fred Upton rewarded by winning their primaries. And if they don't win their primaries, those seats will be lost, and Republicans will not get the majority.
So this effort by Donald Trump to get these extreme, ridiculous people into office threatens the Republican majority that Kevin McCarthy and others want.
CABRERA: I mean, I appreciate the thought that voters are going to boot them out if those extreme elements are the ones that are the last men standing in the GOP -- after the GOP primary.
But you also have all this redistricting and gerrymandering going on around the country that is making it very, very difficult for one party to break through over another party because of where the power is in those specific states in which Republicans have the advantage in a lot of these states because of some of these new election reforms that are limiting access to a lot of voters, primarily voters of color, and a lot of them Democratic voters.
NAVARRO: That's right. Look, Republicans -- Republicans have 20 state legislatures, and they are gaming the system to give themselves advantages.
The reason Adam Kinzinger in Illinois isn't running again in part is because he got redistricted out, even though that was not by Republicans. He doesn't have a district to run in. So, there's all these factors that are playing in, the fact that Joe Biden's in the White House, the party in the White House usually loses seat, the fact that it is a gerrymandered year, that is, redistricting year, after a census, the fact that there's so many state legislatures that took up voting restriction laws after the last elections.
All of those things are going to be at play. But, listen, Ana, I want to go back to the question you asked. Where do people like Liz Cheney, Fred Upton, Anthony Gonzalez, Adam Kinzinger get their strength? I think they have inner strength.
And I think it's that idea that you're being truthful and faithful to your own principles and conviction. It doesn't matter the external attacks you are getting. When you know that you are believing and standing up for the right thing, it doesn't matter what's happening outside, because you have got that inner strength.
And I see it on all these Republicans who are willing to take the attacks and the consequences and be targeted, because they are standing up for what they believe in.
NAVARRO: I pity the cowards who are willing to compromise their principles and show they have no backbone.
CABRERA: But, Ana, going back to then who's going to be left if the Adam Kinzingers, if the Anthony Gonzalezes don't run for reelection or aren't even willing to continue on in the fight?
Should the Republicans retake the House next year in the midterms, what does that leave us with?
(CROSSTALK) NAVARRO: That leaves us with a very dysfunctional Congress.
CABRERA: Do you agree with that, Congresswoman?
COMSTOCK: Well, we're a long way away.
And I think -- well, I think let's trust the American people in the voters, and even in districts that you may think are very red districts, look what happened in Alabama with Roy Moore. Look what happened when Republicans nominated Kris Kobach in Kansas, a Republican state. He lost.
So, even with that, if you -- if Republicans nominate extreme, toxic candidates like Donald Trump, we did vote out Donald Trump. He lost. So have faith in the people. I do.
That's -- I think we have to work hard. The harder we work, the luckier he will get in that regard, but have faith that the American people will reject these toxic candidates.
And I think that people with courage, as we have been talking about here, they inspire others, even those who may be quiet about it, and will get people to come out and vote. So that's certainly what I am optimistic about, that those candidates who do have a backbone stand up for themselves and are their own men and their own women, that those are much more appealing candidates than the sycophants who bow to the guy, the retired guy down in Florida.
CABRERA: All right, got to leave it there. Ladies, so great to talk with you. Thank you so much, Barbara Comstock, Ana Navarro. Until next time.
Also breaking today, the sentencing of Jacob Chansley. That is the so- called QAnon Shaman, 41 months for his role in the January 6 riots.
CNN's Whitney Wild is outside the federal courthouse where he appeared before a judge just a short time ago,
Whitney, Chansley was not accused of actual violence that day, but the district -- I should say the Justice Department asked for and got a very significant sentence here.
WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: And a similar sentence to what they got last week for a crime of violence.
So let me put this in perspective. This was Judge Royce Lamberth. He also sentenced man named Scott Fairlamb last week. Scott Fairlamb was convicted of punching a police officer outside of the Capitol. Scott Fairlamb got 41 months.
Today, Jacob Chansley, one of the most notorious figures in this riot case, not charged, though, with a violent crime, also got 41 months in prison. Just to further clarify the significance of this, Well, I mean, you look at these two crimes, Judge Lamberth clearly thinks that the impact of both of these, violence, even nonviolence, is the same when you look at the totality of the actions at the Capitol that day.
Further, Judge Royce Lamberth went on the lower end of the sentencing guidelines for each of these men. Moving forward, Chansley will very likely serve more like 31 months because he's already served 10 months in jail. The judge says he can subtract that from the total sentence and then once he's out he will be under 36 months of supervised release.
This case was significant because it ushers in a new era of sentencings for these higher visibility, higher crime defendants here in this case. So to put it simply, Ana, this is ramping up and we will very likely see more of these severe cases come forward and we will see where judges are landing on the severity of these cases and the impact of these actions, violent or nonviolent.
Just to bring our viewers up to speed here, the QAnon Shaman, one of the most visible people in this riot case, he was the man walking through the Senate chambers with the headdress with the bullhorns with the fur with the face paint with a speared flagpole, who went up to the Senate dais and left a note that said "Justice is coming," the very dais that then-Vice President Mike Pence basically ran away from just minutes before Chansley and others went into that chamber.
So that is the significance here. The Department of Justice in the sentencing hearing played previous video of Chansley. He spoke for 31 minutes on his own behalf, Ana, and in those 31 minutes spoke very broadly about the immense introspection he's had while he's in jail.
He insisted to the judge he will never reoffend, that he's found a lot of peace after many years of struggling with mental health issues. The judge was so moved by his 31-minute speech that he called it the most remarkable thing he'd heard in his entire time on the bench, 34 years as a federal judge.
So, clearly, the judge accepted his remorse, however, was still -- still sentenced him to 41 months in prison, Ana, so a significant day here, here at district court.
CABRERA: OK, Whitney Wild, thank you very much.
We have breaking news right now. I'm going to take everybody to Georgia, Brunswick, Georgia, where Travis McMichael, the defendant in this trial for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, has taken the stand in his own defense. Let's listen.
TRAVIS MCMICHAEL, DEFENDANT: Yes, we talked frequently. Anybody that come by, people stop and talked to each other.
JASON SHEFFIELD, ATTORNEY FOR TRAVIS MCMICHAEL: Was there any crime happening in the Satilla Shores neighborhood that you were aware of going as far as when you first moved in, in September of 2018?
MCMICHAEL: It was -- there was, but it was rare at first, but it started building up.
SHEFFIELD: When did it start to build up? MCMICHAEL: I would say October, November, about the time I moved into
About September, October of '18 is when it started, kind of started...
SHEFFIELD: And what types of things were you aware of what was happening at that time?
MCMICHAEL: What I was hearing was there was car break-ins.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Objection. Hearsay.
SHEFFIELD: (OFF-MIKE) It's offered ultimately for how it impacted him and what he did.
JUDGE TIMOTHY WALMSLEY, EASTERN CIRCUIT SUPERIOR COURT: It's overruled.
MCMICHAEL: So, yes, it was car break-ins. You would hear of people, not (INAUDIBLE) but in -- in the yards, suspicious persons.
There was -- I know there was -- I have heard a trailer stolen, just little stuff like that. But it was continuous. It was for every couple months you hear something else, something else.
Did you ever have anybody going through your things in the neighborhood or have any crime happening to you back in that September '18, October, November moving into '19?
MCMICHAEL: I did.
Right at the first, I started having -- my truck was actually broken into or it was open, you would see stuff was scattered around. Nothing was taken. I didn't think anything of it. And then by February...
SHEFFIELD: Of what year?
MCMICHAEL: Of 2019.
MCMICHAEL: Bought a little car to drive back and forth to work. And it was broken into numerous times.
I got to the point where I would just leave the thing unlocked because they broke the door handle and they broke the glove box. So, I just kind of left it as a -- let them have at it, leave everything else alone, but it was continuous.
SHEFFIELD: Did you discuss this with your mother and father? MCMICHAEL: I did.
SHEFFIELD: Did you discuss it with your sister after she moved in?
SHEFFIELD: Did they share things with you about what they were hearing happening in the neighborhood about crime?
MCMICHAEL: They did.
SHEFFIELD: All right.
Did you discuss this generally with other people that you would see in the neighborhood?
MCMICHAEL: Yes, it was going on so much in the neighborhood that that was usually the topic, if you would stop by. Have you been -- have you heard of down the road they had a car broken in?
Have your car been broken in lately? Stuff like that. It was just kind of common occurrence at that point. So, yes, it was a discussion.
SHEFFIELD: Were there other sources other than your own experience or talking to your mom and dad where you learned about crime going on in the neighborhood?
SHEFFIELD: What was that?
MCMICHAEL: Facebook and...
SHEFFIELD: Tell me about that.
So, Facebook, we -- there was a page. I don't know who set it up. But there's a Satilla Shores neighborhood watch or Facebook page. And I was either added on there or -- either way, I was on there. Scrolling through Facebook, if you're not looking for it, if something is updated on there, it would pop up.
And say, on the evening, I'm looking and a neighbor would pop up, hey, we just had police came through. Somebody -- the neighbor had somebody in their yard or something was broken into or something like that. So I'd see that, scroll through it. And my mother was also on there. So she would advise me, hey, did you see this?
And I would look at or something like that. And then also there's Exit 29. It's called Exit 29.
SHEFFIELD: Let me stop you there.
How was Exit 29 relevant as a location?
MCMICHAEL: That was the area we were at. Exit 29 is the interstate exit, which is a couple miles from the highway.
And they had police scanners and stuff like that on there, too. So you would see stuff on there as well.
SHEFFIELD: All right. Did you ever listen to police scanners or pay attention to notices from police scanners?
MCMICHAEL: No. I did download it. If there's something going on in the neighborhood, I'd pop it up, but you never really catch it.
SHEFFIELD: Did you and your mother and father ever caution one another about how you left your cars or how you would leave your things around the house?
SHEFFIELD: Like in what ways?
MCMICHAEL: She would constantly remind me and my father to lock our trucks, or we would tell her to lock the trucks. But, hey, you need to lock your car. I saw where somebody has been -- somebody had their stuff broken into, or something like that. So...
SHEFFIELD: So, as we're moving from late '18 into early '19, which I think is the time period that you're talking about, how did you feel about what you were learning about crime in the neighborhood?
MCMICHAEL: It was beginning to become a problem. And it was definitely a problem, because it was starting to be a common occurrence, like I said.
Did you take any action at that time, other than what you have described by you and your parents talking about locking things up and keeping stuff out of your car that could be stolen? Was that about it?
MCMICHAEL: That was about it, yes.
SHEFFIELD: Did your parents appear to be concerned about the crime that was happening in the neighborhood?
MCMICHAEL: Well, we would discuss it, but it was about the same level that I was on, just, hey, make sure that our stuff is locked and secured.
SHEFFIELD: And how old are your parents back in '18-'19?
MCMICHAEL: Early 60s.
SHEFFIELD: Early 60s. OK.
Did you speak to, ultimately, any other of your neighbors in the neighborhood about crime in the neighborhood as we move forward from February 2019 into the summer? Did you begin to speak to people about crime in the neighborhood?
MCMICHAEL: Yes, it was -- like I said, it wasn't -- we weren't searching it, but if you stopped by, yes, I saw this or heard this or read that or...
SHEFFIELD: Can you name some of the people that you may have spoke with?
MCMICHAEL: I no one was Matt Albenze. He would stop by, see us in the yard and would come to it.
I am sure there's another neighbor down the road.
SHEFFIELD: Was Kim Ballesteros (ph) a neighbor that you spoke to?
MCMICHAEL: Yes, Kim Ballesteros was right across the street from us. And she had her purse stolen from out of her vehicle, I believe. And she told me about that, yes.
SHEFFIELD: OK. And do you remember when that was supposed to have happened?
MCMICHAEL: It was summer of 2019, June, July, somewhere around there.
SHEFFIELD: OK. What about Randy Parr (ph)? Is he one of your neighbors?
SHEFFIELD: Did you ever speak to him about crime?
MCMICHAEL: Yes, yes. I have told him what was going on around there.
Did you notice that your neighbors began to take certain actions around their homes based on the crime that was happening in the neighborhood?
MCMICHAEL: Yes. About that time, around May, June, July, around there, you started noticing here and people starting to put cameras in their houses.
It was -- I can't remember all the people. But you go down the road, you drive down from Satilla Drive to my house, you see cameras on every -- just starting to come up on every house. And, also, people weren't going out as much in the evening times either.
SHEFFIELD: What do you mean?
MCMICHAEL: Towards dusk, you used to see kids running around, and older people are walking dogs and stuff like that. And it started backing off. It started backing off.
And people talking about people in the neighborhood that are these -- breaking into these people that are coming around these houses. They were just concerned about it, so they wouldn't come out as much anymore.
SHEFFIELD: Did you begin to notice whether police cars were driving through the neighborhood or doing any patrols?
SHEFFIELD: And where would you notice that?
MCMICHAEL: You would see them. You would see them or you would see it on Facebook. Somebody put, hey, saw Glynn County police came through, had the lights on, the side lights, or be outside and see them or -- it was pretty obvious.
SHEFFIELD: And did these types of activities give you any concern or cause you to worry in any ways?
MCMICHAEL: It was concerning that nothing was done, that they had to continue to be in the neighborhood. I was glad to see them in the neighborhood.
But it was concerning that you have to have that constant presence.
SHEFFIELD: Did you begin to get a sense about in any way the conduct of the people, the suspicious people, and the frequency of their visiting? Or did you begin to get a sense of their actions and whether those had become bolder, or they had become more frequent or whatnot?
MCMICHAEL: It was -- I'm not sure if -- it was getting more -- it was staying frequent. But, yes, there was more stuff being -- like, that was around the time that the purse was stolen.
I heard that -- I want to say I heard a trailer was stolen or a boat or something was stolen at that point. Mom was telling me more frequently she's hearing of more things being taken, being stolen and -- or suspicious persons lurking around, around that time.
SHEFFIELD: OK. All right.
I want to move to a different topic. Have you ever had any law enforcement training?
MCMICHAEL: I have.
SHEFFIELD: OK. Where did you receive that training?
MCMICHAEL: In the United States Coast Guard.
SHEFFIELD: And did you attend any kind of school to be trained for the Coast Guard for law enforcement purposes?
MCMICHAEL: Yes. SHEFFIELD: What is the name of the school that you attended?
MCMICHAEL: It was the basic boarding officer course. And then there following extra classes with it, but it was at the Maritime Law Enforcement Training Center.
SHEFFIELD: Where was that located?
MCMICHAEL: Charleston, South Carolina.
Did you serve in the Coast Guard?
MCMICHAEL: I did.
SHEFFIELD: What was your dates of active duty?
MCMICHAEL: March of 2007 to June or July of 2016.
In general, did you have duties other than law enforcement-type duties in the Coast Guard?
SHEFFIELD: Can you name the category of the type of duty that you had?
MCMICHAEL: Yes, so my rate -- rating, which is my average job in the Coast Guard, I was a machinery technician. I was a mechanic, was my 9:00 to 5:00, I guess you would call it.
SHEFFIELD: And did -- other than going out and doing law enforcement- type things, did you do any search-or-rescue-type operations as well?