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January 6 Committee Receives Trump E-Mails; Crowd Surge Kills at Least 150 in South Korea; Interview With San Francisco Police Chief William Scott; Charges Expected in Pelosi Assault Case. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired October 31, 2022 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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Thanks for your time today on INSIDE POLITICS. We will see you tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being with us.
Felony charges and federal charges could both come today for the man suspected of attacking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul; 40- year-old -- 42-year-old, I should say, David DePape is accused of breaking into the Pelosi home very early Friday morning. And sources say he had zip ties, duct tape, and a hammer with him when he allegedly entered the bedroom where Paul Pelosi was sleeping and assaulted him.
Let's go right to San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott for an update on this case.
First, Chief, what can you tell us about what's happening right now at this stage in the investigation?
WILLIAM SCOTT, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE CHIEF: Well, first, good morning, Ana. And thanks for having me on.
We are working around the clock literally to get all of the evidence to our prosecuting agencies. That includes our district attorney, San Francisco DA Brooke Jenkins. We are also working very collaboratively with the FBI, the U.S.
Capitol Police and our U.S. attorney's office here in San Francisco. And everybody is working well together. We're standing in our lanes. We're being methodical with this investigation. But at the end of the day, we all want to see prosecution to the fullest extent of the law for Mr. DePape.
CABRERA: Now, we're told investigators have had a chance to interview Paul Pelosi. What did you learn?
SCOTT: Well, it's -- we can't share the contents of that interview at this point.
And we're working with our prosecutors. And we want to make sure that we are methodical. Any statements that I put out, of course, I'm going to vet with our prosecutors and comply with their request. And they have asked that we don't share any evidence. They have asked that we don't share what was learned in that interview, because they are building their case.
And I don't want to do anything to jeopardize their case.
SCOTT: As I said, we all want to see this case prosecuted.
CABRERA: I understand that. We don't want to jeopardize it either.
What about DePape, though? Can you tell us, is he talking to investigators?
SCOTT: Well, we will make some attempts to talk to him.
We have interviewed him at least once, and the investigation is ongoing. So there's a lot left to do in this case. And we're just moving along and doing the best we can to get the evidence that we can get to our prosecutors.
CABRERA: The interviews are one thing. There's also a slew of other evidence I know you are collecting and investigating.
Have you landed on a motive yet?
SCOTT: Well, there, again, working with the prosecutors at the appropriate time. They have to prove motive.
And we don't want to jump out of the gate with so many things left to investigate. We don't want to jump out of the gate too early, make premature statements, and then learn something that may be different or contradictory to what we know now.
So, yes, we have some ideas. We definitely have our beliefs of what the motives are. But, again, in working with our prosecutorial offices, they have been very specific about let's not get ahead of ourselves in terms of getting out there with statements, because there is still a lot of investigation to be done here. CABRERA: Is political rhetoric to blame, perhaps?
SCOTT: Well, I mean, it's been quite wide -- widely reported some of the Web sites that Mr. DePape has been on.
And I -- let me just say this. It is a very, very sad state of affairs, with all the rhetoric that's out there, conspiracy theories that are out there. And we have spent a lot of energy just pushing back just really ridiculous conspiracy theories and make sure that people stay focused on our team on what they need to do.
And that is uncover the evidence that is there and really not get into all these wild conspiracy theories. And these things are harmful to society. They're harmful to the victims involved. They are just -- it's really sad that we are we are here in this place. But we are. And I say that to answer your question.
We have a lot of work to do on this case, and we don't want to get ahead of ourselves in terms of releasing information. Obviously, there's a political undertone on this. But, at this point, I'm going to abide by what our prosecutors have asked us. We're working as a team, and we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves.
CABRERA: You talk about conspiracy theories that could have perhaps fueled this attack.
There are also conspiracy theories that have come up since this attack about what happened. Can you clear it up once and for all? Did Paul Pelosi know his attacker?
SCOTT: There is absolutely no evidence that Mr. Pelosi knew this man.
And, as a matter of fact, the evidence indicates the exact opposite. And, again, we -- this is -- it really is sad that these theories are being floated out there, baseless, factless theories that are being floated out there. And they're damaging. They're damaging to the people involved. They're damaging to this investigation.
And people are running with this stuff, and whether they believe it or not, these theories can influence the way people think about everything that's happening here. So I will be clear on this. There is absolutely no evidence of that at all, no evidence that he knew him, as a matter of fact, to the contrary.
CABRERA: I know you are being very careful not to taint the investigation in any way and not get ahead of the prosecutor's office.
So without delving into specific evidence, you do talk about the need for there to be swift justice in this case. What more can you tell us about what this alleged assailant had planned?
SCOTT: Well, I have said about as much as I can say at this point.
And I -- when the charges are filed, I'm sure this evidence will come out, if this ever and hopefully was -- will go to jury, go to trial, evidence will come out. But, at this point, again, I have said as much as I can say at this point.
CABRERA: I don't think I'm going too far and asking this. I don't think it gives away any of your case. But how exactly were police called to the house? Was there a 911 call made? Or was there an alarm triggered?
SCOTT: No, there was a 911 call me. There were there was a 911 call made. And that's how we got there. And thank goodness that there was a 911 call made.
CABRERA: And that came from inside the house? Was that from Mr. Pelosi? specifically?
SCOTT: Yes, yes.
Are you going to be releasing that 911 call at some point?
SCOTT: Well, not at this point. Again, we aren't releasing any evidence at this point, trying to build the case and have -- allow the prosecutors to build the case.
Eventually, I think a lot of this will come out. I'm pretty sure it will, as Mr. DePape gets his due process that we all deserve and he deserves as well. I'm sure these facts will come out. But, at this point, we don't want to get ahead of the game. And I will definitely answer anything that I can answer.
And I know it's hard. Everybody wants to know everything right now. But we have to slow it down a little bit and be methodical in what we do to make sure we do it the right way.
Anything else that you want to make sure you get across in this interview today?
SCOTT: You know, one thing that I just want to say is, elected officials have a hard enough job as it is.
And the fact that people's families are being put at risk, it's wrong. And I am -- it's wrong, and it needs to stop. And I know, with everything that happens on social media and all the things that go on in terms of these conspiracy theories that we have been talking about, we have to put a stop to this.
The families of people who serve our country, our cities, our counties or states, they don't deserve this. And we don't -- as a society, we have to put a stop to this. These families aren't in office. And even if they were, nobody deserves to have a violent assault and attack because they're doing their jobs.
I mean, we can all disagree. We need some stability here. And I just -- it's pathetic, in my view. And I know I'm going on and on about this, but it is really disturbing for people who are serving our government, our cities, our counties, our states, our nation have to put up with this nonsense.
And we need to say enough on this. We really do. And we're going to do everything we can from a law enforcement perspective to have some accountability here. But I just hope people -- what does it take? Does it take somebody being murdered? Does it take -- I mean, what does it take for us to finally stand up and say, this is enough? It needs to stop. Despite what your political views are, it needs to stop.
CABRERA: Look, some of the lawmakers, some of the candidates in this year's midterm elections are among those sharing these conspiracy theories that were like the ones posted on the suspect's social media.
Are these lawmakers and these candidates doing their part to stop potential political violence?
SCOTT: I don't think they're doing enough, particularly people that are spreading this poison.
I don't think they're doing enough. And it needs to be called out and it needs to be stopped.
CABRERA: Chief Bill Scott from the San Francisco Police Department, thank you very much for taking the time. Good luck with the investigation.
SCOTT: Thank you, Ana. Thank you very much.
CABRERA: Thank you.
Let's discuss further now with former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers.
Andrew, let's just kind of pick up on that last part of our conversation.
Based on what we know so far, does this incident look like domestic terrorism to you?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I mean, it absolutely does, right?
So, we -- just from what we know from what's been reported publicly, Ana, we know that this individual came to the house essentially looking for the speaker, for Speaker Pelosi. We know his intent was -- he engaged -- we know from what the police officers observed that he engaged in some sort of a physical altercation and exchange with Paul Pelosi to determine where the speaker was.
And, of course, we know that it resulted in violence. I mean, this very clearly fits the federal definition of domestic terrorism. Unfortunately, as we know, there are no criminal penalties associated with that law. We don't have a law that prohibits domestic terrorism in this country.
So, yes, I think we're clearly in that space, which it just yet again raises the issue of, how do we best deal with this rising tide of extremism that could result in political violence in this country?
CABRERA: Jen, given there is no domestic terrorism law that could have been broken in this case, what types of federal charges, if any, could come from this?
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So there's a statute that's actually right on point? It's 18-USC-115.
And it prohibits the intimidation or retaliation against a federal official by committing an assault or crime or threatening a crime against that person's close relative or a spouse. So it really is on all fours with this. So that's what I expect federal authorities to charge.
The difference between what you have to charge there and what you would have to charge in the state of the assault is that motive element. It is showing that he would have -- they would have to prove that the intent of the intruder was to influence Nancy Pelosi, effectively, by attacking...
CABRERA: So we know that this assailant yelled out: "Where's Nancy? Where's Nancy?"
Is that enough?
RODGERS: Well, it's not just that. I mean, that obviously is very helpful.
But then, when you look at the materials that are reportedly part of the suspect's blog, there's a lot of political material, a lot of pro- Trump material, conspiracy theories, that sort of thing. So all of that goes together in terms of proving the motive. So I think it looks, at least at this point, fairly strong on that point.
CABRERA: And, Andy, the suspect, we did see posted conspiracies about the 2020 election, about January 6 and the Capitol attack, coupled with, of course, the "Where's Nancy?" angle. You can't ignore the role of the far right rhetoric in this case.
But, this weekend, there were two prominent Republicans at least who argued that you can't link any of that to this type of violence. Take a look.
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MARGARET BRENNAN, HOST, "FACE THE NATION": You posted this video we're going to show just a few days ago where you're firing a gun, and it says: "Enjoyed exercising my Second Amendment rights. #FirePelosi."
You're shooting a gun. Our viewers just saw it. REP. TOM EMMER (R-MN): Yeah, right.
BRENNAN: Hashtag #FirePelosi.
EMMER: Exercising our Second Amendment rights, having fun...
BRENNAN: That's not a debate about the Second Amendment.
EMMER: ... shooting a gun. Yeah.
BRENNAN: That's not a debate about the Second Amendment.
EMMER: Yes, it is.
BRENNAN: Hashtag #FirePelosi.
EMMER: Yes, it is.
I -- I'm running the campaign operation.
BRENNAN: Do you not understand that that is suggestive to people who are in a bad state, and, in this current environment, how risky it is? As you're talking about...
EMMER: Well, I disagree, Margaret.
BRENNAN: ... the importance of lowering the rhetoric...
EMMER: I disagree with you.
RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I think that's unfair. I think this is a deranged individual. You can't say people saying let's fire Pelosi or let's take back the House is saying, go do violence. It's just unfair.
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CABRERA: Andy, is it unfair to connect those dots?
MCCABE: No, it's not unfair at all.
Come on, look, we know the effect that these -- this type of rhetoric has on desperate, disenfranchised people that harbor deep grievances, people who believe in conspiracy theories and really kind of are motivated to act based on this sort of mythology.
So now, with that knowledge -- and we have seen examples of this many, many times in the last few years. You have the guy who left North Carolina to go shoot up the Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant in D.C., believing the insane theory that there were children being abused on the premises.
I mean, all this goes on and on. Knowing that, now you think about the fact that right-wing rhetoric has really targeted Nancy Pelosi in a way that most other politicians don't reach. There's heated rhetoric on both sides. Everybody targets their kind of political adversaries.
But Nancy Pelosi has emerged as this kind of primary enemy for people on the right. So to try to say that, oh, there's no connection between the two whatsoever seems to be a real reach.
People have the right to say whatever they want. The question is, is it a good idea to do so? I think we now know it's a pretty dangerous idea.
CABRERA: Jen, at what point does that extremist political rhetoric cross the legal threshold?
RODGERS: Well, in two ways, right?
If there's action coupled with it, like, in this instance, with the Pelosis, of course, or if there is a specific threat, you can be prosecuted for making a threat against a federal official. If instead of breaking into her home, he had sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi saying, I'm going to come and kill tomorrow at your office or something, that would be actionable legally.
But, otherwise, just kind of putting out these ideas into the world, right, on social media, generally speaking, and not directed at a particular person, doesn't carry legal liability.
CABRERA: But even what we just showed of the congressman who said "Fire Nancy" and showed himself on this -- posting previously shooting a gun, that doesn't cross the line?
RODGERS: Not good enough, not for criminal liability, certainly. I mean, if someone could show that they were injured by that in some way, maybe they could sue, but not criminally.
Jen Rodgers, Andrew McCabe, thank you both so much.
We have this just into CNN. Former President Trump is now asking the Supreme Court to intervene and to stop the IRS from turning over his tax returns to the House.
CNN's Paula Reid joins us now.
What more do we know about this request, Paula?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, just last week, an appeals court allowed for the release of these tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Now, this is part of a long-running line of litigation. It goes all the way back to when former President Trump was in office. And the House Ways and Means Committee argued at that time that they needed access to these documents, so that they could assess how the IRS audited presidential tax returns.
The former president's attorneys argued that was just pretext and a way to get at the former president's personal financial details. Now, Ana, this is really a case to watch, because if the Supreme Court does not intervene here on the president's behalf or rule in his favor, this would really represent a chipping away at the protections traditionally afforded to presidents.
And it's a real boost for congressional oversight power.
CABRERA: So, let's turn to the January 6 investigation, because new developments there as well.
The House Select Committee has now obtained eight e-mails from late 2020 that a federal judge says show former President Trump and his lawyers planning a possible post-election crime. What crime is it? And what more can you tell us about these e-mails, Paula?
REID: Well, Ana, the judge in this case says the e-mails could be evidence of a conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Now, the January 6 Committee has been fighting for months to get these e-mails because they believe they can help prove that former President Trump knew that his claims of voter fraud were false, even as he touted them in public, and as his lawyers were arguing them in court.
Now, these documents from late 2020 were handed over to lawmakers on Friday after the federal judge ordered them to be released. And they include four communications between Trump attorneys that appear to show they knew details they submitted to courts in their challenges to the elections were false.
And the other four e-mails show lawyers discussing filing lawsuits as a strategy to hold off congressional certification of Trump's loss. Now, one e-mail even lays out the concerns about submitting a declaration signed by the former president personally affirming the election fraud allegations that it was presenting to the court were true, even after he had been made aware that some of these allegations were inaccurate.
And the judge says, these materials fit what is called, Ana, the crime-fraud exception. It allows the disclosure of privileged materials of communications if they were related to or in furtherance of a possible crime. Now, John Eastman, who was one of Trump's attorneys during this time, he's appealing this release. He wants a federal appeals court to tell the House to return the e-mails or destroy them.
Now, the Ninth Circuit is moving quickly on that request. But, Ana, the e-mails, they're already in the possession of the committee at this point.
CABRERA: OK, no turning back, it sounds like.
Paula Reid, thank you. It is the final sprint now before midterms, former Presidents Obama
and Trump both hitting critical states this week, while the current president tries to sharpen his message on the number one issue for voters, the economy. We will have an election update just ahead.
Plus, at least 155 people are now confirmed dead in that terrifying crowd crush in Seoul, South Korea, at least two Americans among them. How did this happen? We will take you to Seoul.
And the arguments that could change affirmative action in the U.S. forever.
CABRERA: Nine people have been arrested after a pedestrian bridge collapsed over the weekend in India, and at least 134 people plunged to their deaths, including at least 30 children.
This video shows the moments just before the collapse. You see people swinging that bridge back and forth. Then,, they're gone. There's a huge splash in the river, parts of the bridge flying around. The people arrested include ticket clerks and security guards, as well as two contractors who helped repair this bridge.
It was built in 1877. It had just reopened last week after renovations. And it was packed for holiday celebrations.
In South Korea, another mass tragedy. At least 155 people killed in a horrific crowd surge in Seoul, South Korea this weekend have now been identified. Among the victims were two Americans, Steven Blesi. He was a junior who studied international business at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. And Anne Gieske, she was a junior nursing student at the University of Kentucky.
Thousands of people were out celebrating Halloween in the city's popular nightclub district when this surge, this crush happened.
CNN senior international correspondent Will Ripley joins us in Seoul.
Will, what are you learning about how this celebration went so terribly wrong?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, we can't get inside the actual alley where this happened, because, as you can see, police have it blocked off.
But this is the one right next to it. And it gives you a sense of the space that thousands and thousands of people were literally crushed into. It was so crowded that people say they couldn't breathe, they couldn't move. And when some people in the back of the crowd started screaming, "Push, push," and those chants got louder and louder, the people who were stuck down there in the front, an area maybe -- maybe eight-feet-wide or so, they were pushed over.
They fell to the ground. And then what was created, police and paramedics are telling us, was essentially a pile of people where you could only see their faces, in many cases. You couldn't see their arms or legs. They couldn't breathe. They couldn't even speak, about 10- people-high.
There are serious questions about how this could possibly happen, because, by the time they were pulling these young people out -- most of the victims, two-thirds of them were young women, the other third young men -- more than 100 of them were in their 20s or teenagers. There were no police officers out here conducting crowd control.
There was no barricade. They added extra officers, but there was no plan, because the government officials just today acknowledged they don't have contingency plans in place for large gatherings. And there were 100,000 people out here in Itaewon, the nightclub district in Seoul, no contingency plans in place for gatherings that don't have a single organizer, Ana.
A lot of people asking how that could possibly happen.
CABRERA: Seeing just how narrow these areas are, you can understand clearly how people could become trapped with nowhere to go as more and more people crowded into that zone or a zone just like that.
Tell us, Will, about the growing memorial.
RIPLEY: So, I just came from over there. And we what we witnessed was a brother of one of the young women who died.'
And he actually at one point was crying. At one point, he collapsed and had to be picked back up. But what he kept saying over and over again was: "I told you not to go. I told you not to go."
There really aren't words to describe how horrible it is to see someone in so much pain and so much grief, and to know that grief could have been prevented by better planning, which is why, as that memorial continues to get bigger and bigger, so is the public anger and outrage here.
That memorial site is also a spot where people have come. And we have seen repeatedly people coming and screaming: Why didn't the government do more? How could you not have protected our young people? Those are the very serious questions that, frankly, so far, we haven't heard any good answers to, because they acknowledge there wasn't a plan in place.
Yes, they had extra officers. Some of those officers, you see some of them here. There's plenty of them out here now. But some of the officers on Saturday night were actually sent away to a protest that was happening elsewhere, leaving all of these young people who came out here to party on Halloween -- I mean, this is an area -- I celebrated my birthday at a restaurant right around the corner several years ago. This is where you go in Seoul if you want to have a good time with
your friends. It was the first Halloween post-pandemic when people didn't have to wear their masks. People were so excited to come out here.
But there was no protection in place, no barricades in place, no officers in the crucial hours leading up to this deadly incident to stop these young people from being able to enter such a dangerous and deadly situation, when you're talking about an alley barely seven- or eight-feet-wide, where people were packed tight, packed so tightly, you can actually see from social media videos people are desperately trying to pull themselves up and crawl up the sides of the walls to escape.
We know there were about 1,700 emergency responders dispatched as this horror was unfolding, but clearly too little too late.
Will Ripley in Seoul, South Korea, for us, thank you.
It is a decision that could lead to fewer black and Hispanic students in college, the Supreme Court today hearing arguments on the fate of affirmative action.