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State of the Union
Interview With Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum; Interview With California Congressman Adam Schiff; Interview With South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham; Tensions in Ferguson
Aired November 23, 2014 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN ANCHOR: No cover-up, no conspiracy, but plenty of confusion. A new bipartisan report on Benghazi goes inside the CIA. What really happened? We will get at the facts with Republicans Lindsey Graham and Democrat Adam Schiff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To those members of Congress who question my authority, I have one answer: Pass a bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BORGER: Barack Obama goes it alone on immigration. Republicans say he's breaking the law. What will they try to do about it? Former Senator Rick Santorum on the price of the presidential order.
Plus, fear and loathing in Missouri awaiting a grand jury decision that could become a verdict on race in America.
And the death and legacy of a Washington, D.C., political powerhouse, Mayor Marion Barry.
This is STATE OF THE UNION.
And good morning from Washington. I'm Gloria Borger. Candy Crowley is off today.
It's a conspiracy. There's a cover-up. For more than two years now, we have heard those charges from Republicans critical of how the White House handled the Benghazi tragedy. We all remember when Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in a terror attack at the U.S. Consulate.
But the facts of the matter have long since been lost in a haze of investigations, by our count, eight so far. The latest comes from the House Intelligence Committee. Its conclusions are simple, no conspiracy, no cover-up and, as for the political shenanigans, absolutely not.
With us, Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the most outspoken critics of the administration's handling of Benghazi. Senator Graham, thanks so much for being here.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you.
BORGER: And let me get straight to what the Intelligence Committee says.
It says, first, no outright intelligence failure, second, no delay in attempts to rescue Benghazi staff. Third, those famous Susan Rice talking points were inaccurate, but not deliberately misleading.
Senator Graham, the report says the misinformation was flawed, yes, but no political cover-up by Susan Rice or anyone else. So, does this exonerate the administration?
GRAHAM: In my view, Trey Gowdy and Elijah Cummings are doing a good job at looking at Benghazi as a whole, DOD, the intel community, and the State Department...
BORGER: Yes, but yes or no, Senator Graham?
GRAHAM: No. No. I think the -- I think the report is full of crap...
GRAHAM: ... quite frankly.
GRAHAM: To say that Mike Morell -- well, the deputy director of the CIA, when I ask him, do you know who changed the talking points, and -- with Senator Ayotte and McCain and Susan Rice sitting by his side, said the FBI changed the talking points when it came to references to al Qaeda.
Only later did we find out through a lawsuit that Mike Morell was deeply involved in changing the talking points, the deputy director of the FBI. When he was sitting in front of a congressional panel...
GRAHAM: ... and he was asked, does anybody here know who changed the talking points, he sat silent. So, no, the intel community through him lied.
BORGER: OK. But this -- so you're saying the intel community is lying to the House Intelligence Committee, the administration's not exonerated.
GRAHAM: No, I'm saying the House Intelligence Committee...
GRAHAM: No, I'm saying the House Intelligence Committee is doing a lousy job policing their own.
I'm saying that anybody who has followed Benghazi at all knows that the CIA deputy director did not come forward to tell Congress what role he played in changing the talking points. And the only way we knew he was involved is when he told a representative at the White House, I'm going to do a hard review of this, a hard rewrite.
BORGER: OK. And so, obviously...
GRAHAM: He didn't tell the Congress sitting in front of us that he substantially rewrote the talking points.
And who told Susan Rice that the compound, consulate was substantially strong and significantly secured?
GRAHAM: That wasn't in the talking points, but she said that.
GRAHAM: Who told her that?
BORGER: But what -- what -- what the CIA -- deputy CIA director you're talking about said was they got conflicting information, the mistakes were a reflection -- this is what he says -- of how little we knew at the time. But let me move on specifically...
GRAHAM: That's not the question.
GRAHAM: Wait. Can I -- no. Can I interrupt?
BORGER: Sure, absolutely.
GRAHAM: That's not the question.
The question was not how you gathered intel. Who changed the talking points? It went through several changes. Who came out with the version most politically beneficial to the administration? The man that asked that question to substantially changed the talking points,Well, and he never told me or anybody else he had a hand in it, and he sat quietly in front of a Senate and House committee when asked directly, do you know who changed the talking points? He didn't come forward.
We only know later that he was involved when we found information gathered through a lawsuit. So he sat there and misled the Congress.
So, let me play back something to you that you said on FOX News this past spring about those talking points and about Susan Rice and whether someone's lying in the administration. Then we will talk about it at the other end.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS CHANNEL)
GRAHAM: Three days after the attack, they did not give a damn about the intelligence. They wanted to create a political narrative to protect the president.
And I'm not going to stop until someone is held accountable for allowing it to be a death trap, somebody be fired for not coming to the aid of these people for nine-and-a-half-hours. And somebody ought to be fired for lying to the American people. They were worried about the reelection, not telling the truth.
And when Susan Rice said, "I have no regrets, I gave the American people the best evidence available," that's a bald-faced lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BORGER: OK. So this report says no one lied, period, that they were receiving bad information, but no -- or conflicting information.
GRAHAM: That's a bunch of garbage. That's a complete bunch of garbage. Who told Susan Rice...
BORGER: So why is the Republican chair -- why is the Republican chairman on the House Intelligence Committee buying a bunch of garbage?
GRAHAM: Good question.
BORGER: Answer it. Yes.
GRAHAM: Why -- why -- that's a -- yes. I don't believe that the report is accurate, given the role that Mike Morell played in misleading the Congress on two different occasions.
Why didn't the report say that? And here's my point. When Susan Rice was on television after the attack, she said on three different occasions, the consulate was strongly, substantially and significantly secured.
Nothing could be further from that -- from the truth. And there's nothing in the talking points about the level of security. She gave an impression to the American people that these folks were well taken care of, when it was in fact a death trap. Who told her to say that?
GRAHAM: Ben Rhodes came up with the talking points saying under no circumstance can we suggest this was anything other than a riot caused by a video, when there was no evidence of that. (CROSSTALK)
BORGER: To your point about the death trap, Senator, this report also says that there -- and I'm quoting here -- that there was no evidence that there was a stand-down order or a denial of available support.
Do you still believe that there was?
GRAHAM: I can tell you that three contractors working for the agency said that they were told to wait for 20 minutes.
This report puts all the blame on the State Department and absolves the intelligence community. When the Department of Defense committees looked at it, the Department of Defense was held blameless. At the end of the day, everybody is pointing fingers to everybody else.
That's why you need a joint select committee. Thank God for Trey Gowdy and Elijah Cummings. And when the Intel Committee says there is no manipulating of the American people, that is absolute garbage.
When they say there is no evidence that CIA personnel misled the Congress regarding changing the talking points, that is a lie, because I was on the receiving end of the lie.
BORGER: Well, let me ask you this.
The American public might be saying after eight investigations that it's enough already, that this is overkill, that we don't need another investigation, that we shouldn't be spending taxpayer money...
BORGER: ... on yet another investigation. Your...
GRAHAM: My response is there -- my response is that, if we're overreaching, if Trey Gowdy and Elijah Cummings are doing this for the wrong reasons, it will blow up in their face.
If the things I'm saying about this episode fail to bear fruit, it will blow up in my face. But I know Benghazi pretty well. And I can tell you that the people who have been looking at Benghazi in a stovepipe fashion have not come up with what I think is a reasonable explanation for all the shenanigans and the lack of being prepared on 9/11.
And I hope a joint committee looking at all three agencies together, rather than stovepiping, can get through this. But, as to our friends on the Intel Committee in the House, I don't buy the idea that the agency did not mislead the Congress, because I was there when they misled me.
I don't buy the idea that everything was just the State Department's problem and you had no blame yourselves. I don't believe that. BORGER: OK. OK, Senator. Well, thank you very much on this.
We know where you stand on it, certainly, but please stay with us...
BORGER: ... because we want you to join us in the upcoming conversation on immigration.
But, before we get to that, I want to go to Democrat Adam Schiff, a member of the House Intelligence Committee that just issued this report that Senator Graham is so critical of.
Congressman Schiff, thanks for being with us.
What's your response to Senator Graham, who says that, essentially, the House Intelligence Committee got sold a bill of goods by the CIA?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I have great respect for Lindsey.
But it reminds me of a lawyer's maxim that, if the law is not on your side, emphasize the facts. If the facts aren't on your side, bang on the table. I think we heard Lindsey banging on the table quite a bit this morning.
This was a two-year exhaustive investigation. It was released by the Republican chairman of the Intelligence Committee and had the support of all the Republicans and Democrats on the committee. It's designed to be the definitive word on what happened from the intelligence community's point of view.
And nothing I think Lindsey said at all contradicts what is in that report. And calling it crap doesn't change the fact that it was an exhaustive and objective review. So, I think we have had really the final word on many of these conspiracy theories, on the fact there was no stand-down order, there was no political interference, there was no effort to politically spin the talking points.
In fact, as the report points out, there were 21 intelligence assessments at the time that it began as a protest. Those turned out to be wrong, but there was no malice in getting it wrong.
BORGER: So, do you think the...
SCHIFF: And I hope that this will guide the select committee.
BORGER: Well, do you think the -- the...
SCHIFF: And, you know, I think the -- yes.
BORGER: ... the administration is exonerated here?
SCHIFF: I think it is exonerated, certainly not the -- in the sense that it shows there was adequate security at the diplomatic facility. There wasn't. There's been no contesting that. But in terms of whether there was an effort to cover up or spin
or illegal trafficking of arms by the CIA or any of those conspiracies...
SCHIFF: ... they have been completely vindicated.
And I hope -- really, the only interesting question here, but it answers itself, is, why is this report being released on the Friday before Thanksgiving? Why is it being released in between major developments on immigration and Iran?
BORGER: So, you think it was kind of a dump? So you think it was a dump, so no one would pay attention to it?
SCHIFF: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. Exactly.
BORGER: We are.
SCHIFF: When you spend two years doing the definitive report, you want to trumpet it to the high heavens. You don't want to bury it on the Friday before Thanksgiving.
BORGER: But let me...
SCHIFF: But I will tell you this. If the -- yes. If the select committee comes up with a similar conclusion, it will release its report on Christmas Eve.
SCHIFF: And I hope that this will at least guide us into doing something productive in the select committee and keeping our focus on how we can improve security on what is the status of our rapid- response team.
And I under -- I understand that, and you have said that the State Department needs to do more to make sure there's not another Benghazi. But let me get to this question of intelligence failure, because this report says that there wasn't intelligence failure, there were just gaps in intelligence.
But if there was an increased threat environment, but no uptick in security, isn't that an intelligence failure?
SCHIFF: Well, Gloria, what the report says is that there were intelligence leads, that there were deteriorating security climate, and then, in fact, the CIA annex took additional precautions to make that facility more safe.
Now, I think it is fair to ask the question, though, did the intelligence community miss something?
SCHIFF: In other words, there wasn't intelligence -- specific intelligence that there was going to be an attack. And, in that sense, the agencies didn't -- fail to advise policy-makers of an imminent threat.
But I think it's fair to say or fair to ask, should we have seen this coming, should we have gathered intelligence? And I don't know that we have reached a definitive conclusion on that.
BORGER: OK. And...
SCHIFF: Is there something that we missed that we should have seen.
BORGER: And let me ask you one last question on the political front of this.
BORGER: You have heard Lindsey Graham. He's clearly not satisfied. He thinks this report is, as he put it, a bunch of crap.
Do you think that there's a political component to this, dare I say, about the potential candidacy of Hillary Clinton running the State Department as a question of her leadership ability, and is that legitimate?
SCHIFF: Well, I don't think there's any question there's a political dynamic to this.
The only question really is, is there still any policy dynamic left? And I hope that there is. I hope that we're not going to go through this select committee exercise and spend $3 million on a political stunt.
So, we need to try to keep our focus in a productive direction. But, absolutely, if Hillary Clinton were not a likely candidate for president, I think this investigation would be over with a long time ago. And you have to ask, after these successive investigations led by the Republican-led committees have reached the same conclusion, what is the basis for continuing to go forward?
What are the unanswered questions still out there? Six months into the select committee, we still don't have an investigative plan as Democrats. And it's not because the chairman is unwilling to work with us. He's been very willing to work with us. It's because I think the committee still doesn't know where it's going.
And at a support -- at a certain point, you have to be willing to accept the answer that there was no conspiracy if in fact you can't produce evidence of one.
BORGER: Well, Congressman Schiff, thank you for being with us.
And I think, as you know, there's another investigation going on, and we will have to see how that concludes. Thanks again.
And as the Republican Party struggles with immigration reform, we're going to bring back Senator Lindsey Graham and 2016 presidential candidate Rick Santorum to talk about how the Republicans should respond to President Obama's controversial executive orders.
So, stay with us.
BORGER: Republicans are steamed over President Obama's executive order on immigration, but what exactly can they do about it?
We're back with Senator Lindsey Graham.
Thanks again for sticking around.
You are a supporter of immigration reform, but you opposed the president's action last week very strongly. You're an attorney. Do you think it was unconstitutional?
GRAHAM: Yes, ma'am.
It's one thing to say, as an executive agency, I don't have the money to prosecute everybody or to deport everybody, so I'm going to rank them in order. It's another for the president of the United States to say, not only will I decide not to prosecute a group of people, but I will affirmatively give you legal status.
BORGER: So -- so, if it...
GRAHAM: That is well beyond executive action.
BORGER: So if it's unconstitutional, as you're saying, is it an impeachable offense?
I'm not going to go down the road of impeaching the president. And let me tell you why. Immigration has been dogging the country since 2006. The president is frustrated. I have a solution that I have been supporting that is comprehensive, that would allow legal status to the people in question.
But you do it through a congressional action, where you get the entire system fixed. His action does not secure the border. It doesn't fix a broken legal immigration system. And it leaves millions of people left out in terms of the 11 million.
GRAHAM: So I'm not going to go down the impeachment road.
BORGER: OK. OK. You're not.
But, you know, you have heard the president, say pass a bill. We counted. We said it 11 times between Thursday and Friday. You passed a bill in the Senate. You handed it to the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives...
BORGER: ... decided not to do anything on it.
BORGER: It's just sitting there. So doesn't the House have a responsibility here?
GRAHAM: Shame on us. Yes.
BORGER: Shame on...
GRAHAM: Shame on us as Republicans. Shame on us as Republicans for having a body that cannot generate a solution to an issue that it's national security, that's cultural and it's economic. The Senate has done this three times.
I love my House colleagues, but if you want...
BORGER: You do?
GRAHAM: ... a piecemeal approach, do it. But doing nothing -- well, I do. But this is...
BORGER: You do?
GRAHAM: I'm close to the people in the House, but I'm disappointed in my party.
Are we still the party of self-deportation? Is it the position of the Republican Party that the 11 million must be driven out? I have never been in that camp as being practical. I am in the camp of securing our borders first, fixing a broken legal immigration, have an E-Verify program so you can't cheat...
GRAHAM: ... and get a job easily.
BORGER: But how -- but...
GRAHAM: But as to the 11 million -- go ahead.
BORGER: No, but hasn't the president called your bluff here? Because he's sort of saying to you guys, you have got to deal with the 11 million?
GRAHAM: No, ma'am. No, ma'am. We're -- no, ma'am.
He's doing a political -- he made a political decision. He's not a very good leader. He made a political decision to try to divide the Republican Party and take the office of the presidency to a level no one else has gone.
What he did is a dangerous precedent. On his own, he decided not to delay prosecution, but affirmatively granted legal status to five million people. That should scare every American. If he has the power to do that, what could a Republican do regarding laws they don't like?
What the president has done is, he's hurt the ability to bring us together. He's created an executive action that I think flies in the face of checks and balances. And he had two years of a Democratic- controlled House and Senate with supermajorities, and he never lifted a finger.
GRAHAM: So, I just -- I just -- I just said my party has failed. This president has failed miserably and he's made it worse.
Speaking of presidents, I have a quick question for you. Are you thinking of running?
GRAHAM: I'm thinking of trying to fix illegal immigration and replacing sequestration. I will let you know if I think about running for president. It's the hardest thing one could ever do. You go through personal hell. You have got to raise a ton of money. I'm nowhere near there.
BORGER: So is that a maybe, though? It's a maybe?
GRAHAM: That's what it was.
GRAHAM: No, it's -- it's what I just said.
GRAHAM: I hope we can do something about immigration.
GRAHAM: And I'm so -- I'm so disappointed in my country, my party and my president. This is an unacceptable outcome.
We all have a lot of blame. But the president of the United States has taken this to a level. And to my Democratic colleagues, if you think this is OK for a Democratic president to do what he did, then you just wait until a Republican president goes down the road like this, and see how you feel.
BORGER: OK. Senator Lindsey Graham, thanks so much for your time again this morning. And I will come back at you again on that presidential question, I promise, OK?
BORGER: I'm sure you're looking forward to it.
BORGER: And for another Republican perspective, let me bring in former presidential candidate and Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who also might run for the presidency.
Am I correct about that?
RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I'm -- I'm doing everything consistent with a run for 2016, but I haven't made any final decisions yet.
BORGER: Sounds more like a yes than Lindsey Graham, so...
SANTORUM: Yes, but what Lindsey -- what Lindsey said is really important.
What he said is that if -- the Democrats should be as upset with him. Even Luis Gutierrez should be as upset with the president as -- as -- as I am and every -- and anybody who is -- who -- concerned -- is concerned about the balance of power in Washington, D.C.
What the president did was open up Pandora's box for every president in the future to say, you know, Congress, if you're not going to work with me, then I'm just going to go and not enforce the law, in fact go beyond that.
BORGER: So, why not...
SANTORUM: I'm going to not -- not enforce the law, and I'm going -- I'm going to actually create new law.
BORGER: So why not, then, if it's that awful and sets that terrible of a precedent and is unconstitutional, why not either impeach or shut down the government or do something that's -- that's very strong in response?
SANTORUM: Oh, I think -- look, I -- I believe that the Republicans and I hope Democrats would do something very strong in response to this.
BORGER: Like -- like what? What...
(CROSSTALK) SANTORUM: Well, I -- obviously, they're -- they suing the
president, and they are going to sue the president. And they should sue the president on the Supreme Court. They should go right to it immediately, because there's a lot of adverse things can happen.
BORGER: But now? Now?
SANTORUM: They do that right...
BORGER: That -- court suits take a long time.
SANTORUM: Well, hopefully, you can get an expedited hearing on something of this significance.
BORGER: OK. But -- but...
SANTORUM: Secondly -- no, look, I think they should try to target, defund this. They have the power in the Congress.
BORGER: But you're not talking impeachment? You're not talking...
SANTORUM: I think you ratchet it up and see what -- look, I know some people have talked about censure.
This is a serious matter. I know people say, oh, well, this is politics and the other side does this, the other side does this. A President Lindsey Graham could come in and say, I don't like the Endangered Species Act. I'm not going to enforce it.
Look, there are a hundred laws Republicans don't like to every one Democrats don't like.
BORGER: Well, they're -- presidents do have prosecutorial discretion, as it's called.
SANTORUM: Yes, but that's -- that's completely different in ordering the prosecution.
What he's saying is, I'm not going to prosecute any of them, and, in fact, I'm going to go further and grant them status that they would otherwise not have. That is rewriting law. That is -- that is a violation. And -- and I don't understand. I was a member of the Senate and I was a member of the House.
I mean, you just -- you just -- the president has just slapped the face every House and Senate member, say, you know what? We don't need you anymore.
BORGER: But here's the thing. OK, but here's the thing. And let me -- let me play for you something the president said in Las Vegas on Friday. Then we will talk about it.
SANTORUM: By the way, he said he's not an emperor.
BORGER: Right. Right. SANTORUM: He said he didn't have the power to do this.
BORGER: Well, let me play something to you he said about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I didn't dissolve parliament. That's not how our system works.
OBAMA: I don't have a vote in Congress. Pass a bill. You don't need me to call a vote to pass a bill. Pass a bill.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BORGER: So, what about his point?
SANTORUM: Do you know how much -- do you -- well, every president has frustration with Congress. I mean, my goodness.
BORGER: Right, but the Senate -- Senator Lindsey Graham voted for a bill. He said, shame on -- he said, shame on us.
SANTORUM: Gloria, you have been around here long enough to know that things don't get done here just because the president snaps his fingers.
BORGER: Yes, but it sat there for a year. It sat there for over a year.
SANTORUM: The president had two years with complete control of the House and Senate and never offered a bill.
And then for all of a sudden to express outrage, oh, my goodness -- this is a controversial issue. You want to look at the last campaign? I think it was the third most run ads in the last campaign were anti-immigration ads.
SANTORUM: And now the president -- and Republicans had a huge sweep with those candidates.
BORGER: But amnesty -- the issue of amnesty is such a red-button issue for you party.
Seventy-five percent of Republicans in exit polls in this last election say that illegal immigrants working here should be deported. Isn't there something politically advantageous for you as a presidential candidate to just say...
SANTORUM: Look, I'm concerned about...
BORGER: ... forget about what the president is saying, it's amnesty and we don't want it?
SANTORUM: I'm concerned about the working men and women of this country.
We have wages stagnating. You have -- you have median income falling in America. And who are the vast majority? The president even described them, I think, as people who are picking fruit and changing beds, I think he described it in his speech, which, frankly, is rather demeaning. If a Republican had said that, they would have been slapped down.
SANTORUM: But assume that for the fact, which I believe is the case, is that the majority of the people, the vast majority of the people that the president is legalizing are unskilled workers.
You're now putting -- by the way, there's not a lot of unskilled workers' growing opportunity in America. And the president is putting five -- close to five million, I would suspect, more unskilled workers in the workplace, plus an additional 1.1 million every year legally coming into this country.
BORGER: OK. But what's the Republican plan? OK. What's the Republican plan?
SANTORUM: We need immigration control in this country. We have -- the last 20 years, we have had...
BORGER: Secure the border. Everyone agrees on securing the border.
SANTORUM: No, it's not just securing the border.
BORGER: But what about the 11 million here?
SANTORUM: I'm talking about -- I'm talking about people here and people that are scheduled to come.
The bottom line is, we have more people in this country -- the last 20 years have been the largest wave of immigration in the history of this country. There are more people living in this country who were not born here than at any other time in the history of the country.
BORGER: OK. Yes or no...
SANTORUM: And what the president is saying is, we need more. And working men and women are saying, hold on. How about us? How about the workers who are seeing our wages -- how about having to work two and three jobs, not having opportunity?
Look at work force participation. Why? Because the jobs are not available for working men and women. That's the problem. And the president seems to not care about it.
BORGER: But what...
SANTORUM: In fact, he even said that at end of his speech in Las Vegas...
SANTORUM: Look at the end of his speech.
He said, people have written me saying, I'm worried about my job. And he said, but I don't care about you. That is what he said. He said, you know, I care more about these people who came here illegally or overstayed their visas.
BORGER: Why can't you care about both?
SANTORUM: You can care about both, but -- but there has to be an orderly process.
We have to first care -- in my opinion, immigration policy should first and foremost care about Americans and making sure that America is healthy, because, when America is healthy, then the rest of the world can be healthy.
BORGER: Senator Santorum, thanks so much...
SANTORUM: Thank you.
BORGER: ... for being with us.
And up next, a tense Ferguson, Missouri, awaits the grand jury's decision on the Michael Brown shooting. We'll delve into the choices the really difficult one facing that panel.
BORGER: Many thought that by today we'd know whether or not a grand jury would indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. But nothing so far, absolutely nothing. The grand jury is set to reconvene on Monday. And joining me today from New York, our CNN's legal analysts, Sunny Hostin and Jeffrey Toobin who have been covering every inch of this story.
Let me go first to you Jeff. What should we read into the fact that we don't have any decision yet from the grand jury?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Pretty close to nothing I'd say, Gloria.
The legal system always has delays in it. And this has been a long investigation. The grand jury was apparently actually deliberating about whether to indict for a day or less. That's not a very long time. These jurors know that this is a very high-profile investigation. Taking another day, taking another two days to make up their minds seems very appropriate, not surprising and I don't think it tells you one way or another which way they are leaning.
BORGER: But Sunny, this grand jury has been conducted very differently from a lot of grand juries, I'm sure that you've been a part of, more information, more witnesses, more leaks, no recommended charges. The prosecuting attorney says, look, this is just an effort to be transparent yet the family of Michael Brown is very suspicious. Why is all of this unfolded this way?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. That's the question. I'm going to read a little more into it than Jeffrey is going to.
You know, I think that this grand jury, Gloria, has been running a way that is just so unusual that we can read into the fact that this grand jury can't reach a decision in a day because they've been provided this overwhelming amount of evidence, hundreds of hours of evidence and that, quite frankly, is just never done, even in an officer-involved shooting. Typically when a prosecutor believes in a case, when a prosecutor wants to indict a case, a prosecutor presents a very lean set of facts in front of a grand jury.
BORGER: So, why is that done?
HOSTIN: The prosecutor never does this.
BORGER: Why is that done? To confuse them or to just make sure that it all got out there because it's such a volatile situation?
HOSTIN: You know, I -- I tend to believe that it was done in an effort to sort of just dodge a prosecutor's responsibility. A prosecutor doesn't even have to go to a grand jury, Gloria. A prosecutor can make a charging decision on his or her own. A special prosecutor can make a charging decision on his or her own.
Remember Angela Corey in the Zimmerman case charged George Zimmerman without a grand jury. That is done all the time. So the suggestion somehow that this prosecutor is being more thorough by presenting this overwhelming amount of evidence, I just don't think it's accurate. I don't think it rings true. And I think all of this evidence clearly has confused this jury, had overwhelmed the jury.
BORGER: Jeff, let me just add that -- this to that, which is that you have such a volatile situation. These people are not sequestered. So they go home, they watch T.V., they see what's going on in Ferguson. How does that not possibly affect the way they conduct themselves and the kind of decision they are going to make or the time they are taking to make it?
TOOBIN: Well, look, that obviously is a possibility. It's worth remembering though that the vast majority of jurors, even in high- profile cases are not sequestered.
TOOBIN: So this is not -- this is not something new. I do think there is a possibility here that -- you know, what the
prosecuting attorney McCulloch was doing was basically just passing the buck which was not taking responsibility for the decision and throwing it all on the grand jury. I don't think that tells you for sure which way it's going to come out but it certainly is not a profile and courage on the part of the prosecutor. It really does seem to be an attempt to pass the buck and --
BORGER: Yes. And no matter what happens, you can be sure that he will be second guessed again and again and again. Thanks so much.
TOOBIN: And remember...
TOOBIN: ...just before we close...
TOOBIN: ...there is the possibility if there is no indictment here that the federal government...
TOOBIN: ...could bring charges but that's legally a lot more problematic.
BORGER: And the federal government is also investigating the Ferguson police department...
BORGER: ...as well on a separate investigation.
Thanks so much, Sunny Hostin. And thanks to you, Jeffrey Toobin.
HOSTIN: Thanks, Gloria.
BORGER: Up next, we talk about President Obama in Ferguson. Is it harder for the nation's first black president to deal with race?
BORGER: When Ferguson first erupted after the killing of Michael Brown, some in the African-American community were disappointed with President Obama's muted comments about the case. Race is an issue that America's first black president has had to tread carefully on.
And joining me around the table to discuss all of this is Jim Wallis, president of the faith-based social justice organization, Sojourners, Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Cornel West, professor at Princeton University, and CNN commentator, L.Z. Granderson. Thanks all of you for being here with me this Sunday morning.
Cornel, let me start with you. You went to Ferguson a few months ago. You said you wanted to turn Ferguson into a big civil rights moment like Birmingham was with Dr. Martin Luther king. If Officer Wilson is not indicted, what kind of a turning point is that going to be?
CORNEL WEST, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: Well, I think, one, we already see a turning point with the magnificent leadership of the young people. They know that the American criminal justice system is in a dismal failure but they know there has been a failure among black leadership they're (ph) not (ph) putting that kind of pressure that they ought to on the Obama administration. We need a federal prosecution. We need a serious federal investigation.
BORGER: There is one.
WEST: But this is an investigation in the abstract. These precious young black brothers and sisters have been shot for the last six years. There's not one speech. There's not one federal prosecution. There's not acknowledgement that this is arbitrary police power and we won't put up with it. It's true for black and brown, and white (INAUDIBLE) but it's focused on this president's black brothers and sisters.
BORGER: Is there any way for members of the minority community in Ferguson to accept that Officer Wilson might have acted in self- defense, L.Z.?
L.Z. GRANDERSON, CNN COMMENTATOR: For me it's -- I don't want to say should a minority community accept it.
GRANDERSON: Should the community of Ferguson accept it.
GRANDERSON: You know, the thing that really disturbed me over the past couple of weeks is seeing all of the white individuals who live in Ferguson and around Ferguson talk about, you know, what's going to happen about the verdict as if all of the statics that have now been revealed should have some sort of an emotional impact on you as well. What happened to the empathy that's going on in that area where you're looking over here going, OK, I'm not quite sure about this case but the arrest rate does not look right to me.
GRANDERSON: The fact that the criminal justice system seems to be riding on the back of fines and these fines are heavily waged on black citizens should have some impact on me. So I'm not so much focused solely on Officer Wilson and what happens to him, I'm more concerned with Ferguson in general and why aren't white citizens around Ferguson as upset with what's going on with their criminal justice system and not just this one particular case. SHERRILYN IFILL, PRESIDENT, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL
FUND: And I think it's also unfair to suggest that African-Americans have rushed to judgment in this case. As in the case of Trayvon Martin's killing, what African-Americans asked for in Ferguson was an arrest. And you'll recall that in the Trayvon Martin case, the arrest of George Zimmerman would not even have happened without protests from young people and the community coming out and demanding justice.
So the community didn't come out the first day and say, convict Darren Wilson.
IFILL: They are said, look at what we've seen. Isn't this enough to justify an arrest? And so we've been waiting for the process. If you look at what has happened in the last six weeks, the community has been peacefully protesting and waiting for the legal system, for the grand jury.
BORGER: Well, Jim, let me ask you about the national leadership in all of this. Obviously we're in the second term of our first black president. Our attorney general is also black. Is there anything that the president could have done in this situation to remedy the things people around this table are talking about that he has not done?
JIM WALLIS, PRESIDENT OF SOJOURNERS, FAITH IN ACTION FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE: The issue here is trust. What does it mean for a community not to trust their law enforcement? So Michael Brown is the issue. Ferguson is the issue. But there's Ferguson all over the country. Michael Brown all over the country. Every African-American dad that I know, every one, has the talk with their son about how to deal with being in the presence of a white police with a gun. I'm a white dad. I look at this whole thing as a dad. I don't have that talk with my two white sons. If my son --
BORGER: But what about the president?
WALLIS: Yes, he did say that. And I know that my 16-year-old big, athletic son who, if he was walking in the same place...
WALLIS: ...as Trayvon Martin at the same time, everyone knows here he would have come back to me (INAUDIBLE). Michael Brown --
BORGER: But has the president been too timid about this sometimes?
IFILL: Do people know what the president has -- wait a minute. This is the president of the United States. The biggest power that he has is space (ph) is law enforcement power. I think people have failed to understand what he has marshaled through the Department of Justice in Ferguson from the very beginning. BORGER: So you're saying that he has done --
IFILL: I'm saying that what this president has done has been unprecedented in terms of deployment of senior officers, of community relations folks, of cops, the training that's happening right now of St. Louis police officers, the training that was offered to Ferguson city police officers that was rejected from the national government. There's a difference between actual power that the president can bring to the situation, including the two investigations, the individual investigation of Wilson and --
BORGER: Right. (INAUDIBLE) investigation of Ferguson.
WEST: All he needs to do is to give a speech and say, we are coming to an end of the era of police impunity of lack of accountability of police. We're going to send them to jail if they start killing our kids. That's all he got to do is speech.
IFILL: So you're saying, Dr. West, that the president may yet do that --
WEST: Well maybe --
IFILL: But let -- but let me say something else. There is an ongoing federal investigation...
WEST: Yes, that's true.
IFILL: Through the Department of Justice in Ferguson and investigating the Ferguson police department and --
IFILL: The president doesn't want to compromise that investigation by saying anything.
BORGER: OK. L.Z., go ahead.
GRANDERSON: I think it's a bit naive to think that 400 years of work done by a system can (INAUDIBLE) be eradicated by a good speech by...
WEST: I'm not talking about pressure from us (ph). I'm talking about pressure from black people. We're talking about pressure on the president.
GRANDERSON: Do I think President Obama should have been more vocal in regards to these type of cases? Personally I think he has been as vocal as I would expect a president of the United States to be, not the president of black people, but the president of the United States to be.
WEST: No. Not me. Not me.
GRANDERSON: My question is -- my question is, why aren't enough black leaders...
GRANDERSON: ...rallying around this message and being asked for --
BORGER: OK. OK, guys, guys. I'm going to have to leave it there. We're going to have to --
BORGER: Well, we'll come back --
BORGER: We have to pay for the show so we will come back and talk about that and Marion Barry and the death of Marion Barry when we come back in a moment.
BORGER: We wanted to spend a moment today talking about former Washington, D.C. mayor, Marion Barry, who has just died at the age of 78. He was a controversial figure here in D.C. to be sure. He was busted on tape smoking crack cocaine and served six months in prison on a drug possession charge in the early '90s. But after his time behind bars, he had a comeback. He was re-elected mayor, went on to represent Washington's poorest districts as a city councilman until his death.
Cornel West, I want to start with you about your reaction to the death of Marion Barry?
WEST: Marion Barry, he was my dear brother. He was a great freedom fighter (INAUDIBLE). He went on to leadership. Yes. He had his own flaws but understood very much what our Latino brothers and sisters understand and I applause the executive order of the president -- you had to put power, pressure, (INAUDIBLE) without a demand. It never will, it never did, and he understood that and God bless his soul. And we need to put pressure on this president to help our young brothers and sisters from (ph) getting (ph) shot (ph).
WALLIS: (INAUDIBLE) with all civil rights (INAUDIBLE) represented Ferguson has to move from a moment to a movement. A movement around racial policing. A criminal justice system -- the disparities are so great. And that's an issue with the faith community. It's an issue for all of us. As dads and moms in the faith -- little league baseball coach and my kids' teammates were black. Had a conversation with their dads that my white kids don't have. This is a wrong that has to be righted.
Ferguson -- and I want to -- Michael Brown Sr., said this and I want to read what Michael Brown Sr. said. I love this. He said hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son's death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone. That expresses my hope, too. How do we make Ferguson into a movement that changes this racialized criminal justice system.
IFILL: You know it's about -- it's about accountability. We talk the -- we want the accountability for the individual police officers but there's a larger accountability.
WALLIS: That's right.
IFILL: If you look at Ferguson, probably nobody is sitting around this table can tell you the name of the mayor of Ferguson, any city councilperson, or the town manager who by the way hires the police chief, has the ability to fire the police chief.
IFILL: Yes. OK.
BORGER: Yes, we could.
IFILL: But you could. You would know Marion Barry. You know de Blasio in New York. You don't know any of those local leaders. That's part of why I resisted this -- the president should come and make the speech. Between the chief of police and the president of the United States, there are all of these elected officials who have gotten off the hook. They've been hiding out. You don't know that John Shaw is the city (ph) manager. In this --
IFILL: No, no. I get it, I get it, I get it. But it goes to his point about accountability.
WEST: Yes, yes, yes.
IFILL: The accountability is broader than for just the president or even just this police officer. It's an accountability of American leadership --
BORGER: OK. I want L.Z. to get the last word here. And we've been talking about Marion Barry, we've been talking about President Obama. Two completely different types of politicians who book ended the civil rights movement I would say in many ways.
Could President Obama learn something from Marion Barry's activism?
GRANDERSON: Well, I think we forget he had a life before he became President Obama.
GRANDERSON: He was a Marion Barry, if you will, for the City of Chicago. That man -- that man --
WEST: No, no. He was never the Marion Barry of Chicago.
GRANDERSON: No, no, no, no, no. What I'm saying -- what I'm saying is -- let me finish.
WEST: Marion was a courageous brother --
GRANDERSON: Would you allow me to finish.
WEST: Yes. (INAUDIBLE)
GRANDERSON: I know you have your issue with the president.
WEST: Is the truth.
BORGER: Wait (INAUDIBLE).
GRANDERSON: What I'm saying -- what I'm saying is that that man could have left that area...
GRANDERSON: ...with his pedigree and have gone on and made himself rich. Instead...
WEST: Yes. I agree with that.
GRANDERSON: ...he stayed on the south side of --
WEST: I agree with that. I agree with that --
GRANDERSON: And helped those less fortunate.
WEST: That doesn't make him Marion Barry.
GRANDERSON: In that regard -- in that regard he was like a Marion Barry because he had other options and he chose to help people...
GRANDERSON: ...who were less fortunate and in for that he needs to be applauded for and he did that before he was president, and he's doing it as president, and I suspect he will do it after that. BORGER: And you're going to get the last word on that. Thanks
so much to our panel or being here today, Cornel West, Jim Wallis, Sherrilyn Ifill, and L.Z. Granderson.
And we'll be right back.
BORGER: And thanks for watching STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Gloria Borger in Washington. Candy will be back here next week.
Fareed Zakaria, "GPS," starts right now.