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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
U.S. Sending Tanks To Stop Russian Aggression; Suspect's DNA Found In "Various Parts" Of Crime Scene. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired June 23, 2015 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:30:02] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: How did police or law enforcement find him?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting.
They found him because the parents called 911 in April, when this gentleman -- he's 19-year-old Justin Sullivan, self-described Muslim convert -- lit -- went through his house that he -- that he shared with his parents, started breaking things like Buddhist statues, and was lighting it on fire, spreading gasoline everywhere.
The panicked father calls the police, and he says in his calls, he says, I don't know if it's ISIS or something. So, clearly, the parents had some sort of indication that he was into this sort of stuff. So, then the FBI starts tracking him, and he told an FBI undercover agent that he planned to buy an automatic weapon, kill a lot of people, and in fact experiment with what he called biological weapons, coating bullets with cyanide, setting off a gas bomb.
But it shows just as sick as ISIS' videos are and its death and its killing, et cetera, it can attract supporters here in the U.S.
TAPPER: Yes. It's reaching some of the right people or the wrong people.
Jim Sciutto, thank you so much.
Now to our politics lead. Hillary Clinton says this country cannot hide from its problems with race, and that we need to name them, own them, and then change them. But is her push to repair race relations more about winning votes than patching up problems? Or is it a little bit of both? That discussion ahead.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
You're watching live images right now in our politics lead, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussing race relations. She just caused last week's slaughter in Charleston "an act of racist terrorism." That sounds familiar. This event at which she's speaking at Christ King United Church is in
Florissant, Missouri. That's right near Ferguson, the site of unrest and riots and protests both last summer and earlier this year, for reasons with which we're all familiar.
Clinton already has said it is a hard truth that these episodes affirm our country still needs to do so much work to repair the very open wounds between black and white communities in this country.
Let's bring in CNN senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar.
Brianna, set the stakes here for us. What is she trying to accomplish with this community meeting? And how much of this is about trying to bring the country together and how much of it is about trying to make sure she holds on to the black vote for when she runs for president officially in the fall, presuming she wins?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Both of these things are certainly important, and I think both of these things are very much in play.
But Hillary Clinton is trying very much to speak about an issue that has become a key point of her campaign. And that is race in America. She is using this as she frames different issues like criminal justice reform, voting rights and economic opportunities for poor Americans and for minority Americans, that economic message so key to her.
She is also the most visible Democratic candidate, because she is very much the front-runner. And she's operating in the space that she talks about this, where you have seen Republicans really struggle to talk about this flag issue in South Carolina.
Hillary Clinton all the way back in 2007 said that the flag needed to go, so this was something that I think she really wanted to punctuate today at this black church near Ferguson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I appreciate the actions begun yesterday by the governor and other leaders of South Carolina to remove the Confederate Battle Flag from the statehouse--
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: -- recognizing it as a symbol of our nation's racist past that has no place in our present or our future.
It shouldn't fly there. It shouldn't fly anywhere.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: But you know and I know that's just the beginning of what we have to do.
The truth is, equality, opportunity, civil rights in America are still far from where they need to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Now, let's talk about the politics in all of this, especially if you do a flashback to 2007, 2008. You will recognize that Hillary Clinton's coalition of voters that she's relying on has changed drastically.
When she was up against then Senator Obama, she was the candidate of more white -- of white, more conservative Democratic voters. Now you see her really courting that Obama coalition, women, minority voters and younger, more socially conscious Democratic voters.
TAPPER: Brianna Keilar, thank you so much.
Let's talk about Secretary Clinton's remarks with former national press secretary for Barack Obama's 2008 campaign -- he also worked at the White House -- Bill Burton, and CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp.
So, Bill, there's some -- obviously, I think we can all agree we're against racism. But the difficulty in the conversation comes when one tries to figure out what specifically is racism in specific examples. For example, as I know you recall, in 2008, there were criticisms of the Clintons by members of the Obama team that the Clintons were race- baiting.
In the '80s, Governor Bill Clinton -- and I'm casting no aspersions on his commitment to racial justice. But he signed a measure into law that officially designated one of the stars on the Arkansas flag to represent the Confederacy. Now, I can't get the Clinton campaign to comment about that. Isn't this all part of the conversation, not just the Confederate Flag and voting rights and the things she wants to talk about, but the acknowledgement of our own failures?
BILL BURTON, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: Well, look, I think that the Confederate Flag issue is important and it's important to get it off the capitol grounds in South Carolina.
But I feel like that piece of it, while it's a symbol, is so much smaller a part of where this conversation ought to be. And I think that Republicans are actually being let off the hook on this, because they're just having a comment on the flag and whether or not they think it ought to come down.
This -- there ought to be a conversation about race, like Hillary Clinton was saying today, and the economy. There ought to be a conversation about guns, which is not a part of this conversation at all. So, I actually don't think the flag is all that important in the grand scheme of things.
That flag, I think that -- I think it's important in its own right, but I think that there are much more important issues that the presidential candidates ought to discuss. And I'm glad Hillary Clinton's doing it, and I'm sorry that it looks like Republican candidates aren't going to be forced to do it.
TAPPER: All right. That didn't specifically address my question.
But I will say, we have had many of these conversations about race and such on this show in the last few years, but also on Sunday and yesterday.
But, S.E., speaking in the pure politics of this all, yes, Bill points out, before Nikki Haley made her announcement, the governor of South Carolina, that the flag was going to come down, there were only two Republican presidential candidates that I could tell who made it clear they didn't approve of the flag flying in South Carolina.
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Yes. Yes.
TAPPER: One was Jeb Bush, who as governor of Florida took steps to take that flag down in Tallahassee.
CUPP: Ten years ago.
TAPPER: Yes, in 2001, even longer ago.
TAPPER: And George Pataki, the former governor of New York.
Do you think that the presidential candidates in your party behaved the way you would have wanted them to, especially with the retrospect of Nikki Haley's announcement?
CUPP: Well, I think it should not be a controversial issue for Republicans or anyone to say whether the Confederate Flag has a place on the state grounds.
Coming out unequivocally to say, no, it does not have a place should have been easy. That said, I'm incredibly proud of my party today. And Bill Burton and other Democrats are free to sort of wave away the significance of a white Republican woman from the South, white/Indian, a Republican woman from the South asking that the Confederate Flag be taken off.
CUPP: I think -- really do a disservice to the significance of that moment.
That's what I agree with Bill. We have to have serious conversations about economic policies. We're all against racism, but Hillary Clinton has an added burden, Bill, of having to explain how seven, eight years of Democratic policies have helped blacks, when, by most any metric, whether that's unemployment, the economy, median household income, life for blacks has gotten significantly worse.
So, there's some hard truths and some hard choices that she's going to have to discuss when she talks about race and the economy, like you want her to. TAPPER: I do have to change the subject to someone else in the
presidential race. I want you guys to take a listen to some of my interview with Donald Trump that's going to come this coming Sunday on "STATE OF THE UNION." Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: You seem to be really be taking on Jeb Bush in particular in your campaign appearances. Why is that?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't mean to.
And I have been told that by others. I was actually told that by my wife, and I don't mean to, because I think he's a nice person. I watch him. I think he's a nice person.
And I actually felt bad, because I hit him very hard one day, like two days ago, three days ago, and I said, why am I hitting him so hard?
TAPPER: His approach to you seems to be not taking you seriously, his campaign not taking you seriously.
TRUMP: Trust me, he takes me seriously. Oh, you know he takes me seriously. And his people have -- believe me, he takes me seriously.
TAPPER: Why do you say that?
TRUMP: Because they call.
TAPPER: And what do they say?
TRUMP: What would you think?
TAPPER: Stop it, stop attacking Jeb?
TRUMP: They -- you know what? They take me so seriously, and they do call and they write. And just believe me, they take me very seriously.
TRUMP: But, with all of that being said, I actually saw myself a couple of days ago. And I said, that's -- that's too rough, because I really think he's a nice man. I think he's a wonderful man.
I don't know if I want him negotiating with ISIS. I think Trump will do a lot better. You think so too, but you're not going to say it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: A new Suffolk University poll of New Hampshire Republican voters shows Donald Trump playing -- placing second behind Jeb Bush, ahead of Scott Walker and Marco Rubio.
Bill Burton, very quickly, does Jeb Bush take Donald Trump seriously, and should he?
BURTON: I don't think so.
The thing I love about that interview is how Donald Trump is like the Hulk. It's like, he gets so angry, he has no control over how he's hitting Jeb Bush.
I don't think he takes him seriously. And I think that Donald Trump will rise and fall all on his own.
TAPPER: And, S.E., does Jeb Bush take him seriously, and should he? He's second in the polls in New Hampshire.
CUPP: Yes. I'm sure -- look, the straight talk that Trump offers is appealing to a lot of people.
Now, he's lacking discipline, which is not appealing to a lot of people. I think the interesting thing is, OK, they call. How long does Trump wait to return the call? Because he's big on that, as we learned from his announcement speech.
TAPPER: OK. Bill Burton, S.E. Cupp, thank you both so much. We will have to have both of you back soon.
The world lead, a show of force to Russia. President Vladimir Putin has intimidated much of Eastern Europe, practically unchecked, until now -- the message that the U.S. is trying to send, that is coming up next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. In our World Lead today is an actual military showdown between the U.S. and Moscow imminent? U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter today directly put Russian President Vladimir Putin on notice announcing that the U.S. is putting heavy combat equipment including tanks and other weaponry into NATO countries surrounding Russia.
This comes just days after Putin broadcast plans to add 40 new ballistic missiles to its nuclear stockpile in what appears to be a modern era arms race. Our Barbara Starr has that story.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ukraine fighters under fire from Russian backed separatists, Russian military moves largely unchecked in this part of Eastern Europe. The U.S. and NATO military response, some of the biggest allied military exercises ever, 13,000 ground and maritime forces.
[16:50:01] Nearly 50 ships, more than 60 aircraft, and they aren't done. More is on the way. Meeting with U.S. allies in Europe. Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the U.S. will increase prepositioning of heavy weapons.
ASH CARTER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: American rotational forces need to move more quickly and easily to participate in training and exercises here. We will temporarily stage one armor brigade combat team's vehicles and associated equipment in countries in central and eastern Europe.
STARR: It will include nearly 90 battle tanks, 140 armored vehicles and some 20 pieces of heavy artillery to be stored in the Baltics, Romania, Bulgaria and Poland brought out for future training exercises, a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is an indicator of what we are prepared to do. When I think a few years ago, he believed we were neglecting the continent of Europe, he thought, it's now my time to attempt to influence some of the NATO nations or the European nations to swing back toward my side.
STARR: After the Air Force talked about putting F-22 fighter jets in Europe, Putin fired back.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): If someone threatens our territories, we will have to aim our armed forces and modern attack capabilities at those who threaten us, what else can we do?
STARR: If Russia were to move against Europe, the U.S. has also committed to contribute weapons, aircraft and troops to a new NATO rapid reaction force.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the key message. The United States still sees its European partners as being critically important for security.
STARR: And so far, no indication that any of this is changing Vladimir Putin's mind -- Jake.
TAPPER: Of course, not. Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon, thank you so much.
A family and their housekeeper held hostage then brutally killed, their house and car set a fire. Police only have arrested one person for the horrific D.C. mansion murders. But now will evidence just uncovered put anyone else at the scene of the crime? The latest in the investigation next.
TAPPER: Welcome back, CNN has uncovered shocking new details about the grisly murders in the mansion which took the lives of the family and their housekeeper in March. Pamela Brown is here with me now -- Pamela.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: We're learning more about Darren's cousin who worked with him at American iron works. His cousin was fired from that company ten years ago. So we have some new leads that we've been following up on for this special that we put together for tonight as police search for more suspects in the quadruple homicide that rocked the nation's capital.
BROWN (voice-over): It was a race against time for the U.S. Marshalls chasing down 34-year-old Darren Wint, the man accused of killing the Savopoulos family and their housekeeper.
ROBERT FERNANDEZ, U.S. MARSHALL: We think his plan was, to try to get some I.D. and or a passport or something and leave the country and go back to Guyana.
BROWN: An intense 48-hour manhunt led authorities to this Howard Johnson Hotel near Washington, D.C.
FERNANDEZ: The advance team told us, they took off, they're going up Route One, we had to real quick jump in our cars and try to catch up to them.
BROWN: U.S. Marshall Rob Fernandez in a small fleet of law enforcement officials followed this white Chevy Cruise Wint was riding in along with the truck of unknown associates after the suspect's vehicles performed a bizarre u-turn, Fernandez made his move.
(on camera): What was Wint like, was he combative at all?
FERNANDEZ: His body posture and the look on his face was like he was thinking of running, but we were right on top of him. He never had a chance.
BROWN (voice-over): CNN has learned investigators found Darren Wint's DNA in various parts of the crime scene where the victims were tortured. Sources say police are investigating whether one of Wint's relatives is connected to the crime. His cousin who has not yet been named also worked at American Iron Works and was fired around the same time Wint left in 2005.
Sources say the cousin threatened to burn the place down. A threat taken so seriously, the company took out a restraining order against him.
JOHN TORRES, FORMER ICE SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Even though it's been almost 10 years, for some people, they harbor that resentment, and that builds up until they feel they get an opportunity to strike back.
BROWN: So far, Wint is the only person charged in the crime. Police do not believe he acted alone. CNN has also learned he has a criminal past and was in danger of losing his green card when he was arrested last March for receiving stolen property. But officials say Immigration and Customs Enforcement was never notified.
TORRES: Darren Wint is arrested in March, and ICE never received those fingerprints until after he's arrested for the quadruple murders. It tells me, it's an indicator to me that there's a breakdown in the system somewhere.
Had ICE been notified, they would have taken a look at that particular file. They would have looked at Darren Wint's history and undertook a legal review to determine whether or not he's eligible for removal.
BROWN: The Metropolitan Police Department here in D.C. says it ran Wint's fingerprints through the national FBI database, which was supposed to automatically share fingerprints with ICE. Also, Jake, we interviewed the go cart coach of the little boy, Phillip Savopoulos. He talked to us about his last race where he was in an accident, had a concussion, and that is why he was home the day the horror began -- Jake.
TAPPER: Tragic story. Pamela Brown, thank you. Make sure to tune in tonight at 9:30 Eastern for a CNN Special Report, "The D.C. Mansion Murders."
Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jaketapper and also @theleadcnn. Check out our show page @cnn.com/thelead for video and extras.
That is it for THE LEAD today. I am Jake Tapper. I am now turning you over to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer who is in a place I like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.