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Police: Driver Tried To Run Over Capitol Officers; Trump/Russia Probe Stalls Amid House Intel Turmoil; Melania Trump Makes Rare Appearance At State Department; Top Intel Dem Calls Out Nunes For Canceling Hearings; Ryan: "No Timeline" For Next Push On Health Care. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 29, 2017 - 11:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: John and Poppy, thanks so much. Hello, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan. We do begin with breaking news out of Washington. Shots fired after a driver runs into a police cruiser attempting to run over officers near the capitol building.

All of this happening in just the past hour and a half. Police say that the driver is now in custody. The situation appears to be criminal according to police not terror related, but how and what really happened this morning on Capitol Hill?

Let me bring in right now CNN's Brian Todd and as well as Jonathan Wackrow. He is a former Secret Service agent who served under President Obama. Brian, first to you, how did this play out this morning? What's the latest we know?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, it was a pretty harrowing incident at first and given what happened in London last week it has caused a lot of alarm here on Capitol Hill. What we were told a short time ago by Eva Malecki (ph), the public information officer from the Capitol Hill Police, was at about 9:22 a.m., they first got the reports of shots being fired.

The details are as follows, they observed according to the Capitol Hill Police, they observed the driver of driving very erratically and aggressively. Just over my shoulder here on Independence Avenue and First Street Southwest when police officers tried to stop that vehicle.

The vehicle made a quick U-turn nearly striking an officer and striking another vehicle then shots were fired and the vehicle was stopped. I believe now we've got two different angles of the vehicle on the street.

It is a gray sedan and we are told there is glass on the ground and we were asking the public information officer here about the nature of the shots fired because we were initially told by Metropolitan Washington Police that they were warning shots.

But our photojournalist, Peter Cavanaugh, who got another angle of this vehicle said from his observation and what he was able to film, there are bullet holes in the windshield and glass on the ground that one of the windows is either completely down or might have been shot out.

There's also a black jacket marked as evidence on the ground. What we are told by Capitol Hill Police is that the driver is a woman and very importantly, she said there was no nexus to terrorism. That this is a criminal investigation in nature at this time.

But that it is very early on in the investigation, but again, right at the foot of Capitol Hill here and given what happened in London last week and all of the precautions that have to be taken here on a normal basis, this caused a great deal of alarm here on Capitol Hill, Kate.

KEILAR: Scary situation playing out just a short time ago. Brian, thank you so much for giving us the time line. Let me bring in Jonathan on this. Jonathan, there are incidents and traffic incidents and we have the barricades and I've been in the capitol when you hear the announcements come over the speakers. Not often or ever do you hear shots fired? When you hear shots fired, what does that tell you?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That tells me, at that moment that police officer she or he felt that their life was in danger or that the life of the general public was in danger. They had to take that use of deadly force to stop that threat.

KEILAR: So that happens and very quickly the Capitol police said they're investing this as a criminal incident and the fact that they have said that publicly so quickly, what does that tell you? What do they know already?

WACKROW: Listen, it looks like this was initially a traffic stop. When the individual did not obey the lawful commands by the Capitol police, a chase ensued and that raises the level of tension and all of a sudden, use of deadly force comes into play to stop that threat.

Now at that point in time, it's great that the Capitol police have said this is not a nexus to terrorism, but you know, time is going to tell. This is still in its infancy. I'm happy that it's not, but time will tell.

KEILAR: It's really early on in that. But thank you, Jonathan for coming in and laying it out for us. Brian, thank you so much on the ground for us there.

We're also keeping an eye on the drama of a very different kind on Capitol Hill. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, still standing firm in the face of growing calls to recuse himself from the panel's Russian investigation.

But right now a good question is, is there a Russia investigation? Hearings have been cancelled and none yet rescheduled and the committee itself not even meeting. Nunes is under fire for canceling a public hearing this week when the former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was set to testify.

Yes, the same Sally Yates that President Trump fired after she said that she would not defend the administration's original travel ban. All of this adds up to Democrats saying Nunes should step aside. Now one Republican has joined in that call.

Manu Raju is following all of the latest from Capitol Hill and there is always on a day-to-day basis a lot to follow on this, Manu. Is there any news on the House side on when, if and when the investigations continues or is it all eyes on the Senate now?

[11:05:02]MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, no deal yet in the House to move forward on this investigation. No deal over scheduling a public hearing which is what the Democrats want and to move forward with the private briefing, which is what Devin Nunes and the Republicans are calling for.

They want a private briefing with FBI Director James Comey, James Clapper, as well as Mike Rogers, the NSA director, both of those men, of course, testified in a public setting last week and the Republicans are arguing we need to get answers to more of those questions.

They could not answer in a public setting behind closed doors, but the Democrats say that it's time to have this public hearing that was supposed to be scheduled for Tuesday and as a result of this stalemate as well as Mr. Nunes' surprising decision to go to the White House last week briefed President Trump on surveillance matters that appeared to be unrelated to the issue of Russia according to Mr. Nunes.

And the Democratic calls for him to recuse himself, all of which has led to this committee to essentially be ground to a halt. A lot of questions about whether this can move forward at all which is what pointing to the Senate and whether the Senate can actually come to a bipartisan result.

Later today, Richard Burr, the Republican North Carolinian who chairs that committee alongside the top Democrat on the panel, Mark Warner is going to have a press briefing to lay out exactly what they're doing on their hearing investigation as well as the upcoming testimony.

They're going to hear in a private setting from the president's son- in-law, Jared Kushner, to make it look like that they're moving forward interviewing witnesses to gathering evidence while the House side has been bogged down in partisan gridlock.

So we'll see if the House effort is able to restart, but in the meantime the focus is now in the Senate on whether they can produce anything bipartisan on this issue of Russia, Russian meddling and any ties to the Trump campaign -- Kate.

KEILAR: Yes, it will be important whatever they say because in contrast to what we're seeing in the House, we have not been seeing press conferences from the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee. You know what, guys? I'm going to go from Manu. Manu, thanks so much.

I'm actually going to take you over to the State Department right now. First Lady Melania Trump making what is a rare public speaking engagement at an awards luncheon she's hosting at the State Department. Let's listen in.

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: Ladies and Gentlemen, I am deeply humbled to be here today to honor these 12 remarkable and inspirational women who have given so much for so many regardless of the unimaginable threat to their own personal safety.

Each one of these heroic women has been an extraordinary story of courage which must inspire each of us to also achieve more than we have ever imagined possible. Their lives remind us of the bondless capacity of the human spirit when guided by moral clarity and desire to do good.

These honorees on the stage with me have fought for their rights and for the rights of others. Each battle forces such as governments, the courts, gender bias, terrorism, war and corruption and were willing in each moment to face harsh penalties including imprisonment and death.

As they continue to preserve against unimaginable odds these women are extraordinary examples of reaching within to find the courage that lies inside us all to change the world.

While learning the stories of these 12 honorees, I would like to ask each of us to take this moment and try to imagine what it would be like to experience the trying obstacle, domestic abuse, gender bias violence or (inaudible) impression that some of these women have faced.

Let us try to envision ourselves in their place struggling with gender bias and discriminatory loss which serve to protect the perpetrators of unthinkable crimes while punishing their victims should they even dare to speak out.

Ask yourself if you would have the fortitude of spirit, the courage of your convictions and the enormous inner strength required to stand up and fight against such an overwhelming odds.

[11:10:03]Amazingly each of our honorees has courageously answered yes to those questions for it is their strength and the strength of others like them which will ignite a global battle against inhumanity.

Together, with the international community, the United States must send a clear message that we are watching. It is therefore our duty to continue the shine the light on each miraculous victory achieved by women all capable of trying, truly leading the change to fight for those that cannot fight for themselves.

Theirs are the stories of human greatness that will continue to inspire, and therefore must be told far and wide. These honorees who have fought on the front lines against injustice are true heroes.

Their stories of individual bravery remind us that there is always hope whenever the human spirit is brought to bear in the service of others and that healing and personal empowerment are often born from such deeds.

I believe that bravely is the ability to live one's life refusing to be discouraged, and instead, choosing a life of purpose. Only when we do this are we able to suppress what we previously believe to be possible.

Each of these 12 women represents a life, and enormous courage to save a child, to help a family, to make a neighborhood or school safe or to boldly speak out against evil by refusing to back down no matter the personal cost.

To the young people here today, I ask you to allow the triumphs exemplified by these heroic women to inspire you in your own lives and to remind yourself that you, too, are capable of greatness. I urge you to -- I urge you to not be afraid to fail.

A failure will never have the power to define you as long as you learn from it. And realize that your first steps will always involve taking a leap of faith, by believing in yourself while choosing to replace fear with hope.

Let these brave women serve as daily inspiration as it is now up to each of you to remain vigilant against injustice in all its many forums. As you go forward, remember their journeys push ahead and strive to bring about a better community, a better country, and a better world in an ongoing fight for right over might.

We must continue once again to shine the light on the horrendous atrocities, taking place in neighborhoods around the corner and around the globe where innocent families are crying out to live in safety.

We must continue to fight injustice in all its forums in whatever scale or shape it takes in our lives. Together, we must declare that the era of allowing the brutality against women and children is over while affirming that the time for empowering women around the world is now.

For wherever women are diminished, the entire world is diminished with them, however, wherever, women are empowered, towns and villages, schools and economies are empowered and together we are all made stronger with them.

We must begin now to challenge old fears, and fight for justice and stand up against evil and injustice wherever it may be. As leaders of our shared global community, we must continue to work towards gender empowerment and respect for people from all backgrounds and ethnicities.

[11:15:08]Remembering always that we are all ultimately members of one race, the human race. Each one of us is uniquely gifted. We must continue to lead a forum of American values as we join with the international community to make our world safer through acts of collaborative and individual bravery.

Thank you, honorees for your courage, and thank you, Ambassador Shannon, for your support. God bless you and God bless you this great nation. Thank you.

KEILAR: You're listening right there to First Lady Melania Trump. She is at the State Department. These are the International Women of Courage Awards Ceremony that she's taking part in. Honoring inspirational women about a dozen recipients of the award this year, women from around the world. Places like Syria, Yemen --



KEILAR: Katie Anderson Brower, I mean, how does Melania Trump stack up when you look at previous first ladies in the first 100 days of the presidency in terms of activity and appearances?

KATIE ANDERSON BROWER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, another author said, you know, does she have a low profile? She has pretty much no profile at this point. I think there is a big question mark about what she's going to take on. We just saw that she hired a communications director which I think could make a big difference for her.

But by this point during Michelle Obama's tenure, she had a staff around her. She was very involved. She had graced the covers of magazines and been a real force in Washington, and because Melania Trump doesn't live here, we don't see much of her.

And I agree with Kate Bennett. I mean, this is a very effective speech and I think she hit on the humanitarian, softer side that her husband doesn't often talk about.

KEILAR: And important to hear from her today and important to highlight these great women that the State Department and the first lady are honoring today. Kate, it is also an honor to be here with you. Thank you so much, guys.

Coming up for us, Bill O'Reilly, Fox News host making fun of a congresswoman's hair, White House press secretary dressing down a White House reporter, both moments inspiring Hillary Clinton to speak out in her most political speech since the election. Why? We'll discuss.

Plus President Trump's remarks about Iraq said American soldiers are fighting harder than they ever have is raising eyebrows, but it is also what he did not say that's worthy of discussion. We'll be right back.



KEILAR: Before the break we told you about growing calls for the Republican in charge of the House Intelligence Committee to recuse himself from any investigation of the Trump campaign ties to Russia, and also any investigation involving the Trump transition.

At the same time, the Senate Intelligence Committee is getting ready to make its really almost first public remarks about its investigation holding a press conference later today. Joining me now to discuss the state of play on that, CNN political analyst, David Drucker. He is also senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner," and Julie Pace is here, chief White House correspondent for the "Associated Press." Guys, it's great to see you.

So David, the moving ball, the bouncing ball. What are we following today with this? You have clear turmoil on the House side with regard to any investigation. What do you think we'll hear this afternoon from the Senate side of this intelligence investigation? Very different -- so far it's been two very different tales.

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, well look, I think both Senator Richard Burr and Senator Mark Warner are doing everything they can to try and keep this thing bipartisan and on an even keel and that's one of the reasons we haven't heard much from them and I would be surprised if they reveal too much in their news conference, but it will be interesting to hear what they have to say.

One thing to remember about Chairman Nunes is despite some of the unrest over there, he has the full confidence of House Speaker Paul Ryan. The two of them go back a long way. When Paul Ryan was just a back bencher, proposing his wild ideas about reforming Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, only one guy would usually show up with him at these news conference to push these bill and that was Devin Nunes.

So they're very tight and I think Republicans are generally unified behind him. I've also spoken to Chairman Nunes and basically what he believes is going on is that they need to speak to Director Comey in a closed session before he can move on to speaking to James Clapper and John Brennan, which they want to do also in a closed session.

They're done with the open hearings, and Comey is refusing to show up until he gets a bipartisan invitation that would include Sschiff signing on to an invite letter and I think Republicans believe that Democrats, in effect, are holding this up by refusing to join in and inviting FBI Director Comey.

[11:25:12]So I think both sides on the House side are playing politics. Nunes is coming under a lot of fire because of what happened last week, but it's interesting.

KEILAR: That's on the Russia investigation track, if you will, if people can follow me, Julie, help we with the incidental surveillance of the transition track of this, and this is why I move in that direction because that is where a lot of the fire and questions have been around the chairman and his whereabouts, if you will, in the past week.

What's still not known is about that whole thing is who cleared the chairman into the White House, into White House grounds? Did the White House know about it because he says they did not which raised some eyebrows? Republicans say that's beside the point, Julie, and it doesn't matter, does it? JULIE PACE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it does matter because we're talking about an investigation on Capitol Hill that as David pointed out is just rife with partisanship on both sides here.


PACE: This is part of this broader picture and certainly someone from the White House knew that the congressman was going to be over there because someone had to clear him into the building.

It's not as though lawmakers can show up and wander through EEOB and pop into a secure room and view classified information. It doesn't work like that.

So the question is whether the information that he viewed was coordinated with the White House, and I think the problem that the White House and Nunes are running into here is the circumstances of it.

And the fact that they didn't come forward and just disclose right up front that this meeting happened at the White House has overshadowed the actual material that they're trying to talk about.

If they wanted the focus to be there then transparency about how it came about is generally the best way to ensure that that happens.

KEILAR: We have another headache for Republicans in the White House, health care. After last week's embarrassing defeat, they're vowing to keep up the fight. Where is the president on this? His words, it's going to be easy. Listen, guys.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And I know we'll all make a deal on health care. That's such an easy one. So I have no doubt it will happen very quickly, I think it will, actually, because we've all been promising, Democrat and Republican. We've all been promising that to the American people so I think a lot of good things will happen.


KEILAR: Julie, how engaged is the White House right now in renegotiating a health care bill. What are you picking up?

PACE: You hear mixed messages on this. Obviously, the president is trying to voice some confidence about moving forward on this, by saying it's easy, though. I think he's really misstating the actual circumstances. If this were something that were easy to do --

KEILAR: Forgetting what happened last week.

PACE: -- trying to move forward on this. So trying to move forward with Democrats is going to be incredibly complicated and it doesn't resolve the internal divisions within the Republican Party on health care. KEILAR: Paul Ryan, David, he says that they're not giving up. Steve Scalese, he said on Friday -- Monday, is closer to repealing health care than they were on Friday. How real is this?

DRUCKER: No, they're not. They haven't resolved the differences that caused the collapse of the American Health Care Act. Nothing materiel has changed since Friday. Are they giving up? Yes, that's true. Are they trying to find a way to get this done? Yes, that's true.

But the differences that separated moderates and conservatives and the lack of trust in the negotiations that contributed to the breakdown are still there and if you talk to Senate Republicans, Kate, they really don't have an interest to do this anymore the way it was set up.

You know, originally the House was supposed to pass this bill and it would go into the Senate floor into that vote on the session. I was talking to Senate Republicans yesterday and McConnell was very clear, they couldn't get this until May even if they wanted to.

And they don't like that process. They want it to be more deliberative. They want possibly to work on an underlying bill that was different than the AHCA and this is a long way from done and you can give it the old college try, pat on the back for not giving up, but they're nowhere closer than they were a few days ago.

KEILAR: And for PR purposes, they'll keep fighting and talking and in the meantime we'll move on to other pressing issues. Great to see you, David. Thank you so much. Julie Pace, it's great to see you. Thanks so much, guys.

Come up for us, Hillary Clinton in her most political speech since the election calling out a Fox News host and the White House press secretary for racism and sexism. How they're responding today.

Plus President Trump seemingly off-the-cuff remarks about Iraq raising some questions about the role of U.S. troops over there right now and the status of the war against ISIS in general. We'll discuss.