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FBI Analyst Charged with Taking National Security Docs for a Decade; Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) Optimistic Senate Will Pass January Commission; One Arrest, More Expected after Deadly Birthday Party Shooting. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 24, 2021 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[10:30:00]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: A Missouri FBI analyst with top secret clearance has been federally indicted for taking numerous national security documents and keeping them in her home for over a decade.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: According to the Justice Department, documents include information on a suspected associate of Osama bin Laden, plus information on emerging terrorists in Africa trying to establish themselves in support of Al Qaeda.

CNN's Whitney Wild has been following this story. Whitney, I'm curious, how severe a security breach?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, they say it's pretty severe. I mean, for just for an example, if you can pull up the full screen from the investigators, here is the quote directly from the indictment -- from the press release, rather. The breadth and depth of classified national security information retained by the defendant for more than a decade is simply astonishing, the defendant who is well trained in handling classified information put her country's sensitive secrets at risk.

Jim and Poppy, she's accused of taking home a range of documents, including intelligence bulletins, internal emails and assessments. The documents describe intelligence sources and methods about the U.S. effort to defend against terrorism and other threats, specifically, again, as you mentioned, some this is related to Al Qaeda and alleged associate of Osama bin Laden and information about other terrorist groups working in support of Al Qaeda.

And this wasn't just a one-time thing either. Prosecutors in this indictment noted that some of these documents go back to 2006, some of them run up to 2014. Prosecutors say she would have known she wasn't supposed to take these records home. She was, again, well trained. She knew how to handle these documents. She had a security clearance, and for some reason, just acted what they say is wildly inappropriately.

Finally, prosecutors say she didn't have a need to know most if not all of the information. Again, this is a really shocking case. The Department of Justice coming down, you know, pretty hard on her. She was in court, Friday, she's on a $10,000 bond. We reached out to her attorney. We haven't heard back, Jim and Poppy. But she is out on release at this point.

SCIUTTO: Whitney Wild, thank you so much.

Well, National Guard troops are leaving the U.S. Capitol more than four months after the January 6th insurrection. Negotiations to create an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the attack may very well be filibustered in the Senate this week by Republicans. Among some objections, Republicans have argued the insurrection is already being investigated by other bodies, though many of them said they need a bipartisan commission like this in the days after that attack.

Joining me now is Terry Gainer, former Police Chief of the U.S. Capitol Police and a CNN Law Enforcement Analyst.

[10:35:04]

Thanks so much for coming on this morning.

I had retired General Honore, Russel Honore, on last hour. And he said so many questions still remain that need to be investigated. Where was the FBI, he said, where was Homeland Security? Where was the Secret Service and their backups, why a slow response from the Department of Defense?

And I just wonder, you led the Capitol Police. Are they now left exposed 4.5 months later without any action on this?

TERRANCE GAINER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I don't think they're in a position they should be in. The stove pipe approach is to looking at what happened is not the right way to do it. You have at least three departments, bureaus within the departments, various committees. We need to have a good after-action report so they can get healthy.

SCIUTTO: So we're not going to get that though. I mean, we're not going to get a bipartisan one even though this was negotiated and it was a bipartisan plan, right? It was negotiated by Republicans and Democrats. So where does that leave us?

Honore, makes the point that without a quick reaction force, for instance, one of the recommendations following the security view, once again, the National Guard won't be able to get there within minutes. It will take them hours to get there, and we saw the consequences of that on January 6th.

GAINER: Well, there's going to have to be some reconsideration of how protection is given up on the Hill. I don't think we're going to see the Capitol open for the public any time soon because we're simply asking too few people to do too many things, along with not only protecting the building, the Capitol itself and those buildings, but protection of the members around the country, where we know the threats against them are increasing. So police up there right now, the Capitol Police, don't have time to reenergize and train to get better and work with other departments that can work together. But there are other areas of improvement that can be done.

SCIUTTO: That -- you mentioned there, the safety of members in their home districts. That's an issue, a fear that's been raised by Republicans and Democrats, concern when they go home. And we've seen instances where officials even in their homes, protesters armed right up to the windows of their living rooms, what is the degree of the threat to members when they get home today?

GAINER: Well, some, it's very substantial. And there is a lot of training going on by the police board giving directions in their own organizations to work with the staffs of members. The Capitol Police is increasing the number of people devoted to exactly that protection and working with their law enforcement partners. But all that is stretching an agency that has been stretched and is still healing from the (INAUDIBLE).

Now, we know this about the Capitol Police. They are willing to die to do the job because, by golly, they have done that. We just need to give them the tools they need and some members up there have to be a little bit more courageous and take a risk in their own careers to ask what went on and why so we can improve all the security up on the Hill and the members in their homes.

SCIUTTO: Listen, as you speak there, I'm thinking of those videos of, for instance, one of the officers getting crushed in the door by that crowd, another being carried down the steps. What do you say to the Republican members of Congress who are attempting to rewrite history on the events of that day? You heard the description of it being like a tour, tourists entering the Capitol Hill, really, a second big lie, countering -- contradicting what we all saw with our own eyes. What is your reaction when you hear that?

GAINER: Well, they know better, they ought to do better. And, blessedly, it is not the majority of the members. But there are just too many willing to go out on a limb and worry about what they might find out and how it affects them personally to actually go out and find out what they ought to know so we can all get better out of this.

So, many of these, again, stove pipe investigations could be very well intended, but well intended and hope is not a very good plan.

SCIUTTO: The math of this, before we go, the security review by Honore found that the Capitol Police force is about 230 members short today. Since January 6th, more than 70 resigned or retired, making it worse. And they actually recommended boosting the force by, you know, close to 1,000 people. I mean, we're moving backwards, not forwards. Given that you led the U.S. Capitol Police, what is the level of burden on them right now?

GAINER: The burden is heavy. And having been both the sergeant-at- arms for seven years and the chief of the Capitol Police, I know what it takes to go forward. So there are some individual things that they can do that the members might say, okay, let's not have as many doors open. Let's take our approach different. Make sure all our visitors only come in a couple doors and lessen the burden on the police. Let's have the park police supply (INAUDIBLE) the unit up on the east end of the mall so there are more ready to respond.

[10:40:00]

But the members have to do better. And I think the cops on Capitol Hill who are trying and working very long hours expect more of the members they protect.

SCIUTTO: They deserve more. Terry Gainer, thank you so much for joining us.

GAINER: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Coming up next, investigating the insurrection, a Democrat expressed optimism about a January 6th commission even though it faces really a losing battle in the Senate.

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SCIUTTO: The chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Representative Hakeem Jeffries, tells CNN that he is optimistic the Senate will approve the bipartisan commission.

[10:45:00]

Interesting, Poppy.

HARLOW: It is. All of this is happening while there is stiff opposition from Republican leadership, also threats of a filibuster.

Manu Raju is on Capitol. Manu, good morning.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

HARLOW: Is there reason for the optimism?

RAJU: There is really not. You know, he is saying he is optimistic but there just are not the ten Republican votes who will break ranks and break a filibuster, Republican-led filibuster, which actually would be the first legislative filibuster of this Congress, if successful, and which is expected. And it could happen as soon as this week, and just to begin debate.

What Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, is expected to do in the coming days is take the procedural steps to try to bring that bill forward for a vote, and that point it will be the make or break moment, whether there will be 60 votes to overcome any objections, any filibuster or whether there won't be.

And, at the moment, there is just no path, because even Republicans who voted to convict Donald Trump for inciting the January 6th insurrection don't see a need for an outside commission to investigate. People like Richard Burr, who voted to convict, is opposed to an outside commission, others are still skeptical and want changes, like Mitt Romney, told me late last week, that he wants changes to how staff are selected for the commission.

So, it is uncertain whether Democrats will tweak any of these in order to accommodate some of those concerns. But even if they do, guys, getting to 60 votes at the moment seems all but unlikely.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, they tweaked to get to a bipartisan agreement in the House, a bipartisan agreement then rejected by Republican leadership.

Other issue, Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, she's facing understandable criticism for statement she made equating a mask mandate on the House floor to -- and I'm not making this up -- to the holocaust. Are any Republicans publicly criticizing her comments?

RAJU: Well, not the Republican leadership in the House. Kevin McCarthy along with his number two, Steve Scalise, and his new number three, Elise Stefanik, have yet to weigh in on this. Even though she had said this on Friday, it sparked outrage over the weekend. She doubled down on that comment over the weekend and suggested that she was in the right here. Only a very few speaking out, including the ousted number three, Liz Cheney, who called this evil lunacy.

But you'll recall that Marjorie Taylor Greene has gotten into hot water before in the past. Kevin McCarthy has opted not to punish her, not to strip her from the committee assignments. The Democrats took, rather, unprecedented action and pushed forward a resolution to strip her from her committee assignment. So she has no committee assignments right now. But even rhetorically speaking, the Republican leadership is staying silent, not condemning her comments, not saying anything much at all. And they're out of session in the House this week, so we'll see if they're asked about it when they're back in the districts, guys.

HARLOW: Okay. I'm sure they will be. Thank you, Manu.

This just in, an arrest in connection with the fatal shooting at a house party in New Jersey, information on it, next.

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[10:50:00]

HARLOW: Well, this just in. Police in New Jersey have made an arrest following a deadly shooting at a birthday party over the weekend. The shooting is one of more than a dozen mass shootings since just Friday.

SCIUTTO: It doesn't -- mass shootings in three days. The numbers are staggering. 13 people killed, more than 70 injured in shootings across eight states.

CNN's Polo Sandoval joins us live from Bridgeton, New Jersey, the site of the shooting at this party. What more do we know about the suspect arrested now? POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim and Poppy, that shooting took place Saturday night just on the outskirts of town here at Bridgeton. And a few moments ago, a brief but significant update from the New Jersey State officials saying that this birthday party that was taking place Saturday night was specifically targeted, but this was not a random act of violence but it's certainly no less tragic.

We thought the Cumberland County district attorney really put it pretty well here in terms of how many people have been affected by this. You have 14 people who were shot, two of them fatally, each one has a family. That is hundreds of people that are now, sadly, all too familiar with this current tragic trend that we're seeing not just here but also throughout rest of the country with this recent spike in shootings.

Now, back to the latest on the investigation here, we also learned more about those people who died during the shooting. That's a young man and a young woman who were shot and killed, were told they were from this community, as is the 36-year-old man that's currently in custody facing weapon-related charges. So, authorities do have a reason to believe that gunmen or people who could be responsible for this could still be on the loose. So they're making a plea for the public here.

Also, we heard a little while ago, not only the governor but also the attorney general of the state of New Jersey address this growing crisis throughout the rest of the country of more and more of these shootings.

I want you to hear directly from Governor Phil Murphy himself as he described what happened here just outside of this town, serving as really a microcosm for what is happening elsewhere.

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GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): We cannot normalize what we saw. We cannot put our heads in the sand and just say this is the price we pay in a free society. I will never accept that. We can never accept that. This community will never accept that. No community in our state or nation should and we will not stop fighting to protect every community.

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SANDOVAL: The Democratic governor here in New Jersey that's essentially calling obviously on stricter or tougher gun laws to try to keep weapons out of certain hands here. At the same time, he also renewed that plea for any information, Jim and Poppy. There were hundreds of people at this massive house party over the weekend. So they are hoping that somebody perhaps shot some video or shot a picture that might lead state investigators to additional suspects. Because, as we heard, yes there is one arrest, but there are more anticipated.

[10:55:01]

It's one of many of shootings that took place over the weekend, deadly shootings.

HARLOW: Polo, it's tragic and it keeps happening over and over again, look, a dozen since Friday. Thank you for your reporting.

And thanks to all of you for being with us today. Have a good day. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. It's going to be a busy week. At This Hour with Kate Bolduan starts right after a quick break.

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