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Charleston Mourns; Interview With Rick Santorum; Guard Charged in Killers' Prison Escape; Officers Searching 75 Square Miles for Killers. Aired 18-19:00p ET

Aired June 25, 2015 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, many Republicans are refusing to accept defeat. I will speak with the Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

Prison guard talks. CNN has spoken with the second person who now stands charged with helping two killers break free. We're going to tell you what we're learning about his alleged role in the escape.

Charleston mourns. The first funerals are held for the church shooting victims. Another service is about to begin as the president prepares to head to the city to honor the dead.

And threatening Clinton. Stand by for an exclusive, surprising brand-new snapshot of the Democratic presidential race, one challenger now gaining ground on the front-runner in a key battleground state.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Let's get to the breaking news tonight, a growing political threat to Hillary Clinton in the leadoff presidential primary state.

Take a look at this, our brand-new and exclusive CNN/WMUR poll of New Hampshire Democrats. We're releasing the poll right now. Secretary Clinton holds just an eight-point lead over her closest rival, Bernie Sanders. His support is surging in that critical state. Stand by for more on this significant tightening in the Democratic presidential contest.

Also breaking, President Obama's calling today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding his health care law a victory for Americans. Our correspondents and analysts are also standing by as we cover all the news breaking right now.

First, let's go to our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown. She has more on this historic Obamacare ruling -- Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is a resounding victory for President Obama, who nearly saw four words established by the state gut his signature legislative achievement. Chef Justice Roberts stepping in once again and taking the lead to save the bill, allowing millions of people to keep their health insurance subsidies.


BROWN (voice-over): Supporters of the president's health care plan celebrating outside the Supreme Court after the justices kept the law intact, preserving insurance coverage for millions of Americans and handing the Obama administration a massive win.

CROWD: ACA is here to stay! ACA is here to stay!

BROWN: This marked the second time the conservative Chief Justice John Roberts played a role in rescuing Obamacare. He joined with Anthony Kennedy and the four liberal justices in the 6-3 decision, writing the majority opinion that upholds federal health care tax subsidies for eligible Americans no matter where they live.

Roberts says a contentious phrase in the Affordable Care Act with the four words "established by the state" does not change the law as a whole. He wrote -- quote -- "The context and structure of the act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase."

ELIZABETH WYDRA, CONSTITUTIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY CENTER: The fact that the chief has yet again stepped in to lead the court in upholding the Affordable Care Act is a sign, I think, of the strength of the administration's arguments that the law is legal.

BROWN: Had Obama care opponents won, 6.4 million Americans in 34 states would have been at risk for losing key subsidies and potentially their coverage. Chief Justice Roberts argued -- quote -- "Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the act in the way that consistent with the former and avoids the latter."

Justice Antonin Scalia led the opposition, reading his scathing dissent from the bench of the court, saying -- quote -- "We should start calling this law, SCOTUScare."

WYDRA: Justice Scalia saying that what the chief justice and other justices did in this is to you, basically, rewrite the law because Congress was sloppy. But he simply just didn't have the argument in that case.


BROWN: There are other challenges in the pipeline to Obamacare, but none that has such high stakes as the one today. And it's interesting to note that Chief Justice Roberts could have ruled more narrowly. And that would have given the next administration a chance to interpret this law differently, Wolf, but he did not leave that door open with this ruling today.

BLITZER: Yes, a very decisive 6-3, a very impressive win for the White House. Thanks very much for that.

Let's get some more on the president's reaction to this Supreme Court ruling.

Let's go to our White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski.

Very excited, very happy folks over there.


What we have seen from the White House leading up to this decision is this extremely confident posturing, saying things like, this is an easy case that never should have been taken up, almost challenging the Supreme Court publicly. But to see the sense of relief around here today, the celebration tells you that maybe they didn't really think it was so certain that things would go their way.

There were, after all, two separate speeches written just in case. And then you see those photos of people hugging, the president exuberantly slapping hands with his chief of staff.


When he walked out to the Rose Garden and started off his speech, he seemed to speak directly to legacy, saying, this is something that's been talked about for a century, debated for decades, and now today health care is the right of everyone. Listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Affordable Care Act is here to stay. Someday, our grandkids will ask us if there was really a time when America discriminated against people who get sick? Because that is something this law has ended for good.


KOSINSKI: So, is the president going to celebrate this? The White House won't say. Does he feel vindicated? They also wouldn't go there, but said that he feels pleased. The White House has been wanting to frame this as all for the middle class, of course.

You hear the president say that this is a victory for hardworking Americans, that this is a good day for America. But certainly this is a very good day for the White House, one of their best ever, especially today, on the very same day the presidency sees Congress pass these very contentious bills that now open the doors to him making this historic trade pact with Asia, also a legacy item.

But the White House is also acknowledging that the battles aren't over yet. I mean, just today, we were hearing Republicans vow to keep trying to -- quote -- "protect Americans" from Obamacare by trying to repeal it. He could also in the finalization of his trade deal with Asia see another showdown with his own party. Remember, just five days from now is a deadline for the nuclear deal with Iran.

And that's going to have an array of fireworks all its own -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It certainly will.

Michelle, thank you very much.

As you would expect, the Democratic presidential candidates, they're praising the U.S. Supreme Court decision tonight, Hillary Clinton tweeting, "Yes!" with an exclamation point. Republicans are predictably blasting the Supreme Court ruling. Jeb Bush says he's disappointed. Carly Fiorina calls the decision outrageous. Mike Huckabee is going so far as to claim Obamacare is completely un- American.

All the Republican contenders are promising to continue the fight against the Affordable Care Act if they are elected president.

Joining us now is one of those Republican candidates, the former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum.

Senator, thanks very much for joining us.


BLITZER: What's your reaction to this huge victory for the president in the 6-3 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court?

SANTORUM: Well, really, the question is, is it a victory for the American public?

And when you look at the reality that most of the people who have signed up through -- first off, millions of people lost their insurance because of Obamacare. That's always glossed over, insurance that many people wanted, and in fact would still have, and would keep in deference to -- in preference to Obamacare. That's number one.

Number two, the majority of people who have signed up on this program are on Medicaid, which is a program that fewer and fewer doctors and hospitals are actually taking. So, you have the question, yes, they have health insurance, but do they have health coverage? Are they getting care? And are they getting the kind of care that they want?

And so there are a lot of big problems still in our health care system. And the Affordable Care Act doesn't really even begin to solve a lot of them.

BLITZER: And, as you know, the two Republican-appointed justices, they voted to keep Obamacare precisely as is, one appointed, Anthony Kennedy, by Ronald Reagan, the chief justice, John Roberts, appointed by George W. Bush.

You voted to confirm justice -- the chief justice as -- John Roberts as the chief justice. Any regrets?

SANTORUM: Well, you know, nobody's perfect. That's the way I look at it. I disagree with a couple of Justice Roberts' opinions. I think most of the time, he does a pretty good job. And in this

case, I think he's erred on the side of deferring to Congress. I can't necessarily argue too much with that, except for the fact that I think he's really rewriting the bill, and to try to save Congress from its ineptitude.

And that really isn't the role of the court. But, again, I don't see this as something I would say I would pull back my vote from Justice Roberts because of this. What I would say is that it's important to -- for the Congress and for the next president to respond to the big problems that this bill is bringing to the American health care system, and the intrusiveness of just controlling every -- I mean, we have a bill that says everybody has to get certain health care coverage in America.

I mean, really? Is that what we want in America, that the government needs to decide the kind of health care coverage you have? I thought we did best in America when we allowed innovation, when we allowed people to have choices as to what they want. The other side is big on the word choice, except when it comes to economic choices that are best for them.

BLITZER: Yes, but a lot of people, they like what they're getting now. There are millions of people who didn't have health insurance who have it now. And there are a lot of families that like the fact that their children up to the age of 26, they can stay on their parents' health insurance program.

If you have a preexisting condition, a subject you know well, given your family history, that people can get health insurance, whereas, before Obamacare, they couldn't get health insurance, a lot of positive things part of the Affordable Care Act, right?


SANTORUM: Yes, the two most positive things really have nothing to do with the core of Obamacare, which is the preexisting condition and the age 26.

And, by the way, I have a daughter who's age 24 who's still on our health insurance. So, those are provisions most -- by the way, many states had already preexisting condition clauses that solved this problem. There was only a handful of states that didn't.

But the point is, the core of Obamacare is this very complex prescriptive policy as to, here are the insurance policies you have to have, here's how much money you're going to pay, here's how the insurance companies have -- it's very top-down, government-run.

And what it's leading to is a lot of people opting out. You saw it in one of the major newspapers today, tens of millions of Americans saying this is -- they're going without insurance. Even though they're eligible for insurance, they don't want it because of the costliness of it and the prescriptiveness of it.

This is why I think we can have the best of both worlds. Where Republicans have fallen short in the past is they didn't have a positive agenda as to how to make sure that everybody could have resources to be able to afford insurance, but get the insurance that they want. And that's really what we need to be focused on.

And when I was in the Senate, I proposed a bill like that. And I will, as president, be offering similar things that will make sure that people have the coverage they want, as opposed to the coverage that the government says they have to have.

BLITZER: You will acknowledge, though, for all practical purposes, you understand the legislative process, the presidential veto -- as long as Barack Obama's president of the United States, there will be no significant changes to the Affordable Care Act, right?

SANTORUM: I think that's obvious. That was obvious from the day he signed the bill. That's why I ran for president four years ago, so we could get at it.

And that's one of the reasons I'm running for president now. This is a huge issue. This is an issue of freedom. This is an issue of choice. This is an issue of doing what's best for people in America to give them the best-quality health care, not the best insurance that government tells you, you have to have, but the care. It's a difference between insurance coverage and actual medical care that you're getting.

And right now, there's a big discrepancy between the two that's going to be more and more pronounced as time goes on.

BLITZER: I want you to clarify a controversial comment you made back in 2013 on Obamacare following the death of Nelson Mandela in South Africa. You said he was fighting apartheid, which you called a great injustice, and then you went on. And this is an interview with FOX News. You said, "Obamacare is a great injustice."

Were you equating apartheid with Obamacare?

SANTORUM: No, clearly not.

I don't like Obamacare, but it is not apartheid. And I just was -- that's called a transition, you know, trying to move to a topic that I wanted to talk about, which was at the time Obamacare, and used the term -- I think Obamacare is an injustice to millions of Americans who are being forced to buy insurance that's way too costly and driving them in many cases out of the insurance markets altogether.

But it does not compare at all, obviously, to the systematic discrimination of an entire race.

BLITZER: Well, I'm glad you clarified that.

All right, Senator, stand by.

SANTORUM: Yes, I thank you for the opportunity.

BLITZER: We have much more to discuss.

Yes, I want to get back to the race for the White House. You have got some problems right now, according to these latest polls out there. We're going to talk about how you plan on becoming, from your perspective, the next president of the United States. Stay with us.



BLITZER: We're back with Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, after that huge new U.S. Supreme Court decision today upholding President Obama's signature health care law.

Senator, there's another major ruling, could come as early as tomorrow morning, involving same-sex marriage, not only being approved in states that already have approved it, but that could go nationwide, depending on what the Supreme Court decides tomorrow.

If they decide that same-sex marriage should be legalized all over the United States, what will be your reaction to that?

SANTORUM: Well, again, I would be disappointed for America that this decision, which is a very important decision, it's a foundational building block of society, which is the institution of marriage, that that would be decided in all likelihood by one person on a 5-4 decision in a court.

That's not how these very consequential matters should be decided. And, again, it goes to where the court is stepping in where it really doesn't belong. It needs to allow the American public to work through these difficult issues and have a good and robust debate and let the people work its will through the states or even through the federal government.

BLITZER: Well, what -- practically speaking, if the Supreme Court rules that marriage equality, same-sex marriage is legal, it's a right for everyone to have, what would you be able to do about that to stop that from going -- you would have to honor the Supreme Court decision.

SANTORUM: Well, you know, as with every Supreme Court decision, a lot of them I don't agree with, but you have to respect those decisions.

And that doesn't mean you necessarily need to stand down and continue to go along with them. You know, the abortion decision, Roe vs. Wade, in my opinion, was wrongly decided. You look back in the history of the court, the court hasn't gotten it right all the time, as we know from some of the most famous cases that the court is known for, cases that the court got it wrong.


And it took the Congress, sometimes took a war to get it right. And so I would just suggest that anybody who disagrees with the court's decision -- and I will be one of them if they so decide as you suggest -- needs to go out and continue to make the case, as I will, that it's important to keep as preeminent the idea of marriage between a man and a woman for the purposes of giving children their birthright, which is the chance to be raised in a home by their parents.

And that to me is what it's foundationally about. And for the court to change a 5,000-year-old institution with -- by one vote, to me seems like an overreach on the part of the court, and I hope they don't do it.

BLITZER: Let's talk about the polls that are coming out. We have a brand-new CNN/WMUR poll in New Hampshire right now. You did very well, by the way, four years ago in the Iowa caucuses. You won several Republican contests in primaries.

But in New Hampshire right now, we asked Republican -- Republicans there who they support. Bush was at 16 percent, Trump 11 percent. You're down at zero percent in New Hampshire. That's Republicans in New Hampshire right now.

You take a look at that FOX poll that came out nationwide right now, with Jeb Bush at 15 percent, Donald Trump 11, Ben Carson 10. You're only at 3 percent in the FOX News poll right now. That's not very impressive, is it?

SANTORUM: Well, you know, when I won the Iowa caucuses four years ago, I was at 4 percent in the national polls. And I ended up with 25 or 26 percent of the vote here in the state of Iowa.

None of these polls matter. I can tell you, if we win the Iowa caucuses this time around, as I expect we will, my number in New Hampshire won't be anywhere that number. And winning is what matters. And the first state where you can win is Iowa. And so all of these other polls are just that. They're snapshots of a public that by and large isn't paying a whole lot of attention to the presidential race right now.

And that to me is really meaningless. What's meaningful is to get out, as I am. I will be in Western Iowa tonight and tomorrow campaigning and securing commitments and votes. We have a fund- raiser. We're going to have 300 people at a fund-raiser here in Pottawattamie County. And those are the kinds of things that matter in the end when February rolls around, not these summertime polls.

BLITZER: The White House just released the statement, Senator, saying the president just got off the phone with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. They spoke about the necessity of countering ISIS, the developments in the Middle East, they said the situation in Ukraine. The president reiterated the need for Russia to fulfill its commitments under the Minsk agreement in Ukraine, including the removal of all Russian troops and equipment from Ukrainian territory.

They discussed the increasingly dangerous situation in Syria and underscored the importance of the continued P5-plus-one -- that's the Security Council and Germany -- negotiations to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

If you were on the phone, if you were president at this particular moment -- you're not, but if you were, and you were speaking with Putin, what would you tell him?

SANTORUM: Well, I would be discussing all of those issues. Those are the relevant issues to discuss.

I would tell him that we are going to stand by Ukraine. We're going to stand by the other Eastern European countries that are feeling very much threatened by Russia and by its aggression. And we're going to do so on a much more substantive way than what the president has done. It's nice to talk to Vladimir Putin. It's another thing to show that the United States has resolve in making sure that he doesn't violate the sovereignty of allies that we have commitments to.

On the issue of Syria, that's been a debacle from day one, that Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama have basically backed away from any kind of restrictions on chemical weapons. They're being used right now, chlorine, reports of being used. We don't hear anything of it. It was a red line for the president at one point. Now it's not even mentioned as the -- as chemical weapons continue to be used.

And look at the situation in Iran. Vladimir Putin, he can say what he wants. He's providing support to the Iranian regime, including support in their nuclear program. And this president is by all accounts allowing Iran to have carte blanche in order to get that nuclear weapon in a relatively short period of time, and not have to be -- account for any of the activities that they have undertaken, either with the nuclear program or by their support of terrorism.

This is a complete capitulation. And I'm sure Vladimir Putin's very happy that the Obama administration has seen their side of the equation, siding with the Iranians, instead of with the Israelis and our other Arab allies in the region.


BLITZER: I'm sure we will get a very different perspective from the White House on several of those points you made.

But, unfortunately, Senator, we have got to leave it there.

Senator Rick Santorum, thanks very much for joining us.

SANTORUM: My pleasure. Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up: A wake is under way right now in Charleston, South Carolina, for the pastor killed in that church massacre. We will go there live.


BLITZER: A second prison employee has now been charged with helping two convicted killers escape from an Upstate New York prison. And, tonight, the manhunt almost three weeks old is intensifying. We're in day 20.

CNN's Alexandra Field is on the scene for us.

Alexandra, what's the latest? What information are you learning?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we were expecting to see that corrections Officer Gene Palmer off at least his attorney in court today to enter their plea, but we've learned that a new attorney will be taking over this high-profile case. And so this court appearance is being pushed back until Monday.

But at the same time, we are learning more about what Palmer is now telling state police investigators.


FIELD: Tonight we're learning new details about the help David Sweat and Richard Matt may have had in their escape. An official close to the investigation tells CNN that Gene Palmer, a prison guard, gave at least one of the inmates a screwdriver and needle-nosed pliers. Supposedly to help fix electrical breakers in the catwalk area behind their cells.

The tools were later found at Palmer's home after police executed a search warrant. Palmer supervised Matt and Sweat while they worked on the breakers, taking the tools back at the end of his shift. These were the same catwalks the inmates used during their elaborate escape 20 days ago.

ANDREW WYLIE, CLINTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: He didn't obviously, you know, come forward and say, "I received paintings from Matt or Sweat. I provided them with needle-nosed pliers." Those are things, obviously, that he did not disclose until he got caught.

FIELD: In an interview with New York State Police, Palmer says he didn't realize that the assistance he provided to Matt or Sweat may have made their escape easier. Palmer tells investigators he gave Matt paintbrushes and hamburger meat. In return, he says he'd receive elaborate paintings and information on illegal acts taking place inside the prison.

According to court documents, Palmer later tried to destroy those paintings by burning some in a fire pit and burying others in nearby woods.

In an NPR radio interview from 15 years ago, Palmer describes life inside the Clinton Correctional Facility as a negative environment. He went on to say that life as a prison guard is as miserable as the lives of the prisoners themselves.

GENE PALMER, CORRECTIONS OFFICER: With the money that they pay you, you'll go bald; you'll have high blood pressure; you'll become an alcoholic; you'll divorce; and you'll kill yourself.

FIELD: Tonight as escapee Richard Matt turns 49, hundreds of law-enforcement officers are still searching through dense woods around a hunting cabin the fugitives are believed to have burglarized. Boots and a sock were found inside that cabin.

WYLIE: There's a sock that's been recovered, as -- listed as white and red. And the red could obviously be blood. I do know that a DNA profile was from one of the socks.


FIELD: Investigators concentrated some of their search effort in the mountain view area today. That's not too far from the cabin where both men were believed to be staying. Some 2,400 tips related to the search have now come in, Wolf. State police say that tonight there are more than 1,100 law-enforcement officers spread out between Franklin County and Clinton County -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Alexandra Field, thanks very much.

The search is now covering 75 square miles. That's about 20 miles west of the prison where Sweat and Matt escaped almost three weeks ago.

Let's get the latest on the manhunt from the sheriff of Franklin County in upstate New York, Kevin Mulverhill.

Sheriff, thanks very much for joining us. Can you tell us, have searchers found some new information today, some new evidence bringing them perhaps closer to these two guys?

SHERIFF KEVIN MULVERHILL, FRANKLIN COUNTY, NEW YORK: I'd love to be able to tell you that, Wolf. That, unfortunately, is not the case.

I will say that I think we had fewer sightings today. But we did have an increased number, and the frequency of phone cats and tips we've been receiving. The New York State Police and BCI have been busy today running down those phone calls and checking on the -- checking on the abandoned camps. We've had some people that have reported what they thought was a possible burglary. We're running all those down.

Anything that looks to have any kind of credibility, they're sending their forensic people out to take a look at it. We just haven't had anything that we could take a really good bite out of just yet.

BLITZER: These two sightings, were they deemed credible?

MULVERHILL: No, neither one of the sightings. As a matter of fact, I think that three or four of the last couple of days I participated in two of those myself. And we have not had a credible sighting since the -- since Saturday at the camp where they were spotted.

BLITZER: The search is now focused also on two towns in your county, Belmont and Malone. Are you still operating under the assumption, Sheriff, that these two guys could be armed?

MULVERHILL: I think, you know -- I think that's been the assumption since they left the prison. And, you know, from a law- enforcement perspective, we've got to assume they're armed. And they're intelligent. They're -- you know, they're manipulative. And they're convicted killers. If they have a chance to arm themselves, we believe they will.

BLITZER: As you know, there are more than 1,000, maybe 1,100, law-enforcement officers committed to this manhunt right now. Do you know if even more resources are needed?

[18:35:02] MULVERHILL: I think we have a lot of resources here. The problem is the area is just so vast. And like I say, the tips are coming in, in all different areas. Outside the perimeter, within the perimeter. It's just -- it's a huge area to cover. You know, so we've got to check out all those tips to make sure they haven't gotten through our perimeter. Other than that, I think they're still in this area.

BLITZER: All right. We'll check back with you tomorrow, Sheriff. Hopefully, they'll get some good information, some good, useful information as you're narrowing in on these two convicted killers. Sheriff, thanks very much. Kevin Mulverhill from Franklin County in upstate New York.

Let's dig deeper on what's going on with our CNN producer, Shimon Prokupecz. He interviewed the guard now assumed -- now charged in the escape. Also joining us, the former FBI assistant director, our CNN law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes; retired chief deputy U.S. Marshal Matthew Fogg; and former ATF special agent in charge, the security expert Matthew Horace.

Shimon, first to you. You met this guy, Gene Palmer, this prison guard, now facing three felonies, one misdemeanor in connection with this horrific escape. Tell us what he told you. Describe his demeanor.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN PRODUCER: He was extremely nervous. I can honestly say in meeting -- when I met with him, he seemed really concerned. He knew what was coming. You know, it was just about two days after he had spent 14 hours with state police, telling them what he knew, telling them what he did, and what he didn't do.

And, you know, he knew. He knew that he was about to face some serious charges. He was scared. He was scared for his life, his family, and the shame that he brought upon himself and the community, really.

I mean, this is a very proud man. He was a corrections officer for 28 years. Loved the job. And, you know, now it has brought him a lot of shame. He was -- such angst and such anger sort of within him. Because a part of him felt betrayed. You know, betrayed by Joyce, betrayed by the guards who he had spent many years building a relationship with. And to know that they would do something like this, I think gave him a lot of -- there was a lot of anger and a lot of angst. Because quite frankly, he's afraid now that, you know, he went from being a prison guard to being someone who's going to be behind bars. And, you know, we talked all about that. We talked about his

life, his family, where he grew up. He's from Brooklyn. I'm from Brooklyn. And so we -- you know, there was some sort of kind of, you know, what his life has been like.

And you know, now he sort of feels, what's he going to do next? And really, it was a matter of just sort of letting some of this out. I think he felt happy to talk about it. He wouldn't go into specifics about what he did, what he didn't do. But you know, he just really wanted me to know what kind of person he is, Wolf.

BLITZER: But he obviously knew what he did was clearly wrong.

Tom Fuentes, his attorney now stepping down, another attorney stepping in. That's not unusual, is it?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I don't think so. I think in this case, Wolf, the attorney recognized that he was over his head. He just wanted to be out of it. Not responsible for what was going to happen next. Let another attorney step in and take it.

BLITZER: They're looking at all sorts of logs now where there's an assumption, Matthew, that perhaps others were involved on the inside, as well. Not just these two who have already been arrested.

MATTHEW FOGG, RETIRED CHIEF DEPUTY U.S. MARSHAL: That's right, Wolf. They're checking everything they can right now. Now they've got two guards involved, probably others. So the thing is to make sure no rock is unturned. They're looking at every situation, every person who made calls, what guards had made other concessions to these inmates. And you get a lot of effort -- again, when you get that type of situation in these prisons, you get -- guards get close to these people. So how close were they?

BLITZER: You've got to assume, Matthew Horace, that maybe others were involved for a sophisticated escape like this and allowing these guys now for 20 days to be on the run.

MATTHEW HORACE, FORMER ATF SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: We said from the very beginning, Wolf, that there had to be more than one person. And I think we're starting to see the dominos fall. With each and every interview that investigators do onsite, they're recovering more information. They're going back to the principal suspect. They're going back to the second suspect now. They're talking to every inmate, ever trustee, every guard, every contractor, and they're coming up with more and more information.

We can all see that someone was asleep at the switch that allowed this to happen.

BLITZER: Yes. It's still hard for me to believe these two convicted killers were in that honor -- honor block, if you will, and they had the freedom to do all that kind of stuff. And basically, effectively, manipulate these two guards to help them escape.

All right. Stand by, guys. We're going to have more coming up. Also coming up, we're going back live to Charleston, South

Carolina, where a wake is being held right now for the pastor killed in that church massacre.


[18:44:40] BLITZER: Breaking now, Charleston, South Carolina, a wake being held this hour for the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine people killed by a white supremacist inside a historic African-American church.

President Obama will attend the funeral tomorrow. There will also be funerals today for two other victims.

CNN's Alina Machado is in Charleston at the church. Alina, what's the latest you're seeing there?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we've been seeing a steady flow of people arriving at this church. They opened up the doors about an hour ago. I better move out of the way so you can see. This is the crowd that's gathered here. People continue to go in and out of the church. While they're walking inside and paying their respects there's a crowd outside of others who are here to show their love and support for the victims' families as this community continues to say good-bye to the nine victims of this massacre.


MACHADO (voice-over): South Carolinians lay to rest two of the nine church shooting victims, Ethel Lance was 70 and enjoying her retirement, she worked at 34 years at Charleston's Gilliard Auditorium. Her daughter Nadine Collier describes her as a strong woman, who worked hard to keep her family together and was devoted to the Emanuel AME Church.

Last week, Collier spoke directly to her mother's killer at his court appearance.

NADINE COLLIER, DAUGHTER OF ETHEL LANCE: You took something very precious away from me. I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you and have mercy on your soul.

MACHADO: Victim Sharonda Coleman Singleton was a reverend at the church where her life was taken, just 45 years old. She was also a speech therapist and a high school track coach. Her oldest son Chris plays baseball for Charleston Southern University.

CHRIS SINGLETON, SON OF SHARONDA COLEMAN SINGLETON: Love is always stronger than hate. So, we just love the way my mom would. And the hate won't be anywhere close to what love is.

MACHADO: Also today, the body of reverend and state senator, Clementa Pinckney, returning home to Mother Emanuel for his wake. Pinckney had been lying in state inside the South Carolina statehouse where just outside the Confederate Flag still flies. Though Governor Nikki Haley has called for the flag's removal,

she acknowledges she doesn't have the authority to do it herself. She says doing so would likely leave her open to a lawsuit.

Supporters of the flag and the history it represents defending it on the statehouse lawn earlier today.

COMMANDER LELAND SUMMERS, SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS: Attempting to use this horrible crime to remove historical markers and monuments and to deface them is despicable, shameful and disrespects them.

MACHADO: Attention on the horrific attack and the flag debate that has followed continues to have national implications. And tomorrow, it will take another turn, when the president heads to Charleston to deliver the eulogy at Reverend Pinckney's funeral.


MACHADO: Now, we've just learned that the mayor of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, has ordered the temporary removal of the Mississippi state flag from city buildings as a show of support for the victims of this tragedy.

We're also hearing today from the family of Dylann Roof. They released a statement through their attorney basically saying that they understand, they recognize that there are still many questions surrounding the background behind what happened here.

They also say, I'm going to read part of the statement which says, "Rest assured in the coming days as more information becomes available, we will do our best to answer them. That being said, we would like to take this time to reflect on the victims and give their families time to grieve" -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Alina, thanks very much.

Let's dig deeper with CNN anchor Don Lemon. He's also joining from us Charleston.

What's your impression, Don, now that you were there on the ground?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It's overwhelming, Wolf, just to be here in person, watching it on television it's very moving but to be here in person, of course, you can -- you're here, you're part of the emotion.

And so many people around the country want to come here and be part of it. Perhaps you at home, folks at home watching, want to be a part of this and you couldn't, so we're going to take you inside right now. I'm going to show you as if you were here.

So, we're standing in front of the church. If you see the steps there, people are walking. They're walking through one side and walk out the other. And then they just sort of move them along. A lot of people who were in the crowds here, in the crowd in front of these gates earlier, then they must make their way down here. Let's walk around here and show you what's going on.

People have been out here, Wolf, almost the entire time since this happened. Even in the overnight hours, in the wee hours, we have been seeing people out here.

Just about an hour ago, you can see there's a hearse right there. The body of the pastor and reverend and state representative Clementa Pinckney arrived here. Of course, his body his body laid in repose yesterday. He was at the state capital in Columbia. They made it back here today -- made it back here today.

But if you look here, this line snakes all the way down the street, Calhoun Street in front of Mother Emmanuel and then they go up in here. They started about 6:00. It will be over about 8:00.

Judging from the amount of people here, I'm pretty sure, Wolf, they're going to allow it to go on a little longer.

[18:50:03] We've seen people from all over. I interviewed some people on CNN. They came from New Jersey. Just to say hello really quickly. Hey, this is former governor and state representative, Mark Sanford here.

Why are you here?

REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I'm here, the same reason everybody else is here. We've been overwhelmed as a community. I've been overwhelmed as a human being. Seeing the love that came out of those nine families and how they responded at the bond hearing. It's been a catalyst of love. They said it well at the funeral this morning. Love ultimately triumphs hate. We've seen a whole lot of it here, seen a whole lot of it tonight.

LEMON: And the prayer service held last night, the power of love. The first time in one week since that incident where nine people so tragically lost their lives. Thank you, Representative.

And, Wolf, back to you. That's the emotion that's being -- that you're seeing here.

BLITZER: It's a powerful, very powerful scene. Don, thank you.

Don is going to be back, of course, later tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Much more coming up. He'll be live on "CNN TONIGHT', 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

Just ahead, Bernie Sanders, he's actually closing in on Hillary Clinton in the critically important primary state of New Hampshire. Are Democrats excited about him, or are they concerned about her?


[18:55:59] BLITZER: We're back with breaking news in the 2016 presidential race. Our brand new exclusive CNN/WMUR poll shows Hillary Clinton now

facing a significant challenge in New Hampshire. Bernie Sanders has surged among Democrats in the lead-off primary state. He's now trailing Clinton by just eight percentage points.

Let's bring in our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash, our senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar, and our senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.

Brianna, Bernie Sanders, 35 percent. He's jumped 20 percentage points in New Hampshire in one month. Could he really be a threat to Hillary Clinton?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't think so and I don't mean to diminish certainly this surge that we have seen in the polls. But I think what you're seeing is, while it is this momentum, I think what you are really seeing is Bernie Sanders has an opportunity to shape the debate here. That's what you're seeing him do.

You see Hillary Clinton, she has moved to the left on a number of issues because she's aware of this, that there is this desire to make sure that she is very much staying to the left and playing to the base of her party.

You don't see Bernie Sanders taking big hits at Hillary Clinton, right? And even though part of it -- as you're saying -- look, I don't run negative campaigns. But if you're going to run for president, you have to take some hard hits. I don't see him doing that. And I think part of that is because even Bernie Sanders realizes that his role is really to shape this and not to kick her out of the race.

BLITZER: Let's see if he does that in the upcoming debates. And I assume there's going to be some Democratic debates.

We take a closer look, Ron, at the poll. Hillary Clinton still beats Sanders on things like who would be best on the economy on terrorism. But look at this, he outperforms her on the question of which candidate best represents your values and which candidate cares most about people like you?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: New Hampshire is the ideal terrain for a candidate like Bernier Sanders, as we see in those numbers. I mean, the Democratic primary is usually divided into the wine track which is a candidate, more upscale, socially liberal white voters, and a beer track, which is a more blue collar and minority candidate.

And historically, New Hampshire has been the absolutely most friendly state to the wine track candidates. And the Gary Hart won there. Paul Tsongas won there. Jimmy McCarthy almost toppled Lyndon Johnson there. That's where Bill Bradley ran his strongest against Al Gore in 2000.

It is a place that is college educated, affluent, 95 percent white. Ideal for a candidate like Sanders. He may or may not win, but it is where he'll pose his biggest threat to Hillary Clinton --

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIOANL CORRESPONDENT: Quickly, I will add, covering Sanders for a long time on Capitol Hill and the Senate, is that he has had this quiet under the radar support for a long time among Democratic activists. And you see it and hear about it just on the Internet. I mean, you wouldn't think somebody like Sanders, who is no millennial, would be so popular even in social media. And he is.

BROWNSTEIN: That's one worrisome thing in the poll for -- I mean, a lot of things, like New Hampshire is an exaggeration of the threat because it's the ideal place for him. The fact he was ahead among young people would make them think twice.

BASH: Telling.

BLITZER: Let's not forget, he's also from a neighboring state, Vermont, New Hampshire, and he's probably getting a lot of that, you know, support that would have --

BROWNSTEIN: This is where Bill Bradley got closest to Al Gore in 2000, New Hampshire, when he couldn't get over the top.

BLITZER: People wanted Elizabeth Warren to run in neighboring Massachusetts. A lot of them probably like Sanders.

BASH: Sure.

BLITZER: Christie is going to announce soon, too, right?

BASH: Christie is going to announce, we are told, on Tuesday. We have been told for a very long time. He's not going to do anything until the end of the legislative session in New Jersey, until he signs the budget. The deadline for that was and still is June 30th. He's going to announce that very day in his hometown of Livingston, New Jersey, in front of his high school, Livingston High School, where he played football and talk about his bio, and why he is who he is and that's because of where he came from.

BLITZER: Meanwhile, as you know, Donald Trump doing amazingly well not only in New Hampshire, but nationwide, according to these latest polls. Guys, thanks very, very much.

BROWNSTEIN: Eighteen is enough.

BLITZER: We love what's going on.

All right. Guy, thank you.

That's it from me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.