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THE SITUATION ROOM
Officials: Four Officers And Multiple Civilians Struck By Gunfire In Illinois Mass Shooting; Suspect Apprehended; At Least One Dead In Illinois Mass Shooting; White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders Interviewed By Mueller; Judge Issues Gag Order For Trump Ally Roger Stone. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired February 15, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course, this is all under investigation. We hope to learn more about that, about this gunman and more about those civilians who were struck. Our coverage on CNN continues right now.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: I'm Brianna Keilar. Wolf Blitzer is on assignment. You are in The Situation Room and we're following multiple breaking stories, including a tense situation in Illinois, where officials say at least four officer and multiple civilians have been struck by gunfire in a manufacturing business in Aurora. This is about 40 miles from Chicago. Nearby schools are on lockdown. Federal agents are responding as well. Hospital spokeswoman says multiple patients are coming in, although there is no exact word at this point on the numbers or their conditions.
I want to bring in CNN Crime and Justice Reporter Shimon Prokupecz. You have been talking to your sources. What are you telling us?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Right. And like you said, Brianna, so we have four officers that have been injured, several civilians inside this facility of that have been injured from gunfire. We don't yet know exactly how many of these people, how many civilians were injured, and most importantly is we don't know their condition. We have not been able to confirm the condition of the gunman.
At this point, it's fair to say the law enforcement is treating this as a workplace violence. They do have witnesses. It was a person who was inside there who spoke to one of our affiliates, said that he recognized the shooter as a co-worker. And right now, it just appears that police are working this as a crime scene. They do believe they have it contained, that there are no other shooters, that there are no other threats at this point.
And as you can see there, there are a lot of ambulances on the scene. We have not seen any ambulances leave the scene. There are police that are standing by. And essentially now, we're waiting for more information from the police. But the good news is at least, in part, is that the police have this under control. The big question is now is the motive, what happened here and the number of people who have been injured. KEILAR: Evan Perez, you've been talking to your sources. What are you learning?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of the things that the police are doing is going over, you know making sure they can make - making sure that there's no other dangers at the scene of this crime. It appears to be a workplace shooting as, Shimon, mentioned. But one of the things they going to be start doing now is going through any surveillance camera footage to see exactly how this happened.
Look, this shooter had the element of surprise, right? They officers appeared to have responded to the calls for emergency help, and that's where the injuries appear to have happened. And so he or she, the shooter, would have had free reign for an extended period of time, you'd have to imagine. So it's not clear exactly how this all went down.
And, again, as Shimon said, one of the things that they'll try to figure out later on is the motive. But, you know, you have to think that this shooter could have harmed a lot of people by the time the officers were able to respond.
At this point, you know, if you're talking to the Federal Law Enforcement, people who have responded, you know, they're still trying to get their hands around the idea of like if there's anything else that they have to watch for, booby traps, for instance, things that this person - especially if this person new this workplace, they could have done ahead of time, you know, just to harm people in other ways.
So, again it takes a little while for law enforcement to go through - It appears to be a very large facility. It takes a while for you to go through the facility at this size to make sure that there are no other dangers. And I think that's one of the reasons why the press conference is set at late.
PROKUPECS: And one of things I wanted to point out is that you have four officers that have been injured here, at least some of them obviously have been shot. So it does appear to have been a gun battle between the shooter, the suspect here, and the police. And to have this number of officers injured and what kind of the scene tells you something about what they faced.
And I think Evan brings out a good point, it's the element of surprise. They were responding far a call of shots fired. They go in. They intercept the shooter. There - it appears to have been a gun battle and that's how the officers were injured. We don't know the condition of the shooter. We've not been able to confirm that. But it does appear to have been at least some kind of substantial gun battle here.
PEREZ: This is the ultimate of soft targets, right? This is a workplace. It is not a place where you expect for something like this to happen. And even though, you know, obviously these things happen from time-to-time in the United States. And so you would --
KEILAR: Especially if it's an insider attack.
PEREZ: If it's an insider, somebody who you expect to be or have access to a facility like this. So even if you have armed security guards, it's not something that immediately jumps out at you.
KEILAR: Let's bring in Josh Campbell, former FBI Supervisory Special Agent. He is our CNN Law Enforcement Analyst. I know that you have been talking to sources. I also know that you have trained for situations like this. What kind of training goes into that as you look at the kind of injuries that - or number or injuries that we're looking at from these police officers?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, we're going to see two aspects of the response here. First of all, there is a tactical training that goes in when an officer, whether state, federal or local responding to a potential violent scene, obviously, they're going to approach that as though that there is a threat. And we're seeing reportings of the subject that's been interdicted at this point, so that threat no longer remains. But there could be others. So you see law enforcement officer continuing to remain in location. What we don't see behind the scenes inside that building are the other officers that are clearing that location.
Now, there are other officers that will show up with specialties in evidence collection, and that would be the second wave. Once they have confidence that there is no longer threat in this building, that there are no additional injuries, people that perhaps need to be transported to local hospitals, then they will go through and look for evidence. For example, shell casings, other things that the shooter may have left behind, if he or she had a cell phone, for example. Again, they'll do this massive search of that facility as part of this investigation.
And then the other aspect is what's going with the shooter, him or herself. Now, we haven't confirmed that the person - we heard reports from law enforcement officers that the person is no longer a threat. They used the word, apprehended. That doesn't mean that this person is currently in any position to talk to law enforcement officers. We haven't actually heard that this person is still alive. So that will be detailed - those will be details that we need from law enforcement officers. If they are able to interview this person, they'll gather potentially important information. If this person is in a position to speak with them, then they obviously will be digging into this person's past, the social media, the residences. We can expect them to be executing search warrants of the residence.
Bottom line, this is going to be a very complex investigation. This is going to last a long time both on the scene, what we're seeing and what's happening behind the scenes, Brianna.
KEILAR: Josh, when we have this description from someone who told our affiliate WLS, that the gunman was carrying a pistol, equipped with the green laser pistol, being the word that that person described it as, so just keeping that in mind, not exactly sure if they're familiar with gun vernacular. But this is the person who said that they recognized as their co-worker. That a weapon with a green laser, what does that tell you?
CAMPBELL: So it tells me that this is a person who at least is familiar with firearms. I mean, this would be a type of device that is affixed to a firearm in order to improve the accuracy of shooting. And although it's true that a late person could gather this type of device and attach and affixed to a pistol, that's possible as well.
But the one thing I think we have to keep in mind, I'm always very conservative in these types of situations, when we don't know information, we've only heard from one specific witness who told one of our affiliates, say he recognized the person.
Now, this isn't to diminish from what this person adds the value, as far as what's going on inside, but with that said, I've talked to witnesses, I've responded to incidents where you have people that are in emergent situation, there are stress hormones that are coursing to their veins, they have tunnel vision.
Again, people see things that may not actually track with what actually took place. As Evan mentioned, you know, they'll compare that to surveillance footage and the like in order to determine what happened. So, again, I'm not diminishing what the person is saying. I'm saying until we hear from more witnesses, until we hear from the authorities, it's really hard to figure out the large scope of what we're dealing with.
KEILAR: It's a really good word of caution. And, Shimon, what is the expectation about how long this - you said, obviously, and, Evan, you pointed this out, they're going to - authorities will be taking their time. What is the timeframe here?
PROKUPECS: That's a good question. I don't know what the timeframe is here. And so I think law enforcement will still try to gather everything. It's a pretty big scene probably. We don't know that he stayed in one area or the shooter stayed in one area.
KEILAR: Because it's like a - it's a manufacturing facility, right?
PROKUPECS: Yes. There some talking that may have been a steel facility of some kind, it's not certain. It looks rather large.
PEREZ: Right. And then the initial reports came from one address. And so it's not even clear whether the shooter stayed in one workplace, whether he went on a joining one, and that's where he was confronted. Again, there's a lot of mixed information here. Some of it is not all together clear from the initial reports. And it's often happens. As you know, from covering these things over the years, some of the initial witness accounts are always a little off because people are under stress. You know, they are fleeing the scene, they're trying to save their lives and they're calling the police and telling what they are seeing in front of them. And so it's not exactly clear that where this exactly began and where it ended. But it is clear that the police are trying to make - get a handle on both - whatever the location there is, to make sure theirs is no other dangers at this point.
PROKUPECS: Yes. And I think for us and I think the big thing for the police there is making sure that they have a handle on the number of victims. Let's say, if there are other victims that are inside that we don't - we have not heard about yet, there could be people who have died. We don't have that confirmed or anything. But this could be what they're dealing with.
And we always see this in a situation. You have these shootings. And it takes sometimes a while for the police to gather all the information. And part of it is also they have to make sure that they let families know what's going on here, right? And you have victims that have been taken to the hospitals and making sure that they have everything in order before they tell us exactly what happened.
KEILAR: I want to make sure we let our viewers know we're awaiting a press conference. So there are so many outstanding questions at this point in time. And we're expecting to hear from local police and hopefully they can give us some more details so we understand really the scope of this situation.
I want to bring in, Charles Ramsey, right now, CNN Law Enforcement Analyst. He's a former Washington DC Police Chief, former Philadelphia Police Commissioner.
Sir, as you watched this, and you were evaluating this situation with certainly some limited information at this point, what should we know about what's been going on from your perspective and what more do you want to know that we don't at this point?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean there're still a lot of unanswered questions. I think we'll learn some things once the press conference takes place. They will be able to provide some information. But there's still going to be an awful lot of information that the police who are not going to be able to provide with any degree of accuracy because this is still kind of unfolding and you're still putting together all the information. So they'll be able to tell you whether or not there have been any fatalities, for an example, how many perhaps the number of people injured. But you still may not even have a real fix on the number of people injured because some people will self-evacuate and go to a hospital.
So there will still be some things that police will not be able to answer. Motive being one of them probably. I would be very doubtful if they can provide that information or any information they glean from search warrants or social media or anything like that. So they will be able to provide some basic things. So right now they are just taking their time so they put information out this accurate and not speculate. And, again, you've got people who have loved ones in that building. And so you want to be very careful. You want to notify family members. You want to make sure you take your time and do this thing properly rather than force a lot of information out that may or may not be totally accurate.
KEILAR: This is in Aurora, Illinois. So this is a city of about 200,000 people. You've been at the helm of police departments in very large cities. This is not a small city but this is certainly not a large city. So knowing that for these officers responding to shots fired, take us through what that would be like?
RAMSEY: Well, they probably have mutual aid agreements. That's not uncommon. Even if you a big city, you have mutual aid agreements. Sometimes you have a situation like this to respond. But those first officers at the scene were probably not S.W.A.T. officers. These are officers on patrol that are trained to be able to respond and react to active shooters. And they go right in and try to neutralize the threat the best they can until other resources can arrive at the scene. And I'm sure that's probably what happened here. Again, when they do the press conference, they will be able to lay out a time line in terms of responding officers in all that sort of thing. But that's normally how it takes place.
And I heard Josh mentioned earlier that these things go down in just a matter of minutes, and that's true. And just because it was a while before the police announced that they had a person in custody, it doesn't mean the act of shooting took place over that length of time. You could have had a barricade situation. They may have negotiated with this guy. I mean, there are a lot of things we just don't know. But one thing we do know is that a lot of people were injured, there're probably an awful lot of shots fired and, you know, it's going to take some time before they actually sort it out because that's a pretty large structure. And I'm sure that that crime scene is pretty large in scope, and they're going to really have to take their time going through it and gathering forensic evidence.
KEILAR: And we do not know the condition of the shooter. We do know that he is no longer a threat, whatever condition he or she is in at this point in time. That's according to authorities. So you have a number of authorities who are working on this. You mentioned mutual aid agreements. You could have multiple local law enforcement agencies, but you ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives. The FBI is there, U.S. marshals, how do they work together in the situation like this?
RAMSEY: Well, they work together very well. And that's why you have incident command. The Aurora Police Department, unless this is deemed to be a terrorist event, but it doesn't look like it, it's going to - the local agency will be the lead. However, the capability to process a scene like this, the FBI, ATF, these are going to be federal agencies that you're going to rely on very heavily in order to help with that, also in terms of search warrants and things of that nature. So I don't know the nature of the mutual aid but that's something that the heads of these different agencies will come together and divide up the workload. But you'd be surprised on just how well these agencies do work together, even though they all - the local, state, federal, they practice. I mean, that's what you table top for.
KEILAR: All right. If you can standby for me, Chief, that would be great. I want to bring Josh back in. Can you tell us anything about the shooter or have you learned anything? CAMPBELL: No. So that's what we are trying to learn now. And any law enforcement officer, when you show up, that's going to be part of the investigation, is the person himself. And the first thing you to want to do is positively identify the person. Is this someone who was willingly providing identification, do they have identification on them? We've seen a number of incidents where there is some type of violent incident. And it takes a while for officers to actually identify this person.
And that moves into the next phase. One key question that officers will always ask, and again, this is - we've seen a number of shootings, is, was this person known to law enforcement? And that will be taking place. You'll see - you know, you'll have database searches underway, they will be working with the FBI in order to check with records nationwide in order to determine was this person known to law enforcement, do they have any type of encounter. That will be a critical part of the investigation. And then also was the person exhibiting some kind of sign among his or her colleagues that may have been troubling, not only to inform this case but to inform other cases as well. Law enforcement continues to learn from these incidents in order to help stop future incidents. So that will be a part of this multi-faceted investigation.
When we get to the motive, that will be the key part. Obviously, we always talk about that. We want to know why the person did what he or she did. We're likely not going to learn that today at this press conference. And so it's very important for us to know that. Because not only will that take time in some situations but maybe law enforcement doesn't want to provide that to the public now because they may well have others aspects and other threads of the investigation that they need to run down. But obviously that will be critical. Because then that helps us discern whether there's someone who had a particular grievance, maybe this is one of these injustice collectors, as we call, that goes and acts on some type of grievance or there were some other type of ideology possibly driving this person. We just don't know. But that will be part of that long term investigation.
KEILAR: And, Josh, you brought up an interesting point that I want to ask Chief Ramsey about. You said it's very important just to keep in mind, we only have one witness at this point reporting that they believe this to be a co-worker. It someone they recognize. But, Chief Ramsey, if this is a disgruntled employee or a former employee, what are the patterns that you usually see?
RAMSEY: Well, I mean, there have been a lot of research that's been done on these things. But this is an individual, I mean, if this is in fact the case and that's all information that they're going to have to uncover during the course of the investigation, was this person in the process of being fired or suspended, was there some other type of issue going on that people that work alongside this individual and maybe their human resources department would be aware of and be able to provide information, was this person banned from the premise and just got in there or were they still working and had access to the facility. There's going to be a lot of an unanswered questions. I don't want to speculate too much on that sort of thing because there is so much we do not know at this point in time.
KEILAR: And back to Evan and Shimon here in studio, you know, in general, you learn the motive. It may take time but it is something you learn. Now, in certain cases, for instance, the Las Vegas shooting, we never did learn the motive, but this is something that - this is the long haul investigation. Why did this person do this?
PEREZ: Right. And, you know, at this stage, one of the things that Shimon, one of the important things for law enforcement is to try to contact any victim families, anybody who's been injured or anybody who - we don't know yet of any deaths at the scene there, but if there are any deaths, that's one of the things they first want to take care of to make sure those people are aware, have been notified, have been told where to go to, to seek help and to try to take care of those families. That's priority number one at this point. If you have taken care of the suspect, the shooter, and you know that here's no further danger to the public at this point, this is what your biggest priority is at this point.
And I think that that's - you can see, as Shimon, I think, mentioned earlier, one of the disconcerting things that you see at this scene is you see police officers kind of are a little bit - their guard is a little let downright now. They are not moving around with any haste. But you see some ambulances and they are not moving anywhere. So that's always a bad sign, I think, because it means there's nobody there.
KEILAR: They were anticipating victims to transport to the hospital or, conversely, they had enough ambulance rested to transport all the victims that they have.
PEREZ: Right. When you have a call like this, you call every ambulance you can get. So, again, this often can be a bad sign. So, again, we don't know what's exactly happening behind the scenes but we certainly know that this press conference has been delayed a little bit, and perhaps that what's going on behind it.
KEILAR: And just be clear, so that was supposed to be 4:30 Eastern. It is now going to be - sorry, it's now going to be at 5:30 Eastern, I should say.
PEREZ: Right, talking about ten minutes or so.
KEILAR: Yes. So that's the police chief there on Aurora, Illinois who we're expecting to hear from, Kristen Ziman.
PROKUPECZ: The thing is if this was a workplace and this is what we're hearing and it's what it's pointed to, obviously, that will give police a big clue as to perhaps what the motive was here. But, you know, time and time again, what we're seeing, and I think law enforcement has seen a spike in this is sometimes there are now motives in this shooting. They think they go in and they may have some understanding of what may have happened. But it's always what triggers it. So is that last minute, the minute before they go in, you know, the minutes or days leading up to it, and even sometimes what triggers someone.
And, you know, they may have a good idea. They know who this person is. So they may have good ideas now about what the motive here was, especially if he worked here as one of the witnesses.
PEREZ: In a lot of recent cases we've seen, some suspects and these shooters actually post something on social on social media right before they do it.
KEILAR: Yes. And we actually have breaking news from the scene. So I want to bring in our reporter who is on the scene. Sara Sidner, you are there. Tell us. Tell us what you see. Tell us what you're learning.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So we're hearing from the State's Attorney Office that there is one fatality that has been confirmed in this shooting. And I'll give you an idea of sort of the scene right now. You can see some of the officers still here. It is a very large scene. There is a swathe large of area that has been cordoned off, they have closed roads, they have put crime tape up way down the road. It is a very, very large scene.
What we have been seeing is a lot of movement from police. They are very calm right now. You can tell that the shooter has been apprehended by the way that they are acting, a lot of folks getting in their vehicles and leaving this area.
I can also tell you that behind me, there are quite a few vehicles as well, quite a few law enforcement vehicles. We have seen a S.W.A.T. vehicle that was here as well, as well as an ambulance that was also here.
We've talked to some neighbors in this area. The neighbors telling us that - one of them said, look, we didn't hear anything. This is a pretty quiet neighborhood. But there is a mix in this neighborhood. There is a lot of manufacturing plants here and there's also a lot of homes. And you see some of these homes here that are dotted around this plant. So it is a mixed use neighborhood.
There are a lot of folks that are still waiting to be able to get out of this area, hard to get in and out of here, as you might imagine. But right now, we are seeing the police, really, they are quite calm, people are getting back into their cars, they are leaving this particular area. This was completely packed when we first came here or it's filled with police cars with people that were walking around, law enforcement with their guns out. We have noticed they had put their guns away.
And now, we are expecting to hear from the police chief and we're expecting to hear from the police department who had said that, yes, there is going to be a press conference very shortly here, that that should be happening. I can tell you there's a lot of folks here very worried obviously because they are right here., they are right near where this happened. Everyone wondering exactly how many people have been injured at this point, where you're hearing four police officers injured and there may be many others. Brianna? KEILAR: Yes, a number of civilians according to an alderman who was relaying information from the Deputy Mayor. That alderman actually lives two blocks there from the shooting scene just to speak to the neighborhood that you're talking about.
I do want our viewers to know just here in the next few minutes, we are awaiting a press conference from the Aurora Police. But tell us - and you can see the live shot that we have there coming to us from the Police Department. But, Sara, tell us about - this is, what a little over an hour from Chicago, west of Chicago. Just tell us a little bit about this area. As you said, it is sort of a mixed use area, business and residential.
SIDNER: Yes, it's business and residential. I think a lot of people, when you see the view from up high, it looks like because the manufacturing areas are so big, and some of these companies, there are small companies, big companies here. But indeed there are lots of homes here. This is a neighborhood, a neighborhood that, for example, on this street, they say, look, it's pretty quiet, our kids come out and they play. That's why there is a lot of concern here. It's all very close to one another. And as you mentioned, that alderman lives just down the street.
So it is a mixed use neighborhood, a neighborhood that is in high alert at this point. Many people stay in their house, they were told to do so, according to a neighbor that we spoke with. But it has calmed down quite a bit.
I'm just trying to take a look around to see who is still left. But, again, a lot of officers are still here, of course, but many of them have moved on to a different area. And we certainly know that it is a much calmer scene than it was just a couple of hours ago. And we are about an hour and 50 minutes, 40 miles outside of Chicago here in Aurora.
But at this point, we should reiterate that there is one fatality, according to the State's Attorney Office, in this incident.
And there's a lot more information we will be getting in just the next few minutes, according to the police department here in Aurora.
KEILAR: All right. Sara Sidner there in Aurora, Illinois. If you can standby for us, we're going to continue our coverage here. We're awaiting a press conference from the Aurora, Illinois Police Department momentarily. You heard Sara's report there, one fatality so far in the shooting in a manufacturing plant. The shooter no longer a threat. We don't know the condition of the shooter. But there were four police officers who were struck and a number of civilians, officials are telling us. We'll be right back.
[17:29:55] KEILAR: We are following the shooting in Aurora, Illinois where we are standing by for a police news conference right now. [17:30:00]
We know that one person is dead but there're several others, including four police officers, have been struck by the shooter. So we are awaiting more details on that. Also, there is some breaking news in Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. CNN exclusively reported first, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has now been interviewed by the special counsel's team. We have CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez here with us. What does it signal to you, Evan? That they were interested in talking to her?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think it's a very interesting interview, because obviously she didn't play a big role in the campaign, so there's not a lot that she probably would have known about what happened in 2016. But certainly, obviously she's at the podium; she's the most prominent person for the president -- for the White House, you know, since the departure of Sean Spicer. So, the fact they've asked her for an interview tells us perhaps that one of the things they're interested in is the things that she talks about from the podium.
I think the White House would probably draw a line around advice and things that she talks to the president about. So, what this tells us it's most likely, the Mueller investigators wanted to ask her about things that she said from the podium and whether or not those line up with facts that the special counsel knows and whether or not it was an effort to perhaps give a false story that other witnesses can follow. Again, this is something we've seen.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, we know that Mueller has been interested in statements, right, that the president, that had been made at press releases --
PEREZ: False statements.
PROKUPECZ: Yes. False statements. Statements that were made to the press. And that could be what she was being questioned about. I mean, we don't know, right? This can go to the obstruction investigation, right? We know that other people have come in, they've asked about the crafting of statements. So, that's what it would signal to me -- this is about, but we really --
KEILAR: Yes. So, how would the White House deal with that, do you think? I mean, look, in fairness Sarah Sanders has knowingly said false things at times but it's also clear, that when it comes to the Russia investigation, she has been uninformed, has occasionally on certain topics made an assertion, that it seems like she believed to be true. So, how would you deal with that in a situation like this where you're being interviewed?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of the things, I think, this White House has dealt with for a long time is what to do with executive privilege. And I think, originally, they were very open with documents that they've turned over, they have repeatedly, sort of, touted how open they've been with all of the different officials that they've let, sort of, go in for interviews. I think t0 -- sort of, the detriment and one of the things I think they have sort of reassessed is whether that was a good idea or not.
And you know, with the interview of what former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, I think there were issues about letting him go in, initially. It was seen as something of a negotiation about what questions he could answer. And we think -- these are reporting from Pamela Brown -- is that this interview was around the same time; we don't know exactly what month, but some time last year. We know it was a sensitive time. Because the raid on Michael Cohen had sort of put everybody on edge, the president's former lawyer.
And so, the White House has sort of struggled with what to do here. And so, we don't know, you know, whether objected to any questions. Maybe they only left or answer certain things. Maybe they gave her a list ahead of time. But certainly, any shifting narratives coming from the podium, or even perhaps in the crafting of that White House statement about the Trump Tower meeting, the Moscow meeting, with Veselnitskaya, and Don, Jr., the one that has been so looked at. Her hand in that could be something investigators are --
KEILAR: Jeffrey Toobin, what does it tell you?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think, you know -- Laura's exactly right. I think the statement that the president apparently dictated about the June meeting in Trump Tower, which was at best misleading. What did Sarah Sanders know about that if anything? I think we need to, you know, say at the outset, as far as any of us are aware, I only speak for myself, but think this is accurate for everyone: Sarah Sanders herself is not suspected of any sort of criminal wrong doing. I don't think she is being investigated as a witness. I mean, I'm sorry, as a subject. But as a witness she might know a lot.
I mean, one of the issues, broader issues is whether the obstruction of justice investigation also includes witness intimidation from public figures. Think of all of the tweets that have been attacking Michael Cohen. Think of all of the tweets that have praised people like Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, who stood up to the Mueller investigation. Is that part of an obstruction of justice? Anything that was a public statement that came out of the White House Sarah Sanders might know something about. And I think not just her statements but how she got the information that she based her statements on. That, I think is going to be a focus of -- or that was a focus of, I suspect of her question.
[17:35:06] KEILAR: And let's put up the statement on the screen here: "The president urged me like he has everyone in the administration to fully cooperate with the special counsel. I was happy to voluntarily sit down with them." So, here she is. She's putting out as the White House has, we're open, we're cooperating.
PEREZ: Actually, what's unusual here is that there's actually an on the record statement. We're used to, after covering this for two years, we almost never get confirmation on the record that anything actually happened.
KEILAR: So, why is this different, do you think? PEREZ: I just think they also feel that probably that we're at the
end point here, and might as well just -- look, they did a good job of hiding this. Look, let's be honest, it wasn't until, really, the last few days that Pam Brown had uncovered this.
KEILAR: And she's going to be asked about it, right? I mean, Sarah Sanders has public face.
PEREZ: Yes. And you've seen over time that Sanders has changed the way she says things from the podium when talks about the president. She used to say things categorically, now she says the president says so and so.
KEILAR: I'm sorry I interrupted you. You said that the White House, sort of, kept this under wraps.
PROKUPECZ: Well, yes. We didn't know about this. They don't just come out and tell us so, right, so and so, and so and so have been in to see Mueller. You know, Pam Brown and the work that she did on this, and it really just came, you know, in the last few days that she was able to confirm this. What I find this, again, very interesting no matter where the Mueller investigation may be at this point, is that this again, tells us that Mueller and his team have been really looking at sort of what the Trump team and the lawyers and everyone else involved, had been saying publicly about this investigation.
And were they signaling in any way? Were they trying to somehow, in any way, hurt the investigation? Is there something else here that was going by these public statements that they were making? And it goes to the obstruction investigation probably more than anything else. And that's what I, you know, I have found always so interesting, whether it's the tweets, or whether it's what Sarah Sanders was saying, or whether others people aboard Air Force One may have been involved in crafting of this statement. It's always been very interesting how the Mueller team has been interested in that.
KEILAR: Let's talk about -- yes, go on, Jeffrey.
TOOBIN: I just wanted to add another subject that I suspect came up in this interview. And that's pardons. Sanders has been frequently asked: was Roger Stone considered for a pardon, Michael Cohen? And what was the basis on which she answered the questions? And because, you know, this is controversial, but I think certainly, Richard Nixon, one of the articles of impeachment against him was the misuse of the pardon power. And the question of where you threatening or with holding or promising pardons in return for telling a story during an investigation. That's something that Sarah Sanders has been asked about. I certainly think that the Mueller team would want to know on what basis she answered those questions.
KEILAR: That is a really interesting point, Jarrett-- sorry, Jeffrey Toobin. What am I -- I'm finding everyone's name.
JARRETT: It's Friday.
KEILAR: I have an 8-month-old. I haven't slept in almost a year. OK, Jeffrey Toobin, I want to ask you about Roger Stone because a federal judge handed down a gag order. So, what is this going to mean because we have heard so much from him. It's almost hard to believe that we won't hear more.
TOOBIN: You know, I have a piece in the current issue of the New Yorker, and I'm very glad. It features extensive -- you know, it came out when I could still talk to him. You know, it's telling Roger Stone that he can't talk to the press is equivalent to taking off a limb of Roger Stone. I mean he lives for public attention. He has a daily show on Info Wars, the Alex Jones conspiracy theory web site. I suppose he could continue that show as long as he doesn't talk about his own case. You know, the judge is serious about this. The judge really wants this case to be tried in the courtroom.
I think, frankly, it's a controversial ruling because, you know, Stone has gotten a lot of negative publicity and his lawyers made the point and it's a legitimate point that he has a first amendment right to defend himself but the -- Judge Jackson thought look, let's try to shut this down as much as possible in difference to a fair trial and that's the judgement she made. I'm not sure every judge would have seen it the same way but --
PEREZ: It's interesting how careful this judge was. I think she actually was very, very limited in this, considering what she was actually considering. Considering, if you compare to what she did in the Manafort case, where basically shut everything down. Here, Roger Stone can be able to probably do some of those things. He won't be able to stand on the courthouse and do -- courthouse steps and do press conferences anymore. He won't be able to attack the prosecutors and say things that could be viewed as trying to affect jury selection, but he can speak, you know -- again, he can use his First Amendment rights.
[17:40:16] KEILAR: Could this be saving Roger Stone from Roger Stone?
JARRETT: That's the way she put it. And she originally (INAUDIBLE) this issue and she actually gave the parties time to brief it, so that she could sort of have a little bit of time to mull it over. And her point wasn't to just muzzle him. The idea was, I'm doing this for your own protection because everything you say right now can be used against you, whether you realize it or not, Roger Stone. Everyone is listening. And it contains the jury pool. And I'm trying to make sure that you don't do anything to run afoul of your trial rights, whether he sees it that way.
KEILAR: I'm doing this for your own good.
TOOBIN: Well, one of the things that Roger Stone's lawyer told me is that -- and it's unusual for lawyers to be this categorical. He said, Roger Stone is going to be testifying at his own trial. There is no question he will take the stand. And if he testifies, he can be cross examined about any public statement he's made. And so, this goes to the point that Laura was making about, about Judge Jackson saying, look, you are just generating cross-examination material every time you talk about your own case. And Roger Stone's answer to that is, so what? I want to talk. So, I mean -- but that's what it means that it's for his own good.
KEILAR: I said "wow" when you said he would testify, although, now that I think about it, of course, he would testify, he is Roger Stone. Evan, you're getting some new information?
PEREZ: Right. There's a new court filing in the Roger Stone case and for the first time, we're hearing from prosecutors that they say that as part of this investigation, they uncovered what they say were evidence of Roger Stone actually communicating with WikiLeaks. Now, that's the first time we've heard that said so explicitly by prosecutors.
KEILAR: Directly with?
PEREZ: That he was communicating directly with WikiLeaks.
PEREZ: Now, we don't know exactly where this evidence was uncovered. You have to imagine that they were able to subpoena server records and so on. And obviously, they had Roger Stone's communication extensively, we can tell from the first filings in the case. But one of the things that they say is that: "The government obtained and executed dozens of search warrants on various accounts, used to facility the transfer of stolen documents for release, as well as to discuss the timing and promotion of their release."
Again, this is all about -- this is a central thing that they -- the special counsel today has been investigating. What the Russians were up to? In this case, Russian intelligence. How were they able to get the information that they stole from the hacked accounts, get it over to WikiLeaks and then also perhaps in cahoots with someone, make sure that that information was -- got the right public attention when it was released. And so, what they're saying, they're tying Roger Stone directly to what the Russians intelligence agents were doing with WikiLeaks.
KEILAR: I want to underline this again, Jeffrey, because this is big. Prosecutors have said for the first time, they have evidence that Roger Stone communicated with WikiLeaks. This is according to a new court filing from special counsel prosecutors. And this runs smack up against what he has been alleging.
TOOBIN: Absolutely. I mean, for my sins, I think I am the world's foremost authority on Roger Stone. And the one thing he has said to me repeatedly and said everywhere is that even though he made public statements that he was in communication with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, he never had direct contact. Anything he learned about WikiLeaks, he said to me, and has said under oath, and has said many times, was either through Jerome Corsi or through Randy Credico. Now, they have different versions of this but he was categorical in saying there was no contact and no coordination between him and Julian Assange. So, the fact the Mueller team is saying there was direct contact, pretty darn interesting. News to me.
JARRETT: What's also interesting about this is -- this was not in the charging papers when Roger Stone was indicted several weeks ago for lying to Congress.
JARRETT: They didn't outline this nearly as blatantly as they're doing in, sort of, this throw away court filing tonight. This is not a sentencing memorandum that we're now in -- and you were there.
PEREZ: Right. This is part of the effort to produce evidence for his -- you know, for him to defend himself.
JARRETT: So, to put it in this context instead of a charging document, I just think is notable. And query whether there will be a superseding indictment, we just don't know.
KEILAR: Let's read part of the quote here. The government, this is a quote: "The government obtained and executed dozens of search warrants on various accounts used to facility the transfer of stolen documents for release as well to discuss the timing and promotion of their release."
PEREZ: Right. And it goes on to say several of those search warrants were on accounts that contained Stone's communications and Guccifer 2.0 and organization one, which is --
[17:45:11] KEILAR: Guccifer 2.0.
PROKUPECS: It's Russian.
KEILAR: The hacker.
KEILAR: Organization one...
PEREZ: Is WikiLeaks.
PEREZ: That is correct.
KEILAR: Wow. I mean, that is --
PROKUPECZ: But yet, this doesn't get us to where we have ultimately been. And the questions, it doesn't answer the questions of --
PROKUPECZ: Collusion. It doesn't say that what Stone here was doing was a crime. This has been a very big question here. Roger Stone is not charged with any crimes for his interaction with WikiLeaks or using intermediaries to get to WikiLeaks. Where is this investigation going? And that's what's been interesting -- I think is, you know, they are making these allegations and these court documents, but they're not going. JARRETT: They're not going to conspiracy, so why not?
KEILAR: But Laura, if Roger Stone lied about being in contact with WikiLeaks, what does that tell you?
JARRETT: Well, the question is: well, why did he lie? And what was the motivation behind that? But if they had this evidence at the time that they originally charged him with lying, there's a missing link, and we just don't know what that missing link is. Maybe it's that they -- they have figured out for whatever reason there's a breakdown --
KEILAR: Well, they subpoenaed, so they got a trove of new information, didn't they, when they brought him in around the same time?
JARRETT: With the search warrant executions, they got terabytes of data that we know of --
PEREZ: Yes, at the home -- his homes.
JARRETT: And it appears that they also executed search warrants on at least someone else. Maybe, Twitter; someone else to hear that there are accounts, obviously, that are capturing Stone's communications in addition to Stone's own data, it appears from, at least this filing.
KEILER: So, that's the question: why did he do it? Why was this something that he wanted to hide?
JARRETT: And why don't they have enough to charge him with anything of lying?
KEILAR: Yes, that's very interesting. Jeffrey?
TOOBIN: Just another dimension to this is -- remember, there are two cases against Russians that are probably never going to go to trial but in one of those, it's the case about the hacking. And it's the case about the apparently Russian intelligence which hacked the DNC e- mails, the John Podesta e-mails, and funneled them to WikiLeaks and then, you know, then they were released to the detriment of the Democrats in the 2016 election. The possibility is, and again, it's just a possibility, is that Roger Stone could be added to that indictment. He could be charged in connection with conspiracy to -- he's mentioned in that.
PEREZ: Yes, he is mentioned in one of those indictments.
TOOBIN: Isn't that right, Evan. Yes, yes.
JARRETT: And is charged --
PEREZ: He's not charged.
PROKUPECZ: Keep in mind, I think you know, no matter what happens at the special counsel, whenever it comes to an end, this investigation is going to go on. You know, these Roger Stone investigation now lives with the U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C.; they are on the case. They are named in these court documents that were provided today. So, the Washington, D.C. U.S. Attorney along with the Department of Justice are going to continue to investigate this and maybe we do get to a point where they can say that what Roger Stone was doing here was criminal. I also think part of the problem has been is that WikiLeaks, it's very hard. And we don't know that the Department of Justice is really ready to do this, you know.
It's to say that WikiLeaks is a criminal entity that they're engaged in criminal activity. We know there are something pending against some criminal charges in these (INAUDIBLE), but we don't know what it is. But are they ready to go ahead and make that leap with WikiLeaks? And that has been the central thing here. See, because WikiLeaks has also worked with news agencies, legit news agency previously, right: the New York Times, other news agencies. So, you know, I think it has always been the issue with the Department of Justice, certainly making that leap, do you go there and --
PEREZ: Yes. They struggled with this during the Obama administration. Eric Holder looked at this question and we know Jeff Sessions look at this question: do you look at WikiLeaks as a publisher? Right. I mean, certainly, if you're going to charge people who are working with WikiLeaks, you're going to have to look at the publisher, the New York Times and the Washington Post, who were, you know, helping and working with WikiLeaks to publish information during the Obama administration.
So, that's one of the struggles that they've had. And so, you know, if you're Roger Stone, you can say, you know, I had no idea these were Russians. I knew they were interesting information and news organizations were, by the way, were publishing some of these Podesta e-mails and the DNC. So, what's wrong with me also reaching out to them to try to find out what else they have?
JARRETT: We're going to draw that line.
PEREZ: That's some very good defense if you are Roger Stone.
KEILAR: But he lied about it. We now know that's what prosecutors are saying. OK, so -- it is important to note, what has he been charged with? Witness tampering, obstruction of justice and lying. Nothing pertaining directly to collusion. But let's say, Laura, that some of this was discovered, some of this information is being cited here, the contacts between WikiLeaks and Roger Stone that this was information obtained after executing those search warrants around the time that he was arrested. Would he have been added? Would he have been charged by now for that? Or is there some reason that that could be delayed?
[17:50:27] JARRETT: Not necessarily, but also, with the lying, that happened a long time ago. So, one of the questions we always had is: what took so long? And why then? Why not months ago? I mean, his testimony was from 2017. So, not just his testimony, but other testimony that he tried to influence: Randy Credico and other witnesses. So, the question was always, what gave there? And certainly, they could add more. But also, did they learn anything from the search warrant execution that they didn't already know? Was that a check the box exercise to make sure they had gotten everything? Or did they get anything new from that? We just don't know yet.
KEILAR: What do you think, Jeffrey?
TOOBIN: It's a hard question.
KEILAR: I'm basically asking you to be a psychic.
TOOBIN: You know, there's so many -- you know, there's so much we don't know about what's gone on behind the scenes in the Mueller investigation; about you know, why it took them so long to add these -- to charge Stone? Why did they send Jerome Corsi a draft indictment of him but never indict Jerome Corsi? I mean, there's stuff happening behind the scenes there that, you know, we just don't know. And where the investigation is going, I'm a fount of I don't know, in the answer to these questions. But I'm just being honest.
KEILAR: We appreciate your honesty on that. All right, if you guys can stand by for me. There's also some breaking news that is just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. The Democratic Chairman of the House Oversight Committee is calling into questions statements made by the president's attorneys. I want to get some details now. Let's bring in Manu Raju, our Senior Congressional Correspondent. Tell us about this.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Elijah Cummings, the Democratic Chairman of the House Oversight Committee says in a letter to the White House today that he has obtained information showing that attorneys representing the president may have given false information to Federal Ethics officials regarding the circumstances of the payments -- the hush money payments that went to the porn star, Stormy Daniels, to silence the alleged affair, though, that she had with the president, silence those stories, right before the 2016 election.
According to Cummings, he says documents that he has received shows that information provided to the officials from the Office of Government and Ethics were not consistent. They initially denied the president had a role in these payments and later changed their story. Specifically, he's referring to Sherry Dillon, who's Trump's personal attorney and Stefan Passantino, he's a former White House official and now works for the Trump Organization.
According to the letter, Dillon repeatedly said in spring of 2018 that Trump "never owed any money to Michael Cohen." Of course, Cohen, the former Trump attorney who paid $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, to silence those stories about the affair. But after May 8, 2018, when Rudy Giuliani, another Trump attorney, went on Fox News and disclosed that Trump had a role in reimbursing Michael Cohen for these payments, according to Cummings letter, the stories changed.
Dillon later told at ethics officials that Cohen always knew that he would be reimbursed for the payment. But the "mechanisms for reimbursements changed over time." He said that -- Cummings said that Passantino, the other attorney, made similar statements to Federal Ethics officials and also saying that they suggested that according to the attorney, according to Cummings, Passantino suggested that there was a retainer with Cohen for these payments, but it was later revealed from the Southern District of New York prosecutors that there was no retainer for this agreement.
Now, we did reach out to both Dillon and Passantino, there's been no comment yet. We reached out to the White House who just said that they have not commented either. We've also reached out to the Trump organization. Cummings sent a separate letter to the Trump organization demanding document by next Friday, and also threatening to subpoena for additional documents if he does not get compliance. The Trump attorney -- organization attorney responded, saying they've just received the letter. So, a significant allegation here about potentially misleading Federal Ethics official.
[17:54:55] KEILAR: Yes, it certainly is. All right, Manu Raju from the Hill, thank you so much. We are awaiting a press conference from Aurora, Illinois, in the case of that shooting. We are keeping our eye on that. We're going to bring it to you live. We'll be back in just a moment.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
[17:59:57] KEILAR: I'm Brianna Keilar in THE SITUATION ROOM. Wolf Blitzer is on assignment. And we are following a lot of breaking news in Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Tonight, prosecutors are revealing for the first time that they have evidence that Trump ally, Roger Stone communicated with WikiLeaks.