Return to Transcripts main page


Legal Troubles For Dorian Johnson; Tide May Be Turning In Ferguson; Brown's Public Funeral Planned Monday; Brown Family Speaks Out; ISIS Video Shows Second American; ISIS Hit by U.S. Air strikes; Interview with Mac Thornberry

Aired August 22, 2014 - 13:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm Don Lemon. We want to welcome viewers herein the United States and, of course, around the world. I'm reporting live now from Ferguson, Missouri.

Tomorrow will mark two weeks since the fatal police shooting that put Ferguson in the national spotlight. And there are signs that the tide is turning now. Protests overnight were peaceful. National Guard troops are starting to pull out. And the search for answers about the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown is moving forward.

Here's the very latest for you. New details are emerging about the past legal troubles of one of the key witnesses here and that is Dorian Johnson. He was with Michael Brown he was killed. And according to police documents, Johnson was arrested in 2011 for theft and filing a false police report. Now, the officer who shot Brown did not suffer a fractured eye socket, as some reports claim, that is according to a source with detailed knowledge of the case. And the source says Officer Darren Wilson was treated for a swollen face.

And Michael Brown's parents say justice for them is Officer Wilson to be charged. We're going to have much more of my colleague Anderson Cooper's interview with the parents a little later on this hour.

But, first, the transformation that's taken place on the streets of Ferguson over the last few days. I want to tell you about that. So, joining me, now, is the Missouri state senator, Maria Chappelle-Nadal. And you have been here since the very beginning. You have followed the unrest. For the past two nights, past few nights, really, it's been peaceful. Are you hopeful it's going to continue in that direction?

MARIA CHAPPELLE-NADAL, STATE SENATOR, MISSOURI: For the moment, I do think that it's going to be peaceful. And we settled some issues that we had on both sides. First of all, we had to deal with the excessive force from police officers. The governor did help out with that by bringing in the National Guard and they settled things. Having Eric Holder was a huge turnaround for this community.


CHAPPELLE-NADAL: But on the other side, there are some elements that were in the crowd that we needed to dispose of and that happened peacefully.

LEMON: Now, let's talk about Eric Holder. The mom spoke with Anderson Cooper yesterday and she said that she was happy with her meeting with the attorney general and that it gave her hope to look into his eyes and thought that justice would prevail. Do you -- do you think that having the attorney general here, having the government look into this, is that helpful to you?

CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Absolutely. It's not only helpful to myself, but, more importantly, it's helpful to my constituents. They needed a sense that someone was going to come in and really give them some words of advice and just really help them to feel better about what's going on with the situation.

LEMON: The National Guard is starting to draw down, not completely pulling out but starting a draw down. Are you OK with that? Are you concerned that there may be some unrest if they're not here?

CHAPPELLE-NADAL: You know, I feel, right now, we're fine. But here are two triggers that we need to look at. The first trigger that we need to look at is seeing if we're going to have an indictment. If that happens, then we have some time. The next thing that we have to look at is whether or not there's going to be a conviction. If there's not a conviction, I think we're at square one all over again.

LEMON: Is that justice for you?

CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Absolutely not. But, again, it's not justice for the family or this community.

LEMON: For you, meaning -- I meant you, the community and, yes.

CHAPPELLE-NADAL: If there's not a conviction, I really see an -- unfortunately, I see folks in this community being upset.

LEMON: Yes. The funeral is Monday.


LEMON: What do you -- what do you anticipate? Do you think the funeral will provide some hope for things to continue to, you know, be peaceful or might it trigger something else?

CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Well, I think the community is just really ready to show their support for the family. I think it's going to be standing room only. There are a lot of speakers. I know that I was asked to speak for a couple of minutes on Monday. And at -- it's an honor to do that. But this is also for the family. And this is their time to say good-bye to their son.


CHAPPELLE-NADAL: It's very hard. They weren't able to see their son for 12 days.

LEMON: Right. CHAPPELLE-NADAL: And so, that's really hard for them, to say good- bye. And so, knowing that the community is there with them, I hope that they have a good feeling from that.

LEMON: You have been very critical of the governor. You've been very critical of the St. Louis prosecutor, Bob McCullough. I spoke with the governor yesterday. He said he is leaving him in place to continue this investigation. What do you think of that?

CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Well, let me just tell you --

LEMON: And there's an online petition, by the way, --


LEMON: -- signed by thousands of people to have him removed.

CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Yes, like 70,000, something like that.


CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Let me tell you what the real deal is. The real deal is Bob McCullough does not want to be on this case. He has given all of this information about his background and his relationships with police officers. But this is really about the governor. If there is not a conviction, the governor does not want to take responsibility for that. And, of course, there's going to be unrest. But the governor sees, already, and a couple of us have talked about this, he doesn't want to have that responsibility on his hands. And so, what's he's done, essentially, is to put Bob McCullough in a box. He can't go to a judge and recuse himself because every other case that he's ever had will then be put into question.

So, right now, the pressure really should be on the governor because we're in a state of emergency. And, by law, constitutionally and statutorily, the governor has the authority to replace Bob McCullough. So, it's kind of interesting because you never want to burn a bridge, but bob McCullough and my community and I are all in the same place. We don't want him to serve as the prosecuting attorney. But the only reason why the governor is doing this is because of his political interest in the future.

LEMON: All right. Well, thank you very much. You've been out here every day from morning until, --


LEMON: -- what -- and from morning until morning I should say, right? Not morning to night. Thank you, Maria Chappelle-Nadal.


LEMON: Michael Brown's parents open up about their emotional state right now and the investigation into their son's death. Also ahead, the latest on the cold-blooded execution of American hostage James Foley by ISIS terrorists. We're going to show you the cruel and taunting e-mail the killers sent to his family.


LEMON: The police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown is still generating outrage, frustration and grief in Ferguson. But for Brown's parents, it's also a personal tragedy which they say hasn't fully sunk in yet. The couple opened up to CNN's Anderson Cooper yesterday about the loss of their son and the federal response to his death.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "A.C. 360": This is, obviously, every parent's worst nightmare. Mike, how do you get through each day?

MICHAEL BROWN SR.: I don't. I just glide through. You know, back home, I still see him physically moving around again in my life.

COOPER: You still see -- you still see him at times?

MICHAEL BROWN SR.: Yes, yes. But physically, I won't see, you know, that's a heartbreaker for me. It's painful. You know, I just -- I can't really explain how I really feel about this, you know?

COOPER: Lesley, does it seem real?


COOPER: It still doesn't? How are you getting through each day?

MCSPADDEN: Prayer, family, support.

COOPER: That's what's keeping you going? You both met with the attorney general yesterday, Eric Holder. How was that? What did he say to you?

MCSPADDEN: He just kind of talked to us from a man with kids his self-perspective.

COOPER: He talked to you as a parent?


COOPER: Did it help?

MICHAEL BROWN SR.: Yes, it helped me because he -- we -- he has our support, you know. You know, he's supporting us and he says he's not going to -- he's not going to stop. He's going to help us all the way through. So, that's a --

COOPER: You believe him? You have faith in him?

MICHAEL BROWN SR.: Yes, I do. I believe him.

COOPER: Does it make a difference that he came here, that he looked you in the eye, that he met with you privately? MCSPADDEN: Yes, it did to me.


COOPER: In what way?

MCSPADDEN: Because you can read a person. And when you're looking at them and they're looking at you, in your eyes, it puts some trust back there that you lost. And he did ensure that it'll be a fair and thorough investigation.

COOPER: Do you believe? Do you have confidence in the investigations? Because there's the state investigation, the county, the federal investigation, do you have confidence that --

MCSPADDEN: Up until yesterday, I didn't.

COOPER: You didn't.

MCSPADDEN: But just hearing the words come directly from his mouth, face to face, he made me feel like one day I will. And I'm not saying today or yesterday. But one day, they'll regain my trust. But, first, I have to get to where I'm wanting to get to and we haven't even begun.

COOPER: It's going to be a long road.


COOPER: I mean, the grand jury just started yesterday.


COOPER: We learned, it may not be until October that they come up with a decision about what they're going to do. Does it feel like -- now, obviously, you want answers now.


COOPER: Are you ready to -- I mean, are you able to wait?

MICHAEL BROWN SR.: Yes, I want -- I want everything to -- I don't want to rush judgment. I want everyone to take their time so there won't be no mistakes and get it done right.

COOPER: You've talked publicly about justice. You want justice. For you, what is justice for your son?

MICHAEL BROWN SR.: Well, he's got to go to jail, so we can have some type of peace. He's still walking around with pay. That's not -- it's not fair to us. You know? We're hurting. And ain't no telling what he's doing. But he has his life. Our son is gone.

COOPER: I talked to Sabrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's mom, yesterday, and one of the things she said -- and she wrote an open letter to you. And one of the things she said in that is that she was warning you that people are going to try to attack the character of your son.


MICHAEL BROWN SR.: Just as she said they did with her son, Trayvon.


COOPER: Do you feel like that's already happened?

MCSPADDEN: Yes. And even if this hadn't happened, people do that anyway. People do that anyway. For he was a teenager. He was growing up. He was only 18. He had a chance to make a mistake and correct it. Just like the officer. You have a choice. You chose the wrong one.


LEMON: And still to come here on CNN, the parents of American captive James Foley give their reaction to the e-mail notifying them that their son would be killed in revenge for U.S. air strikes against ISIS. Also ahead, the U.S. strategy against ISIS, does it change with the execution of James Foley. I'll ask a leading Republican congressman.


LEMON: After months of silence, a family of kidnapped American James Foley finally heard from his captors on August 12th saying he would be killed because of U.S. air strikes in northern Iraq. But that last hate-filled e-mail was greeted with mixed reactions.


JOHN FOLEY, JAMES FOLEY'S FATHER: Well, we hadn't heard from Jim's captors since December and, you know, I actually was excited to see an e-mail, despite the conclusion that they would execute Jim. We -- I underestimated that point. I did not realize how brutal they were. And I actually hoped we could engage in negotiations with them, if they were willing to send us any sort of communication, because we had none prior.


LEMON: Well, the reports say the family thought raising around $5 million in ransom might get James Foley freed. His ISIS captors had demanded $132 million. The brutal execution video of James Foley also showed a second captive American and that's freelance journalist Steven Sotloff who disappeared in Syria a year ago. There is growing fear that he may meet the same fate as Foley. CNN's Brian Todd joins us now from Washington.

Brian, the tone of e-mails to Foley's family suddenly changed from ransom demands to a death sentence. And we also learned that the Pentagon tried - tried to but failed to rescue Foley over the July 4 holiday.


LEMON: Why did the Pentagon reveal the failed rescue mission?

TODD: Don, they revealed it, they say, because there were several news organizations that were about to go public with the details. So the Pentagon did reveal that over the 4th of July weekend, some special operations forces landed in the city of Raqqah, Syria, and tried to extract James Foley and tried to conduct a rescue operation for him. They arrived there that weekend and they engaged in a firefight and then discovered that Foley and/or other hostages were not there.

But the Pentagon says they revealed the information now because several news organizations were about to go public with the details. Some military analysts believe that it was a mistake to reveal the information because it could compromise future rescue operations, Don. But others say they really had no choice and they had to reveal some of this on their own and discuss it because of - you know, they wanted to get the message out there that they were trying to rescue James Foley and that those details would have come out anyway in the news media, Don.

LEMON: Brian, let's talk more about those e-mailings. You heard in the interview the family said even though they were hate filled, they were, in a way, in an odd way, glad that they were at least hearing something about their family member.

TODD: Right.

LEMON: What else do we know about those e-mails from ISIS?

TODD: Well, the family says that they got several e-mails from ISIS between his capture in 2012 and his death. They got several. And then they didn't hear from them after e-mails that were sent in December. Then finally they got another e-mail around August 12th or 13th. And the contents of it were basically very threatening, essentially saying that he would be executed.

Here's a quote, "he will be executed as a direct result of your transgressions towards us." And they - you know, the e-mail said other things about shedding American blood in retribution for the air strikes and things like that. So that was a very menacing e-mail that they got on August 12th or 13th, indicating that James Foley would be executed.

But James Foley's father has said that even when they got that, they had some hope that maybe some kind of negotiation could be struck.


TODD: They didn't realize how brutal ISIS was. And now, of course, we know more detail.

LEMON: Yes, it's just awful. Thank you, Brian Todd, appreciate that. And then the final e-mail received by the Foley family, the U.S. air strikes against ISIS were given as a reason for James Foley's execution. Joining me now to talk about this, he's from Capitol Hill, is Texas

Republican Congressman Mac Thornberry. He's also the vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Congressman, how should the U.S. respond to the Foley execution? Does it change the mission?

REP. MAC THORNBERRY (R), VICE CHMN, ARMED SERVICES CMTE.: No, it doesn't change. It reveals what sort of people they are. And, secondly, it's an attempt to intimidate us into not playing a role in pushing back against ISIS into trying to keep us out of Iraq and from joining a coalition to contain and stop them. So it doesn't change anything, it just reveals, I think, what they - what they're about and what they're trying to do.

LEMON: Yes, you were a critic of the president's plan to battle ISIS. What should the U.S. be doing?

THORNBERRY: Well, the first thing we should do is quit talking about what we're not going to do. When the president takes options off the table, that only simplifies the planning of ISIS. And secondly, we should not reveal any details, any information, about missions that we undergo to rescue people or to push back against ISIS. Thirdly, I think we do have to have -- we have to reassure the Iraqis and others that we're in it for the long haul. The Iraqis are going to have to do this on the ground. We can assist them from the air of course, but they're looking -- they know that we left a couple years ago. They don't know whether they should stick their neck out and trust us again. So we're going to have to reassure them that we're with them in the long haul and then have a plan that will make a difference. These tactical air strikes don't really change the momentum.

LEMON: Yes. Congressman Thornberry, what are the fears for possible ISIS attacks on American soil?

THORNBERRY: Well, the biggest fear is that there are 10,000 to 12,000 foreign fighters that have joined ISIS and various estimates but many of them have western passports. They're either American or they're western European passports. So they can come here to the United States homeland without a visa. And they can bring their -- what they've learned about bomb making and about assassinations with them here at home. We know they don't hesitate to kill people. And it's not just individuals. They don't hesitate to kill hundreds or thousands of people. And so I have no doubt they are planning on how they can do that here at home in the United States and in western Europe.

LEMON: I'm sure you're aware that there was a Pentagon briefing today and the spokesman, Admiral Joh Kirby, said that the Pentagon would like to set up a plan to train the Syrian opposition conceivably to fight ISIS, but also the Syrian government. How long has that been on the table, do you know?

THORNBERRY: Well, for a while. You know, part of the concern that folks have had with the administration is this slow-rolling, deciding what to do with the situation in Syria, which has enabled ISIS to grow and expand into Iraq. You know, one of the key questions people on The Hill ask is, OK, if you're going to give weapons to the opposition, how do you make sure it stays with the moderates and it doesn't get in the hands of ISIS? That's been a key holdup that the administration has faced as they have looked at these different options.

LEMON: Can I get you to follow up on something? You said that many of them had western passports or American passports. Can you follow up on that? What do you mean?

THORNBERRY: Well, I mean, they have passports -- they're either American citizens with American passports or Europeans with European passports who can come to the United States without a visa.

LEMON: How many?

THORNBERRY: The numbers vary. A few thousand are the estimates that most press reports indication. Again, 10,000 to 12,000 foreign fighters, you know. Various estimates. I don't know the exact number, 2,000 to 3,000, say, have western passports. It only takes a handful, as we saw on 9/11, to do enormous damage.

LEMON: Congressman Mac Thornberry, thank you.

THORNBERRY: You're welcome.

LEMON: Information services about the arrest record of a key witness in the Michael Brown shooting. The revelations are raising questions about the credibility of Brown's friend, Dorian Johnson. We're going to break down the latest legal issues in the case straight ahead.