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Sandra Bland's Death in a Texas Jail Sparks Investigation; Trump Rallies Supporters in South Carolina; Do Chattanooga Gunman's Writings Show Motive?; NYT: New Details on Maximum Security Breakout; Human Trafficking in America. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired July 21, 2015 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: The video that we see in addition to the dash cam, it had better match the officer -- what the officer says happened in a written report. And then finally, Carol, what they'll do is they'll look at the actual jail encounter. What happened in that jail. They -- of course there's a span of 90 minutes, they're saying, while she was in the cell that there appears to be no one who went to the -- to check on her and so what were the protocols of the jail? Should it have been an hour-long search where you actually go and you look and you stop and you check in, as opposed to using an intercom? Should it have been a half an hour?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Can we -- can we just -- can we just stop right there just so --


COSTELLO: So I can make clear what happened to viewers. Supposedly during the initial traffic stop, she was smoking a cigarette. The officer asked her to put out her cigarette and she refused and that started the altercation. The strange thing about that cell phone video is, you don't hear the officer's voice at all, just hers. I don't know what to make of that, but I suppose we'll learn more when the dash cam video is released to the public.

Now, they take her to jail, right, 6:30 in the morning. She refuses breakfast. 7:00 a.m. comes by. They yell out to her, are you OK? She says, I'm fine. And then two hours later, she's found hanging in her cell. And she uses a plastic garbage bag that was inside the cell, which is strange to me.

JACKSON: That's absolutely right. And what that will -- what will happen is, that will be analyzed too. They'll look that that actual bag. Why was the bag there to begin with? Where did she get it from? Is it generally proper that a bag be there? They'll test it for DNA. Were there any fingerprints, is there anything else that's associated with it in order to determine, a, how she got the bag and, b, did she use the bag? Was it a suicide or was it a murder? And that's ultimately the crux of the investigation, Carol.

And I think what will happen, looking at the surrounding circumstances, what we also know is that she was moving from Chicago to Texas to take a job at a college apparently as an ambassador and apparently had a lot of other things going on in her life. We should also say, from a mental health perspective, apparently there was some FaceBook posting that she had put out in March, several months earlier, wherein she talked about depression or PTSD. And so all of that will be analyze to determine exactly what happened, what was the basis of the stop, what was the basis of the arrest and, of course, at the jail, exactly what happened? Could it have been prevented? Was it negligence in terms of not being checking on, or was it something more sinister? That's what the district attorney will do. And then ultimately it will be presented to a grand jury and that will be -- those will be the open questions once they get all the information, Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, Joey Jackson, many thanks, as always. I appreciate it.

JACKSON: A pleasure. Thank you.

COSTELLO: In just a matter of hours, presidential hopeful Donald Trump heads to South Carolina to rally his supporters. It will be the billionaire candidate's first appearance on the campaign trail since questioning whether Senator John McCain is a war hero. While those comments didn't sit well, to say the least, with Trump's Republican competitors, they did provide a lot of fuel to late night.


JIMMY FALLON, "THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON": Donald Trump got in some trouble for saying that John McCain is not a war hero and said, quote, "I like people that weren't captured." Not good. In fact, Trump's people are telling him to lay low for a while until this all combs over and --

JIMMY KIMMEL, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Can you imagine being tortured for five and a half years in a Vietnamese prison camp. The Vietnamese offered to release you. You say, no, not until you release the other Americans who have been here longer than I have. And then 42 years later, the host of "Celebrity Apprentice," a man who the closest he ever got to battle was a fight with Rosie O'Donnell.


COSTELLO: OK, all kidding aside, Trump remains on top in the latest poll by a long shot. So let's talk about this with CNN political commentator Tara Setmayer and Sally Kohn.

Thanks to both of you for being with me.

So he's going to be on the campaign trail in South Carolina. How do you suppose he'll be received, Tara?

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, South Carolina has, I think, eight military bases down there and, you know, people take the military very seriously, as they should. Respecting the military is very important. And I don't know that they're going to receive this -- Donald Trump as well as he may have been received a couple of days ago. I think people were looking forward to hearing what's going to come out of his mouth now, but now it's to the point where like I said before, it went from refreshing to revolting and this is -- h e has serious, serious damage control going on here. And I don't necessarily agree with folks like Rush Limbaugh on this who's defending Trump and saying that it's a -- you know, the media is fascinated with the fact that Trump is not backing down and that he's doubling down and standing up to them. I get that to a certain degree, but when it -- when it comes to comments like this, they're just so off the rails and unnecessary. I just don't see how he comes back from this overall.

COSTELLO: OK, Sally, I want to read you something from Eugene Robinson of "The Washington Post." He said, quote, "don't be sure the McCain episode is the beginning of the end of Donald Trump's bizarre presidential campaign. Don't even be sure it's the end of the beginning. Attacking him with censure and shame is like trying to destroy Godzilla with electricity. It might just make him stronger."


SALLY KOHN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. This is actually genuinely one of those moments where you -- I feel conflicted as a progressive versus as an American. As a progressive, there is no question that Trump's incredibly offensive statements over and over again are casting a dark light all over the entire party and making the party answer for the extent to which they stand by or distance themselves from his remarks. And it's -- and I think it's a sort of -- hopefully a helpful disinfectant. And, obviously, it shows where Republicans are different from Democrats.

[09:35:30] On the other hand, the fact that this man is saying the things he's saying and is a major contender for the nomination of presidency is so odious and offensive. And the fact, by the way, that it took Republicans so long to start coming out against him, he had to attack a war hero. Fine. What about when he attacked Mexicans and suggested that most of the hard working moms and dads coming across the border or coming into this country seeking the American dream are mostly rapists and drug dealers? Where were the Republicans being all outraged about that? Why is this man surging in the polls? This is troubling to anyone who cares about this country and its values.

SETMAYER: Well, I mean I think in fairness that there's a certain element -- and I've said this before, the cult of personality, the reality show celebrity of Donald Trump that attracts people to see, well, what's he going to say next? You know he -- his persona has been built on that whole being very obnoxious and in your face and not taking anything from anyone and giving it back. So people are enamored by that. I mean it's the same way that people watch trashy talk shows. It's -- they're enamored by the calamities that go on. So they are attracted to that part of -- part of Trump.

COSTELLO: I think Tara's on to something. We're -- we're a celebrity culture and our celebrity culture has seeped into all parts of the process in -- in the United States.

KOHN: That may be but I think -- that's a legitimate point and I think that's -- that's fair. But I, you know, I think that sort of covers something that's far more insidious in Trump's rise and I think it begins with, look, his surge in the polls wasn't from the McCain thing. In fact, he's taken a hit in the polls.


KOHN: This is from his comments about undocumented immigrants. And it would be unfair or I think dishonest of us to not be clear that part of what he's speaking to is a part of the American public that for the last seven years has felt outraged. They talk about taking the White House back. They've said and he retweeted this, they want the White House, capital W-H-I-T-E again. You know, there is a -- a dis- effective, highly racialized, highly us versus them part of the American electorate that he is firing up and that's truly -- Trump's a clown. We should be worried about the people who he's speaking to.

SETMAYER: Well, I mean I think that characterization is terribly unfair. For people who are concerned about law and order and the fact that illegal immigration is a huge problem in this country and that people are being rewarded for breaking our laws and then like there is a criminal element of this that is a valid aspect. The way Donald Trump came out and articulated it was not in the best terms, but that is legitimate.

KOHN: But how can you say those two things together? Right, right, but -- but that's fair. But there are people who feel that way but to --

SETMAYER: Many. I'm one of them.

KOHN: That's a legitimate -- you can -- you can say that. You can say you have concerns about out --

SETMAYER: And I'm not a racist.

KOHN: We can have concerns about undocumented immigration without attacking Mexicans, the country of Mexico, attacking the immigrants who are here. That acknowledge this --

SETMAYER: Yes, I mean -- I think we've all already


KOHN: Those two things that are entirely possible. But when you suggest --

SETMAYER: But we already acknowledged that that was not the best -- the best way to go about it, OK.

KOHN: No, but he did go about it that way for a reason (ph).

SETMAYER: Absolutely.


COSTELLO: OK, you guys, pause for just one second because Donald Trump -- and, you know, "The Des Moines Register" wrote this scathing editorial this morning calling for him to drop out of the race. They called him a bloviating something or other. So Donald Trump has just responded. I'm going to read this response. This is the first time I'm seeing it. So this is from Donald Trump.

"On the campaign trail in Iowa, a state whose people I have truly gotten to know and love, I have been treated very badly by 'The Des Moines Register.' They were uneven and inconsistent, but far more importantly, very dishonest."

You can't just keep coming out and saying, I love the people, I love Mexicans. I -- come on, it just -- it just doesn't work anymore.

KOHN: Awe.

SETMAYER: Yes, no. No, it doesn't. He's got to stop this. I mean Donald Trump takes no personal responsibility for anything he says. You know, it's word vomit, and then he turns around and decides -- decides that he's going to blame everybody else for it. I don't know, it's your fault, you didn't hear me right. No, I actually did say that. No, I didn't say that.

KOHN: Yes.

SETMAYER: I mean that is not the way to run a serious campaign.

KOHN: Well, he hasn't apologized for what he said about McCain.

SETMAYER: He actually hasn't apologized.

KOHN: No, I know, he -- he claims he has --

SETMAYER: He turned it around. He cannot keep doing this. And this is part of my problem with -- many problems with his candidacy. But just with him, I mean, he admitted even during that -- where the whole McCain flap happened. He said that -- this was in front of evangelicals. He said that he doesn't seek forgiveness from God. That should be troubling to people too.

COSTELLO: He called the communion wafer a cracker, which --

SETMAYER: Right, he called the body of Christ a cracker and some -- a little wine. I mean those -- that's actually more offensive to me than a lot of other things that he has said. He just doesn't --

KOHN: So many things to pick on. I mean, you know.

COSTELLO: Yes. Well, anyway, we know he's going to be on that debate stage on August 6th, so, let the fun commence.

KOHN: Oh, get your popcorn, America.

COSTELLO: That's right. Thanks to both of you. I appreciate your insights.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, while prison guards were sleeping, two convicted killers were plotting. The shocking new details on how they made their escape, next.


[09:44:10] COSTELLO: All right, I just got new information again. New information in about Muhammad Abdulazeez. Of course, he's the young man that gunned down four Marines and a Sailor in Chattanooga, Tennessee. CNN has found that writings examined by the FBI and other evidence increasingly point to political and terrorist motives of this shooter. That's according to U.S. law enforcement officials. In writings dating back to 2013, Abdulazeez made references to Anwar al- Awlaki, saying he agreed with certain parts of the Yemeni-American cleric's teachings. That's according to a person briefed on the family's interviews with investigators and a law enforcement official briefed on the probe. As you might remember, Al-Awlaki is al Qaeda in Yemen, not ISIS.

Also, these references did come at a time that Abdulazeez was coping with losing his job because of drug issues in his efforts to hide it from his family.

[09:45:03] I'm going to read a little bit more of this to you.

THe FBI has also recovered Internet searches as recently as days before the shooting in which Abdulazeez seeks to find out religious teaching on martyrdom. This is from a person briefed on the family -- this is from a person who was briefed on the interviews of the family by the FBI. Abdulazeez, they said, searched on the internet whether someone could use martyrdom to atone for sins such as being drunk.

This is appearing more and more likely that terrorism did play a part in Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez's motive. So we have of course our investigative reporters on this, and producers, and when we get more information, of course we'll pass it along to you.

In other news this morning, convicted murderer David Sweat got out of his jail cell every night for months before he and fellow inmate Richard Matt finally busted out of a maximum security prison in New York. Sweat roamed the tunnels underneath his cell looking for a way to escape while the guards above him, he says, were fast asleep. This is just some of the details Sweat has spilled to investigators, according to "The New York Times".

CNN's Alexandra Field following all of this for us this morning. Good morning.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Carol. Well, this is David Sweat's version of the story because he's the only one left to do the talking. "The New York Times" reports that he has been talking to investigators, that he is giving them the details. A lot of people have wondered how they could have pulled off such an elaborate plan. Well, he tells investigators, according to "The Times", that the two inmates actually got a very big break just a few weeks before they made that escape.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FIELD (voice-over): It was a plan at least six months in the making. Several people briefed on the investigation told "The New York Times" that prison escapee David Sweat has portrayed himself as the mastermind behind the elaborate June 6th breakout.

According to "The Times", Sweat says he had long planned to escape, but it wasn't until he was moved into a cell in January near the now- deceaseed Richard Matt that he moved forward with his plan. The 35- year-old says he used a hacksaw blade to cut a hole in his cell and then the back of Matt's. He says another inmate heard the commotion but Matt, a painter, blaming the noise on his artwork.

HARRY HOUCK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: He said he used a sledge hammer on that pipe. And to be able to make that noise for a month trying to get through that pipe with just a hacksaw, that's incredible.

FIELD: By February, Sweat says they gained access to the catwalks behind their cells. He told investigators, for months, he would explore the tunnels beneath the prison for hours on end between 11:30 at night until 5:30 in the morning, all made possible because he says the guards were asleep.

ARTHUR RODERICK, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE: The complacency on the part of the guards in that honor block is just unbelievable to me.

FIELD: Sweat says he slowly began chipping away at the prison's outer wall with a sledge hammer. But on May 4, they got their big break when the prison turned off the heating system giving the prisoners the chance to cut through a cooling steam pipe with the hacksaw.

"The Times" also reports that the convicted killers relished the possible legend of their plan, even joking about it, bragging that while it took "Shawshank Redemption's" Andy Dufresne 20 years to break it, it would take them only ten.


FIELD (on-camera): Well, apparently they did it in just five months. Just like their cinematic hero, they had plans to go to Mexico. We know that was thwarted when Joyce Mitchell didn't show up. The two men were ultimately found right near the Canadian border. Now, a source according to "The Times" who has been briefed on the investigation says authorities do believe that the information that David Sweat is giving about the breakout plans is credible.

COSTELLO: Alexandra Field, many thanks.

Still to come on the NEWSROOM, a Florida businessman declares his gun shop a Muslim free zone. I'll talk to him about why, coming up.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COSTELLO: Pope Francis and politicians from around the world are meeting this morning with hopes of ending modern slavery. Right now, the Vatican is hosting a conference to tackle two world crises: climate change and human trafficking. California governor Jerry Brown is there. He addressed the group earlier this morning about the climate. But human trafficking is not just an international problem; it's happening right here in the United States.

In a groundbreaking CNN special, Jada Pinkett Smith investigates sex trafficking in Atlanta, one of the nation's hubs, to uncover how children are sold for sex.


JADA PINKETT-SMITH, ACTRESS: When my daughter was 11, she came to me and she said, "Mommy, did you know that there were girls that were being sold for sex that are my age in this country?" And I was like, I think there's a mistake. That doesn't happen here.

After that, it was just -- I remember I was stuck to the computer for days, story after story after story, and I couldn't believe that I didn't know.

(voice-over): Dalia Racine knows. She's Dekalb County's assistant district attorney.

PINKETT-SMITH (on-camera): Would you say that there's a difference between prostitution and trafficking?

DALIA RACINE, DEKALB COUNTY ASST. D.A.: Trafficking is the manufacturing of children for the sex trade. They're just getting sold and passed on from one exploiter to the other, and a lot of times it's because they don't know another life after this.

PINKETT-SMITH (voice-over): Those exploiters can come from anywhere.

(on camera): Is there such a thing as trafficking occurring in airports?

[09:55:00] RACINE: It is the world's busiest airport, which kind of lends to us then being one of the hubs. It's because that man could get on that computer anonymously, say I'm coming in to go have sex with this child. He'll fly in on a 3:00 flight, meet the child at 6:00, and be gone on the 8:00. How are we to ever find them? How are we to ever know who they are?


COSTELLO: Discover how those on Atlanta's front lines are combating this modern day slavery. CNN Special Report, "CHILDREN FOR SALE: THE FIGHT TO END HUMAN TRAFFICKING," tonight, 9:00 p.m Eastern.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM after a break.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

COSTELLO: And good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me. Breaking news for you this morning. New details about the investigation into that deadly shooting rampage in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that killed four Marines and a sailor.

[10:00:03] Law enforcement officials now say that writings examined by the FBI and other evidence increasingly indicate that the gunman, Muhammad Abdulazeez, had political and terrorist motives.