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AT THIS HOUR

12 Dead in Mass Shooting at CA Bar Filled with College Students; Officer Hailed as Hero in CA Mass Shooting; Trump A.G. Pick Said Mueller Probe "Goes Too Far"; Trump Legal Team Going Over Special Counsel Questions as Sessions Fired; Trump Legal Team Surprised by Mueller Request for Records on Roger Stone; Mueller's Team Begins Writing Final Report. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired November 8, 2018 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

Another mass shooting, another day that Americans wake up to a nightmare. A masked gunman stormed into a bar near Los Angeles and opened fire. A horrific tragedy at a popular college bar in one of the safest communities in the country. And 12 people are now dead. The gunman is dead as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was shooting everything from the speakers to anything. So at least what we saw was just smoke and we saw shots taking off. We tried to get down as fast as we could and get out of there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard the first gunshot and looked over. Then I saw him with the gun. I kind of dropped on the floor. He kept shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were at the bar having fun, dancing. And then all of a sudden, you're like the bang, bang of the gunshots, and it started going crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Started hearing these big pops. Pop, pop, pop. There was probably three or four. I hit the ground. I look up, the security guard is dead. I don't want to say dead, but he was shot. He was down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden, you heard -- I knew it was bullets. I knew it was shots fired. A lot of the young people, they thought it was not real. And I just pulled him down and started yelling, get down, get down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Police have now identified the shooter as a 28-year-old local man and said that he was armed with a handgun.

It has been an agonizing night for so many. Friends, family, whose loved ones went to the bar, they knew they went to the bar, but have not been heard from since.

I want to play for you one father speaking to CNN a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JASON COFFMAN, SON MISSING AFTER SHOOTING: Cody is a very outgoing boy. Very outspoken. I'm afraid that Cody ran to the gunman instead of ran away from the gunman. That's the kind of boy that Cody was or is.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Do you have one of the tracking apps on your phone to see where his phone is?

COFFMAN: I do. I do. And it's there.

CAMEROTA: It's at the club.

COFFMAN: It's not moving. It's not moving. That's the problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Oh, my god. That's just horrible.

CNN's Nick Watt is outside the Borderline Bar and Grill for us. He's been there all night.

Nick, what are you hearing from police?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen. First, medical examiners have been going through the scene in there, a horrific scene, covered in blood, is how they describe it, and they have been trying to identify the 11 victims, the security guard and inside patrons and employees. They're not releasing those names yet.

Before we talk about the gunman, I want to talk about one other person, one other victim hailed as a hero. He is Sergeant Ron Helus, and he was one of the first law enforcement officers on the scene. He was here within minutes. They heard -- he was there with the California highway patrolman. They heard gunfire inside, and they knew that they had to go in to try and help these people. When they got into the club, they were met with a hail of bullets. Sergeant was hit. He was dragged out by the highway patrolman, but he died a few hours later of his injuries. He was 54. He had been on the force 29 years and he was actually sitting in his patrol car on the phone with his wife when the call came in, and he said to her, something like, "I love you. I'll see you later," and, of course, he now never will.

Talking about the gunman, he was in the U.S. Marine Corps. Was discharged in 2013.

And I'm going to let the Ventura County sheriff tell you a little bit more about who he was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEOFF DEAN, SHERIFF, VENTURA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: The suspect was identified as Ian David Long, I-A-N David Long. Birth date of March 27, 1990. He was 28 years old. We have had several contacts with Mr. Long over the years. Minor events such as a traffic collision. He was a victim of a battery at a local bar in 2015. In April of this year, deputies were called to his house for a subject disturbing. They went to the house, they talked to him. He was somewhat irate, acting a little irrationally. They called out our crisis intervention team, our mental health specialists, who met with him, talked to him, and cleared him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATT: Now, he was, according to witnesses inside the club, he was dressed in black. And we have been told by authorities, he was armed with a Glock .45 pistol with an extended magazine. Normally, in California, a magazine would have 10 rounds, plus one in the chamber. This was an extended magazine. We don't know how many more rounds it held. But authorities are obviously looking into that right now. They also say they don't know if he reloaded.

Finally, one positive note. There were six off-duty law enforcement officers in the club at the time, and the sheriff says that one woman came up to him and said, those officers stood in front of my daughter.

Kate, back to you.

[11:05:10] BOLDUAN: So many heroes. There should not have to be so many heroes in all of these places all the time.

Great to see you, Nick. Thank you so much. Much more to come from there.

Joining me to discuss, there's a lot of new information that's come out in the last couple hours -- CNN law enforcement analyst, former Secret Service agent, Jonathan Wackrow, is here. Art Roderick, our law enforcement analyst, a former assistant director at the U.S. Marshal Service. And CNN crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz, is here as well.

Jonathan, what have learned about this gunman, about Long, what does it tell you?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: So, first of all, hearing that he was a U.S. Marine, so what that tells me is that he was highly trained. He knew about how to utilize weapons. He understood tactics. And he had the combat mindset. So, Kate, what's starting to disturb me about these shooting incidents time and time again is how law enforcement tactics -- listen, we lost a hero today in law enforcement. He went in. He put, you know, himself, his safety aside, to help others. What I fear is that people are understanding the law enforcement tactics and they're waiting for law enforcement to respond. I would look at this individual where the moment that law enforcement came through the door, you know, they were almost ambushed, anticipating that law enforcement response. Again, someone with this type of training would anticipate that law enforcement response. Waiting for them, to, again, continue shooting. Traditionally, in active shooter situations, the assailant does not want to encounter law enforcement. They want to continue killing.

BOLDUAN: Right. Right.

WACKROW: But we're seeing a shift here. We saw it in Pittsburgh at the synagogue. We're seeing it here. I think it's really dangerous. And law enforcement has to be really careful now in responding to these active shooter situations.

BOLDUAN: That's the last thing you want law enforcement to have to do, to second guess their training is, and second guess --

WACKROW: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: -- what their innate response tells them they should be doing.

WACKROW: Again, these are dynamic situations but they're heroes every day. Sitting in your car, talking to your wife, putting your phone down and going into battle. We lost a hero.

BOLDUAN: It's just disgusting.

Art, the gun that the sheriff identified, a Glock 21, .45 caliber handgun. What does that mean?

ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It's a devastating round. The .45 was developed around 1911, 1910. Made for stopping power. It only travels around 900 feet per second, compared to like a 223 round, which travels at 3,000 feet per second. It's a very large caliber round and it's made to stop individuals. Now, when you look at the type of handgun he used, a Glock 21, generally, the Glock 21 with a standard magazine will hold 15 rounds. If he had a regular extended magazine, that would hold up to 26 rounds. So he really wouldn't have to reload. It sounds like in this particular scenario, he was confronted so quickly by Sergeant Helus, who I agree with Jonathan, is a hero. And training has showed us that when you can distract a shooter, as Sergeant Helus did, in this particular case, it saves lives. That's exactly what happened here.

BOLDUAN: Just horrific to think about how much more damage could have been done when you think about it.

RODERICK: Right.

BOLDUAN: Shimon, it seems that -- obviously, the investigation is in its infancy. The sheriff has been really candid about that, saying they don't know how many shots he fired. They don't know if he reloaded. Talk to me about the extended magazine and what they're looking at right now.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, so the extended magazine could perhaps be one of the things that certainly people will take issue with. We have seen extended magazines, high-capacity magazines used in other mass shootings. This could become an issue. When did he get it, how did he get it. That's going to go into when exactly the planning may have taken place here. Maybe it's something he's had for quite some time. Look, he's a legal gun owner, it appears. At least that's what police are saying. So the question is, when did he purchase this extended magazine. Did he purchase it for this purpose? We don't know yet. That's part of what I think investigators are doing now. We heard the police say they're waiting for search warrants to go into his car, to go through his home. They have talked to some of his family members. They do have some idea at least of where some of the issues may have been. Look, they had this contact with him in April where mental health officials were called. That's going to be important because the sheriff here alluded to perhaps maybe there was some PTSD. And maybe just at that time, when the mental health officials went there, they didn't see it. Certainly, it seems they knew he was a gun owner. It certainly seems they knew a lot about him, but it doesn't seem to be enough information out there yet or any indication they had rights to take away his gun or commit him. Looking back, they may say, hey, maybe there were signs here and we missed them.

[11:10:07] He lives with his mother. Authorities have talked to the mother. Lives about three miles from where the shooting took place. So his mother, neighbors say they would see him. He was kind of private, but they would always see his mother. That's going to be an interesting path for authorities here to take.

It's really now up to authorities to figure out, again, we keep saying this, why did this happen, what did we miss, you know.

And the other thing I want to point out is that, you know, when we were covering the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, and much was made about how certainly by the president, if law enforcement was on scene, if there was security on scene, they somehow could have prevented it. In this case, we see that here. There was law enforcement on scene, there was security on scene, and we still have so many dead here, so many people injured here. Because really the element of surprise, there's just no way to prepare. Law enforcement has no way to prepare for an element of surprise. We're lucky they were there, but certainly very, very tragic for folks out there.

BOLDUAN: I mean, six -- the sheriff said there were six off-duty officers that were at the bar at the time. Obviously, just there. Maybe enjoying themselves. Maybe working as security. And even though they couldn't protect everybody, one mom walked up to the sheriff and said one of them stood in front of her daughter and protected her. So there's something to that.

Again, so many heroes, and there shouldn't have to be over and over again.

Great to see you, Shimon, thank you, Art, Jonathan. Thanks, guys.

RODERICK: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, the president's sudden move to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replace him with a man who has openly criticized Special Counsel Bob Mueller. Who is Matt Whitaker and what does it mean for the Russian investigation. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is in the hospital after

falling and fracturing three ribs. We have an update on her condition. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:16:15] BOLDUAN: Jeff Sessions is out. A new acting attorney general is in. And the fate of the special counsel's Russia investigation is in question. Sessions was sacked one day after the midterm elections and after months and months and months of very public criticism from the president for recusing himself from the probe.

Trump appointed Sessions' chief of staff, Matt Whitaker, in his place as acting attorney general, something who has made no secret of his opinions about the Russia probe, sympathizing on TV and in opinion pieces about the president's complaints about the special counsel investigation.

On this show a year ago, Whitaker questioned the scope of it all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT WHITAKER, ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: It would be a fishing expedition if they start looking into essentially all of Trump's finances.

We just cannot have unfettered prosecutors turning over every rock that are unrelated to any nexus to the underlying issues, which is the Russian coordination in the 2016 election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: CNN's Laura Jarrett is at the Justice Department.

Laura, what does this mean for the Russia investigation?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN REPORTER: Kate, Whitaker has not shied away from criticizing Mueller's work. But the big question is whether he will actually take any meaningful steps to curtail it, as those video clips that you played suggested. He has fiercely defended the president. He has said at length that the president did not obstruct justice in the firing of FBI Director James Comey. And he's also suggested there's something of a red line if Mueller tried to go after the president's personal financial information or that of anyone in his family.

He also suggested sort of telegraphed a way that Mueller could -- his work could be curtailed by having his budget cut, making it essentially grind to a halt. And given that he can stay on the job as the acting attorney general for 210 days under the Vacancies Act, it's actually foreseeable he could be around until the Mueller probe is wrapped up.

We don't have definitive timing on when Mueller will wind everything down, but all signs point to it at least being in the process of winding down, as we have reported already, that it could be done as soon as the end of this year or beginning of next year. We have to wait and see how all of this plays out.

In the meantime, Democrats on Capitol Hill are sounding the alarm already, suggesting calls for emergency hearings about this appointment of Whitaker and telling the FBI and the Justice Department to preserve any and all documents related to both Sessions' firing and the Mueller probe -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Because investigations are coming.

Great to see you, Laura. Thank you. I really appreciate it.

JARRETT: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: CNN has also learned that President Trump was going over answers with his attorneys to questions from the special counsel at the same time he was preparing to remove Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

CNN's justice correspondent, Evan Perez, has this new reporting.

Evan, what else have you learned?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, one of the things that has been going on behind the scenes is the president has been meeting with his lawyers, going over the answers to the Mueller questions, the take-home test that we have talked about.

BOLDUAN: Right.

PEREZ: And we expect that once the president comes back from his trip to France in the next couple days -- he's going there for a World War I commemoration -- he's going to sit down with his lawyers and they should finish up the answers to Robert Mueller. Then they believe this means this is one of the final pieces for this investigation before Robert Mueller begins to present his report to, I guess, to Matt Whitaker, who is now in charge of it.

BOLDUAN: You're also hearing -- and that's a whole other thing we'll get to, Evan -- but you're also hearing that Trump's team was, I don't know, somewhat surprised to hear about these recent requests by Mueller on records pertaining to Roger Stone.

[11:19:57] PEREZ: Right. I think the surprise is that the request came so late. Look, this is an investigation going on for 18 months. And we know that Roger Stone has been a focus for months of this investigation. His associates are being hauled in to the grand jury. For a request to come in the past month to the president's team for records, call records, and visitor records to Trump Tower related to Roger Stone, I think struck people a little by surprise. There's a lot of conjecture and speculation as to whether Roger Stone will be indicted. Roger Stone says he thinks he is, but we don't know. The question is, why is this request coming now? What are the pieces of the puzzle that Robert Mueller and his team are trying to put together here? BOLDUAN: Evan, real quick, how close are you hearing that the Mueller

team is to preparing their final report?

PEREZ: Right. They have begun writing the report, we're told. People briefed on the matter tell us that they have begun writing it. Now the question is, what happens to it now that Matt Whitaker in charge of it.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

PEREZ: Exactly. It becomes a bigger question of whether there's any parts of this report that ever becomes public, whether it goes to Congress. And of course, Matt Whitaker is also going to be in charge of any big, important decisions that are made, subpoenas and so on, even charging decisions that come at the end of this -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: All important, important reporting coming out.

Evan, thanks so much.

PEREZ: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Joining me now in all of this is CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Renato Mariotti.

Renato, I'm going to focus on Whitaker and his impact, especially as Evan is reporting, they're starting to prepare the report. This could be coming to a close in terms of Mueller wanting to wrap up the investigation. Short of shutting down the Mueller probe, how could Whitaker impact the investigation here?

RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Whitaker has the authority to ask Mueller to provide an explanation and justification for investigative steps he takes. And then, in certain circumstances, if he thinks that Mueller is straying too far afield, going outside the bounds of Justice Department guidelines, he could overrule Mueller. So you could imagine if Whitaker really had in his mind that he wanted to impede Mueller, he could start asking him to justify everything he does. Because prosecutors exercise judgment and discretion, and they often make a whole bunch of investigative steps in rapid fire. So you could imagine Whitaker slowing down Mueller, questioning him, overruling him at times. He would be required to report any of that to Congress, any time in which he overrules Mueller, but you can imagine him slowing him down quite a bit. And he also could fire Mueller if he believes that Mueller has done something that would give him good cause to do so.

BOLDUAN: Now, with Sessions out, which means Rod Rosenstein no longer overseeing it, and Whitaker in his place, do you assume, without Whitaker having done anything yet, do you assume the Mueller investigation is in trouble right now?

MARIOTTI: I think Whitaker's words, both in writing, as you pointed out, an op-ed that he wrote for CNN, and some of the statements he made on the air, not only the one you played but he also said it in other points, that he didn't think there was any problem with the Trump Tower meeting. That he would have taken that meeting himself. He thought anyone would have taken it. Some of the things he said suggested to me that he wasn't approaching this as somebody who is a prosecutor with an open mind. It seemed to me like he was a partisan, and he has very strong opinions about the Mueller investigation. I would be very concerned if I was on that team. If I was one of the prosecutors, I would be worried about whether or not this man would be curtailing us in some way.

BOLDUAN: And the working assumption, Renato, is that the investigation is somewhat nearing its end. How could Mueller get around any undue influence on his investigation at this point? Some folks are saying he probably was thinking this could be -- this could be coming, at some point. Are there sealed indictments out there? What would that mean?

MARIOTTI: Well, if there were sealed indictments, those decisions had already been made. Presumably, he already asked Rod Rosenstein for permission and already obtained those indictments. One way he could have circumvented this, I mean, this is certainly a move many had speculated would happen, not necessarily Whitaker, but Sessions being fired, and a potential change. You could imagine that Mueller could have gotten permission in advance from Rosenstein for a number of steps that he would not necessarily need to go back to Whitaker for. That's one thing he could do.

I also would imagine that Mueller is going to be very careful and thoughtful about his approach going forward. He's going to justify every step he makes. I think really the effect here may be things that we never see because Mueller may have to be more cautious going forward because he knows that if he is more aggressive or takes an action that could be questioned, Whitaker will be there to question it.

[11:25:12] BOLDUAN: Renato, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

MARIOTTI: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us still, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the hospital right now with fractured ribs after suffering a fall. An update on her condition. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:30:06] BOLDUAN: We're following breaking news out of the Supreme Court.