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Gunman Kills 12 People In CA Bar Massacre, 21 Others Injured; Sources: Trump Considering Labor Secretary Acosta for A.G. Job; Nadler Tells Dems: Firing Of Sessions Is A "Crisis Moment". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired November 8, 2018 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room." "ERIN BURNETT OUT FRONT" starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Out front next breaking news. Twelve people killed in a mass shooting at a music bar filled with college students. Tonight, new video from inside that bar as the gunman opens fire.

Plus, new audio of the acting Attorney General saying Russian interference in the election was, quote, unquote, proven false. Really? Congressman Jerry Nadler, who's likely the next chair of the House Judiciary Committee, he will respond. He's my guest.

And breaking news, we are standing by for new numbers in a key Senate race that is still too close to call. Let's go out front.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. Out front tonight, heartbreak in Thousand Oaks. The close knit California community is now the site of yet another deadly mass shooting in this country.

Twelve people killed. At least 21 others injured after a gunman stormed into the Borderline Bar and Grill late last night and there's new video tonight from inside that bar as the gunman is opening fire. I want to warn you that what you're about to see and hear may be disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) coming out this door


BOLDUAN: The screams, the shots shattering the community. Now, police, victims and their families, they're left just, again, looking for answers, looking for a motive, looking to make sense of the senseless. Why would a gunman who witnesses say was dressed in a black trench coat and police say was armed with a .45 caliber Glock handgun, why would he enter a packed bar and start shooting people?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were just dancing on the floor. We heard a couple shots. I told, you know, her to get down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our friends got the bar stools and they started slamming them against the windows so we could get out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They got up and started running towards the back door and said, get up, he's coming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ambulances started to arrive and shortly after that, we saw four guys carrying another guy who was bleeding and they looked pretty exhausted because they had carried him all the way out.


BOLDUAN: Among those killed, a Ventura County Sheriff's Sergeant, Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the department. Officers, firefighters, and many others as you see right here, lining the streets to show their respect today as his body was moved to the medical examiner's office.

Meanwhile, police say the gunman, who is also dead, is Ian David Long, and he was no stranger to law enforcement. They had been called to his home over a domestic disturbance earlier this year.

Scott McLean is out front in Thousand Oaks for us tonight. Scott, we're also learning tonight that the gunman, he was also no stranger to that bar.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he was a regular patron there, Kate, and he would have known the interior layout of that building reasonably well. The FBI says that it has no evidence so far that he had any associates or that he was working with anyone. They also say that there's no evidence of any further threat, but they have no idea at this point what exactly was going through his mind at the time or before he carried this out. Of course, they continue to search his house, his car, and the crime scene. They are looking for any clues that might help answer the question that everyone is asking, why?


MCLEAN (voice-over): Tonight, authorities are learning more about the shooter at the Borderline Bar, identified as 28-year-old Ian David Long. Long, a United States Marine Corps vet served as a machine gunner and was honorably discharged in 2013. A neighbor says Long was intensely private and not sociable and his mother worried about what he might do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, she lived in fear.

MCLEAN (voice-over): She told you that?


MCLEAN (voice-over): What did she tell you, exactly?

BERGE: I don't want to go into it. She just worried. She was worried about her son.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got multiple people down. We need a lot of ambulances and fire.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Police say long walked into the bar just after 11:00 p.m., dressed in all black, armed with a .45 caliber Glock 21 and an illegal extended magazine. Students ran for the exits. Others ducked for cover as he started shooting.

Ventura County sheriff's deputies arrived within minutes. Sergeant Ron Helus was the first to go inside, exchanging gunfire with the suspect. He was shot multiple times.

[19:05:00] GEOFF DEAN, VENTURA COUNTY SHERIFF: 54-year-old, 29-year veteran on the sheriff's office, he's married with a grown son, and as I've said several times, he went in there to save people and made the ultimate sacrifice.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Helus and 11 others were killed and many more wounded. Police say Long, who also died at the scene, shot himself.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did it look like him?

BERGE: Like hell.

JASON COFFMAN, 22 YEAR OLD SON CODY DIED IN SHOOTING: I am very emotional right now.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Jason Coffman's 22-year-old son Cody was at the bar at the time of the shooting. Jason says he tracked Cody's phone afterwards and waited agonizingly for word on his son's whereabouts.

COFFMAN: I talked to him last night before he headed out the door. First thing I said was, please don't drink and drive. Last thing I said was, son, I love you. That was the last thing I said.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Cody Coffman was one of the 12 victims in the shooting.

COFFMAN: My first born son, only he and I know how much I loved -- how much I miss him. Oh, god, this is so hard. Oh, son, I love you so much.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Some of those inside the bar when the shots rang out have survived a mass shooting before.

NICHOLAS CHAMPION, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I was in the Las Vegas Route 91 mass shooting, as well as probably 50 or 60 others who were in the building at the same time as me tonight. It's a big thing for us, you know, we all are a big family, and unfortunately, this family got hit twice.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MCLEAN: And a couple of the suspect's friends say that his personality seemed to change after a trip to Europe in 2016. He became distant. He stopped returning calls. Still, those friends, they never imagined that he was capable of anything like this.

And Kate, we are also learning the names of some of the victims, the latest, Noel Sparks, a young woman who was killed alongside Alaina Housley, who was a Pepperdine University student and Justin Meek, who was just 23 years old and had just recently graduated from college. Kate.

BOLDUAN: They're so young. Thank you so much, Scott. That father's pain is just so real and raw. Really appreciate it, Scott.

Joining me right now on the phone, someone who was there. Sunny Leon, she's a student herself at Moorpark College. She was at the Borderline Bar and Grill when this tragedy struck last night. Sunny, can you hear me?

Sunny, it's Kate. Can you hear me? All right. We're going to try to reconnect with Sunny. Just give us one second.

In the meantime, I want to bring in right now Dr. Walid Arnaout, he's a trauma surgeon with the Los Robles Regional Medical Center. Doctor, thank you so much for joining me. I really appreciate it.


BOLDUAN: You got the call late last night that you were needed -- you needed to head into work, you needed to head into the E.R. When did you realize what you all were really dealing with?

ARNAOUT: Well, the first call came in at about 11:30 last night, and the information was rather limited. We were notified about a mass casualty incident with an active shooter in the community, and that, by itself, triggers activation of the trauma service, and I was the trauma surgeon on call last night. Within 15 minutes, the second call came in with, again, little information except that we were having -- victims were on the way. And the first victim arrived shortly before midnight and the second victim right around midnight.

BOLDUAN: You received 11 victims, 11 patients. What kind of conditions were they in when they arrived?

ARNAOUT: Well, 11 patients arrived. The trauma service only took care of two patients who, by definition, they met the Ventura County trauma criteria. The other patients were not as critical and they were attended to by the emergency department staff and physicians.

BOLDUAN: Thank God for that. So, two of the patients -- one of those -- yes, one of the patients that you received was Sergeant Ron Helus. He was brought to your hospital. I can only imagine how hard it is to lose any patient in your care, but especially one who was injured while trying to save the lives of others. ARNAOUT: It's extremely hard. There's never an easy time to lose a -- any patient. It is even harder when you have a public servant and an officer who basically died or got shot in the line of duty. It makes it a lot harder to swallow. And the officer came in with critical injuries. That myself and the rest of the trauma team attended to, to the best of our abilities.

[19:10:13] BOLDUAN: Wow. Thank you for what you do, day in and day out, and thank you to your and your entire team, what you did, the service you provided the community last night at Los Robles Regional Medical Center. Doctor, thank you so much.

I want to turn back -- and I think we've been able to reconnect with Sunny Leon, who was -- who we were trying to reconnect with. She was there in the bar last night. Sunny, can you hear me?

SUNNY LEON, SHOOTING EYEWITNESS (through phone): Yes, I can hear you. I'm here.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. How are you doing tonight?

LEON: It's been an emotional roller coaster. I've been -- I've gone from frustrated to angry to crying, just in a matter of like literally 10 minutes. Every 10 minutes, I'm crying and getting frustrated and angry again.

And it was -- This day has not been easy. It has not been easy. It's been very difficult. I've been getting a lot of calls. I haven't slept at all. It's been very traumatizing, especially for it happening here in Thousand Oaks. Thousand Oaks is like the safest city.

BOLDUAN: I can only imagine this is probably one of the -- one of if not the worst day of your life, what you've experienced. What did you -- we're getting some video from inside, we've just starting to get a view from inside, Sunny, but you were there. What did you see inside there? What happened?

LEON: I was dancing. I tend to dance at the very back of the dance floor, which is covered by, like, a wall. So I didn't really get to see, you know, him walking in. Or, like, something like fireworks, almost. I can't tell you gunshots because initially, I wasn't like, they're gunshots. I thought they were fireworks.

And I thought it was a part of the song and it sounded really weird. It wasn't until a girl started screaming that I realized, OK, this is actually more serious than I thought. So I just remember I dropped to the ground and crawled over to the water area, which is right next to the bar, and just held my back against the bar area in the hopes that, you know, I wouldn't get shot quick from my back. I want to see everything that was going on.

I remember when I was in -- on the ground, seeing a girl getting trampled, like because I was against the wall, I was OK, but she was getting trampled, and I could tell in her eyes that she wanted me to help her and I couldn't move. And I'm still in shock. I still feel sad at the fact that I couldn't help her because I was completely frozen. So, I sat there and saw people throwing --

BOLDUAN: We might have lost Sunny. Sunny, are you still there? Unfortunately, I think we've -- the connection's been lost. Sunny Leon, thank you so much, Sunny. I really appreciate it.

Out front for us next, we have some breaking news coming in. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, he is the latest name being floated for attorney general. We have new details coming in. We'll bring that to you in one second.

Plus, new audio of the acting Attorney General, Matt Whitaker, saying the Russians didn't interfere in the U.S. election. And new numbers just coming in for the Arizona Senate race that is still too close to call.


[19:16:54] BOLDUAN: Breaking news, President Trump is considering current Labor Secretary Alex Acosta to be his next attorney general. That is according to a top Republican Senate aide and a source familiar with the process. CNN is also confirming that Trump is considering Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The names emerging just one day after Trump fired Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

Laura Jarrett is out front at the Justice Department. Laura, what else do we know about who Trump may be looking at right now?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Kate, they're obviously all former prosecutors by training, familiar names, but there are some differences between them. Starting with Acosta. According to our colleague, Jim Acosta, he could prove someone to be who's not a headache for this administration. He has strong ties to the conservative federalist society, strong ties to the White House, he's obviously already been in Senate confirmed and while he'd have to go through it again, it could prove a smoother path. He's a known quantity, a former federal prosecutor out of Florida.

Moving on to Chris Christie, however, that one could be a little bit trickier. Obviously he briefly led the President's transition team before Pence took over. He's someone who obviously is well known, former governor there in New Jersey, but he also has had an issue with Jared Kushner as we reported. Obviously, there, he met with the President today on prison reform at the White House. And then also Pam Bondi, the first female attorney general down in Florida, she is somebody who's been a long-time ally of the President, someone he speaks very kindly of, but the confirmable issues there might be significant.

We remember the issue there is that she took a donation, her Super PAC took a donation, I should say, from the Trump Foundation while she was investigating or called to investigate Trump University and while a Florida ethics panel cleared her of any wrong doing, it could still prove to be an issue for Senate confirmation down the line, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Also, tonight, Laura, sources telling CNN that there are no signs, at least right now, that acting A.G. Matt Whitaker has any plans to recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller probe, despite their growing Democratic calls, at least, that he do so. Do you know if Whitaker has cleared this with ethics officials at DOJ or is he meeting with them or anything about that?

JARRETT: So, his critics obviously point to his writings, all the things that he said on CNN before he actually was Sessions' chief of staff. But it's important to point out, you know, he has to raise his hand to actually get an ethics review. It doesn't just happen automatically. We don't have any information that it's actually happened in this case, and even if it did, he doesn't have to follow it. He can say, thanks, but no thanks, and so there's no guarantee that he would actually follow any advice, assuming, that is, that they told him that he should recuse, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Fascinating. Democrats -- thank you so much, Laura. I appreciate it.

Democrats are holding a conference call with current and new members. The focus of it? Trump firing Jeff Sessions and what it means for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

Out front with me now, the man who led most of that call, Democratic Congressman from New York, Jerry Nadler. He slated to become the next chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Congressman, thanks for coming in.


BOLDUAN: You just got off a call with some of the caucus about Sessions' firing and Whitaker's appointment. You told members that this is a crisis moment. Why?

NADLER: Well, this is a constitutionally perilous moment for the country and for the President. This action fits a clear pattern of interference by the President with the Mueller investigation, and remember the Mueller investigation is an investigation into the actions by a foreign government to subvert our election with the possible collusion and conspiracy of the Trump campaign. That's what the investigation is designed to find out about. And so the President is a subject, in effect, of that investigation, and he's trying to subvert it and to sabotage it.

Now, the appointment -- now, the President may think he's above the law, but he's going to learn very swiftly that he will be held accountable. We have a President, not a monarch.

BOLDUAN: What about Whitaker? You oppose the appointment of Whitaker taking over for Sessions. Do you think that it's not legal, his appointment, or you just don't think he is fit for the position?

NADLER: I think both of those are true. He is not fit, because he's expressed very negative opinions of the investigation. He's prejudged. He said there was no crime. There was no interference by the Russians in the election, which we know is ridiculous. All our intelligence agencies say the contrary. So, he's prejudged the issue, which you can not do if you're supervising a criminal and counterintelligence investigation.

He's also illegal, because he can not be attorney general until he is confirmed by the Senate. He can not act as attorney general until he is confirmed by the Senate because the Constitution requires that. Now, if he had been confirmed for a different cabinet office or a different office, then under the vacancy act, he might be able to do that. But right now, he's a nullity as acting attorney general.

BOLDUAN: You want -- I've seen you put a statement that you want Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the investigation.

NADLER: Certainly.

BOLDUAN: All of the -- I mean, all the information that we've received from sources that he is not likely to do that. And comments -- not common sense, but you would assume that the attorney general, acting attorney general, after Jeff Sessions would not recuse -- considering that was the entire issue.

NADLER: That is correct. We know -- I mean, one of the points of evidence -- I said that this was part of the pattern of evidence of interference by the President in the Mueller investigation.

BOLDUAN: Does that mean obstruction? What does pattern --

NADLER: Yes, I think that's certainly evidence of obstruction of justice. And we know -- and the reason that it is clear that that is the purpose --

BOLDUAN: But Congressman, this is important. You're at a place where you think that the President has obstructed justice. You were now --

NADLER: No, I didn't say that. I said that this is evidence of obstruction of justice.

BOLDUAN: What's the difference?

NADLER: Well, evidence may not be conclusive.

BOLDUAN: OK. Keep going with your point.

NADLER: I mean, this is evidence of obstruction of justice, which, if you were making a case, would have to be part of a larger case. But the point is, the President's only criticism of Attorney General Sessions for the last year and a half has been that he refused to recuse himself, which he properly did. And so obviously he wouldn't be appointing someone to be in charge of the investigation and he wouldn't be appointing a new attorney general who was going to do the same thing and lead to the same frustration by the President.

This is an attempt for the President to place himself above the law and to neuter the investigation of his own role and the role of his campaign in subverting an election with the aid of a foreign power, and he will not be permitted not to be accountable. Now, the Republicans in Congress have been complicit, either silent or complicit, in this obstruction of the law. We will not be. The new Congress will not be there.

BOLDUAN: And I think -- and that is, I think, the most important question this evening, which is, you cannot force Whitaker to recuse. You can't force the President to remove him or announce a new attorney general. What can you do? What are you going to do?

NADLER: We can do several things. We have already -- I and the chairman of other relevant committees sent letters to a lot of people in the Justice Department urging -- demanding preservation of all relevant documents. Destruction of those -- and serving notice that destruction of those documents would be a crime, which they would -- which it would be after that notice. We can urge and we will that the bill that I introduced that would protect the independence of Special Counsel that would say that he could only be dismissed for cause, that he could -- that any refusal of his authority could only be for cause, that's been reported out of the Judiciary Committee and the Senate on a bipartisan basis, that that be passed and the special -- and the lame duck session starting next week. We could insist that that be a condition of passage of the remaining legislation to fund the government, which has to be done by December 7th.

[19:25:05] BOLDUAN: So you could -- you're going to hold a hostage?

NADLER: I wouldn't call it holding hostage but I think the future of constitutional government is at stake here and we can -- we must go a long way to make sure that the President is a president, not a king.

BOLDUAN: I'll take that as a threat. Congressman, thank you for coming in. I appreciate your time.

NADLER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Out front for us next, sources tell CNN Robert Mueller's team has started writing its final report. Is the investigation about to come to an end?

Plus, we have breaking news. We are standing by for a key race alert, new numbers just coming in for the too close to call Arizona Senate race. Be right back.


BOLDUAN: Tonight, sources tell CNN Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has started writing its final report. It comes as we've learned President Trump has begun working with his attorneys to review his answers to the Special Counsel's written questions. All of this as the Special Counsel's future is in question following the firing of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.

Out front now, CNN's Senior Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez, former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, and James Trusty, a former Justice Department Official and long-time friend of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Gentlemen, it's great to see you. Thanks for coming in. Evan, it looks like Mueller's investigation is in its final stages, but what more are you learning about this?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. I think it is clear, there's all kinds of signs that the Mueller investigation is wrapping up. And as we get to that point, you know, the President has been meeting with his lawyers, basically going over these written questions that the Mueller team has presented to them. What we -- you know, we refer to as a take-home test and the President is going over the answers. So when he comes back from his trip to Europe over the weekend, we expect he's going to meet with the lawyers and they're going to finalize the answers. They're going to send it back to Robert Mueller, and in their view, this means that this is everything that Robert Mueller has asked for, and so you know, in their view, this should wrap up the investigation.

So, look, we don't know how much more Mueller has left to do. There's still some very big, important questions, including the collusion question, which we know has been the focus of the investigation and what happens to roger stone. Those are the big unanswered questions in this investigation that have yet to be answered at this point.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: And, Evan, you're also hearing that the White House is beefing up its legal team. Why is that?

PEREZ: Well, yes. So, they're looking to hire more than a couple dozen lawyers simply because they expect that, as you heard from Jerrold Nadler, they're expecting there's going to be a barrage of subpoenas and investigations. And, look, I think that they expect there's going to be a big fight to come.

Whatever Robert Mueller produces, this report that Robert Mueller has been working on, they believe that there's going to be a legal question as to whether or not this report can be shared with Congress because they are going to reserve the Article 2 question, the question of whether or not there's executive privilege that has to be contested. So before any of this report gets to see the light of day, for anyone, they believe that they're going to get a chance to litigate all of this, and that that's the reason why they're lawyering up. They're going to bring in, you know, a couple dozen lawyers who are going to be supporting Pat Cipollone, who is going to be the new White House counsel in a couple of weeks, and they're looking for a protracted fight.

BOLDUAN: John, you've suggested that Mueller might have been preparing for a scenario like this, not Jerry Nadler, but I'm talking about what we're seeing now with Sessions, Whitaker, and how this is all looking like it could be going. What does that mean, though, that he could be preparing -- he would have been preparing for this? Is that sealed indictments would come in?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, that's a possibility. There's certainly been talk of removal of the special counsel for months and months and months, and Mueller is, I think, shrewd enough and wise enough that if he really felt that was a problem, to, one, get clearance from Rosenstein for anything he might need to prosecute, so that can't be rolled back easily, and he may well have sealed indictments that he's already filed and he would just be a matter of unsealing those at the appropriate time.

So I think he's a very savvy player. He knows Washington. He's been looking at this president closely for a long time now. And I don't think he's surprised by any of what's going on.

BOLDUAN: James, what's your take on this whole thing? I mean, it appears that Whitaker could remain as acting attorney general for something like 210 days. That's like 7 months. I mean, do you think that it's a real possibility that Mueller would wrap this whole thing up while Whitaker's still in charge?

JAMES TRUSTY, FORMER CHIEF OF THE ORGANIZED CRIME SECTION, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: Yes, I do think there's a chance it's going to be wrapped up. Obviously, it's good form to stay away from dropping any bombs on this investigation around the time of the midterm. It's been up for a year and a half, pushing two years, that's not an outrageous amount of time for a sensitive public corruption case.

What I will take issue with is, I don't think it's a basis for sealing indictments to say I'm worried, I need an escape pod. So I really doubt that Mueller -- I think he's more ethical than he is savvy. I think he's probably finishing up this investigation. I think the signs of that are in the little things, like a willingness to have Flynn get sentenced in November, which was something that they announced through a court pleading not too long ago.

That tells me it's getting toward an end game and the questions of the president are another component of that. That seems like pretty much a win for the White House to only have a take home test, as Evan called it. So, again, not foolproof. There's some Ouija board going on here to some degree but I think there's a good chance that the end of the year is the end of the probe.

BOLDUAN: Never a smart thing to play, Evan, Ouija board. Keep going.

PEREZ: Right, no, no. I just wanted to say, real quick, I think what you guys are talking about is exactly a thing that has been discussed. We know for a fact, from our own reporting, that there's been a discussion with -- certainly with Rod Rosenstein, with the senior people at the FBI about how to preserve this investigation should the terrible thing happen, right, which is firing Mueller and trying to shut down this investigation.

There is a way for them to preserve this evidence, and that includes preserving it at the FBI, and also one of the things that Mueller has done is farming out parts of this investigation to the U.S. attorney's office. We've already seen it with the Cohen case in the Southern District of New York. So, I think that there is other ways for this investigation to be preserved and protected without doing the sealed indictment.

BOLDUAN: Interesting. John, two big-name attorneys, Neal Katyal, who was solicitor general under President Obama, and George Conway, who is a well-known attorney but also well-known because he's Kellyanne Conway's husband. They wrote an opinion piece today titled, "Trump's appointment of the acting attorney general is unconstitutional". And in it, they write this: constitutionally, Matthew Whitaker is a nobody. His job as Mr. Sessions' chief of staff did not require Senate confirmation. For the president to install Mr. Whitaker as our chief law enforcement officer is to betray the entire structure of our charter document.

Unconstitutional. Do you agree with that?

DEAN: Well, it's an interesting argument and it's not an argument easily dismissed. It's an interpretation of the Vacancies Act and whether or not the attorney general was fired or resigned, so there are lots of issues of nuance in both the fact and the law here, and I think this is one case. I wouldn't want to have to rule on it with a little bit of information we have, but I -- it is something that could be raised.

BOLDUAN: James, can I ask you, you've known Rod Rosenstein for something like 20 years. What does he do now that he's been stripped of this duty overseeing the Russia investigation? Jumped over by the chief of staff, kind of taking it out of the order that it normally would be for acting attorney general. What does he do?

TRUSTY: Well, I mean, remember, it's not a royal family, so the prince doesn't automatically become the king, but I do think that there's still some interesting days ahead of us in terms of whether Rod is going to be completely excluded from that supervision. I think cooler heads might look back and realize that consistent with the article you just mentioned, there's kind of a corollary issue, which is, if the special counsel loses his status as what's called an inferior officer, because he's, frankly, not being supervised by a Senate confirmed individual anymore, then the whole probe is in jeopardy.

There's going to be motions to quash subpoenas, motions to dismiss that really challenge whether the Mueller investigation essentially lost its bearings, lost its jurisdiction, because nobody was supervising it with Senate confirmation status. So, there's a little be careful what you ask for here in terms of knocking Rosenstein out of the question -- out of the supervisory chain. It could really create some interesting legal issues, at least a little bit down the road.

PEREZ: That's a very -- that's a huge, huge issue right there that was just raised.

BOLDUAN: If it wasn't a mess before, hello, everyone, welcome to it. I really appreciate it.

James, great to see you. John, Evan, thanks, guys.

PEREZ: Sure.

TRUSTY: See you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, we're standing by for a key race alert for a crucial Senate race that is still too close to call, what it could mean for the balance of power.

Plus, even for President Trump, the last 36 hours or so has really seemed to be off the rails. What's going on?


BOLDUAN: A key race alert. New numbers just in to CNN for the still too close to call Arizona Senate race, between Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Martha McSally.

Democrats holding out hope tonight that they can turn that seat blue. Let's see where things are, though.

CNN's senior political analyst Mark Preston has been tracking this.

Mark, what do the new numbers mean?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Kate, it just literally in the past few minutes, we've seen new numbers come in, specifically in Maricopa County in the Phoenix area. Look at what we see now, an incredible lead right now. We don't want to do that but we have right now Kyrsten Sinema is leading right now based upon the number that has -- votes that were dropped.

Now, it's 130,000 votes came out of here, out of the Phoenix area, which was a Democratic stronghold for her and that's why she has a very brief lead but if you see this, only 81 percent is reporting. Both campaigns are saying now that they expect about another half a million votes to be counted, so basically what does that say right here? This lead is going to change many times. We will not know the winner of this race certainly in the next couple days.

But it's not just that race that we're talking about when it comes to the Senate. Look at this down in Florida. It is a battle right now between Rick Scott, the governor, who was trying to take on the incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. They are separated now by 0.2 percentage points.

What's interesting about this now is on Saturday, we will see the official count dropped from the counties with the secretary of state and we'll see what that number is. What's happening down in Florida is that there is a lot of confusion and then there's questions, specifically when you get down to Broward County, when you get down in here, there is questions about how many votes are still left in Broward County. We say it's 100 percent right there, but they seem to be finding votes down there.

So, we will find out what's going on down there and also as we're talking just about in Florida, just to stay here right now, is that we have got a race for governor right now as well that is extremely close, almost within the margin of error for a recount. We'll see what happens as well on Saturday -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Words people never need to hear after an election. They just keep finding votes.

PRESTON: Keep finding votes.

BOLDUAN: I mean, seriously, Mark. But there's also breaking news out of the House. What do you have?

PRESTON: There is. You know, in the House of Representatives, we see a pickup right now from Republicans. Good news for Republicans, given the fact that they have had a very difficult time so far. It was up in Minnesota -- excuse me, that was Des Moines. Up here in Minnesota, they have picked up a seat.

Jim Hagedorn has won the first congressional district. This was an open seat. The Democrat who had that seat went on to win the governorship, so Republicans have picked up a seat there, but overall, look at this, Democrats still having an unbelievable night so far when you consider that Tuesday night is continuing to go on.

They are right now well within the majority, ten House seats still outstanding -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: It ain't over yet. Thanks, Mark. Really appreciate it. Thanks, man.

OUTFRONT for us next, Democrats vowing to investigate President Trump once they are in power in the house as you're seeing Mark lay out there. But are they at risk of overreaching?

Plus, he died a hero. The California sheriff sergeant who made the ultimate sacrifice, credited with saving lives by putting his own on the line during the California shooting.


[19:47:21] BOLDUAN: Tonight, there is a growing sense of concern inside the White House over the negative reaction to Matt Whitaker being named acting attorney general. That is new reporting coming from our Kaitlan Collins.

Several senior officials have said they were surprised by the criticism that has been leveled. Apparently, it was not widely known among the White House staff that he commented repeatedly on the special counsel's investigation in opinion pieces and on television and on radio as we're now learning.

OUTFRONT with me now, Amy Kremer. She's cofounder and co-chair of Women for Trump. And Nina Turner, former Democratic Ohio state senator, and CNN political commentator.

Thank you both so much for being here.

I'm seeing this from Kaitlan Collins tonight, Amy, and I'm wondering, it does seem, if they're concerned about the reaction to Whitaker, I kind of wonder why and how are they surprised? There's no secret. It takes one Google search to see all the things he's said on CNN, written on CNN, and other places.

It seems almost entirely self-inflicted. What's your reaction to this?

AMY KREMER, CO-FOUNDER & CO-CHAIR, WOMEN FOR TRUMP: Well, Kate, I mean, I would say that certainly they knew. I mean --

BOLDUAN: Or should have known.

KREMER: Of course. And I have to wonder if this is not something coming from the left because we all have seen the coverage today, he needs to recuse himself. It's not going to happen. It's not going to happen.

I -- you cannot convince me that the president's team did not know what they were getting themselves into, that they just did this without any research or anything. They knew exactly what they were getting themselves into and I don't think it's going to happen. I don't think he's going to recuse himself and I think that is the purpose of having, you know, these stories out there that they're shocked.

BOLDUAN: I hear you, though, and that's why I'm -- I think everyone is a little bit surprised, but I mean, Kaitlan Collins, she's not only a good friend, she's a great reporter, and she has several senior officials saying that there is a growing sense of concern about this reaction.

KREMER: Why would -- I mean, the thing is, the president has said he's not going to fire Mueller. And I agree. Let Mueller finish his investigation.

I mean, because it's going to hang over his head forever if he doesn't. Let him finish it. There's no collusion there. It's going to come out that there's no collusion. All the indictments that have happened so far and people that have been sent to jail, it's not over Russian collusion. It's over other stuff.

BOLDUAN: Interference in the election.

KREMER: Let him finish his investigation and so everybody will be done with it and then move on. Just because Matt Whitaker's coming in and he's commented on this, doesn't mean he's going to go and interfere with Mueller. And it's been reported that Mueller's wrapping up his investigation so let him finish it and move forward and I mean, that's really what it comes down to.

[19:50:01] BOLDUAN: Nina, what do you make of it?

NINA TURNER (D), FORMER OHIO STATE SENATOR: I mean, Whitaker certainly should have recused himself. I'm a little surprise. I think I heard Amy say this is something coming from the left.

No, it's coming from the left. It's coming from fact that the president has placed Mr. Whitaker there, the former chief of staff of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is not fit to be in that position. I don't know why -- I mean, at times the president -- not at times, most of the time, the president feels as though he is above the law -- KREMER: That's not true.

TURNER: -- and this is just another example of that happening right now. But he definitely should. Whitaker should just come out in the open and squash all of this right now by saying that he will recuse himself from dealing with anything that has to do with the Mueller investigation.

I will agree with Amy in that let the investigation go on and let the chips fall where they may. It is my sincere hope that the president is not trying to stack the deck to stop that investigation. It would not be good for him and it would not be good for our country.

KREMER: Let me just say, if he was going to stop this investigation, he could have done it long ago. Why, when we know that he's getting ready to wrap it up, why all the sudden would the president go do it now? Why not have stopped it long ago?


BOLDUAN: Well, I think the question with Matt Whitaker being put in place --

KREMER: We don't have any information that Whitaker is even doing anything to insert himself into it.

BOLDUAN: No, no. People are just looking at his past statements. And his past statements could not be more clear about his opinions about --


KREMER: Right. But that doesn't mean he's inserting himself into it. He's just now the acting AG. That doesn't mean he's going to go and insert himself into this investigation.

BOLDUAN: We have reporting from people who are close to him who say that he's not going to be okay with any subpoenas of the president. That's going to happen (ph).

TURNER: And the president didn't put him there for nothing. I mean, let's be honest here. Let's not play games with this. The president picked him on purpose for a specific purpose, and that is to muddy the water. So, Whitaker can clear it up right now tonight. He can do that right now and say that he will recuse himself when it comes to the Mueller investigation.

BOLDUAN: More and more unlikely that is going to happen.

Nina, let me ask you, this is kind of a culmination of a wild 36 hours. I mean, even for somebody who is notoriously and I think he would say happily unpredictable, the last 36 hours has been a rollercoaster for the president. Does he seem rattled when you see how everything played out?

TURNER: It's just the way he likes it. But I'll tell you, that press conference was beyond Trump even for, you know, how the president acted on a regular basis. I mean, he was pacing back and forth, he was shouting at reporters, telling them to sit down, be quiet, that kind of thing.

I really do believe that the president showed right then and there -- well, let me just put it that way. That press conference at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time showed that 2020 was on. That's really what that press conference was about with the president. But he did seem even more above and beyond himself than usual yesterday.

BOLDUAN: Amy, when it comes to -- just take the Jeff Sessions part of it. Did it surprise you that he fired Jeff Sessions the morning after the midterms? That seems to add to this.

KREMER: Well, but we knew he was going to fire him. You had to be living under a rock to think that Jeff Sessions was going to stay. He has said after the midterms.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

KREMER: Was I surprised it happened the morning after? Yes. But what I will say is that president Trump is a man of action. When he decides he's going oh do something, he doesn't hem haw around about it and he's not like other politicians --


BOLDUAN: -- thought about Jeff Sessions for months.

KREMER: When he makes a decision, he moves forward with it. He said he was going to wait till after the election. The morning after, he's gone.

Am I surprised? Not really. I mean, it is what it is. And I -- I mean, you know, that's President Trump. He's a man of action. Let's move forward with it and get it done.

BOLDUAN: And let's see the ripple effects afterward.

Amy, thank you so much. Nina, thank you. I really appreciate it.

KREMER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, we pay tribute to a hero, shot and killed during the California mass shooting. We'll be right back.


[19:56:13] BOLDUAN: Tonight, we pay tribute to a hero, Sergeant Ron Helus, a husband, a father, a cop's cop who went into the Borderline Bar and Grill as everyone else, all of those young people were running for their lives away from a hail of gunfire. He's now among the 12 killed inside that bar.

Later, hundreds of people lined the streets today to honor him in a procession. Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT.


DISPATCH: One person advising there's a subject inside a shooting.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just minutes after the first calls to 911 were made and as gunfire was still ringing out at the Borderline Bar, Ventura Sheriff Sergeant Ron Helus and another highway patrol officer ran toward certain danger.

SERGEANT RON HELUS: I'm going in the main entrance on the left with two CHP.

CARROLL: Sergeant Helus radioed to dispatch that he was entering the bar.

HELUS: We've got multiple people down. We need a lot of ambulance.

CARROLL: Soon after, his radio goes silent.

CAPT. GARO KUREDJIAN, VENTURA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: He epitomized what a cop does. When he heard the gunfire, he ran in. He ran in and no doubt saved others from being victimized.

CARROLL: Officials say after the officers engaged the shooter, the gunfire stopped. Helus was badly hurt.

GEOFF DEAN, VENTURA COUNTY SHERIFF: Upon going through the front door, the sergeant was struck multiple times. A highway patrol officer stepped back and secured the perimeter until additional units arrived. And he rescued the sheriff's sergeant out of the line of gunfire.

CARROLL: Helus was taken to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to his injuries in the early morning hours. Today, he's being hailed a hero.

DEAN: Tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero, because he went -- he went in to save lives, to save other people.

CARROLL: Helus was a 29-year veteran of the Ventura County sheriff's office. He was a firearms instructor for recruits at the sheriff's basic training academy, and taught gun safety to civilians. His colleagues say he had hoped to retire in the next year or so.

His Facebook showed he was an outdoorsman who enjoyed fishing. He leaves behind a wife and a son. He was speaking with his wife when the final call to duty came.

DEAN: Sergeant Helus was having a conversation with his wife on the phone as he does everything is times during the shift and said hey, I have to handle a call, I love you, I'll talk to you later.

CARROLL: Today, a heart broken community came together to say thank you and goodbye, as Helus' body traveled down the streets he once patrolled.

LINDSEY, INSIDE BAR DURING SHOOTING: I owe that man my life. I mean, I was terrified. And for somebody that wasn't stuck in the situation, to come and risk his life, and end up dying for me, you know, I'm truly blessed.


BOLDUAN: Jason Carroll is joining me now.

Jason, Thousand Oaks, that's your hometown. You know firsthand how safe this community is.

CARROLL: I do. I mean, I grew up not far from where I'm standing. You know, when I think of Thousand Oaks, you think of it as a big suburb, but also a small town.

So, it's no surprise that, Kate, soon after this happened, I started getting e-mails from friends who knew of the sergeant. In fact, they put me in touch with a friend of the sergeant who said this is the type of man that was all-in. You could get a call at 2:00 a.m., call him and he would be there for you.

You know, when I think of Thousand Oaks and I think of the job that we do, I always thought of Thousand Oaks as a kind of a place that would be immune for this kind of violence. But now, Thousand Oaks is like so many other communities struck with tragedy -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Over and over again. Jason, thank you so much.

We pay tribute to Ron Helus tonight.

And there is a lot of heartbreak tonight. Our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones and their families. Hug your family tonight.

Thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.