Return to Transcripts main page

CNN TONIGHT

Disgruntled Employee Took 11 Lives In Virginia Beach; Licensed Weapons Used In Mass Shooting; Transcript Released Of Voicemail From Trump Lawyer To Flynn Lawyer. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 31, 2019 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES CERVERA, CHIEF, VIRGINIA BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT: I have a number of officers right now who are processing through what best could be describe as war zone. Their lives are going to be changed. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, chief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I ask a quick question?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: The last part of that information probably the most relevant for us as we are once again as a country processing another mass shooting. Be good to one another. Be sensitive. Be kind. To the people in that community. Obviously, in Virginia Beach who are processing the loss of loved ones. And now we know four are in the hospital, 12 have been lost. Be kind.

It's time now for more coverage from CNN. There are a lot of unanswered questions. Don Lemon picks up the coverage right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: And the police chief said it. Their lives have changed. Chris, thank you so much. I appreciate that.

You know what our breaking news is. This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Of course, it's the latest, it's the latest deadly mass shooting in this country, 12 people shot dead at a municipal building in Virginia Beach. Twelve families whose loved ones won't be coming home to tonight. Think about that. Twelve people losing their lives for absolutely no reason. No reason.

A municipal building on a Friday afternoon, shortly after 4 p.m., just as the workday was winding down. That building was full of city workers. As well as residents. Taking care of just mundane errands. Like paying their water bills. And so on.

The gunman, a long-time public utilities worker, police say that they are not releasing his identity at this time. They still have to notify some family members of his. And also, the people who have been killed.

Authorities say he was killed in the shootout with police. After he shot an officer who was saved by his bullet-proof vest.

Now, authorities are trying to figure out tonight what set him off.

Here's what sources are saying now. They say he was disgruntled. Police say he entered the building and immediately started firing. Indiscriminately, shooting anyone and everyone that he could. We don't know whether he said anything. He just went from floor to floor, they say. And on every single floor in that building, they say there are victims.

Sheila Cook was in the building, and she talked to WK -- WTKR.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHEILA COOK, WITNESS: We heard shooting. We heard shooting but we didn't think it was that close, that close, like in proximity of the building. So I just thank God that they were able to alert us in time, because if it had been 10 minutes more, we all would have been outside, so that's what I'm grateful for today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, at that time, when it happened, 11 people were dead at the scene, we got one in transport and now we're hearing there are 12 people. Six people were transported to area hospitals. We're waiting for word on their conditions right now. I want you to listen to the emergency radio traffic as police desperately searched for the gunman.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clear the air. We have the suspect behind a barricaded door.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stay where you are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay off the radio. We need a key or an access right now to the second story, north end of the building.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dispatcher, I have one a co-worker has the key.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty-five. I'm coming from the south side. I have a key card.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming down the stairwell of (Inaudible) alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have him on the other side, 504. He is on the ground. Hold the air.

(END VOICE CLIP)

LEMON: The law enforcement official says a semi-automatic pistol and a rifle were found at the scene. Investigators believe that they were used in that shooting. More about the suspect now. The suspect is believed to have purchased the firearms legally. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR BOBBY DYER (R-VA): Today is Virginia Beach's darkest hour. A

senseless crime happened and imposed tremendous grief upon the people of Virginia Beach, the commonwealth, and this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: No doubt. Mayor Bobby Dyer overcome at the tragedy in his city. I'm going to talk to him in just a moment here on CNN as he wraps that up press conference, we hope to get him soon.

But nothing can even begin to explain this. Explain why this happened. Why 12 people are dead tonight. And why their families are in mourning at this hour. Listen to what Megan Banton told WVEC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGAN BANTON, WITNESS: I just don't know why anyone would do something like that. I don't know what with possess somebody to just come in and just start shooting at people. I have an 11-month-old baby at home and all I could think about is him. And trying to make it home to him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:05:06] LEMON: She wanted to go home to her baby, while she was in fear for her own home. It is unthinkable that this is what we're reduced to. Our fellow citizens desperately hoping they'll stay alive and get home to their families.

This what we're becoming. And I have to warn you, that this photo is graphic and it is shocking. Here it is. It's a man covered in blood, standing by the side of the road, talking about to police, photographed by a woman sitting in her car with her one-year-old grandson.

We don't know the man's condition tonight but the woman who took the photo Alyssa Andrews told CNN, quote, "I couldn't believe it was happening. I was so afraid. Because they were circling the building. And I just, I didn't know what to do."

None of us can believe this is happening. Still happening.

We're going to discuss this hour, for the next few hours here on CNN. And first, I want to bring in Zand Bakhtiari. Zand Bakhtiari was in the Virginia Beach municipal building when the shooting happened and he joins us now by phone.

Zand, I'm so sorry that we are speaking under these circumstances. How you are holding up tonight?

ZAND BAKHTIARI, SHOOTING WITNESS: I'm doing all right. And first thing I want to do is thank the Virginia Beach, the Virginia Beach Police Department, and all of the emergency response people for doing exactly what they were supposed to do.

When they came in, and got me out of the building, I knew that they were there, doing what they were supposed to do, and they knew exactly what they were go doing.

LEMON: You were in the building while all of this was unfolding.

BAKHTIARI: Correct.

LEMON: Tell me what you heard and saw, Zand.

BAKHTIARI: I was on the first floor. And my boss had just left. I heard screams in the parking lot. I assumed there was a car accident or something. Then he called his boss, who works right beside me, and he told us that there was a gunman and we needed to shelter in place.

And we locked our doors, and I immediately texted my loved ones, and maybe a couple minutes after that, I just heard rapid, rapid gunfire.

LEMON: How long do you think it lasted?

BAKHTIARI: I'm not 100 percent sure, but maybe between 30 seconds to a minute.

LEMON: But the whole incident you think was, it only took about 30 seconds?

BAKHTIARI: No just the gunshots that I heard.

LEMON: Just the gunshots. Did it feel like all this, that this was going on forever, and not just the gunshots, but the entire thing being on lockdown and hiding?

BAKHTIARI: It's a little bit of a blur, but I mean, within 30 minutes, we were out. The SWAT team came and got us. They cleared, at least our floor. We were put in a secure location. And told to wait. I'm sure it seems, looking back, it seems like it felt longer than it actually did.

LEMON: What were you texting to your family members, you said.

BAKHTIARI: I was texting my girlfriend that, she didn't even know what was going on, it wasn't even on the news yet, just telling her what I was doing, I was sheltering in place, we were all fine, that everything was going to be OK. And once I got out of the building, I texted my parents and my brother and told them that I was out of the building and everything was OK. And I think that might have been the first time they even heard about anything. That's how fast they came and got us.

LEMON: What did they say to you? Did they respond?

BAKHTIARI: Yes, they responded. Shock and disbelief.

LEMON: You know, you hear, we hear about these mass shootings on the news, I'm sure, you're sitting, I have to report them, Zand, but I'm sure you watched them on the news and you hear about them, and you think it can never happen to you. I mean there are so many mass shootings in America, they have become all too common. Did you ever think something like this would happen to you? BAKHTIARI: No. It wasn't until I heard the actual gunshots, which I

now know was one floor above me, I didn't know where they were coming from. But now that they were one floor above me, but it wasn't until I heard the gunshots that I realized it was a real situation.

And right when we got out and we knew, when we saw all of my co- workers and I saw that we were safe, but the first find that we said to each other, that we never thought this would happen to us, we never thought that this could happen here.

So, it was a very, I mean the whole complex, it is a very peaceful area. It is a very calm area. Lots of huge old trees. You know, it's a very calming area. I mean there's always cops around there, too so you always kind of feel safe.

LEMON: Did you ever get a chance to see the shooter?

BAKHTIARI: I did not.

[22:09:57] LEMON: You didn't. Zand, we're glad you're OK. Of course, we're sorry for the other people who were injured, and of course, those who were killed and our hearts go out and our thoughts to the family members, and you take -- you take care of yourself, OK?

BAKHTIARI: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you very much.

I want to get now to the Mayor of Virginia Beach. Mayor Bobby Dyer. Mayor, thank you so much. I know that you just attended the press conference. And I know that you are heart-broken, we could tell, just from watching you and listening to you.

Earlier, you called this the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach. Tell us how your community is doing right now. And you as well.

DYER: Well, I'll tell you what, it's a sense of shock to many people. You know, this is not Virginia Beach, but this is an unfortunate situation that happened. And we're going to deal with it.

And we're so proud of our first responders, that really came about, and it was, my goodness, it was a tragedy of epic proportions, but that being said, once we get over the shock of it, you know, we're going to move forward as a city, as a community. We're going to be there for the families, and you know, you don't forget, you know, the people that were victims of this tragic event, you know, they were family members, they were co-workers, they were a vital part of the community of Virginia Beach, and they will not be forgotten.

And so far, there's been overwhelming support and you know, just outpouring of love, and you know, what can we do from the community, so, you know, that is touching.

LEMON: Just -- I just want to do, just a little housekeeping here because I heard the Chief James Cervera said that there were 12 victims now. Is it 12 victims plus the suspect, 13 in total or is it 12 total --

(CROSSTALK)

DYER: No, no. We have the suspect, is separate, the victims are the victims, and you know, the suspect is, you know, is a different situation. And you know, our hearts pour out to the, to the families, and the friends, and you know, what we want, we're still in the process of going through the identification and you know, some of the necessary details that we have to go through at this point.

LEMON: And so now, during the press conference, the police chief said that the suspect's family members had not been notified. What about all of the victims? Have their family members been notified?

DYER: No, from what I understand, that is still in the process. You know, the city is going to be very transparent going forward. But until you know, things are done properly and in a sequence that respects the dignity of the families, and make sure that everyone is notified, you know, be assured that all of the details will eventually come out.

But right now, don't forget, we are a city in a state of shock right now and it's only a couple, not that many hours after the tragic event, and we're still rebounding, and we're still learning, and we have the FBI came down now. And you know, there's going to be a lot of forensic work done and a lot of investigations, and you know, there's a lot of details that have to be taken care of over the next couple of days before we can proceed.

LEMON: Absolutely, mayor. It is certainly understandable, Mayor Dyer. I've got to ask you, you know, some, the questions. So you have identified the suspect, but are not releasing his information as of yet, correct?

DYER: Not at this time. Because you know, once again, we made the conscious decision to withhold the name and focus on the victims and their families at this point.

LEMON: Was he known to law enforcement?

DYER: Once again, the details of this are still, you know, not known, but you know, be assured we have a tremendous magnificent police force. We have the safest city for a city our size, and I think that's why this is such a shock to us, but be assured that our police are going to do their due diligence and get the information out as in the proper sequence.

LEMON: I spoke to, just prior to speaking to you, I spoke with someone who was in the building and he said as soon as law enforcement showed up, he felt safer and that they knew what they were doing. You're getting all the resources you need?

DYER: Well, I'll tell you what, we have a very well-trained police department. You know, once again, we have national recognition of being the safest city, of a city our size. And we have strict standards for police recruits coming in. And these folks train, train, train. And they were ready to confront this situation.

LEMON: In this situation, the folks in your community are looking to the mayor for guidance and leadership. What are you saying to members of your community tonight, mayor?

[22:15:04] DYER: Be strong. We are a city of resolve. And you know, we're going to come together as a community. This does not define Virginia Beach. What defines Virginia Beach are the many fine people in the neighborhoods, where people work in Virginia Beach, they live in Virginia Beach, they come to Virginia Beach and play.

We're going to come together as a community. And we're going to be there for the families, and we're going to be there for, let's not forget, a number of other employees, that were in that building, at the time that are going to have the nightmares. But this situation was a nightmare that no one ever wants to live through.

LEMON: Mayor Bobby Dyer of Virginia Beach, thank you so much. We're thinking about you. And we appreciate you coming on. Especially at this time when obviously, you and the community are devastated. Thanks again, mayor.

DYER: And thank you so much, and you know, I appreciate it. God bless, have a good night. Thank you all.

LEMON: You as well.

We have much more to come on our breaking news tonight. The death toll is up now to 12 in this mass shooting in Virginia Beach. At least four people hospitalized.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Here's our breaking news. It's a mass shooting at a municipal center in Virginia Beach. At least 12 people are dead. Four others hospitalized.

[22:19:58] We're told the gunman, an apparent disgruntled employee is also dead, killed in a shootout with police after opening fire indiscriminately on multiple floors.

Let's bring in CNN's Shimon Prokupecz who is working the story for us. Shimon, good evening to you. What more are you learning about the shooting?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, we have some new information now, Don. We are identifying the shooter here, the gunman in this shooting. His name is DeWayne Craddock, he is 40 years old. And what we've learned is that he is a certified professional engineer for the City of Virginia Beach in the public utilities department. Which is exactly where the shooting took place this afternoon.

We've also found other information about him. He's listed on a press release as a point of contact for information on a local roads project. Over the last several years, he was listed as the contact for that service road project.

And then we've also learned that there was a 1996 news report indicating that he served in the Army National Guard, as a private, after attending a local high school there in Virginia.

So that is as much as we know at this point. We also know that the police are at his home, in Virginia Beach, standard procedures here, probably waiting for a search warrant so they could search his home.

LEMON: OK.

PROKUPECZ: We now know who the shooter is, Don.

LEMON: OK. So, let's -- as we get this information. So, Shimon Prokupecz is joining us in the breaking news now. Shimon has this new information. You said it's DeWayne Craddock. You said he's 40 years old.

PROKUPECZ: That's right.

LEMON: Forty years old. Also, from a local news report that he served in the Army National Guard as a private after attending Denbigh High in Newport News.

PROKUPECZ: That's right.

LEMON: And tell us about, do we know anything about the guns that were, that he carried in. Were they registered to him? Have you found out any of that information?

PROKUPECZ: Well, we have learned that the weapons were purchased legally, we're told as the police mentioned at the press conference, that they did find the .45, there was also a rifle we're told by sources at the scene that authorities believe belongs to the suspect. They're obviously still working through that. The police chief was asked about that. He said they were not ready to talk about what else they found at the scene.

The other thing I want to note here, and what's interesting here and important for investigators, is that they found extended magazines, right. They said, and they talked about that they found multiple magazines.

LEMON: And a sound suppresser.

PROKUPECZ: A sound suppressor. The silencer. So, this guy went in there ready for a gun battle. It sounds like he had a lot of ammunition with him. These extended magazines are not normal. They do not come with the weapon. You have to purchase that separately. They're illegal in some states.

Because what they essentially do is, they extend how many bullets. They give you a lot more fire power. A lot more bullets than you would normally have in a weapon that you would purchase legally.

So, he went ahead and bought, for whatever reasons, extended magazines, and these weapons may have been purchased recently, so this may give us some idea that there was some planning that went into this, into this shooting. I think that's going to be a significant piece of information for law enforcement.

The other thing we learned, which I think is interesting, is that there were victims in this shooting found on all three floors of this building. The police chief there describing it as a running gun battle, a long gun battle, that went on for quite some time.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: He was exchanging those magazines. Or changing those magazines --

PROKUPECZ: That's right.

LEMON: -- as this was going on.

PROKUPECZ: That's right. He was. He emptied some of them. And they said that he was reloading so that he could have more fire power. More gun power. So, it tells us a lot here because it really indicates to us that this shooter, this gunman was there, he was ready to come in and probably kill a lot more people had the police not stopped him in the gun battle when they did.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Shimon, hold on. Let me just update. I'm going to let you finish. I just want to update our viewers.

Again, this is a breaking news. We are told that, again, 12 people are dead now, four hospitalized.

Shimon Prokupecz joins us with the breaking news. He's got more information on who the shooter is. And according to Shimon, he said the shooter in this Virginia Beach shooting is DeWayne Craddock. That's according to a law enforcement official and a Virginia government source, that he is 40 years old.

And correct me if I get some information wrong here, Shimon. He worked as a certified professional engineer for the City of Virginia in the Public Utilities Department, correct?

PROKUPECZ: That's exactly right.

LEMON: He listed on the department press releases as a point of contact for information on local road projects over the last several years. An online search of court records in Virginia Beach and surrounding counties show that Craddock was cited for a motor vehicle infraction in 2013 but nothing else.

I asked the mayor if he was known to law enforcement, he did not want to speak of it at this time. Also, Shimon is reporting that according to a 1996 news report, Craddock served in the Army National Guard as a private after attending Denbigh High School in Newport News. Shimon is also reporting on the type of weapons that were found on the suspect and in the vicinity and saying that they were purchased legally, one is a .45 with extended magazines and a suppressor, correct, Shimon?

[22:25:05] PROKUPECZ: Yes, that's right. Those are key clues now for investigators that they're finding at the scene. Multiple magazines. Extended magazines. This tells them a lot about what was going on here in the days probably leading up to this shooting.

The other thing we still don't know. We keep, you know, we have heard from sources that he was disgruntled. Something was going on. We still don't know exactly what exactly that is. We don't know what he was angry about. What he was unhappy about in the workplace.

Police at this point are not willing to reveal any more information about him but that is going to be a central part of this investigation. And obviously, we can't forget the victims in all of this.

LEMON: Shimon, I want you to stand by. Because I want to bring some other folks in now that you have gotten this new information.

Charles Ramsey is here, and also Anthony Ferrante as well.

Gentlemen, thank you for joining us tonight with this horrific breaking news. Charles, a shooter has now been identified. Does anything stick out to you about what we have learned from Shimon?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Not really, not at this point in time. Assuming all of that information is accurate, since it hasn't come from the police yet, but there is nothing really that stands out as far as I'm concerned right now.

We already knew he was an employee. We knew he was a long-time employee. So, 40 years of age is certainly not surprising. We still don't know what if anything he was disgruntled about or that led him to do this sort of thing. But obviously, this is just one more in a long list of mass shooting tragedies that have taken place in our country.

LEMON: Anthony, what about you?

ANTHONY FERRANTE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: So many things, so many things come to mind, Don. First of all, I want to say that in the last four minutes, Shimon's reporting is incredible. We've learned so much information.

I mean, let's just start with the weapons that have been identified. You're talking a .45 caliber gun. A rifle. Extended magazines. You know, so people understand a magazine typically holds 14 rounds, 14 bullets. And then there is one in the chamber of the weapon.

So now, you have 15 bullets that can be fired, and we're understanding from Shimon, that multiple magazines were found on the floor after this gun battle ensued. We're also understanding that this subject had military training. Had

a silencer. Clearly, it sounds like he was gearing up for battle. I also think it's really important to understand as an investigator, we try to get inside the head or the mind of our subject.

And in this case, I find it very, very interesting and telling that the subject continued through different floors of the building. What does that mean? Does that mean that he pursued people as he went into the building? Or does that mean that he was going up to the upper floors of the building, looking for someone? Right? Was there someone that he was actually looking for?

So, I think we've learned a lot in the last four or five minutes, and I think this is just the beginning, unfortunately.

LEMON: Anthony, let me ask you another question here, because we know that the FBI is assisting Virginia Beach authorities. What kind of help are they -- the mayor mentioned it when I interviewed him just a couple of minutes ago, what kind of help are they providing? What are they doing?

FERRANTE: Well, so much help. I mean, the FBI is the federal law enforcement agency in the land. As a former FBI agent, I'm very proud to hear that they're engaged in this matter, and it makes sense. I mean, the state and city officials and agencies, they need support. They need help right now.

I can tell you right now, speaking from experience, that there are FBI agents speeding lights and sirens all the way from Washington, D.C., all the way from the Carolinas surging to this area in Virginia Beach to help support.

You have to understand, you have approximately six different crime scenes that need to be processed. Right? It's more than just the, where the gun battle took place. More than just the building. More than just the floors. You're talking the vehicle, the subject arrived in. His home.

LEMON: The suspect's home. Yes.

FERRANTE: The suspect's home where this other individual was shot. I mean, there are a lot of crime scenes that need to be processed. And that takes a lot of time.

LEMON: Yes.

FERRANTE: Because they don't want to miss any clues here.

LEMON: Charles, I have to ask you, let's talk about what was recovered. Charles, they recover -- police recovered a .45 caliber handgun with an extended magazine. There was also a suppressor. Anything that we can glean from that?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean the suppressor is very unusual. We've recovered quite a few semi-automatic handguns even extended magazines on the streets of our cities but rarely do you come across a suppressor. That is new.

[22:30:00] And that's something different. Whether or not that how he got his hands on that, if it was purchased legally somehow, or if he got it on the black market, I mean those are all questions that still remain unanswered, I would imagine, at this point, in time, in the investigation, but that is very unusual to have something like that.

He obviously had intent on killing as many people as possible. And there's just no question in my mind that he was going to go through that building until he ran out of ammunition and if the police hadn't intervened it would have been a lot worse.

LEMON: Yes. We can only -- and they said as much, Charles, in the press conference, that the police chief wanted to make it clear, that the law enforcement officers who were on the scene saved a whole lot more people from being injured or being killed. And even one of the witnesses who was on earlier said that the moment law enforcement officers got there, it was obvious they knew what they were doing, and they got to business, and killed this gunman.

They did what they had to do. Gentlemen, thank you so much. Shimon, I appreciate you with the breaking news and giving us the new details on what we believe now to be, the gunman in all of this, Virginia Beach shooting suspect, according to our Shimon Prokupecz, is Dewayne Craddock, and Shimon is getting his information from a law enforcement official, and a Virginia government source.

When we come back, we're going to get an update from the hospital where some of the victims are being treated.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, here's our breaking news tonight, 12 people killed in a mass shooting at a municipal building in Virginia Beach. Victims found on three different floors, every single floor of that building. Four people or hospitalized.

[22:35:00] Joining me now by phone is, Dr. Kathleen Anderson, she is an emergency medicine physician at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, where victims are being -- of this shooting are being treated tonight.

Doctor, thank you so much. What can you tell us about the victims of this shooting?

DR. KATHLEEN ANDERSON, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN, SENTARA VIRGINIA BEACH GENERAL HOSPITAL: Thank you for having me. I did want to emphasize that we are, we have concern about the patient privacy during a high level incident such as this, so there is very little I can say in terms of specific injuries and conditions. We were put on notice this afternoon to expect multiple patients regarding an active shooter that was found at the courthouse complex in Virginia Beach.

We immediately went in to our protocol that we routinely practice several times a year. We called in our backup, and we went into our mass casualty protocol as we prepared for the surge. It was a collaborative effort of trauma surgeon, neuro surgeons, ENT surgeons, vascular surgeons, nurses, technicians and we triaged the patients quickly and assessed their wounds and injuries, and stabilized the patients as best we could. We have, we really wanted to send our hearts out to the victims and their families during this very difficult time.

LEMON: Obviously, doctor, listen, we know that you're very busy, at this point, you've got a lot of work to do and we appreciate your time. Thank you so much for the update, OK?

ANDERSON: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: Absolutely.

You know, it has been another chaotic day with the deadly mass shooting in Virginia Beach. Why does this happen again and again in America? I am going to discuss. Dan Rather is here next.

[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Here's our breaking news tonight. At least 12 people dead, four hospitalized, in Virginia Beach, after America's latest mass shooting. Another somber night for this country. With frustratingly families, questions about gun violence, familiar questions I should say, excuse me, about gun violence. I will bring in now the legendary journalist and host of the big interview on Axios TV and that's Mr. Dan Rather.

Thank you so much for coming in.

DAN RATHER, HOST, AXS TV'S THE BIG INTERVIEW: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: I am sorry I have to talk to you about this topic again. What is your reaction to this shooting?

RATHER: Well, my immediate reaction --

LEMON: To all of these shootings.

RATHER: I think my immediate reaction was a reaction of, most decent Americans, you know, heartsick and horrified, and deeply, really emotionally concerned about all of the immediate victims, certainly the dead, and the wounded, but the others, the first responder, the police, everybody who takes part in one of these things is affected.

You know, another shooting, another set of victims, another community emotionally devastated, to use a paraphrase, the mayor's words, but this story is not new. This story happens all too often. And the fact that we haven't done anything really to come to grips with it is despicable, it is the only word that comes to mind and it speaks to our lack of honor and patriotism in this sense.

This is a national health epidemic. And can you imagine, Don, what it would be, instead of guns, we had an outbreak of an Ebola epidemic, we the public, we the people, and our political representatives, would be behaving in a completely different manner.

LEMON: So let me talk to you about this. Because you have had a long and storied career. And just, you didn't cover these shootings to this frequency when you were --

RATHER: Not with this frequency. Events such as (inaudible) happened. It was beginning, but not with the frequency we had in recent years.

LEMON: So the gun lobby is so strong, right? What keeps them in power? Why are they so successful?

RATHER: Money. They've had money. They put their money and political campaigns. And on the issue of gun violence, I'm sorry to say this and it sort of catches my throat to say it, because I detested so that many of our political leaders are bought and paid for by the gun lobby, which is in turn financed by the manufacturers of guns and ammunition. It's down to money.

LEMON: Down to money. You know, this is an issue for the, this has become an electoral issue for the folks in the 2020, the candidates, as well as the midterms, do you think the political momentum, where is it swinging on this issue? Who does it benefit?

RATHER: Well, I wouldn't say momentum. It is too strong of a word. There is a political trend, if you will, in the direction of doing something. Doing even the minimum steps of tightening up who can buy a gun and under what circumstances and what kind of guns they can buy, even those small things.

So the trend line runs in that direction, but I would caution against using the word momentum, because up to and including now, there is a lot of talk by political candidates in both parties about what we are going to do, what we should do, and when it gets down to doing something, you look, with the increase of these kinds of shootings, time after time after time, what really has changed, what change has been affected by our leadership? And the answer is damn little.

LEMON: You know, we're talking about this, and listen, I've been at CNN for over a decade now, and have covered way too many of these shootings and people always say, this is not the time to talk about it, it is not the time to talk about it, and then it moves out of the headlines and then you don't talk about it.

[22:45:10] RATHER: That is the pattern.

LEMON: Is this the right time?

RATHER: It is well past the time. This the right time to time before this was the right time, but the question to every political candidate in my mind now, if you care about this issue, is to say, show me how much money you got from the gun lobby in general. And I'm not going to talk to you until you reveal that to me.

LEMON: Always a pleasure.

RATHER: Sorry it is under these circumstances, Don.

LEMON: Thank you for coming in.

RATHER: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: Dan Rather, everyone.

You know, we are going to have a lot more on today's deadly shooting in Virginia Beach as new details continue to come in tonight. We also have some key updates on the special counsel's investigation into the president of the United States. That is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We certainly have a lot more to come on our breaking news tonight, the mass shooting in Virginia Beach that left at least 12 people dead. The latest on that in just a few minutes. But there is much to update you on tonight, regarding the Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Attorney General Barr, and the investigation into the president of the United States. I want to bring in now "New York Times" reporters, Mark Mazzetti and Matthew Rosenberg.

Gentlemen, good evening. I appreciate you joining us here. There's so much news to get to. Let's talk about the matter at hand when it comes to the president. Matthew, you first. Today the Justice Department released a transcript of a call that took place between John Dowd, President Trump's former lawyer, Michael Flynn's legal team.

We have known about this call, but we learned today that it was John Dowd who made it. Do you have any questions? Does that raise any questions for you?

MATTHEW ROSENBERG, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I mean, it certainly does. You know, he seemed to be suggesting this call was made just as Flynn was making a deal to cooperate with the special counsel. And you know, I think I'd want to know and a lot of people want to know, was he suggesting that the president, you know, thinks highly of you, or, his exact language here, was he suggesting don't do it?

Was he suggesting stick with us, we'll take care of you? I mean, it is vague, but it certainly raises questions.

LEMON: Mark, I want to bring you in now, because John Dowd responded with a statement saying, the Mueller report, this is a quote, is clearly a baseless political document designed to smear and damage the reputation of counsel, and innocent people. I mean that is very interesting. Because the call took place. And we now have a transcript. So what is he claiming is baseless?

[22:50:07] MARK MAZZETTI, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I don't know, he is saying that Mueller never brought it up in any conversations. And what we know from the Mueller report is that there was corroborating testimony from Robert Kellner, who was Flynn's lawyer, so this was something that the Mueller team certainly pursued and as you said, included in the Mueller report.

And you know, as we know Mueller didn't go out of his way to say something is or is not obstruction of justice, but he uses it as part of this kind of mountain of evidence where that shows that there was some effort by the president and his lawyers to influence the course of the investigation.

LEMON: Matthew, the DOJ has not handed over transcripts of Flynn's call with the Russian ambassador. Why not? What's going on?

ROSENBERG: I mean, look, I'll (inaudible) little surprise you, are you ever going to see those phone calls? They're claiming -- the Justice Department that they're not crucial to the prosecution and therefore they don't have to be released publicly. Look, the U.S. government's ability to surveil kind of people, in this case, it was the Russian ambassador they were listening to.

He is some of the most closely held intelligence capability and intelligence that they gather and they hate, they don't want to release this. They don't want the public to see this, to see their ability to kind of listen into phone calls. It is a very clear kind of example of or government's surveillance powers and it's something they prefer not to put in the public sphere.

LEMON: I have a piece Mark, here by you. This is the copy of the design, not the actual, but a copy of it. And I find it very interesting, it is titled, Mueller played by the rules, Trump made new ones. And in this, here's what you say. You said by -- you argue that because Mueller was so methodical diligent by the book, that Trump and Barr saw an opportunity, explain what you mean by that.

MAZZETTI: Yes, I mean, we sort of lay out in the story about how over the course off two years, Mueller pursued this very by the book investigation. He unmasked evidence only spoke in subpoenas, only spoke in indictments and there were long voids. There were long periods of time where there was nothing and in that void the president acted, spoke, tried to discredit the investigation and he and his lawyers had a very concerted effort and a strategy to discredit Mueller, to discredit his team and to say that the whole thing was baseless.

And it was a clearly a strategy meant to affect the court of public opinion and I think that it actually had an impact. And what we saw this week was how reticent Mueller was to sort of go beyond what he thought his writ was and this is really the way he operates is kind of (inaudible) in the Trump era.

LEMON: Yes, and it certainly was by the book, because basically he said these are the rules I had to play by and that's what I did and beyond that I couldn't do anything, even if I thought there was evidence of obstruction and so on, you cannot indict a sitting president.

You also write in this report, you say, by hueing to Justice Department policy, that prosecutors should interpret their findings in public, Mr. Mueller opened the door for one of the Trump administration's savvier operators to interpret his findings for him. You are referring to Attorney General Barr here, I would assume, correct me if I'm wrong. And today we saw that Attorney General that he continues to pushed back hard on behalf of the president.

MAZZETTI: Right and he is now challenging Mueller's statements that he couldn't make a judgment about obstruction of justice. He's saying Mueller -- well, he was expecting he was going to and should have. If this really extraordinary dispute between two establishment lawyers, but where the stakes are really high and Barr showed again in this interview that he is not only willing to you know, disparage the investigation of Mueller and take shots at Mueller himself, but defend the president and a lot of different turns and really sort of try to turn the lens not on the president and his associates, but to turn the lens on the investigators and that seems to be where the next phase is going to go.

LEMON: Here's what's interesting, Matt, is that the special counsel said, I said I'm done, I don't want to talk about this anymore, basically saying to Congress, I don't want to testify. This is over. But I find it interesting that special counsel says that he wants this report to speak for himself, but can that happen if Barr, who just did an interview, the president does it all the time on Twitter or just others speaking. If they are free to continue to speak out and attack the Russian investigation, which is essentially Bob Mueller's work?

ROSENBERG: You know, I think Mark said it right well, when he called Mueller's style an anachronistic in the Trump era. The report can speak for itself, but others are going to interpret it. And if you want you're trimming to come across, you very well may have to come out and say, you know, this is what I meant.

[22:55:12] Now the Special Counsel is not going to do that, it's pretty clear he's not going to do that and so I do think we are going to live in a wall were others do interpret it and you have an Attorney General -- let's be -- let's remember, this is not the first kind of independent counsel previously that Barr has an issue with. And when he was Attorney General the first time around, he called the independent council then that are in contract case out of control and had lost all perspective and pushed for pardon that the first President Bush issued with a number of people in that scandal.

So, you know, Barr is somebody who's proven before that he can be aggressive and determined to kind of cast these investigations in his own numb thinking.

LEMON: Matthew Rosenberg, Mark Mazzetti, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

At least 12 people killed today in a mass shooting in Virginia Beach. Everything we know, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)