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Gunman Kills 12 in Shooting in Virginia Beach Municipal Center; Virginia Beach City Councilmember Sabrina Wooten Interviewed about Shooting; President Trump Announces Plans to Increase Tariffs on Mexican Import Unless Mexican Government Helps Reduce Immigration from Central America to U.S.; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Continues to Resist Impeachment of President Trump. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired June 1, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:52] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield for CNN's special coverage of a deadly workplace shooting in Virginia Beach, Virginia. We start with an update from one of the nearby hospitals. They are working to care for the injured patients that are still in the hospital. And right now three people are in intensive care at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. There's another person being treated at a hospital nearby. We know that patient is in critical condition. One emergency department physician described the chaos as victims started arriving at the hospital.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. JANELLE THOMAS, EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT PHYSICIAN DURING SHOOTING: Controlled chaos. Staff everywhere. A number of folks in different roles attending to their roles, and a few people in the middle kind of directing traffic. This is with what we train for. This is what we train form. This is why we chose to go into these professions. But when it's actually happening and the scale that it's happening, it becomes surreal. And you have to just focus, compartmentalize, attend to what's going at that moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So the community is mourning the loss of 12 people today, 11 of these 12 were dedicated employees murdered at their workplace, in the building right behind me, Building Two, Municipal Building. They have years and years of service to their community. One was a contractor coming in for a permit.
CNN's Miguel Marquez is also joining me now. This is a devastating loss for this city, for this community. We've heard from so many people, whether they knew someone who worked in this building or whether they are simply a resident of this community. They feel touched very permanent personally by what happened today. Miguel?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, even the doctors we spoke to here at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, you can hear the gravity and the emotion in their voices, because this happens in their community as well. They talk about this is a type of mass casualty event that they prepare for. They never expect to have to deal with it. There were five individuals brought here to Virginia Beach Sentara General Hospital. Two of them died either on the way or shortly thereafter. Three are still here. One in fair condition. One has just gone out of the emergency room. Another went into the operating room last night. They're expected to go back in to operation today and possibly next week as well.
The third person, fortunately, did not have to go into the operating room. That fourth victim at the Norfolk General Hospital is in critical condition now. Doctors talking about how difficult it is to deal with these victims. The two that ended up dying here, one was dead on arrival, the other died shortly after, they had multiple gunshot wounds. This is something that these doctors say they prepare for. They never expect to see it here. After seeing it, though, across the country, whether it's at a college or a high school, or a grade school, or a church, or a synagogue, the head of trauma just expressed his shock at seeing it in his own community.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You never expect it to happen here, and of course it does. These are never good things. You wonder what's happening to society. It's now weekly almost. Why is this happening? I don't have an answer for that. It's disheartening to see it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUEZ: Janelle Thomas, the doctor who you played at the top of this as you were getting to me, she was one of two attending physicians in the emergency room as that call came in yesterday. She said there was this mass sort of controlled chaos. And at certain points there were so many people trying to help and deal with the emergency that they had on hand that they just had to tell everybody to "shh," bring everything down for a second, and then focus on the work at hand.
[14:05:08] Amazing work they did. The governor has been by to talk to both medical professionals and some of the patients here to see how they are doing, but this is something that affects the entire -- the entire community. And Virginia Beach, Virginia, is just the latest is a string of towns and cities across this country dealing with this horror. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: Dr. O'Grady (ph) there underscoring it takes a whole lot of coordination, and that's what they did to try to attend to those who were injured. Thank you so much, Miguel Marquez.
Investigators are still working to find a motive behind that deadly attack. Let's check in now with CNN's Crime and Justice Reporter Shimon Prokupecz. So what are they looking for, investigators, in order to piece together? Because this gunman is dead. So the answers are not going to come from him directly. But instead they're looking for evidence that perhaps will be the puzzle piece to put it all altogether.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, that's exactly right. And so they're at his home. They would go through his computers, any of the evidence that they have found from him home, they would go through that. Very important to them is events leading up to this. What was going on? When did he purchase these weapons? We have some information that some of these weapons were recently purchased. It's not clear if the weapons that were actually used in this shooting were recently purchased, but that is something that investigators are looking at.
Also very important to them are these extended magazines. What is the purpose for someone to buy those? And that would give them some indication of planning. When did he buy those? Were they recent purchases? When did he start planning all of this? And obviously, what was going on here?
WHITFIELD: We established that many of the purchases were legal. We have not heard from authorities saying anything was illegally obtained thus far.
PROKUPECZ: Everything that he owned as far as investigators can tell was legally purchased. There were firearms that were found at his home. There was more than one weapon found here inside. So all of that from everything that investigators know, all legally purchased. The extended magazines, that's going to be interesting. He had a lot of ammunition with him. We've heard the police say. We've about this long-running gun battle that is very unusual for police in these situations. And the police chief was commending his officers. He's one of the first responders, four of the first officers --
WHITFIELD: Who really were just feet away.
PROKUPECZ: Were feet away. These aren't SWAT officers. We don't know that they were armed with anything other than their service, their guns on their belt. We don't know if anyone had any heavy weaponry. But the fact that these are the responding officers, first four officers on the scene, they intercept this guy and then there's a gun battle. And they are able to stop him and move him in a place to try and get him to not kill any more people. It's really a miraculous -- that's what the chief said in terms of what the police here did.
But for investigators, I think there's still a lot of work. I don't know that the motive right now, after talking to some folks, that it's that clear cut. That's why I think we're seeing the investigators keep telling us and folks in the public, don't speculate. Let us put all this together, because there may be more than one thing.
WHITFIELD: And does it seem as though officials feel that they're really trying to delicately balance -- providing as much information as they can about the gunman without at the same time providing so much information that in his death, posthumously, he's infamous as a result?
PROKUPECZ: That's right.
WHITFIELD: Because we've seen a transition over shootings in the course of a couple years, this reticence of revealing names, but then also wanting to provide this is who this person was, this is what's behind what may have happened.
PROKUPECZ: And we've seen that right from the very beginning. The police chief said I'm going to name him once and that will be it. When we're ready to name him, we will name him. And if you notice at today's press conference, they went through all the victims' names first, all the people that were killed, providing photos of all the people, and then they mentioned who the gunman was. And we've seen that from law enforcement a lot. This is something that the FBI had started in this no-naming campaign. They did not want shooters' name, for this reason, they don't want him to get any kind of glory out of it. They don't want people to copycat attacks.
It doesn't matter, we're still seeing these kinds of incidents across this country, but it's really an interesting question you ask, because I do think the police are trying to balance that. But they also know that people want to know how this happened, why it happened. So that is something they're working on. Of course, the FBI is here, the ATF, state police. There's a lot of law enforcement here working through this. And they're going to put this all together and then figure out why this happened.
WHITFIELD: Shimon Prokupecz, thank you so much, appreciate that. Keep us posted.
So for the workers in that city building, this one right behind me, Building Two, when the shooting started the minutes really felt like hours. That's how it's being described by so many. And so today so many are thankful to be alive. Many have left flags and flowers here, paying respects to those who were killed and injured. Here's a taste of what some are reflecting on what happened yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[14:10:10] MEGAN BANTON, SHOOTING WITNESS: We were all just terrified. We almost kind of felt like it wasn't real, that we were in a dream. You hear this all the time on the news, but you don't think it's ever going to happen to you. And then when it actually happens, it's just -- it was like an out of body experience. And you're just terrified because all you can hear are the gunshots.
EDWARD WEEDEN, SHOOTING WITNESS: We heard gunshots on the stairs. We go to the corridor and there was a lady on the stair unconscious, blood on her face, blood on the stairway. We didn't know what happened. One of the other coworkers went upstairs to find out something else, she came back down saying get out of the building, some guys has a gun, she was shot. And at that point we all left.
SHEILA COOK, SHOOTING WITNESS: We heard shooting. We heard shooting. But we didn't think it was that close 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)
WHITFIELD: These are haunting moments. No one's going to forget what they experienced yesterday. And so many are still reflecting on why. Why in the world did this happen? Sabrina Wooten is a Virginia Beach City Councilmember, and she's with me now. And Sabrina, I know you have been riddled with a lot of questions from your constituents who are saying how can this happen? Why did this happen? And what now? What do you say to people?
SABRINA WOOTEN, VIRGINIA BEACH CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: It's one thing to share that with them, because it is shocking. So I'm relating with them, and just letting them know, listen, I'm here with you. I'm understanding what you're going through. And let's figure this out together. So we're going to get through this together.
WHITFIELD: What are your biggest worries right now, the day after? It's colossal that it happened yesterday, and it strikes fear and distress. But now you've had a few hours since it happened. What are your feelings now about how you're feeling, how you're grappling with it, and how do you move forward?
WOOTEN: The biggest thing is things will never be normal again. And it's moving forward. And I think that's the biggest thing that we're looking at. How do we move forward? How do we assess what's happened and make changes so that it doesn't happen again?
WHITFIELD: And what do you want to know at this juncture? This is still an active crime scene. We've seen FBI representatives canvassing the parking lot, presumably looking for casings, shell casings or other evidence that might better explain the actions of this one individual who is no longer here, who died in a long-fought battle with authorities. But investigators are still looking for answers. What are the answers that you need?
WOOTEN: Absolutely. I really think about why. I think that's a biggest question. And what happened to set someone off to do such a thing? That's on my mind. And why so many people? And why the significant danger that he put people, and just the horror of taking someone's life.
WHITFIELD: And what, if any, warning signs there might have been about this individual?
WOOTEN: Absolutely. You're right, absolutely. Because there's always a warning. Before danger happens there are warning signs. And what were they? Did someone know? Did he talk to someone? Did he write something down? Was there social media information that was put out there? There was something. And yes --
WHITFIELD: Investigators did reveal in a press conference earlier today that there was quite the arsenal, not just on him, on his person, but even at his place of residence. And is it your feeling that that potentially is a flag as well, if anyone knew? Or if that is nebulous? Or is it of a concern?
WOOTEN: Yes, it is a concern when you have someone with so many pieces of -- weapons in their possession. What were they thinking? Was it planned? It sounds like it may have been. And how long were you planning it? A lot of his neighbors said he was a nice person. They never suspected. And I think that's the key. Quiet person, not violent. How did this happen? How did he turn over to a person of violence in such a short period of time?
WHITFIELD: Sometimes discussions might lead to a goal that are long- term setting. But in the immediate, any discussions you might have with your colleagues on council, with your constituents? What are the more immediate goals you want resolved or rectified as a result of what happened yesterday?
[14:15:04] WOOTEN: I think just an overall wellness of staff members, that concerns me, because people are going through things. And I want to know, not just the safety aspect, making sure we make sure that we put safety measures in place, and do we have counselors available for people to talk to, because sometimes you can catch someone at the tipping point if we have the resources. So just an overall wellness of our staff members, making sure they're OK.
WHITFIELD: Virginia Beach Councilwoman Sabrina Wooten, thank you so much, appreciate it. Of course, all the best to everyone as they heal, as they try to make sense and comfort one another.
WOOTEN: Yes. Thank you very much.
WHITFIELD: Appreciate it.
So for the people who live and work right here in Virginia Beach, the memory of the lives lost here will really never be forgotten. This tight-knit community heartbroken by tragedy. More of our CNN special coverage next.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Virginia Beach, Virginia, a city reeling from that mass shooting inside the government building behind me, which cut 12 lives short. On Thursday, the city of Virginia Beach will hold a remembrance of the victims of this horrific shooting.
[14:20:00] So far investigators have been tightlipped about possible motives for this deadly rampage, other than to say a disgruntled employee opened fire on his co-workers before being killed in a shootout with responding police officers.
With me now from Philadelphia, former Washington D.C. police chief and CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey. Charles, good to see you, chief, good to see you. So typically, after mass shooting, we talk about security and access. But this was an employee with 15 years under his belt. He had a badge. This was a place he was supposed to be. This is a place that he knew, probably like the back of his hand. So what are city officials grappling with now when you talk about security, access, protecting your fellow employees at a municipal building and campus such as this?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I'm sure they're going to review their security procedures. But the reality is this is a public building. He was an employee. So even if they had doors that are locked that you need a swipe card or something like that, he would have had it. So you're limited in terms of what you're able to do. People come in there to pay water bills. One victim was there trying to get a permit. There's only so much you can do when it comes to trying to secure a public building.
WHITFIELD: And chief, police describe -- officials describe that he had an arsenal. He used a 45 caliber semi-automatic. He had a rifle. And apparently, they went to his home, and there were magazines and other weapons. And officials say these guns were purchased legally. So how will leaders here have that discussion? Every official I've been talking to talks about the discussions that they're going to have. But what will be the embodiment of these discussions if we're talking about legally obtained weapons?
RAMSEY: There will be a lot of discussions that will take place at the local, state, federal levels. The reality is nothing is going to really change all that much in my opinion. Granted, I'm a bit on the cynical side because I remember the way people were talking after Sandy Hook. And if the death of 20 babies doesn't move the needing, then I don't know what will.
Certainly, there are some steps that could be taken in order to try to see to it that guns stay out of the hands of people that should not have them. But we don't know if this guy really had the kind of red flags that would have led to any kind of denial of him purchasing a gun. One thing that bothered me as much as anything was the fact that he had a silencer, a suppressor, in addition to the extended magazines and so forth. That coupled with his knowledge of the building, he was able to move very, very quickly and killed a lot of people. It would have been a lot worse had police not been so close by.
WHITFIELD: And of course, that coupled with the fact that the knowledge that he had about the campus -- the police department was really just a few yards away from this building. So the silencer, obviously, so that perhaps law enforcement nearby and people in the building wouldn't know and hear what he's up to.
RAMSEY: One of the things I saw in an interview earlier with a person who was in the building at the time. And what she said was she heard what she thought was gunshots, but she didn't think it was that nearby because it sounded more in the distance. And I believe that's probably because of the suppresser. So that's going to add another layer of complexity to dealing with these types of situations if this becomes more than just a one-time event where people use this kind of weapon. It makes it more difficult for everybody involved, including the people that need to be able to find a place of safety during an event like this.
WHITFIELD: All right, heartbreaking and so unsettling. Chief Charles Ramsey, thank you so much.
RAMSEY: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: More from Virginia Beach right after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [14:28:00] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Boris Sanchez in Washington. We'll get you back out to Virginia Beach with Fredricka Whitfield in just a moment. But we are following several developing stories that we want to update you on.
First, U.S. and Mexican officials are preparing to discuss President Trump's recent tariff threats. And CNN has learned that the president ignored several warnings against them. A Trump administration official telling CNN that Trump ignored his own son-in-law, Jared Kushner's advice against issuing the threat. Today Mexico's president said that he is open to negotiating with President Trump. CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood joins me now. Sarah, we're hearing that several advisers were split over the decision to threaten these tariffs. What do we know?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Aides and advisers, they were sharply divided on the president's decision to slap these new tariffs on all imports from Mexico. Against the deal, as you mentioned, Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the president was against it, also U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasure Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
Then on the other side of the aisle advocating for this move, the president had a top trade adviser Peter Navarro, he had acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and his top aid Stephen Miller pushing the president to make this move.
Those who opposed the move, they had concerns that this would negatively affect the stock market. Those fears were obviously realized this week after the president made that announcement. We did see a stock market slide. And they also had concerns about how these new tariffs would affect the president's renegotiated NAFTA deal, the North American trade agreement with Canada and Mexico known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, USMCA. The administration is about to start a push to get that approved on Capitol Hill. And so those who oppose this move, they were afraid that the path for approval for that trade deal could get even more difficult.
And the proponents of these new tariffs, they argued that the migrant situation on the southern border is absolutely out of control, that something dramatic had to be done to secure more cooperation from Mexico to try to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants into the U.S.
[14:30:02] The administration and Trump himself has repeatedly expressed frustration with the fact that Mexico is not doing more to stop the migrants from Central America who are traveling up through Mexico to get to the U.S. And this also received a chilly reception on Capitol Hill where even Republicans were expressing some skepticism of this move because, again, that USMCA deal, it needs approval from the Democratically controlled House, Boris.
SANCHEZ: And we may see an update on the threat of these tariffs on Wednesday when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with his Mexican counterpart here in Washington D.C. Sarah Westwood reporting from the White House. Thanks so much, Sarah. Coming up, the heartache of the Virginia Beach workplace shooting is
being felt across the country. And now some of the Democratic presidential candidates are weighing in on the tragedy. You'll hear from them, next.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of that mass shooting here in Virginia Beach on Friday. Twelve people were killed while doing their job in this building behind me, four more are hurt. President Trump is sending his condolences, tweeting this, "Spoke to the Virginia Governor Ralph Northam last night and the mayor and vice- mayor of Virginia Beach this morning to offer condolences to that great community. The federal government is there and will be for whatever they may need. God bless the families and all."
[14:35:00] 2020 Democrats are also reacting to the shooting, using words like "heartsick" and "furious." Many of the candidates are actually in California this weekend, and that's where we find CNN's Kyung Lah. What are you hearing from the Dems about the shootings that took place here in Virginia Beach?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a large gathering here in California. The state party delegates all get together. They work on who their leadership should be, they talk about various platforms and issues that they want in their state platform. But what we're hearing today is a bit more of a somber tone, at least away from the stage. On the stage is still very much a festive party, Democratic Party atmosphere. But all of these candidates, the ones who have spoken to reporters have all noted what has been happening in Virginia Beach and the need for action. Here's a sampling of some of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What can you say? It's a terrible tragedy. And it speaks to the need for this country finally to do what the American people want, and that is common sense gun safety legislation, and that is making sure that people who should not own guns do not own guns, and doing everything we can to make this country and our schools safer.
GOV. JAY INSLEE, (D-WA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a pain felt that's felt all across America, not just Virginia. And for those folks who said we should not talk about gun safety in the wake of this tragedy, that's just wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: The uniformity of everything that these 2020 candidates have been saying has been remarkable. There's very little daylight between a lot of them on gun violence and the need to take some action in Congress right now.
What is also remarkable is how it has become a key talking point, a key issue for all of them. But this is very much about selling themselves as well here in California. I want you to take a live picture of who is on the stage right now. It is Beto O'Rourke. A warm reception for him. He's flipped back and forth between Spanish and English to this crowd. He's been very much a crowd pleaser. All 15 of the ones who have come here are expected to speak. Some very short speeches, Fredricka, but you're going to hear this repeated theme of what's happening in Washington, the president of the United States, and they are also weaving in their thoughts about gun violence. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: Kyung Lah, thank you so much. And of course, we'll have much more from Virginia Beach coming up.
[14:41:30] SANCHEZ: No one is above the law, not even the president. That's what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the California Democratic Convention just a short time again. Speaker Pelosi insisting on the truth when it comes to the president's interactions with Russia. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: As Counsel Mueller said, if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. Let's investigate the president's welcoming of Russia's assault on our democracy. It is our patriotic duty to push back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: You may have heard some of it there. Pelosi's comments coming as some in the crowd are shouting "impeach." Pelosi has resisted calls to begin impeachment proceedings, but she's indicated that it might be necessary depending on what House members find in their obstruction of justice investigation.
Joining us now to discuss further is presidential historian and former Nixon Library Director Tim Naftali, and CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer. Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us this afternoon. Julian, to you first. The Speaker has been hesitant to go down the impeachment road. You heard the crowd there, though. They're chanting for impeachment. When she came out, and we've seen a number of Democrats already calling for impeachment proceedings. Ultimately the energy is there. Do you think she's going to be able hold off these supporters of impeachment?
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's becoming harder and harder. There's a lot of daylight between what she is saying about the president and what needs to be done and what she is actually supporting. There are a number of Democrats, I believe about 50, who are now supporting impeachment proceedings. But she still has a little room in that if she does not lead the way, a lot of other Democrats are still going to sit back.
But look, what makes this hardest is President Trump himself. He keeps pushing the issue. He keeps pushing the question within the Democratic Caucus. And she's in a position of holding back her own party against a very unpopular president.
SANCHEZ: And Tim, it appears the president wants her to try to impeach him. Pelosi, though, she appears to be making a political calculation that it isn't worth it. Justice Amash really the only Republican that's come out and vocally called for impeachment. This likely wouldn't get anywhere in the Senate. Is there a symbolic victory to be had if Pelosi pursues and gets impeachment?
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I think, first of all, we really have to recognize the amount of discipline the Democratic Caucus has shown. And that's really I think evidence of Speaker Pelosi's leadership. They don't have the numbers. Democrats don't have the votes. You would not end up removing President Trump in the Senate, and it's not clear, by the way, that every single Democrat would feel comfortable voting for impeachment.
And if you only have Justin Amash voting on the Republican side for impeachment, then it's almost a party line vote. And the question a lot of politicians have to think about, those who are worried about the strength of our institutions is, do you want to further divide the country? There isn't a groundswell of support for impeachment in the country at the moment. We're not in 1973. This is not at all like that. So for Speaker Pelosi I think the issue is the American people are not pushing hard for impeachment, and the Democratic caucus is not pushing hard for impeachment. Why do it? Why engage in a symbolic effort that isn't going to get you a removal of a president? Aren't there other ways of strengthening American institutions at this difficult moment?
[14:45:05] SANCHEZ: And Julian, do you think President Trump recognizes that an attempted impeachment would galvanize his supporters and that's part of the reason that he's goading Pelosi into pursuing this?
ZELIZER: He thinks it might. I don't think it's clear. It's hard to predict how this would play out. The other way to think about it is a House vote that did impeach him certainly wouldn't get him more support outside his base. And his base is already energized. So he can easily claim if the House doesn't do anything, he has been exonerated and rally them that way.
So it's hard to know what the president is thinking. I do think there's part of him that certainly doesn't want to be impeached. But in many ways the Democrats need to think of this on its own terms, whether it's political or whether it's a presidential accountability issue rather than what the president is planning to do.
SANCHEZ: And Tim, what's your perspective on how some of the 2020 candidates are discussing impeachment? We've heard some, like Elizabeth Warren, who are very vocal about it.
NAFTALI: I wish all leaders, whether future leaders or current leaders, would stop saying how they would vote on impeachment. I think pushing for investigations, great. But the whole point of the process is that you actually wait that the evidence is in until you either vote for the indictment, the impeachment in the House, or you vote to convict the president in the Senate. It's not helpful at this moment for people to be foreshadowing how they plan to vote. So as long as candidates for the presidency are saying, look, I think there should be investigations, if they feel that, but I will wait until there is an investigation and until I hear all the evidence before I decide to vote. If they say that, that's great and helpful for the country. If they say I'm going to vote for impeachment now, that just I think serves the president. That really just makes us a more partisan people.
SANCHEZ: Julian, it sounded like you agreed with Tim there, but playing devil's advocate, if you're a candidate for president in 2020 in a crowded Democratic field, wouldn't coming out in favor of impeachment help to energize your supporters or at least give you some attention, some headlines?
ZELIZER: It can give you attention, headlines, and it can energize your supporters. It can also define you in terms of principle. You can take everything Speaker Pelosi has now said, and say the natural argument for a Democrat would be impeachment proceedings, not a vote. The proceedings are necessary at this point, and that will highlight who you are as a politician and shape the character that people see when they go to the ballot box. So I think it is an argument where you could imagine that a lot of Democrats like Senator Warren say I don't really have another choice other than to support this rout at this point.
SANCHEZ: Tim, you also mentioned 1973. We have to bring up 1998 and Bill Clinton. How do you see the differences, the markers of difference between impeachment in the past, conversations about impeachment in the past with Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and now?
NAFTALI: Two really important, I hope, important points. The first is I think Speaker Pelosi is thinking about the 1990s, late 1990s. And in that case, it hurt the Republicans to push for impeachment. They actually lost seats in the midterm elections of 1998. And the American people for the most part saw this as a partisan, vindictive attack on President Clinton.
In the case of Richard Nixon, the big difference is that the evidence available to the special prosecutor and to the grand jury that was looking into Watergate was overwhelming in terms of Nixon's guilt. And you already had an impeachment process that was ongoing because of the Saturday Night Massacre and the fact that the president tried to shut down an independent investigation of Watergate. So you really had a toxic brew for Richard Nixon.
And in many ways, if you hadn't had Nixon overreach in 73 and if you hadn't had the tapes available, I see Nixon finishing his second term. So the lesson from 73, 74, despite the overwhelming evidence was it's very hard to remove a president. And the evidence and the experience of the 1990s is if the American people are not behind the process and don't believe the process is necessary, impeachment will further divide the country. So I think those are really the lessons for the current period.
SANCHEZ: A great conversation. Tim Naftali, Julian Zelizer, gentlemen, thank you again.
There's still more ahead in the Newsroom. But first, here's this week's "Turning Points."
AJAY HOLBROOK, BODYBUILDER: What I love about body building is the fact that I'm able to work on myself every day. I came from being a 97-pound person, literally no muscle. My strength is not at the same level as a regular man. I was born Ambreia Janee Holbrook. I was born a female.
[14:50:00] I started to realize probably about the age of five that I was no longer fitting into that body or that role of being a female. I would look in the mirror and cry. I used to pray to wake up as a boy. When I finally discovered what transgender meant, I was like, I know what I am.
I started testosterone at 17-and-a-half-years-old.
This is day one on testosterone. This my voice, my face.
I felt a lot more like myself just because I knew the changes were coming.
My stepdad didn't know that I was trans. And then there was one day he beat the absolute crap out of me. I felt scared. I came to the conclusion that getting stronger would protect me from any of that ever again. That was enough motivation to get as serious as I did about bodybuilding.
The discrimination is very real in the body building community, people telling me that I'll never be a real man. I feel like I have to outwork every person in there just to make a statement. My goals are to compete in Mr. Olympia, and just make a footprint for trans people in the bodybuilding community. I look in the mirror and I'm very grateful. It's definitely the person I was born to be without a doubt.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back to Virginia Beach. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. This community shaken by that tragic shooting Friday in that municipal building that's right behind me. Twelve people were killed.
[14:55:03] Throughout the morning, I've talked to a number of people from city and state officials, and ordinary citizens who have come by, who have left flowers behind me, American flags, just to mark the places and pay respects to the 12 lives who were taken. Their thoughts are palpable. This is what many have had to say.
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GOV. RALPH NORTHAM, (D) VIRGINIA: It's a horrific tragedy. And these tragedies are becoming all too familiar. These were individuals that came to work yesterday morning for the city of Virginia Beach intending to go home to their families, and that didn't happen. And so now, there's a tremendous void. And we need to all work together to make sure that we take care of these families to give them the motor they need.
VICE MAYOR JAMES WOOD, VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA: I think it certainly has damaged us. It's hurt us. It's been something that has always occurred someplace else, never here. And that's what you see when you see this on a national basis. I would say that we're going to continue to work through it. We're going to work on after action things to figure out what we can do.
AARON ROUSE, VIRGINIA BEACH COUNCILMAN: We have our great first responders, our police officers, they didn't give a second thought to putting themselves in harm's way and making sure that this massacre, this shooting ended abruptly. I grew up here. I wouldn't be who I am today if it wasn't for our community. They say it takes a village to raise a child. And Virginia Beach helped raise me to whom I am. And now I'm proud to be in a position where being through this before at Virginia Tech, I can stand here and I can stand in front of our community and say, listen, we're going to come together like we did at Virginia Tech. We're going to do so stronger, smarter, we're going to have more humility, more tolerance for our differences. But Virginia Beach, we will define our moment in this hour.
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WHITFIELD: You heard it, Virginia Beach strong. Virginia Beach very much hurting right now, but Virginia Beach strong.
Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. CNN's special cover continues with Erica Hill right after this.