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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Senate Sources: Four Key Senators Meeting Tonight On Guns; Interview With Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI); Families Seek Answers In Wake Of Uvalde Shooting; Ukraine: Situation Changing "Every Hour" In Eastern Ukraine; Kyiv Morgue Works To Identify Bodies Of Fallen Soldiers; Proud Boys Charged With Seditious Conspiracy In Capitol Riot; Some GOP Candidates Try To Distance Themselves From QAnon; Court Documents: Slain Former Judge Had Sentenced Suspect To Six Years In Prison; WWII Veterans Mark 78th Anniversary Of Normandy Invasion. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired June 06, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: So, if the last couple of years have been testing for Boris Johnson, I think next six months will be even more so -- Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: As you point out with that history, with Theresa May only lasting a few months after, as you point out a disguised defeat.
Thank you so much, Max foster from London tonight.
And thanks to all of you for being with us. AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
We are waiting for word tonight from a bipartisan group of four senators trying to reach agreement on some kind of gun legislation. John Cornyn and Thom Tillis, Chris Murphy, and Kyrsten Sinema, three representing states, Arizona, Connecticut and Texas that have seen some of the country's worst mass shootings over the years.
Now, this afternoon, Senator Cornyn, the lead Republican negotiator said the group might have quote "something" unquote, after their meeting tonight. Exactly what, unclear.
There were at least 13 mass shootings in the country since Friday evening. Those 13 incidents in which four more people were shot. Here is a map where they occurred from Phoenix to Philadelphia. There is also a look at locations of all the mass shootings so far this year, at least 246, and that's just so far.
According to the Gun Violence Archive which compiles these statistics and puts the country on pace to match or exceed the worst year on record.
Now, in a moment, we will have the latest when Congress, first though, CNN's Brian Todd on the weekend.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A physical altercation escalated into a shootout Saturday according to police with bullets flying into the crowd in an entertainment district.
When police responded --
DANIELLE OUTLAW, PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: They observed several civilians suffering from gunshot wounds lying on the sidewalk and in the street.
TODD (voice over): Police believe there were at least three gunmen and at least four guns were used. Fourteen shot, three killed, one a suspected gunman. Charges have been filed today including attempted murder against one of two suspects. One of them is already in custody.
Authorities say a responding officer shot and injured him. The other, still at large.
TODD (on camera): He has not been apprehended yet?
JOANNE PESCATORE, PHILADELPHIA HOMICIDE PROSECUTOR: He is not.
TODD: Is he a dangerous person? Should we be --
PESCATORE: He is, of course. We've requested high bail once he is arrested.
TODD (voice over): In rural South Carolina, at a graduation lawn party with 150 guests. Police say at least 60 or 70 shots were fired from two cars. Eight people were shot, one of them killed.
MINDY KIND, DAUGHTER KILLED AT GRADUATION PARTY: I looked at my daughter on the ground, she was out. She had already stopped breathing.
TODD (voice over): In Chattanooga, Tennessee at a nightclub shooting, three people were killed and at least 14 injured, two from gunshots, one struck by a fleeing vehicle.
MAYOR TIM KELLY, CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE: It's going to be a long summer and we have got to get out in front of it and put a stop to it.
TODD (voice over): Additional shootings across the country this weekend, from a Michigan suburb, to a graduation party in Virginia, to a party at a strip mall in Phoenix.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A group of people that just started running like every different direction. And I, myself, was like hiding behind cars because the shots kept getting closer and closer.
TODD (voice over): Philadelphia's top prosecutor focusing on guns.
LARRY KRASNER, PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We have 120 guns for every hundred Americans and that includes children, and so we find ourselves in situations where people who are simply having a fistfight can turn a street in a busy entertainment section of town into mayhem. It's disastrous.
TODD (voice over): New York's Governor today signed bills including a ban on body armor sales and raising the age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21.
GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): When did we become a nation that reveres the right to have the ability to possess a gun over the right of a child to stay alive? When did that happen?
TODD (voice over): But in Washington, far less agreement on what to do. The mood in Philadelphia and elsewhere tonight --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to feel like I can't get home from work safe.
COOPER: Brian Todd is in Philadelphia tonight. Do police have any leads on the suspect still at large there?
TODD: Anderson, if they have leads on him, they are being pretty cagey about it tonight. The DA's office being careful not to release the person's name. They do tell us that he remains very dangerous, he is still out there. We have to reiterate though that they are piecing together information on scenes of sheer chaos from Saturday evening.
The DA's office told us that the two men whose confrontation started this whole thing on Saturday night, they fired a total of about 17 shots at each other within just a few seconds.
COOPER: Brian Todd, appreciate it.
More now in the state of the Senate negotiations underway. This afternoon, in the White House, spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said that the President is in her words, encouraged by the talks. And a short time later, on CNN's "The Lead," Democratic Senator Chris Murphy told Jake Tapper he was cautiously optimistic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I've never been part of negotiations as serious as these. There are more Republicans at the table talking about changing our gun laws and investing in mental health than at any time since Sandy Hook.
Now, I've also been part of many failed negotiations in the past so I'm sober minded about our chances.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was Senator Murphy earlier before the talks tonight began. For more on how they're going, CNN's Jessica Dean joins us now from the Capitol. So is it likely this bipartisan group of senators will actually have
something they can agree on soon?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's what they're hoping, clearly, Anderson and they are up against time. They know that there is momentum right now and they want to take advantage of that. But look, they still have to bridge a lot of gaps here. There's a lot to cover and they are trying to work quickly, but they remain very clear eyed that this could fall apart, even as they continue to meet as we speak.
Tonight, the four senators, Senators Sinema, Murphy, Tillis, and Cornyn all together tonight, trying to kind of sort through what happens next. We know that some of the things that are on the table right now are incentivizing states to increase Red Flag Laws or put them into place if they're not already into place; safe storage; perhaps expanding background checks. School safety funding, also mental health funding, these are all some of the things that they are talking about right now.
We also know that the full GOP Senate conference is going to meet tomorrow at lunch, Anderson. They'll kind of take the temperature of the GOP. Remember, as we've talked about many, many times with this evenly divided Senate, it is going to come down to what 10 Republicans will agree to, that is what is going to be able to pass, and that's the only way they're going to get anything through that Senate filibuster.
COOPER: Is raising the age to 21 for buying semiautomatic rifles, which is something the President had called for. He also talked about a ban on assault weapons, but raising it to 21 would be a step short of that, is that on the table?
DEAN: It doesn't appear to be on the table. My colleague, Manu Raju, did catch up with Senator Joe Manchin, of course a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, I want everyone to listen to what he had to say about it earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Here, you want to look at two things that could have prevented this -- an age requirement would have prevented an 18-year-old and basically a Red Flag Law that is basically intended to try to help a person get some mental help.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you think that there should be a ban on assault weapons, ban on AR-15s?
MANCHIN: You know, talking about bans, I wouldn't have a problem on looking at some of these things. What is the necessity? Tell me what the purpose is, and let's use them for those purposes.
(END VIDEO CLIP) DEAN: But again, they're going to need 10 Republicans to join them in
that, Anderson, and there is absolutely no indication that a ban would go anywhere in the Senate. We do know that some of the lead negotiators were talking about potentially expanding a waiting period for 18 to 20-year-olds, for example, maybe looking into juvenile records to try to make sure that they are mentally fit to be able to have a weapon. That is something they're discussing.
Again, we should learn more when they get out of this meeting tonight and then tomorrow as well -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Jessica Dean, I appreciate the latest. Thanks.
Perspective now from a lawmaker has already expressed his impatience at the slow pace of gun legislation. Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island. He had this to say to Republican Matt Gaetz's objections in a hearing last week that Red Flag Laws infringe on the right to due process.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): Spare me the bullshit about constitutional rights. You know who didn't have due process? You know who didn't have their constitutional right to life respected? The kids at Parkland, and Sandy Hook, and Uvalde, and Buffalo, and the list goes on and on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Congressman Cicilline joins us now. How confident are you in the Senate to get this over the finish line?
CICILLINE: Well, good evening.
I don't have a lot of confidence about the Senate deliberations. I hope I'm wrong. But what I can tell you is that we have passed two really important pieces of legislation already. One to strengthen criminal background checks. We know criminal background checks work, because three and a half million gun sales have been denied because someone went to buy a gun who wasn't legally allowed to.
The problem is thousands and thousands of gun sales happen without a criminal background check. So we sent that bill to the Senate to strengthen criminal background checks. We sent a bill over to close the Charleston loophole so you don't get to buy a gun if your background check doesn't come back quickly enough, no matter what kind of criminal record you have.
Those are very commonsense supported by 90 percent of the American people. They haven't even passed those because the Republicans are blocking consideration of those two really widely embraced pieces of legislation. We will pass this week in the House a Red Flag Bill so that people who are seriously mentally ill such that they're a danger to themselves or others, that they might commit a horrific crime won't have the ability to buy a gun. This is again, very commonsense. Lots of states already do this. And then we'll also pass the Protecting Our Americans America's Kids
Act that will ban ghost guns and raise the age to own an assault weapon and prohibit trafficking in firearms, provide for safe storage, and high capacity magazines. So we're going to pass those and then we're going to send them over to the Senate and they're going to have a responsibility to answer to that, either to pass the bill as we have in the past passed their own bill.
But we've been here before, but Anderson, we have got -- something has to be different this time. We have a gun violence epidemic in this country. Guns are now the leading cause of death of American kids.
I mean think about that. We've had more than 27 school shootings this year, more than 200 mass shootings this year alone and we have got to do something different. And this idea of just, if everyone had a gun, if there were more guns, we'd be safer. If that were true, we'd be the safest country in the world because we have more guns in America than anywhere else in the world, more guns than people.
So we need to do something different, and I hope the Senate will do their job.
COOPER: Yes, Senator Cornyn outlined potential legislation compromises, strengthening mental health care, bolstering school security, keeping guns out of the hands of people who are already illegally prohibited from having them. Clearly those measures are not enough for you. Are they a positive step for you?
CICILLINE: Absolutely. Look, I think we have got to make progress. The American people are begging their elected officials to do something to protect them from the scourge and the ravages of gun violence in our country.
And so I'm, you know, I'm happy that we're going to -- I hope we're going to make some progress, but we're going to keep fighting for all of the commonsense proposals that we're going to pass in the House because we know taken together, they will make a real difference in the lives of the people that we represent.
And you know, I just for the life of me cannot understand why people are unwilling to stand up to the powerful gun lobby, and do what is right to safeguard the lives of their constituents. When kids can't go to school and feel safe or can't go to a grocery store --
COOPER: President Biden, though, one of the things he said is that, you know, that for people, it may boil down to this becoming an issue that people actually vote on whether, you know, at the polls that this, if people are really serious about this and really want change, it may be that the only way to make change happen is at the voting booth and by people making this the number one issue that drives their vote. That's not happened.
I mean, it certainly hasn't on the Democratic side or those who want some form of, you know, raising an assault weapon ban or raising the age, it's not the number one issue they're voting on.
CICILLINE: Yes. I know, President Obama used to say that for us, you know, gun safety is on the list of many important issues, healthcare and education and climate. And for people who are opponents of responsible gun safety, it is very often the only issue and this has to become a single issue for voters who want gun safety.
No one should vote for a candidate who is not committed to doing everything in their power to reduce gun violence in this country and to pass commonsense gun safety proposals.
These proposals are supported by 90 -- eighty five percent of the American people, something is fundamentally broken when the vast majority of Americans are demanding this action, and the Republicans in the Senate still prevent it from happening.
So if it doesn't happen now, and I think you're absolutely right, it has to be a campaign issue. And people have to be committed to ensuring they're not going to elect and vote for people are going to stand in the way of responsible gun safety legislation in this country, otherwise, we'll never get any change.
COOPER: Congressman Cicilline, I appreciate your time. Thanks very much.
CICILLINE: Thanks for having me.
COOPER: Coming up next, a live report from Uvalde on the continuing search for answers there.
And later, candidates for office and the past connections to QAnon that they now, I mean, we some of them seem to be trying to back away from.
Plus, more January 6 participants facing sedition charges, ahead.
COOPER: As lawmakers negotiated the shape of possible new gun legislation back in Washington, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was in Uvalde. He laid flowers, paid respects at Robb Elementary, spoke with Border Patrol agents who had responded to the shooting and local officials, not to reporters, however.
As for the kind of information that people in Uvalde are getting from those same officials to all the questions and everyone still has, grieving parents still have about how the incident in the entire episode has been handled, well, that continues to be a problem.
CNN's Shimon Prokupecz, who has seen a lot of it up close joins us now with more from Uvalde. So what's it been like for families and reporters and anyone just trying to get basic information? I mean, are they giving out any new details at all about what actually occurred? SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: No, no, no,
Anderson. You know, we keep getting sort of stalled and we keep getting the word from officials here that now that the District Attorney's Office is sort of in charge of this investigation with the Texas Rangers that they can no longer provide information to us. So you know, we still try. We still go to the Governor's Office, we still go to state investigators, we still go to the DA's office, but they continue to deny our requests for information.
So it's been particularly difficult on the ground here to try and get updates on this investigation, what new information they've learned. There are still, as you said, so many unanswered questions. And you know, it can really take weeks, if not months before this report comes out from the Texas Rangers answering some of these remaining open- ended questions -- Anderson.
COOPER: What are the big questions that still -- I mean, I guess, there are so many of them, but what do you think the main things are that still need to be figured out?
PROKUPECZ: So I think the beginning moments, you know, so much has been made about that hour -- over an hour that the officers were in the hall as the gunman was still firing his weapon at those kids. But it's also the beginning moments.
You know, we've heard a lot about this resource officer, the school police officer, why wasn't this person at the school? Were they supposed to be at the school? But those moments in the beginning of the gunfire when the gunman entered the school, those five, six minutes, the officers retreated. They moved back. He was firing at them.
So we need some explanation as to why that is. That's not what protocol is, right? Protocol is you go towards the gunfire.
These officers, from everything we've been told, retreated. They moved back. They moved to get cover, allowing the gunman even more time, more effort to get into that classroom and sadly killed those children.
COOPER: There's a State House hearings scheduled for Thursday. Is there anything we should expect to learn from that?
PROKUPECZ: So it's the Investigative Committee that they formed here on the Robb Elementary shooting. I think some of it, most of it is probably going to be conducted behind closed doors because they are going to also argue they're still in an active investigation, but this Committee is going to have subpoena power, it's going to be able to depose people. They say they're bringing in law enforcement to testify.
So we'll see. Again, the big question, though, is if they keep doing this behind closed doors, how are we ever going to get answers, you know, these investigations that are taking place? When it was convenient for them to answer questions, Anderson, as we've said, they were answering questions. They stood before a podium, they took as many questions as we wanted. They made appearances.
But once the story became different, once we started questioning the stories that law enforcement was providing us, all of a sudden, well, everything now is under investigation and so they're not answering any questions and it is really everybody in the state. Everywhere we turn, everyone is saying because the District Attorney's office is now running this investigation, they are not going to answer questions.
COOPER: Shimon Prokupecz, appreciate it. Thank you.
One of the teachers wounded in Robb Elementary School is speaking out. Here is what he told ABC News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNULFO REYES, ROBB ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER: He started asking out loud, "Mr. Reyes, what is going on?" And I said, "I don't know what's going on. But let's go ahead and get under the table. Get under the table and act like you're asleep."
As they were doing that, and I was gathering them under the table and told them to act like they were going to sleep, is about the time when I turned around and saw him standing there.
One of the students from the next door classroom was saying, "Officer, we're in here. We're in here." And then -- but they had already left and then he got up from my behind my desk, and he walked over there and he shot her again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The Robb Elementary teacher wounded in the shooting. Now someone who has been searching for answers in his legislative capacity, Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez joins us. He represents Uvalde. He joins us now.
Senator Gutierrez appreciate you being with us. You know, you heard our reporting from Shimon Prokupecz getting any answers, it is remarkable in how silent now everyone from law enforcement to the Governor is about what actually occurred. There was a shooting in Tulsa, within 12 hours, we knew all about it from police. We knew the times, we knew who had done what. Why is there as this wall of silence now?
ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D), TEXAS STATE SENATOR: You know, Anderson, your guess is as good as mine. I've been demanding answers to important questions, I was told that I was going to get a very vital report for me. I wanted to know which officers were in that hallway, not which -- not to identify them, but I want to know which law enforcement units were in there.
The last thing I was told that it began with two State Troopers and as many as 13 State Troopers were in that hallway. That's an important issue for me, because those are the folks that are accountable to me at the State Legislature.
My concern here is that there's a lot of finger pointing. No one seems to know who the incident commander is. We've been told that it's this one school cop. At what point does the next agency with higher firepower, higher equipment, not take command and control?
DPS is always talking about command and control, clearly the superior power and clearly there was some breakdown in the entire system here. A big concern for me going over it.
COOPER: The Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives has formed an Investigative Committee focusing on the shooting at Robb Elementary. That Committee meets this Thursday. Do you expect to learn anything from that investigation? Who is on that committee?
GUTIERREZ: Well, you know, I'm in the Senate, not in the House. The Senate has yet to meet. And I believe the Lieutenant Governor said he's going to wait to all the funerals passed, which will be next week.
I have no idea what information that they are going to be able to glean or what information they're going to get because the local District Attorney has shut this whole process down.
Listen, if there's some criminality out there, I understand that, but it remains to be seen what criminality we could be discussing. Clearly, there was law enforcement error, self-identified and admitted law enforcement error by Colonel McCraw. I just want to know where that blame should go.
Why is it important? Less to blame people but more to make sure that this never happens again. We have joint training with law enforcement entities on the border. That never happened here. That was admitted to me.
We need organizations to be on the same communication level. We heard that this man was the incident commander, but then DPS tells us that he doesn't have radio communications. So did he raise his hand? Was he wearing a shirt? How did he tell these folks that he was the incident commander?
There's just so many just questions out here that it just had not been answered for us and the community is very frustrated.
COOPER: I think you also make a really important point that, you know, our desire to get answers I'm sure the grieving families desire to get answers, it is not to blame somebody, it's not to, you know, publicly humiliate somebody who made a bad call or wrong decision or didn't have training or whatever it may be. It is to figure out what went wrong so it doesn't happen again. Because I mean, if police forces don't have the training that they're supposed to have by now, if they don't have the knowledge of how to deal with an active shooter, those are all important things to know.
I just -- I am stunned, I've never seen kind of a wall of silence like this put up around an incident where so many people have been killed.
Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez, I appreciate your time tonight and I know you'll keep trying to get answers to questions and we will continue as well. Thank you.
Coming up, Russia returns the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers killed during the siege in the steel plant in Mariupol. And in other areas of the city, Russia steps up their airstrikes and its land defensive in Eastern Ukraine. A live report from the war zone next.
COOPER: We approach the four month mark and Vladimir Putin's war on Ukraine. Russia is stepping up its ground and air offensive in the eastern part of the country with Ukrainian officials saying the situation is changing every hour. There are reports of fierce battles and Russian forces try to break down Ukrainian defenses and hit key infrastructure. Also, Russia is returning some of Ukraine's war debt.
For the latest, I want to go to CNN's Ben Wedeman in Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine. So Ben, President Zelenskyy spoke earlier this evening. What did he have to say?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sort of a wide ranging interview with the media, Anderson. And basically a he did underscore the difficulties faced by Ukrainian forces in that city subverted Donetsk about an hour and a half drive from here. It's been a fierce battle now for several weeks. But he also talked about what happened in Mariupol that city on the Azov Sea that was under siege for two months. He said he believed that perhaps as many as 2,500 of the soldiers taken prisoner by the Russians may be in the Luhansk and Donetsk areas occupied by Russia. He said that the priority for the Ukrainians is now to bring them home. But what we saw on Saturday and Kyiv central morgue is some of the bodies that the Russians handed back to the Ukrainians.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): And so begins on a sunny summer morning, the grimmest of tasks. Workers it at Kyiv central morgue examined the contents of 160 dirty putrid body bags. Containing the badly decomposed remains of soldiers killed during the two months siege at the port city of Mariupol and in the city's sprawling Azovstal steel plant, where Ukrainian forces made their last stand.
Ukraine and Russia have conducted an exchange of bodies as part of the agreement that ended the siege. Forensic examiner Liliya Pilipchuk has been on the job for three years. Since the war began, she's had little rest.
We also examined the bodies from Bucha and Irpin, she says referring to Kyiv suburbs were retreating Russian forces are accused of committing atrocities against civilians. Olena Tolkatchava is also helping. She's affiliated with the Azov brigade, which fought in Mariupol. The brigade is a nationalist of militia that was integrated into Ukraine's armed forces.
The morgue is already full of bodies from Kyiv, from Bucha, from Irpin, she says. So we have to put them in a refrigerator truck.
More workers search through ripped and ragged clothing for documents and tag and bag personal items. This is just the start of a long process.
(on-camera): Some of these bodies have no identification. So their DNA will have to be sampled. And it may take a month maybe more to find out who they were.
(voice-over): And only then will their loved ones know their fate. Finality for the living and the dead of have to wait.
COOPER: It's just -- it's I mean, that whole process. It's unbelievable. As we mentioned you're now in Kramatorsk. You were there after the attack on the train station. People may remember back in April. What have you been seeing in Kramatorsk?
WEDEMAN: Not so much is what we've been seeing, what we've been hearing. We've been hearing a lot of explosions overnight. It's not quite clear where they're coming from since they're sort of all over the place. But certainly what is the difference from when I was here before is how much more on edge this city is. The Russians have made progress in taking more ground since I was here in late April.
What we saw, for instance, when we were coming here yesterday, was that going westward, where many cars lined up at checkpoints, people leaving the area even though the Ukrainians continue to try to keep the Russians at bay. Many people fear that the country's hold on this part of the country isn't quite so firm as it used to be. Anderson.
COOPER: Ben Wedeman. Appreciate it. Ben. Thank you so much.
Up next, Republican candidates for Congress who wants seemingly pushed QAnon conspiracies. What do they say about it now? Find out ahead.
COOPER: Tonight, the leader of the so called Proud Boys and four other top lieutenants in the far right extremist group face seditious conspiracy charges. These are the most serious charges brought by the Justice Department as part of the ongoing investigation as to violent insurrection on Capitol Hill last year. Federal prosecutors accused Enrique Tarrio and his co-defendants applauding the attack in advance and encouraging supporters to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 election. The men have already pleaded not guilty to earlier charges. Meanwhile, another group getting more attention since the attack on the Capitol is QAnon or Q many of those who attack the Capitol or followers or supporters. The supporters between on spread all sorts of anti-Semitic and nonsensical conspiracies and disinformation. They have found a niche on social media certainly within the Republican Party, but CNN's Donie O'Sullivan discovered some GOP candidates who've seemingly supported QAnon beliefs in the past may now trying to be distancing themselves from it.
Take a look.
NICHOLAS FERRERA (R-NJ) HOUSE CANDIDATE: With the whole COVID thing and a lot of people say it's a plandemic.
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (ph): OK.
FERRERA: I don't know if that's true or not. I'm open to the possibility of anything because I see how much we've been lied to.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Nicholas Ferreira is running in the Republican primary for New Jersey's Third Congressional District. He is a QAnon diehard.
(on-camera): If somebody's watching this might say, how does somebody as intelligent and put together as you are goes down the QAnon rabbit hole and believe it?
FERRERA: Because I've seen the evidence.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): False QAnon predictions like this one in 2017, which claimed that Hillary Clinton was about to be arrested have not deterred Ferrera.
(on-camera): Was the fact that so much of this was bullshit not put you off of?
FERRERA: Well, now, you could say that though. They always say future proves past so these things they didn't happen like the Clinton thing. But supposedly they can happen in the future to the day say, three, four years to the day. We'll see.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): One of the ways that we found you was you're on this list pulled together by the liberal group Media Matters. They identify you as a QAnon candidate. Are you a QAnon candidate?
DARLENE SWAFFAR (R-FL) HOUSE CANDIDATE: You know, I don't know anything about that. I have no idea what they're talking about. There's zero evidence.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Darlene Swaffar, who is running in Florida's 22nd congressional district denies knowing anything about QAnon despite posts referencing the conspiracy theory on her social media. (on-camera): They have a screenshot of you in a QAnon group, QAnon Great Awakening, where you say your posts have inspired me to explore to run for Congress in 2020?
SWAFFAR: Yes, I think we're definitely focused on uncovering the truth. We want to know what corruption is going on in our country.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): What is the QAnon slogan?
FERRERA: Well, there's a number. Where we go one, we go wall, I guess is the main one.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Where does that come from, where we go and where we go?
FERRERA: It's good question. I do know that JFK had it on the back of his boat. There was like a bell and it was etched into that bell.
SWAFFAR: Where we go one, we go off. Do you know that that slogan came from John F. Kennedy? That's where that came from. And that slogan was on his yacht, his boat.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): That's a popular answer for QAnon believers who want to deny they embrace the conspiracy theory slogan, but it's not true. CNN ask the John F. Kennedy presidential library, who had said it had found no evidence that the phrase had anything to do with Kennedy's boats or any indication he had said the phrase.
In fact, the slogan seems to come from Hollywood on the boat of Ridley Scott's 1996 disaster survival movie, White Squall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are we go one, we go all.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): I mean, we've spoken to some other Republican primary candidates who have tweeted QAnon stuff in the past, but now they're trying to distance themselves from it. (INAUDIBLE) I don't follow Q.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Why do you think they're doing that?
FERRERA: Because they get attacked, non stop.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): I thought QAnon said they're in the Cabal?
DARREN AQUINO (R-NY) HOUSE CANDIDATE: They're in the Cabal well.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): And then there's Darren Aquino, a New Yorker who moves out he's running in Florida's 25th district.
AQUINO: That's me and Jimmy on The Sopranos.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): His Twitter account has multiple past references to QAnon.
(on-camera): A few times, you did tweet the QAnon slogan where we go one, we go all.
AQUINO: I didn't tweet that. At the beginning, I didn't tweet my tweet, because I'm not very technical. So I had people they tweet for me.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): OK.
(voice-over): Darren says he knows nothing about QAnon but that he did believe a conspiracy theory after the 2020 election, that martial law might be put in place to stop Biden's inauguration. He says even stocked up on canned goods and other supplies.
(on-camera): Those concerns about martial law in January 2021, as somebody who's followed QAnon the conspiracy theory movement, a lot of those claims that all this madness was going to happen in January '21.
AQUINO: Was that QAnon are you saying that put this stuff out?
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): I'm saying the community around QAnon was what was pushing it? I was pushing these claims, which turned out to be false. They never materialized.
AQUINO: OK. What I was getting came actually from QAnon.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): I would say from the kind of QAnon community.
AQUINO: OK. I got it from people that that knew me in other states.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Yes.
AQUINO: They would tell you, Darren, this is going to be get ready. OK, what do we get ready for?
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Would you say you're a victim of misinformation?
AQUINO: Yes, but I wouldn't make it like I'm a victim. I'm -- Yes. Sure, because I'm a patriot. So somebody from this one, let's tell that patriot, cause he'll spread the word. So yes, I'm a victim of somebody's lie, to use my credibility and my patriotism, to spread a word that's a lie.
COOPER: And Donie joins me now. The (INAUDIBLE) the other two seem clearly too had been pushing tweets about QAnon and now I mean, the first one seems to be standing by it. The -- Ms. --
COOPER: -- Darlene.
O'SULLIVAN: Darlene Swaffar.
COOPER: Darlene Swaffar, she now just seems to be pretending like that didn't happen. O'SULLIVAN: That's right. And we've kind of seen that with more --
O'SULLIVAN: -- believing. Yes. More candidates, GOP who have realized that the QAnon label it's gotten out of vogue, you know, given the likes of the QAnon shaman and things like that. But what we're seeing really is that the belief system that has been popularized true the kind of QAnon movement still lives on.
I mean you heard from Ms. Swaffar there, she still believes the election was stolen. And she cites evidence from the Pillow Guy Mike Lindell, to prove that. And then to the more dark side, we didn't touch it on this piece. But, you know, there is that belief system where that anybody who disagrees with Trump or disagrees with the Republicans is a pedophile. And that was popularize through the QAnon movement, and we saw even recently, Elise Stefanik, the number three in the House Republicans, she tweeted recently a reference to pedophile.
So, we can see that this belief structure is still in place and alive and well.
COOPER: It's also fascinating, I mean to hear Nicholas Ferrera there, you know, quoting the QAnon slogan, and saying, we know -- well, I do know, that came from Kennedy's boat. You know, like everything with QAnon, it's just not true.
O'SULLIVAN: Yes. I mean, look --
COOPER: And also him saying, well, yes, that whole Clinton thing, Clinton wasn't arrested. But supposedly it can happen three years from now on that same date. I don't even know what that means (INAUDIBLE) sense.
O'SULLIVAN: Yes, I mean, look, I think, you know, we hear so much from people where they say, I do my own research, I go online, I do my own research. If they did their own research, they might have been able to see that JFK never said, where we go one, where we go all for the image of that bell that is circulating online is actually from that very good movie, which I know you enjoy Anderson, White Squall.
So, you know, I don't think they often realize it pretty early on that point to say, oh, well, this prediction didn't work out. But it could in two or three years. I don't think they quite realize how ridiculous it sounds when they say it out loud.
COOPER: It's fascinating. Donie O'Sullivan, keep at it. I don't know how you do it.
Coming up, the latest details on the government suspected of killing a former Wisconsin judge and the other public figures sources say he was potentially targeting.
COOPER: We have new details tonight, the gunman suspected of shooting to death retired Wisconsin Judge John Roemer in his home on Friday. According to court documents, more than 15 years ago, Judge Roemer sentenced the suspect to six years in jail. Now authorities are calling the judges killing a targeted attack and sources tell CNN that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Wisconsin's Governor Tony Evers were also potential targets. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer's office said her name was also on the gunman's list.
CNN's Nadia Romero has the latest on it.
NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At 6:30 a.m., the Juneau County Sheriff's office received a call about an armed person and two shots fired inside a home in New Lisbon, Wisconsin. They responded and for nearly four hours trying to negotiate with a suspect inside the home before entering and finding 68-year-old retired Judge John Roemer zip tied to a chair. According to two sources familiar with the investigation, police say he was shot and killed.
JOSH KAUL, WISCONSIN ATTORNEY GENERAL: This act appears to have been related to the judicial process.
ROMERO (voice-over): Police found the suspected attacker injured in the basement from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He survived.
Investigators are now looking into the possibility of a targeted attack, potentially part of a hit list of public figures. According to our source familiar with the investigation.
KAUL: All I can say is that he's in critical condition and the investigation is ongoing.
ROMERO (voice-over): No charges have been filed. The suspect in the shooting has criminal convictions dating back to at least 2002 and has crossed paths with Judge Roemer in the past. Court records show and 2005, his case involving armed burglary and firearms charges came before the judge who sentenced him to six years in prison, followed by nine years extended supervision.
The suspect also brought a civil suit against several law enforcement officials after his 2001 arrest. Judge Roemer was targeted along with other political leaders.
KAUL: There were other targets Judge Roemer was among them. And the investigation into those details is continuing. We notified everybody who we have reason to believe may have been a target.
ROMERO (voice-over): Those targets, according to the source included Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and Wisconsin governor Tony Evers.
Judge Roemer retired in 2017. Timothy Cottingham, a Juneau County board chairman who worked with Judge Roemer for close to 30 years says the legal community is still in shock.
TIMOTHY COTTINGHAM, CHAIRMAN BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, JUNEAU COUNTY: I think that's part of the healing process. It's going to take time, like with everything. A lot of people adopt with him, you know, personally, professionally. It's tough. He was a very good man.
KAUL: This is such a horrific crime. This is a targeted attack on a public official and a judge. It's not the only targeted attack we've seen.
ROMERO (voice-over): The State's Attorney General said identifying any further potential threats is now a primary concern.
KAUL: We have seen a rise in domestic extremism. I think it is important that we take a look at the protective measures that we have in place.
COOPER: And Nadia Romero joins me now from Wisconsin. What can you tell us about the tribute this evening for the judge?
ROMERO: Yes, Anderson, it was so emotional for the people involved. This building behind me is the old County Courthouse. This is where Judge John Roemer started his career as a public defender. And then for the next few decades, he worked with many county employees, and they walked out of this building so that they could see this flag being lowered at half staff at the request of the county board chairman who wanted to honor the late Judge John Roemer.
And we saw those county employees hugging one another and sobbing over his sudden loss. And the community will gather again, not too far from here at the Justice Center where he served as a judge. There will be a candlelight vigil on Friday. Anderson.
COOPER: What's the reaction been in the town?
ROMERO: I mean, Anderson, this is such a small town, and we often hear the cliche, it's a tight close knit community. I mean, that couldn't be any more truer when you're talking about this area. Everyone seems to know everyone. If you need to go to the grocery store from the judge's home in New Lisbon, you'd have to travel more than two miles to get those everyday staples.
We went to his church St. Paul's and when I spoke with the woman who knew him and his family, she couldn't get words out before she started crying and told me that it was just too emotional for her. Nothing like this happens in this kind of town. The county board chairman told me that he was a police officer for 27 years he can only remember five homicides in those 27 years. Anderson.
[20:55:19] COOPER: Nadia Romero, appreciate the reporting. Thank you.
Up next, today as we mark the anniversary of D-Day, we remember the troops who risked their lives when they stormed the beaches of Normandy attack Nazi soldiers in World War II.
COOPER: Today marks the 78th anniversary of D-Day the day consider the turning point of World War II. And several dozen D-Day veterans now all in their 90s gathered on the beaches of Normandy to remember the moment. In June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 U.S. and other allied troops stormed those beaches to attack German troops. It was the largest land and water invasion in history. Estimated 10,000 Allied troops were killed, wounded or went missing in action, more than 6,000 were Americans.
Now, nearly a decades later at the best defense foundation bar brought World War II veterans back to Normandy to commemorate the anniversary. According to the foundation, about 20,000 people came to meet the veterans during a parade today, preyed was held in a town liberated by American paratroopers during the Normandy invasion. We remember and thank them.
The news continues. Want to hand over Laura Coates in "CNN TONIGHT." Laura.