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At This Hour

Nine Transit Workers Killed in California Mass Shooting; Interview with Mayor Sam Liccardo of San Jose, California; Senate Republicans Expected to Block Insurrection Commission; Prosecutors Investigating Trump Tell Witness to Prepare for Grand Jury Testimony. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired May 27, 2021 - 11:00   ET



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

Here are the things that we're watching AT THIS HOUR:

America in mourning. A gunman kills nine transit workers in California. We have brand new details of the investigation and the victims.

Moment of truth. Will Senate Republicans back an investigation into the attack on the U.S. Capitol or continue to ignore the truth?

Full ride. A high school freshman just won a full scholarship in Ohio's vaccine lottery. The lucky winner and his even luckier parents join us.


BOLDUAN: Thanks for being here, everybody.

AT THIS HOUR, it happened again. Flags lowered to half-staff at the White House and the U.S. Capitol once again.

The city of San Jose, California, joining the long and growing list of cities in America that are tragically marked by mass shootings. Nine transit workers are now dead.

This is the 17th mass shooting in the last week. And there have been 232 mass shootings so far this year. The gunman attacked his own workplace, a rail yard in San Jose, a terrifying scene that unfolded during our show yesterday.

Twenty-four hours ago, we were starting to grasp how bad this be would. This morning, authorities tell CNN this massacre could have been even worse from the weapons the shooter was carrying to the new details of bomb components that police found at the crime scene.

CNN's Josh Campbell is live in San Jose with the very latest.

Josh, what you are hearing? JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Kate, another day,

another mass murder in the United States of America.

As you mentioned, this is the 17th mass shooting in the past week. There have been 232 this year. This, of course, raising this question for lawmakers how much mass murder is acceptable? Nine more families in the United States are starting their day grieving the loss of a loved one killed by gunfire.


CAMPBELL (voice-over): This morning, law enforcement is investigating why a gunman opened fire at a commuter rail yard in San Jose, California, killing nine people.

SHERIFF LAURIE SMITH, SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: We don't know anything about the motive right now. However, they were all employees of the transit district. They worked together. They were there together.

CAMPBELL: The shots started ringing out around 6:30 a.m.

DEPUTY RUSSELL DAVIS, SANTA CLARA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Once we received that received, deputies and surrounding officers immediately responded to the location and addressed the threat. They did not wait. They immediately went to the scene and rendered first aid and rescued victims.

CAMPBELL: The gunman now identified by a law enforcement source as Sam Cassidy was an employee and had multiple guns.

SHERIFF LAURIE SMITH, SANTA CLARA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: I know for sure that when the suspect knew the law enforcement was there, he took his own life.

CAMPBELL: Authorities also sweeping the area for possible explosives.

And while emergency crews arrived it at the rail yard, nearly eight miles away, firefighters responding to a blaze at a home believed to be the shooter's.

SMITH: It's a very complex investigation. We now know that San Jose is working on the house fire, and we're still putting that together.

CAMPBELL: At least nine people lost their lives in the massacre. One of them was Michael Rudometkin. His friend, a San Jose councilman, writing: There are no words to describe the heartache we are feeling right now, especially for his family.

That heartache echoing throughout the city.

MAYOR SAM LICCARDO (D), SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA: It's a heartbreaking moment for all of us. And we've got a lot of families grieving and a lot of colleagues who are mourning the loss of their friends.

CAMPBELL: At the White House, President Biden urging Congress to take action on gun reform, saying enough. Every life that is taken by a bullet pierces the soul of our nation. We can and we must do more.

Meanwhile, in California, Governor Newsom expressing his frustration and raising this question to the nation as it copes with yet another mass shooting.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): There is a numbness, I imagine some of us are feeling about this, because there is a sameness to this, you know, anywhere USA. It just feels like this happens over and over and over again, rinse and repeat. What the hell is going on in the United States of America? What the hell is wrong with us?


CAMPBELL (on camera): Now, Kate, I spoke just a short time ago with the sheriff here of Santa Clara County who provided us new details on their investigation. We're learning about the weaponry that was used here, the sheriff telling me the suspect had two handguns, as well as 11 magazines, a lot of ammunition that was brought here to this rail yard for that mass shooting.

We're also learning new details from the sheriff about why we saw the bomb squad here on site yesterday.

Take a listen to what she said.


SMITH: We had our canines there and they did a search. Some of our dogs alerted on what was his locker. Inside were precursor things for explosives. And so then there was the fire at his house and I know that there was another bomb squad there looking. I know that they found additional rounds of ammo.

A coward like him could have been planning to use it. I don't know. With nine victims right now and my heart goes out to them, who could know what he is thinking?


CAMPBELL: Now, finally, the sheriff told me they are currently executing search warrants on the suspect's house, the suspect's vehicle as well as his communication devices. But, Kate, at this hour, they still do not yet have a motive. That remains under investigation to try to determine why this mass shooting took place yesterday. Of course, just the latest mass murder here in the United States -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Josh Campbell, thank you very much.

Joining me right now is Sam Liccardo, the mayor of San Jose, California.

Mayor, thank you for being here.

How are you doing? How is the city doing today?

LICCARDO: Good morning, Kate. Well, the numbness is wearing off and I think the reality is setting

in for so many of our families and colleagues who lost their loved ones and friends. And so, we're -- I think we're hopefully going to begin this process of healing. We have a vigil later today at city hall. We're going to do everything we can to support these families at this horrible time.

BOLDUAN: I have to tell you, we heard the sheriff say that sheriff's office employees are related to some of the victims. I spoke to City Councilman Raul Peralez who lost a long time friend that he has known since childhood. It is striking how it is a personal tragedy for, of course, the families of the victims and so many more in your community.

I mean, what do you do with this?

LICCARDO: Well, we become desensitized to mass shootings in this country until suddenly, they hit community. And here in San Jose, we're a city of a million people, we have the lowest crime rates in the country among big cities. So this really is an epidemic which none of us are safe. We have to do more to combat gun violence.

Certainly, Congress needs to step up. And I don't pretend any law is going to stop mass shootings in the country of 300 million guns. But we all need to do more starting with me and we're pushing forward with several more initiatives to reduce gun violence, to address some of the mental health issues and obviously, we have to do more to at least reduce the risk that those with guns may use them in this manner.

BOLDUAN: You're speaking to this right now, but I do want to play once again what Governor Newsom said yesterday, because he spoke for a lot of people in how -- in what has been on everyone's mind. Listen to this.


NEWSOM: Here we are. In the United States of America, we experience something that is not experienced anywhere else in the world. There is a sameness to this and that numbness I think is something we're all feeling. But it begs the damn question, what the hell is going on in the United States of America? What the hell is wrong with us?


BOLDUAN: Mayor, how do you answer that?

LICCARDO: It's not a secret why America seems to have this pandemic of mass shootings, an endemic that virtually no other industrialized nation suffers. And that is because we have as many guns as we have people in this country. And there is a very distinct difference between our gun laws and those in other countries. And so, there's no question we need to do more on the mental health front and we absolutely need Congress to take action.

And mayors throughout the country including myself are out there pushing the envelope on solutions because we can't get Congress to act. So we're exploring insurance mandates and fees so that way the public doesn't bear the financial cost for gun violence. You know, this is -- this is a situation that needs leadership certainly within Congress. But it's a situation where you see mayors throughout the country and I'm hearing it, text and calls, we're all going to be trying everything we can possibly do to try to contain gun violence in our own cities.

And until we see Congress stepping up, you're going to see us all pushing very hard.

BOLDUAN: I want to read for you what one VTA employee who was at the rail yard at the time yesterday, what he told local station about what he saw. He wrote -- he said that: I do know that he had a specific agenda and was targeting certain people. He walked by people, let other people live as he gunned down other people.

And the sheriff also said that they found components of a bomb, components of explosives in the shooter's locker.

Has it settled in on you how much worse this actually could have even been?


LICCARDO: It's hard to imagine. We're very fortunate San Jose police officers arrived at the scene almost immediately. And what we see in it active shooter cases throughout the country is high propensity for the shooters to turn the gun on themselves as soon as law enforcement arrives. So having law enforcement get there immediately saves lives.

And in this case, we're fortunate the San Jose PD was there and the sheriff's deputies right behind them.

BOLDUAN: I do want to end on where the folk focus should remain on the nine victims and so many lives that have been irreparably changed and families shattered. If we can put those names up on the screen, the nine victims of this shooting. Nine lives lost, nine families, and far, far more, the ripple effects impossible to calculate at this moment. But these are the nine lives lost yesterday and these are the people we need to lift up and families we need to keep in our thoughts.

This feels so -- it now feels so redundant and so wrong to even say it. These are families that still do need our prayers right now even though we have had to say that so many times.

Mayor, thank you.

LICCARDO: Thank you. And thank you for lifting up our families.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Coming up for us, Senate Republicans are ready to block the bipartisan independent commission to investigate the Capitol insurrection. Can the mother of a slain officer changed their minds? Also, a march in Louisiana today, a march to demand justice for Ronald Greene and demand accountability for the state police officers involved. We're going to speak with Greene's family ahead.



BOLDUAN: A glimmer of hope on Capitol Hill. Senate Republicans just put out their latest counter offer to President Biden's massive infrastructure package. The Republican counter is now at an overall price tag of $928 billion. It includes more than $500 billion for roads and bridges plus money for public transit, broadband, airports and passenger and freight rail among other things.

This plan though fell short of the $1 trillion price tag that Senate Republicans said the president was open to during the discussions at the White House.

So a glimmer of hope? Maybe. It's at least not a flat out no. But it is still far from a done deal. Remember that.

Also happening on the Hill at this hour, the Senate is expected to vote on the bipartisan independent commission to investigate the January 6th attack on the Capitol. Senate Republicans are expected to block the bill. But ahead of the vote, a very emotional plea. The mother of slain U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick is on the hill meeting with Republican senators pleading with them to support the commission.

CNN's Manu Raju is live on the Hill with more on this. Manu, what are you hearing about all this?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Republicans are confident that they will have the votes to defeat this commission bill as expected to come up later today. They need to prevent ten Republicans from breaking ranks to open debate. And the belief among the Republican leaders is that the argument that Mitch McConnell has been making publicly and privately to his colleagues is working.

That they believe this commission in their view would be politically damaging, would be used for Democrats to help keep control of Congress next year in the midterms. And ultimately, they don't want the commission to go forward. The investigation will keep January 6th in the news. It could be damaging politically for their party. I just had a chance to try to ask Mitch McConnell about all this, about whether or not he's been working his colleagues and he made clear that he's made his position clear.


RAJU: Are you concerned about losing ten Republicans on the January 6th vote? Do you think it may happen? Are you working your members to vote against them? Lobbying them?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Yes, I've made my position very clear. (END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So I asked him later, would he meet with Brian Sicknick's mother, the fallen officer here who died after defending this Capitol building. He did not respond when I asked him that. But I'm told his staff is, in fact, having a conversation with Brian Sicknick's mother. But it's very clear that these conversations that she's having, while it is emotional, while members are responding, while she is having to more than a dozen meetings with Republican senators, ultimately, at the end of the day, it is unlikely to sway Republican votes.

One Senator Ron Johnson who met with Brian Sicknick's mother put out a statement saying he is still committed to getting the answers. He said he disagrees with having a commission going forward. And you can see on your screen there, some Republicans who are meeting with Susan Collins of Maine will vote to advance this. Mitt Romney did meet with her this morning, will vote to advance this bill.

But a number of the other Republican senators are simply no votes, and they're going to make that position known when they meet with her later today -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Manu, thank you very much.

Coming up for us, growing calls for justice. Calls for the Louisiana state troopers who beat, tased and dragged Ronald Greene before he died to be arrested. His family is marching to day to the governor's mansion. I'm going to speak with the family's attorney, next.



BOLDUAN: AT THIS HOUR, sources around Donald Trump tell CNN's Jim Acosta they see an indictment as inevitable in the criminal investigation into the former president, his inner circle and his family business.

CNN has also learned that prosecutors have told at least one witness to be ready to testify in front of a grand jury, a sign the Manhattan district attorney's office is moving into a crucial new phase of its two year long investigation into whether the Trump O committed financial crimes.

Joining me now is Elie Honig, CNN legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor.

Elie, the fact prosecutors are likely to call at least one witness, what does it tell you about where they are in this investigation?


ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Kate, I think they're at the beginning of the end game here. They've been carrying on this investigation for about two years now. And realistically, they're on the clock. They have this grand jury and panel for six months Cy Vance is leaving office in six months and they have an awful lot of work to do.

And, Kate, I would no expect this to be a one witness case by any stretch. I would expect this to be the first of many, many, many cases going in front of the grand jury, because the way they do things at the state, New York state law requires each individual witness to come in and testify in front of the grand jury.

In contrast, when I was a federal prosecutor, I had the luxury of being able to sit with the FBI agent on the case who could go in and testify to the whole case in summary fashion in an afternoon. So, this is going to be a much lower witness by witness process in the state.

BOLDUAN: And to Jim Acosta's reporting that he's hearing from folks who are around the president, that they think an indictment is inevitable, maybe not against Donald Trump himself but someone close to him or the Trump Organization, do you think they are right to feel that way?

HONIG: I certainly do not think an indictment is inevitable against Donald Trump as an individual. I think the signs are there that the investigation is progressing. We have some sense of what the evidence is.

And there does seem to be pretty clear evidence that the Trump organization itself was engaged in fraud of some type.

However, people need to remember, prosecutors need to have specific proof showing that Donald Trump knew about this fraud and authorized it.

And it's not enough to say, as much as it might be common sense, it's not enough to say, Donald Trump was the boss. Of course, he knew about this. He had to know about this.

Fine, but you need actual proof. I don't know where exactly they're getting that proof. Maybe it's somewhere in the documents they have. Maybe it's somewhere in the computers they seized. But that's what they're going to need in order to indict Donald J. Trump himself.

BOLDUAN: And on just Donald Trump's influence, a federal judge is now warning that his election lie could still inspire more violence. I want to ask you about this. Judge Amy Berman Jackson, she writes -- I'll read it to you, this in a decision involving one of the January 6th rioters.

She writes this: The steady drum beat that inspired defendant to take up arms has not faded away. Six months later, the canard that election was stolen is repeated daily on major news outlets and from the corridors of power in state and federal government, not to mention in the near daily fulminations of the former president.

What do you think of this statement coming from a well-respected judge?

HONIG: Well, it's a strong statement from a very well-respected judge and she's not alone. Other judges have made similar rulings. These rulings are happening in the context of bail hearings. Defendants who've been charged but not yet tried are saying, judge, let me out pending trial.

The judge's question then is, is this person a continuing risk? I think the logic here is really straight forward. What was the motive for the January 6th violence in the first place? The big lie -- the lie that the election was stolen. Well, is that lie still around? Absolutely. It's still being perpetrated by Donald Trump and others. And as long as that big lie is still around, then the motive to go in and commit more crimes whether it's at the Capitol or elsewhere still exists. I think the rulings from Judge Jackson and others really make a lot of sense.

BOLDUAN: It's really interesting.

I know this is a left turn, but I really do want to ask you about Amy Cooper, the white woman you remember charged last May for making a false police report after calling police on a black man in Central Park saying that he was threatening her.

I want to remind everyone of this incident.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please don't come close to me.

AMY COOPER, CALLED 911 ON BLACK MAN IN CENTRAL: Sir, I'm asking you to stop recording me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please don't come close to me. Please don't come close to me.

COOPER: Turn off. I'm calling the cops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please call the cops. Please call the cops.

COOPER: I'm going to tell them there is an African-American man threatening my life.

I'm sorry. I can't hear --I'm being threatened by a man in The Ramble. Please send the cops immediately!


COOPER: So she is now filed a lawsuit. She is suing her former employer. They fired her right after the video went everywhere. And she now claims she was wrongfully terminated.

Does she have a case?

HONIG: I don't like her chances one bit, Kate. First of all, a private employer has fairly broad discretion in desiring who they hire and fire. And the gist of her argument is, I wasn't given due process. The employer didn't do enough of an investigation before they fired me. I mean, how much more would any reasonable person need to see than the

video we just saw in order to justify this firing? So I'm not placing any bets on Amy Cooper's chances here.

BOLDUAN: Seeing that video once again is just -- I understand why it went so viral.

HONIG: Yeah.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Elie. Appreciate it.

Coming up for us, an Ohio teen got his coronavirus shot and now he has a full ride scholarship to college. The lucky winner and his parents will join us.