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Justice Dept. To File Response To Trump's Special Master Request; Officials: Shooter Posted Plans Before Supermarket Attack; Biden To Push Assault Weapons Ban Today In Pennsylvania. Aired 11:30a- 12p ET

Aired August 30, 2022 - 11:30   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Secret Service official at the center of the Capitol insurrection investigation is retiring from the agency. Assistant Director Tony Ornato is stepping down two months after explosive testimony by former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson. You may recall said Ornato had briefed President Trump and other officials about armed elements in the rally before the capital attack.

CNN's Kara Scannell is with me now. So, the timing of this decision, Kara, is raising some questions. He said, no, no, no, I plan to do this all along. I was ready to retire.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. I mean, his retirement which was announced yesterday comes two months after Cassidy Hutchinson, that White House aide, testified before the January 6 committee. And her testimony really put him at the center of attention because she'd recounted that he had told her on January 6, that former President Trump was irate at his security detail because they wouldn't let him travel to the Capitol grounds after he'd given that fiery speech to the Ellipse, and that he also had lunged toward one of the drivers.

Now, a Secret Service official had previously told CNN that we're not out denied that but we haven't heard from him publicly and the House Select Committee does want to speak with him. It's unclear if that will happen. I mean, he already did go in January and March, but well before Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony came out.

Now, Ornato, he gave a statement to our colleague Whitney Wild saying I did retire today to pursue a career in the private sector. I retired from the U.S. Secret Service after more than 25 years of faithful service to my country, including serving the past five presidents. I long plan to retire and have been planning this transition for more than a year. Now, Ornato has been at the Secret Service for 25 years. He did go and work for the Trump White House for a brief period before returning to the service. And he did tell Whitney that he is not going to work for former President Trump or any of his entities.

HILL: We will be watching for any other developments. Kara, this is interesting weather definitely, thank you.

Well, the Justice Department is expected to file a more detailed response to the former president's request for a special master. A hearing, of course, is scheduled for Thursday to consider the appointment of that third-party attorney who would oversee the review of records seized by the FBI during the search of Mar-a-Lago earlier this month. CNN's Evan Perez is live in Washington for us now. So, Evan, the Justice Department was granted permission to file an even longer filing.


HILL: More pages double the amount than the limit usually set by the court. What are we expecting here? Why do they need so much paper?

PEREZ: It looks like they have a lot more to say. And I think part of the issue is that the Justice Department is trying to gently push back at this judge -- politely pushed back at this judge who has inserted herself at the request of the former president. They're saying, look this -- these documents have already been reviewed by a filter team, a team of FBI agents who are not involved in the investigation. And their purpose specifically, is to look for documents that could have some executive -- sorry, some attorney-client privilege material.

And they're also saying this entire process, Erica has been approved by a judge. It's being overseen by another judge, so why are you trying to get involved? That's what we expect to see from this hearing -- from this filing today, and, of course, the hearing on Thursday, them saying to this judge, you don't need to do this because we already took care of all of this. Of course, the former president is saying, no, we need a third party because we don't trust the FBI, Erica.

HILL: Evan Perez with the latest for us. And so we watch and we wait.


HILL: Joining me now, CNN --

PEREZ: I got it.

HILL: CNN Law Enforcement Contributor and retired Supervisory Special Agent to the FBI, Steve Moore, and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman. Good to have you both here. Harry, I want to start with you. So, as Evan laid out, right, the DOJ likely wants 40 pages instead of 20 because they have a lot to say. Would you anticipate that this would be perhaps a very detailed account of what this separate filter team did find?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Probably not. But that is a really important point. They may in the context of laying out their legal arguments respond to some of the points that Trump or the Trump team has made. And again, they've generally led with their chin and it will give an opportunity for DOJ to respond. The main thing they want to do, Erica, is push back on this continuing refrain that Trump has done throughout the 20 months of saying this is executive privilege material.

It's not for three different reasons. Everybody in the legal system, the federal courts have said so all that really can't that special master could do here is look at the few attorney-client privilege materials. But as Evan pointed out, they've all been searched -- looked at already by a taint team. And there's a procedure in the last paragraph of the affidavit a very easy one to serve it up not to Judge Cannon who Trump just tried to pull into things but to the magistrate judge to call balls and strikes. And there -- it's not a question of trusting the FBI. If they make a mistake here and they by mistake give to the regular team an attorney-client privilege document, that person who sees it is out. It's a death ray.


And so it's -- there's both a simple and a very effective procedure in place. They're going to tell her gingerly though as Evan said we don't -- you're perfectly useless here, Your Honor.

HILL: Perhaps in slightly kinder language, essentially


HILL: Steve, let's talk about Tony Ornato, right, who has said he's retiring now. I just want to remind people of some of those details that Cassidy Hutchinson revealed in her testimony back in June. Take a listen.


CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE AIDE: The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engel grabbed his arm and said, sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We're going back to the West Wing. We're not going to the Capitol. Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge toward Bobby Engel and this is when Mr. Ornato had recounted the story to me. He had motioned towards his clavicles.


HILL: So he's spoken with the committee twice as Kara just -- as Kara just noted. That was, of course, before Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony. The fact that he is retiring now, does that change anything in terms of getting him in potentially to speak again?

STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I think it very potentially can. I mean, let's talk just pragmatic matters. He saw what happened to the FBI executives who got caught up in this whole January 6 thing that Trump thing, the entire Trump presidency, essentially. And one of them at least temporarily lost his retirement and others were afraid for their retirement. That's their source of income for the rest of their lives, essentially. And it -- once it's granted, it's much harder to take away, that may be one thing.

The other thing is he doesn't have to be subordinate to instructions from the Secret Service or the executive branch. And if you look at the way he phrased his notification, he said, as of this day, I've retired. I've not meant -- many people who have given no notice of their retirement, just I'm gone. That doesn't work administratively in your organization. That kind of leaves everybody really likes the film broke on a movie. You don't know what's coming up next.

So that's -- he's -- and he says he's going to pursue a career. Well, that means he doesn't have one already. So this was specific, immediate, and urgent in the way he left.

HILL: Raising a lot of questions. We are very tight on time, but, Harry, quickly, we have just heard from the DA in Fulton County, Fani Willis. She was asked about sort of timing and where things stand with this grand jury investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election, she told a local affiliate that she expects to wrap things up by the end of the year but said that she's been very clear she will not do anything until after the election.

LITMAN: Right.

HILL: Wrap it up by the end of the year, though.

LITMAN: That's right. And though -- and so she's going fast, it's a comprehensive election. The big news today, Kenneth Chesebro has been ordered to testify. Remember when Judge Carter said that President Trump had probable cause to believe he committed a crime? That was from something Chesebro wrote. He's the latest guy in the hot seat now.

HILL: Steve Moore and Harry Litman, good to have you both here. Thank you.

MOORE: Thanks.

HILL: Coming up, disturbing new details about the deadly supermarket shooting in Oregon, what police are now learning about the killer's fascination with violence next.



HILL: New this morning. We're learning new details about the Oregon supermarket shooting that left two dead and another person injured. Investigators say the 20-year-old shooter posted about plans before that attack. CNN's Josh Campbell joining me now with more, so, Josh, what else are policing they've learned?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, my friend, disturbing new information about this deadly supermarket shooting in Oregon on Sunday. Police in Bend says a 20-year-old suspect armed with an AR15- style rifle killed two people before turning the gun on himself. A police official described how the attack unfolded.


SHEILA MILLER, BEND CITY SPOKESWOMAN: The shooter moved through the parking lot from Costco on the west side, shooting rounds from an AR- style -- AR 15-style rifle. They found the apparent shooter dead inside Safeway. They found an AR-15-style rifle and a shotgun in close proximity to the shooter. Bend police did not fire any shots at the scene.


CAMPBELL: Now police say they are aware the shooter may have posted information online regarding a planned attack. CNN has identified several online blog postings appearing to belong to the shooter in which he wrote about his desire to commit acts of violence. Now, those posts have since been taken down. But we're talking about 35 posts in total, one indicating that he was partially inspired by the 1999 attack in Columbine, Colorado. In another post, he described himself as a "ticking time bomb" and alluded to wanting to conduct another attack at a school this coming September. Authorities tell us that they were not aware of the post or the suspect before the attack but are still working to determine a specific motive in the shooting.


Finally, Erica, authorities have identified the two people who are killed. 84-year-old Glenn Bennett was a customer at the store. There was also another person, a 66-year-old employee, he was killed in the attack, Don Surrett. He's been described, Erica, as a hero for trying to take down the shooter, losing his life in the process. Erica.

HILL: Senseless violence yet again. Josh Campbell with the latest for us, Josh, thank you.


HILL: President Biden wants to restore a ban on assault weapons, part of the crime prevention plan the president will promote today in Pennsylvania. CNN's Jeremy Diamond joining us now live from the White House with more details. So what more do we know about this plan set to be announced later today, the details from the president?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, what President Biden is going to be doing today in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania is he's going to be talking about threading these two issues together of -- the issue of public safety and funding the police on one hand, and on the other hand, reforming the nation's gun laws. This is something that we've seen the president trying to do before.

And today, we're expecting him to also push in the process for an assault weapons ban once again, as well as universal background checks. He's also going to be highlighting plans for "effective accountable community policing," and touting the previous funding that he has delivered $352 billion in public safety funding, including for the police -- from the American Rescue Plan that passed early in his term.

On the one hand, you're going to hear the president defending Democrats in this way from attacks from Republicans suggesting that they want to defund the police. And then going on the offensive on the other hand, as well, by talking about what he sees as the hypocrisy of Republicans who say that they back the blue and support law enforcement but at the same time, some of them have been attacking the FBI, calling for defunding the FBI in the wake of this investigation into former President Trump.

Now, all of this is coming as President Biden is ramping up his midterm campaign travel. And over the next week, you're going to see him not just today, but two more times over the course of the next week in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania. He's going to be in Philadelphia on Thursday for a key speech that the White House says will be in prime time talking about what he has branded as a battle for the soul of the nation.

And then on Monday, Labor Day, the President will be in Pittsburgh. The White House sees President Biden as a key messenger in that state of Pennsylvania for -- where there is not only a key governor's race but a key race for the U.S. Senate as well, Erica.

HILL: Like going on in Pennsylvania, that is for sure. Jeremy Diamond, appreciate it. Thank you.

Still, to come here, Serena Williams advances at the U.S. Open. Could this be her final tournament? What the tennis legend is now saying next.



HILL: Serena Williams, not done yet. The 23-time Grand Slam singles champ advancing to the second round after a big night last night. It was such a great watch -- match to watch. Fans, surprising her there at the end, they had a special celebration ahead of her. Well, since they expected retirement, she says easing out, I believe with the word that used. CNN's Carolyn Manno joining me now. So, Serena is back on the court tomorrow night.


HILL: There was so much focus on this match, right? And so -- I mean, such a massive crowd. You were there last night, full disclosure, I was texting Carolyn during the match saying oh my god, you know this is amazing is it seems so much love for her. She also was -- I mean, she was really moving.

MANNO: She was.

HILL: And there was a lot of talks afterward about, you know, we hadn't seen her play like that in a while.

MANNO: She is hyper-motivated and focused right now. Her coach Rennae Stubbs, who's a new coach for her, has been encouraging her to play matches in practice to get that feeling under her because she's battling a lot of injuries. She hasn't had as many matches as she would have liked. And Ray is really the right voice for her because she's saying things like I love you, everybody loves you. Win, lose, draw like, you're OK with us. You're the greatest of all time. And it sounds crazy but she needs that kind of encouragement right now because the moment has been so big. I mean, last night was completely wild. They played this video tribute. She comes out. The crowd is going crazy. They're riding this wave with her. When she needs it to be pin-drop quiet, it's pin-drop quiet. When she needs it to be overwhelmingly loud, you know, they're screaming for her in between sets. It was just -- it was incredible. And what was -- what was unique about it is it felt like a major final on a Monday night at the U.S. Open.

HILL: Yes.

MANNO: But it also was unique in that. The entire experience from start to finish was curated around her from the video tributes to the playlist in between games was artists that she loves and songs to get her hyped up to this kind of impromptu ceremony that they put together that featured Billie Jean King and Gayle King. And so the whole night was tailored towards her and that made it different than just like a regular final between two competitors.

HILL: It was as -- I mean it's great. You know, we saw -- there's all this discussion of what's going to happen, right? Is she really going to retire? Is this going to be her last run at a major she talked about? You know she wants to spend time with her -- with her family. Her -- I think she's five now, her daughter Olympia.


HILL: Who's always the cutest and dressed you know, Mommy and Me matching outfits when we saw them there. She said she's been vague about what her plans are. She's going to stay that way.

MANNO: Yes, there was great significance in those cute little beads that Olympia was wearing as well because Serena debuted those at a time where people said hey, what's that, and so, there's real significance to that moment. It's very hard to say goodbye, you know. She is superhuman and human at the exact same time and has been superhuman and human at the same time for decades. And so she is grappling admittedly with the idea of walking away from a sport that has been her identity since she was a little girl in Compton trying to find her way in a sport that she knocked the doors off of.


And so she's feeling it all, you know. She's -- it's hard. And when you -- and when you go out and you move the way that she has in the serve is there because the serve as you know is going to be the key component through all of this that she kind of manages each opponent. And she's got a tough one coming up next. You leave the door open just a crack because you can't close it completely. And --

HILL: And why should she have to put herself in a box, right? There's always --

MANNO: She doesn't push.

HILL: Right? You have to define yourself this way. You have to say you're retired. You have to -- she doesn't. She's Serena. She can do whatever the hell she wants. And she is going to do it very well.

MANNO: Can we say that? OK.

HILL: I just said it. It's cable, sister, we're good.

MANNO: OK, she just said it.

HILL: Carolyn Manno, appreciate it. Thank you, my friend. Thanks to all of you for joining us this hour, I'm Erica Hill. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts after the break.