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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden Tasks U.S. Intel Community to Report on COVID Origins in 90 Days; Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) is Interviewed About Investigation on COVID Origins; Eight People Killed in San Jose Mass Shooting; Grand Jury Convened to Consider Whether to Indict Trump. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 26, 2021 - 16:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Of course, the breaking news coverage continues right now with THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Another day, another tragic mass shooting in the United States.

THE LEAD starts right now.

At least eight people killed at a California rail yard as police try to piece together what happened. They learn a bizarre twist, a fire at the shooter's house. We're live on the ground with the latest.

Plus, a lab or a market. The nation's top public health experts weigh in on where COVID may have come from originally, and it's not what they were saying before.

And get the bleep button red. A new book laying out President Obama's F-bomb-laden comments about his successor Donald Trump. The author joins me live.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we start with tragic and common breaking news in our national lead. Right now, there are multiple active scenes after a mass shooting in San Jose, California. We expect to get an update from police and local leaders in just minutes.

Here is what we know so far. The sheriff's department there says that eight people were killed and several others injured at the VTA or the Valley Transportation Authority light rail yard. That's a hub that stores trains and is also used for maintenance of those trains.

Sources have identified the shooter as Sam Cassidy. Sam Cassidy was a VTA employee. Deputies say he's dead, but they're not sure if he took his own life or if he was killed by law enforcement.

The bomb squad is on scene right now and searching the VTA facility after police received reports that explosive devices may have been or may be located inside.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo confirms that there was also a fire at the shooter's home this morning. Fortunately, no one was found inside. Mayor Liccardo will join us live in the next hour to tell us the latest.

Let's start, however, with CNN's Dan Simon who is on the scene in San Jose.

And, Dan, you're also speaking to family members. This is the saddest part about all these shootings who are now looking for their loved ones to see if they're okay.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, first of all, I want to tell you that we are expecting a news conference in the next hour, that will include California Governor Gavin Newsom. This press conference will take place in front of the family reunification center that was set up in the hours after this shooting. We saw dozens of employees come into this center. They were reunited with family members.

I spoke to one gentleman who said he got a frantic call from his wife. She said that she was okay nonetheless. He was really anxious, of course, to meet up with her. I spoke to an employee of the site who said he was just so nervous about his co-workers. The shooter apparently known to the people he shot.


DEP. RUSSELL DAVIS, SANTA CLARA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: You have multiple victims, and we have multiple casualties at this point.

SIMON (voice-over): Another mass shooting.

DAVIS: We formed multiple tactical teams that came into the building to extricate victims out. Multiple agencies came in and initiated what we call us a rescue task force. That is part of our active shooter protocol.

SIMON: This time at a light rail maintenance yard in San Jose, California, where trains are stored and dispatched for the Valley Transportation Authority.

As of now, investigators say at least eight people were killed. The shooter also dead.

DAVIS: I will confirm to you that it is a VTA employee.

SIMON: Details in the investigation still very fluid.

DAVIS: We received information that there are explosive devices that are located inside the building. That being said we activated our bomb squad which is currently out on scene.

SIMON: VTA's board chairman, Glenn Hendricks. GLENN HENDRICKS, VTA'S BOARD CHAIRMAN: VTA is a family. People in the

organization know everyone. This is a terrible tragedy, and we will do everything that we can to help people get through this.

SIMON: Family members showing up to find their loved ones.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've just trying to get to my wife.

MAYOR SAM LICCARDO (D), SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA: I'm the mayor of the city of San Jose.

SIMON: San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo joining law enforcement this afternoon to express his sympathies.

LICCARDO: This is a horrific day for our city, and it's a tragic day for the VTA family, and our heart pains for the families and the co- workers.

SIMON: Multiple agencies including the FBI assisting in the ongoing investigation.

CRAIG FAIR, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: The FBI's role in this investigation is to provide aft tans to the Santa Clara sheriff's office, to provide evidence, response resources. It is a fairly sizable crime scene, and it's going to take a while to process.


SIMON (on camera): All right. We're talking about multiple places, multiple scenes that will ultimately be part of this investigation, including the shooter's own home which was set on fire this morning.


Of course, Jake, that raises more additional questions. This is a shooter who is intent on inflicting a lot of carnage in addition to the firearm or firearms that he had in his possession and also explosives found at the scene -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Dan Simon, San Jose. Thank you so much.

Let's bring in Anthony Barksdale. He served as acting police commissioner in Baltimore. And let's also bring in Dmitri Roberts who served as a Chicago police officer.

Commissioner, let me start with you. We know eight people were killed. The suspect is also dead. At this point, what information would you be looking for if you were leading this investigation?

ANTHONY BARKSDALE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first, I would want to know more about the suspect. I want to know was he supposed to have a weapon? How did he on tape a weapon, legally or illegally? And motive -- motive, motive, motive. What made him walk in there and do this, but it sounds like he was intent on taking lives, and it's just -- it's just a tragedy all the way around, Jake. TAPPER: Dmitri, we still don't know how many were injured. We know

eight innocent people were killed but injuries we don't know. Is that unusual at this point for that number to -- to not be reported?

DIMITRI ROBERTS, FORMER CHICAGO POLICE OFFICER: Well, it is unusual, Jake, but nothing about this situation is usual. Not only the fact that we have what sounds like an upstanding employee going and causing this tragedy, but also the subsequent things that we see playing out, bombs on the scene, his life being taken. We don't really know why at this point, but then also this mysterious fire at his house.

There's a lot of complexities here, Jake, but the number of theme are being reported injured is definitely something that should raise red flags for all of us, because we usually know that information firsthand. Obviously the folks on the ground are doing a great job investigating this, and my hats off to those law enforcement officers but more so to the families that are deal with this tragedy on this unfortunate day.

TAPPER: Commissioner, we learned that the suspect was a man by the name of Sam Cassidy. He was an employee of the valley transportation authority. What would you be looking for when trying to determine his motive?

BARKSDALE: I'm looking for any statements, any conflicts within -- within the workplace. It sounds like based on what I'm hearing that he went after specific people. I would want to know what contact -- was he recently disciplined? Was there a fight on the job in what kicked this off, and that's what I would really want to know.

I would want to look at the victimology of the -- I would want to look at the victimology and just try to sort it out because now we can't -- we can't interrogate him. He's gone.

So we need to know as much as we can from a workplace. We need to know what witnesses say, people who knew him. Did he say anything that sounded off or strange? We need all that, and it's going to take a lot of work to source this out.

TAPPER: And, Dmitri, as you noted, the San Jose mayor reported that there was a fire at the suspect's home. I'm just looking at the latest information on this. The San Jose Fire Department responded to a fire at the home at 6:36 a.m. local time and the first 911 calls began right around that time as well, 6:34 a.m. Pacific Time. Obviously, we don't know what the story is, but as an investigator what would you be looking for?

ROBERTS: Well, we want to ensure, Jake, especially in a fluid situation like this, that there are no other threats, that there aren't potential copy cats or that this was a lone wolf. So to add to the commissioner's point, there are a lot of complexities here, but the main thing we're looking for is to continue to ensure that broad- based support to the communities from where this is taking place but also to ensure that there aren't any ongoing threats to other facilities or other employees, especially when we're looking at something that obviously was targeted. TAPPER: Former Commissioner Anthony Barksdale and Dmitri Roberts,

thanks to both of you. Really appreciate it.

From both ends of penalty pens avenue there's a new push to find out if COVID started in a lab in chip, but did the Biden administration already shut down a similar investigation that had been started under President Trump?

And speaking of Trump, a look at what kind of charges the former president might be facing as "The Washington Post" says a grand jury has been convened.


Stay with us.


TAPPER: We're back with the health lead. And today, President Biden is ordering U.S. intelligence agencies to intensify their investigations of the origins of COVID-19. This as questions grow about the theory that the virus began in the lab in Wuhan, China.

You'll recall former President Trump pushed this theory for months. So did others in his administration.


ROBERT REDFIELD, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory.

MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS HOST: Have you seen anything that gives you high confidence that it originated in that Wuhan lab?

MIKE POMPEO, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Martha, there's enormous evidence that that's where this began.


TAPPER: Sources now tell CNN that the Biden administration should down an investigation that had been launched by allies of then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department in the final months of the Trump administration into whether COVID-19 started in that Wuhan lab.


The fear, we're told by the Biden team, is that that investigation had been politically motivated. Just two months ago, top medical experts were leaning towards a more natural source of the virus that initially spread.

Today, even Dr. Anthony Fauci who investigates infectious diseases for a living says no one knows 100 percent where it came from.

Let's bring in CNN's Nick Watt.

And, Nick, President Biden is giving the intelligence community a deadline to come back with its own analysis.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. President Biden apparently has some specific questions for the Chinese, and he wants the intel folks to double down, and he wants them to report back in 90 days, hopefully with an answer on the origins of this virus.

Did it come from an animal and then spread through that Wuhan wet market, or did it leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology?


DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: It is certainly possible that other options might have occurred, including a possible lab leak. We just don't have evidence to be able to say what that likelihood is.

WATT (voice-over): So all seven leaders of the National Institute of Health today told the Senate we need a deeper investigation.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): At what point in time would it become more likely it came from the lab if we don't find an intermediate animal host? How much longer?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I don't think we can give a time element on that, Senator.

WATT: Worldwide, nearly 3.5 million are dead. Why?

ANDY SLAVITT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR FOR COVID-19 RESPONSE: We need a completely transparent process from China. We need the WHO to assist in that matter. We don't feel like that we have that now.

WATT: Half of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and for the trickier second half. Tonight in Ohio, we'll see the first $1 million winner of a lottery just for those who got a shot. What's basically bribery is working.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R), OHIO: After we announced it, those numbers have gone up, 45 percent increase in the number of people getting vaccinated.

WATT: Fewer than 23,000 new cases across the country, lowest total in about 11 months.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: If you're vaccinated, you are protected and you can enjoy your Memorial Day. If you are not vaccinated, our guidance does not change for you. You remain at risk of infection.

WATT: Two months until the Tokyo Olympics and Japan is in a fourth wave. Experts say urgent action required. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For many of the participants, the vaccines are not

available, and there's virtually been no planning for how are we going to move people in buses or putting three people to a hotel room in the approach they are taking right now is virtually a dangerous one.


WATT: Now, why is it so important that we get this question answered, how did this virus originate? Well, because it will help us fight the next pandemic, perhaps even prevent the next pandemic. And the next pandemic that's not a question of if, Jake, it's a question of when -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Nick, thanks so much.

Let's bring in Republican Senator Todd Young of Indiana.

Senator, thanks for joining us. You've been talking about this for the better part of a year. You've been among those demanding a deeper investigation into whether COVID-19 came from, originally came from that Wuhan lab and leaked.

So I guess the question is what made you -- I mean, you were -- you were right and now more people, now more experts are taking it seriously that this should be investigated. What made you wonder about that? Was it just the fact that the virus originated in Wuhan and that's where this lab was at all?

SEN. TODD YOUNG (R-IN): Well, frankly from open source materials. I had a very strong suspicion that there was a high probability that there was a leak out of -- out of the Wuhan virology lab. As a former Marine Corps intelligence officer, one looks at direct evidence, but also circumstantial evidence, and here you happened to have a virology lab that works on the very variant of COVID we believe that has decimated the economy of the world and killed millions of people.

So it stands to reason that there should have been full access to the data analyzing this strain of COVID virus, that there should have been full access to the workers within the lab and that all of that should have been provided in an expeditious manner. None that have happened. The Chinese Communist Party instead was incredibly destructive and negligent in terms of being forthcoming.

And so, what we need to do is we need to address this as the Biden administration is now doing, ordering that 90-day investigation for -- so that the intelligence department can give us more clarity about the origins of the virus. But we also need to prepare for the future.


And among the things we need to do, we're considering in the floor of the United States Senate right now, like the Endless Frontier Act, which is my legislation working with Republicans and Democrats alike to invest in the technologies of the future that will allow the United States to the outgrow, out-innovate and outcompete the Chinese Communist Party. TAPPER: Uh-huh. Let me ask you. The Biden administration is leaning

on the World Health Organization to investigate the Wuhan lab theory. Obviously, that's -- they are more -- we are more likely to get some answers from WHO which China is party to than, you know, they are not going to let the CIA come in and give it a look.

YOUNG: Sure.

TAPPER: But do you think any -- any findings from -- from the World Health Organization will be credible at this point?

YOUNG: Well, look, they are certainly in need of great reform, perhaps replacement as an entity. In fact, I led a hearing on this before the virus ever impacted the world about reforming the World Health Organization and perhaps coming up with a better model.

But with that said, I think its credibility will only be undermined further if they don't -- if they aren't able to persuade the Chinese Communist Party to come up with the data pertaining to this virus and provide access to some of the Chinese nationals who were working on this virus.

I don't see any other way for the World Health Organization to restore its credibility in the eyes of Americans and many across the world who've seen them frankly place more trust in the Chinese Communist Party leadership and more deference to them than they had to the Western world.

TAPPER: Yeah. In the final months of the Trump administration, the State Department was trying to investigate in some way the Wuhan lab theory, but sources tell CNN that the Biden administration when they came in they shut that down.

And today, your Republican colleague John Kennedy from Louisiana, he pressed Dr. Fauci and others at the NIH about the guidance and whether they had offered any guidance to the Biden administration on shutting that down. Take a listen.


FAUCI: We have no influence --

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): The State Department spiked the prior administration's study.

FAUCI: But that has nothing to do with the National Institutes of Health.

KENNEDY: So, they didn't consult with y'all?

FAUCI: They did not.

KENNEDY: Did they consult with you, Dr. Collins?

COLLINS: I read about it in the press this morning?



KENNEDY: They just spiked it without talking to their experts?

You don't want to answer that, do you?

COLLINS: I just read about it.

KENNEDY: Thank you, Madam Chair.


TAPPER: I mean, I think he made his point.

What do you make of that?

YOUNG: The Biden administration, Secretary of State Blinken, the president himself needs to explain why they spiked this legitimate and very important investigation that was going on, seemingly interrupted for either ideological purposes or political purposes as opposed to any other legitimate reason.

In the absence of explanation, and we weren't able to get it from the chief health policy advisers of the Biden administration, then one can only assume these -- these other motives, and that's unfortunate when you're talking about the health of the American people here hand now, but also thinking about how we might prepare for another pandemic which is almost a certitude the way the Chinese Communist Party carries on their activities with wet markets, seemingly with poorly attended labs and other -- other problems, including not reporting the outbreak of a pandemic to the broader world that's violating international law over a year ago.

TAPPER: I mean, the Biden team made a big show out of the importance of listening to health experts, but apparently they didn't when it came to spiking this investigation at the State Department. You make --

YOUNG: You can't listen to the science and emphasize the importance of following science selectively. Otherwise your credibility becomes undermined and that applies to Republicans and Democrats alike, but it's really been the Democrats who've been placing great emphasis on this.

So once again, President Biden, Secretary of State Blinken, they need to come up with answers.

TAPPER: Yeah, no, I agree. Senator Young, thank you so much for your time today.

YOUNG: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: We really appreciate it. Always good to see you.

Donald Trump reportedly the focus of a new grand jury investigation. What prosecutors are telling at least one witness in the case.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead today, a stunning report involving the former president of the United States. "The Washington Post" says that a grand jury has been convened in New York, and jurors there are considering whether to indict the Trump Organization, executives at the Trump Organization or even Mr. Trump, Donald Trump himself.

And as CNN's Paula Reid reports for us now, it's a sign of an advanced investigation into the former president and the looming charges that he could possibly be facing.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over0: Today, the Manhattan district attorney has reportedly convened a special grand jury to help decide whether it can bring an indictment in its two-year investigation into the Trump organization and the former president's financial dealings according to "The Washington Post."

The grand jury will be made up as many as 23 randomly selected citizens. Their work will be done in secret and reportedly they will be meeting three times a week for at least the next six months.

Prosecutors have already used a grand jury to issue subpoenas for documents and will be able to present charges, which would only require a majority of jurors to deliver an indictment. The wide- ranging investigation includes whether the Trump Organization improperly valued assets in financial filings, something former Trump attorney Michael Cohen testified to.

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY/FIXER FOR DONALD TRUMP: It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in "Forbes," and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.

REID: Cohen has met with investigators several times.

But legal analysts say fraud requires specific evidence.

DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: What you're going to need is a witness who discussed the fraudulent scheme with Donald Trump and can say, "I committed fraud, and I did it at the direction of my boss, Donald Trump."

And if you don't have that witness in this case, I think it's very difficult to charge Donald Trump.

REID: That witness could be the Trump Organization's longtime CFO.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Replacing George this week is my chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.

REID: He handled the Trump Organization's finances for 40 years and was even left in charge of the company when Trump became president. Weisselberg is under investigation himself for his own taxes, a pressure that could lead him to agreeing to cooperate and help investigators understand the inner workings of Trump's company.

His former daughter-in-law has provided documents to investigators, and she thinks Weisselberg will cooperate.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Will Allen Weisselberg flip on Trump?


REID: Former President Trump has previously denied any wrongdoing.

TRUMP: This is just a continuation of the witch-hunt.

REID: Saying in a statement Tuesday: "It began the day I came down the escalator in Trump Tower, and it's never stopped."


REID (on-camera): CNN has learned that investigators have told at least one witness to prepare for grand jury testimony.

Now, even with a grand jury, there is no guarantee that the former president or anyone will be charged, though a former prosecutor tells CNN that it would be very rare to convene a special grand jury in Manhattan that does not at least consider charges -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Paula Reid, thank you so much.

Let's talk about this with CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers.

I mean, Jennifer, this sounds kind of crazy. We have never had something like this, a former president potentially, potentially being indicted. I mean, what do you make of a witness being told to prepare for testimony? What does that tell you about what prosecutors might have?

And I really want to emphasize might. This -- we don't know what's going to happen.


Well, it means that they're moving forward. And we already knew, given the news that the DA and the A.G. had joined forces, that this was moving forward in a meaningful way. I don't think the Manhattan DA would have invited the A.G. to join this case unless they had meaningful evidence that suggests there's criminal activity here.

And then to hear that they have impaneled this special grand jury, and then the latest news that they're actually telling presumably fact witnesses that they need to be ready to go, that just suggests they're moving very quickly.

Of course, we don't know what they're doing. They could be trying to lay charges, for example, against Allen Weisselberg first to use that as leverage against him to cooperate, or they could just be trying to put on the evidence as efficiently as they can.

But it means they're moving, and they're moving in one direction, which is towards charges against somebody.

TAPPER: You worked in the Southern District of New York for years. You know how these types of investigations, although not involving the former president, but these types of investigations work.

Theoretically, what could front be facing as a legal matter?

RODGERS: Well, it really depends on what evidence they have.

I mean, if they managed to get evidence that Donald Trump knew of and approved of this scheme to inflate and deflate the assets, depending on what they were doing, then he can be charged individually and personally with that fraud.

But that's the big question here, because even if the organization was doing this, and it was doing it knowingly through some of its actors, maybe the CFO, maybe the CEO, maybe others, that doesn't mean that it necessarily gets to Donald Trump. So they need a witness who's been meeting with him and talking to him about it.

He famously doesn't e-mail, so there likely isn't that sort of paper trail. It all depends on what documents he signed personally. They're going to have to prove that knowledge. And that is what will dictate the charges that could come down for him.

TAPPER: And the grand jury is going to be meeting for a number of times over the next six months. What kind of information will they be privy to?

Oh, I'm sorry, Jennifer. I'm going to interrupt, because, right now, officials are giving an update on the San Jose mass shooting. Let's listen in.



RUSSELL DAVIS, SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, DEPUTY SHERIFF: ... and their families what happened today.

This is a tragic situation that we're dealing with right now. And we're using all the resources we have right now to find out what exactly happened and what transpired.

Our first primary focus is public safety. We want to ensure everything that happened from today is, we want to ensure the biggest public safety for the surrounding area and our whole community. This morning, at 6:34 in the morning, Santa Clara County

Communications received 911 phone calls of a shots fired call in the area of 101 West Younger Avenue located in the city of San Jose, which is directly adjacent, right next door to sheriff's office headquarters.

Deputies responded and received information that there are multiple shots fired calls located from that building. During this time, this was during a shift change, where deputies from the midnight shift and day shift were on at the same time going through a transition into different shifts.

Once we received that information, deputies and surrounding officers immediately responded to the location and addressed the threat and the situation. They did not wait. They merely went into the scene and rendered first aid and rescued victims out of the building as fast as they can to figure out what was going on.

I can tell you, this was a -- at a Valley Transportation Authority light rail yard, which is next door to sheriff's office headquarters.

Immediately, once we received information of shots fired called, we immediately activate the Santa Clara County active shooter protocol, which activated multiple law enforcement agencies in the surrounding counties, as well as multiple fire department agencies, to initiate and activate the rescue task force, which is part of the active shooter protocol, which we will go into more detail.

Multiple agencies showed up and assisted from local agencies within Santa Clara County, state level from the Office of Emergency Services, governor's office, the California Highway Patrol, and multiple federal agencies, from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI, ATF, and Department of Homeland Security.

I will tell you right now, with the numbers -- and it's still preliminary and it's subject to change -- we have eight victims that are pronounced deceased from today's incident from gunshot wounds.

We also have one suspect who is deceased as well from this morning's incident. I can confirm with you that deputies did not exchange gunfire. And, right now, we're going to preliminary -- go with the assumption that it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound from the suspect, and deputies did not exchange gunfire.

At this point, we have investigators on scene interviewing anybody that was on scene to see what exactly happened. And we have our CSI teams as well outside with -- along with conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigations assisting.

Right now, if you're looking for a family member or loved one involved with this incident, we ask you to contact our reunification center, which is over here at 70 West Hedding. It's located at the Isaac Newton Auditorium.

We have grief counselors on scene. The phone number to call is 408- 209-8356. I will repeat it one more time, 408-209-8356. So, this incident is going to take some time. And the reason why is

because we're going to use the necessary methods to ensure the public safety for everyone. We actually had an explosives dog on scene which detected to -- some type of explosives material at the crime scene itself.

At that point, we activated the sheriff's office bomb squad, who is currently on scene and render any type of suspicious packaging safe at that point.

I will tell you, it's going to take a long time to render these areas safe. They have to go through every room in every building to ensure that everything is safe. So, that's such as in bringing in a bomb robot in there. And it takes time.

So, I ask for your patience on gathering further information from here. It's going to be some time.

Other than that, we have detectives on scene. We're doing everything we can. But I will tell you this. With the training that we have been doing with our active shooter protocol, this could have been a lot worse of a situation. This is a very unfortunate situation.

But with the training and everything that we have with this protocol, this -- this could have been a lot worse than what it was, unfortunately.

So, that, being said, I'm going to pass it on to Sheriff Laurie Smith, who's going to give you further information from there.

QUESTION: What are the areas that you're covering with the bomb squad?

DAVIS: The bomb squad is pretty much activated, and they're searching every crevice of the whole building to ensure that everything is safe. And that's where it's going to take some time.

QUESTION: The VTA Transit Center.

DAVIS: The VTA Transit Center, which is a light rail -- it's pretty much a light rail facility, pretty much, light rail garage.

QUESTION: What is the reason that Homeland Security is involved?

DAVIS: You know, we appreciate having federal agencies coming out.

They come out here just to provide resources for us: Hey, do you need any assistance in that case? And if we need help, we will ask them out in that case. So, they're just being an entity to help us out.


QUESTION: How many rooms will the robot have to (OFF-MIKE)

DAVIS: It depends how big this building is. I haven't been in the building myself, but it's going to take some time. So, we ask you for that patience.

QUESTION: Any indication on motive?

DAVIS: Any indication on motive? We don't have that information right now.

This is still preliminary. This is still ongoing. All the information I have is that I can give out at this point. And we're still getting it as we get along.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) search area for an explosive device, and is there any indication that the people who were killed were specifically targeted, or was this someone -- an employee showing up at work with a grudge and just spraying indiscriminately?

DAVIS: So, this is a big building. I can't get into the details how big this building is, but it's a pretty decent-sized building.

In regards with motive, I don't have that information. This is still preliminary, and I'm still trying to get that information at this point.

QUESTION: Do we know if the shooting took place inside, outside or (OFF-MIKE)

DAVIS: We don't -- I don't know at this point if it's inside or outside. We have...


DAVIS: Yes. I'm going to pass it off to Sheriff Laurie Smith. And then she's going to take over from here.

LAURIE SMITH, SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, SHERIFF: So, what I'd first like to do is tell everyone that my heart really goes out to the victims.

These were county employees. And we're doing everything we can to help them, including the family reunification center.

But I really want to commend the law enforcement in Santa Clara County. Several years ago, the sheriff's office, in conjunction with the county fire department, began a series of trainings for active shooter. And that training has happened throughout the county with law enforcement and all fire agencies.

And why that differs is that, at the time there's an active shooter, as soon as we can get one team together, we go in. The first teams through the door were the sheriff's office and San Jose Police Department.

And they're my true heroes. There was active shooting going on at that time. There were victims shot in two separate buildings. But they responded. They responded the way that they should. They took their life in their hands. And I know for sure that, when the suspect knew the law enforcement was there, he took his own life. Our deputies were right there at that time. So, 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. But our detectives are on scene and we're doing everything we can to identify the victims as soon as possible, so their loved ones can know.

So, thank you very much for covering this. And we will continue to give you updates as the investigation progresses.


SMITH: It's still too early for us to know. But the suspect was an employee also.

Thank you.

DAVIS: I'm going to pass it on to Governor Gavin Newsom.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Thank you.

Let me thank the sheriff, the mayor, our police chief captain, all the men and women in uniform. You're going to learn over the course of the next number of days and weeks about the heroism of the San Jose police, saved lives, deputy sheriffs that ran, quite literally ran moments after, seconds after hearing about this incident, without any consideration of their own lives, and did an extraordinary job to save other people's lives.

That said, there's a numbness I imagine some of us are feeling about this, because there's a sameness to this, anywhere USA. It just feels like this happens over and over and over again. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat. It wasn't that long ago I was standing out here talking about the tragic loss of two children, one in a mother's arms, the Gilroy Festival, just here in this community down in Southern California and San Bernardino.

Remember, a few years prior, Santa Barbara. Pick a state, and here we are, in the United States of America. We're experiencing something just not experienced anywhere else in the world. There's a sameness to this. And that numbness, I think, is something we're all feeling, all of us gathered here today looking at this scene, listening to governors, mayors, chiefs speaking, similar tone and terms, expression of condolences, all the right emotions and perhaps the right words.

But it begs the damn question, what the hell is going on in the United States of America? What the hell's wrong with us? And when are we going to come to grips with this? When are we going to put down our arms, literally and figuratively, our politics, stale rhetoric, finger-pointing, all the hand-wringing, consternation that produces nothing except more fury and frustration, more scenes like this repeated over and over and over again?

I say that not as a governor. I just say that as a father of four. I say that as a member of this community who cares deeply about it. So, we will -- we will have time to work through all of that.


But one thing I just wanted to briefly speak to is the pain in those victims. I just spent -- we just had the privilege to spend the last few hours with the victims that are waiting to just learn if their loved one is still alive. They're dialing the phones. They can't find it.

They are trying to go on and find a phone of the loved one. Waiting to hear from the coroner or any of us, just desperate to find out if their brother, their son, their dad, their mom is still alive. Just imagine being in their foot.

I know everybody wants all the answers to all these questions but there's no more important question and no more important answers than the victims of this senseless and tragic shooting. And so, I'm not just going to express my condolences. I'm not just going to just express the usual platitudes. But let me just thank the heroism of those victims, the fact they can even stand up and support one another is remarkable. What a human act.

And so I just want to -- we just want folks to know we're going to be there for the victims. I want folks to know, you know, I'm here for you, Mr. Mayor, and the county, this state.

And I know we have elected officials of all political stripes who want to be here for this nation. But it's time to deal with the endemic before this pandemic of gun violence, the pre-existing condition, that somehow it was sort of pushed aside last year, but now it's raised its ugly head again this year and wake up to this reality and take a little damn responsibility, all of us, to do a little bit more and a little bit better this time and move beyond the platitudes and the usual rhetoric that tends to mark not just these moments but the aftermath of these moments as all of you go away and this fades out of you and then we rinse and repeat someplace else in this country.

So, again, to the victims, to those that lost their lives and the families who lost their loved ones -- yes, our hearts go out, but we are resolved to not make this meaningless but to bring meaning at this tragic moment in our state and our nation's history. Again, thank you to all the men and women behind me and their courageousness and the incredible, incredible bravery that was demonstrable of the men and women of our San Jose Police Department and Sheriff's Office.

REPORTER: Governor, what do you say to the people who say California has some of the toughest gun laws --

DEP. RUSSELL DAVIS, SANTA CLARA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: So, next, we're going to introduce Valley Transportation Authority Chair/President Glenn Hendricks.

GLENN HENDRICKS, PRESIDENT, SANTA CLARA VALLEY TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY: As you all know, a horrible tragedy has impacted the VTA family, the organization, and our whole community. And our thoughts and love go out to all the employees who have been directly and indirectly impacted by this horrible event. I want to let you know that the families have been moved to the family

assistance center at the Red Cross to continue to have -- meet with counselors about what's happening. We're really grateful of the outpouring of support that has come from union leadership and transit organizations from across the country.

The VTA has suspended its light-rail service and will probably be suspended for several days unless we work through being able to get back into the yard. We'll be setting up bus bridges to go ahead and help get our customers around.

We're asking that our customers be patient with us as we work through this event to try and recover our service. And I also want to thank all the law enforcement that's been involved in their quick reaction and the way that they've been dealing with everyone who is involved by this. And once again, I want to say how terribly sorry I am and I want to thank everybody in the VTA family who's been so effective.

DAVIS: Next, we're going to introduce the president of the county board of supervisors for Santa Clara County, Mike Wasserman, and County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

MIKE WASSERMAN, PRESIDENT, SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA BOARD OF SUPERVISORS FOR: It was two years ago the mass shooting in Gilroy, and law enforcement responded quickly and minimized the number of fatalities. Last year we had COVID. Still have COVID, but last year was the big year, and the people and the county responded so as to have the lowest positivity rate in the state.

Today, we had this mass shooting here, and it was the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department and the San Jose Police Department that responded so quickly to minimize the loss of lives. As you can see, our flag now is at half mast to help commemorate and remember the people that have passed today.


It is an extremely sad day in the history of Santa Clara County, but I'm also very proud of the response by law enforcement, and then the VTA family taking care of the loved ones, the survivors of those that passed, and the district attorney's office that has stepped forward with the services they provided two years ago to the people in Gilroy and continue to provide every day and will provide to the survivors, loved ones, and family of those who passed.

It is a sad day in Santa Clara County history. But I'm very proud of the response including the unions that have come forward with funding and help. Santa Clara County is a family, and you're seeing that go into effect today. My condolences to all the family members and friends of those that passed today.

CINDY CHAVEZ, SANTA CLARA COUNTY SUPERVISOR: Thank you. You know, let me start by just reminding everybody that the backbone of Santa Clara County throughout COVID-19 was all the essential workers, and none were more essential than making sure people could get to their places of work. And VTA never stopped, it didn't stop light rail, it didn't stop buses, it didn't stop helping move people from point A to point B.

These heroes that we all learned how to call essential workers heroes, we're now calling on them to be heroes again. There is a fund that's been set up for these families, and by going to, anybody who wants to make a contribution to the families that have been impacted, the VTA families that have been impacted, you can do that directly by going to

I just want to close with this point. While my heart breaks, I can't stop thinking about what we could be doing differently to stop this in our community. So that this doesn't become something that just happens here but something that should never happen. I thank all of you for being here. Thank you.

TAPPER: You've been listening to an update from officials in san Jose, California, about today's mass shooting. The sheriff's department confirming what we've reported, eight innocent individuals were shot and killed at a rail yard.

The police -- the sheriff's deputy, rather, and the sheriff say the deputies did not exchange gun fire with the ninth person there, the gunman. They believe that he took his own life. Officials say they are still not ready to determine a motive.

Right now, the bomb squad remains on the scene because of reports of explosive devices inside the building in addition to officials from the sheriff's department and the Valley Transit Authority, we heard, gentlemen -- and I want to bring back the former acting police commissioner of Baltimore, Anthony Barksdale, as well as Dmitri Roberts who served as a Chicago police officer.

Gentlemen, you heard from Gavin Newsom, the Democratic governor of California, talking about the numbness and the sameness of another mass shooting in this country, the numbness and the sameness. And he said, quote, what the hell is going on in the United States of America? Where are we going to come to grips with this?

And, Commissioner Barksdale, I wonder what you made of that.

ANTHONY BARKSDALE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I thought that his statements were spot on. He's absolutely right, Jake. We're seeing this too much over and over again. And it is a problem. Actually, it's a crisis that we need to resolve as fast as possible. We're losing too many citizens due to gun violence.

TAPPER: Dmitri, what do you think?

ROBERTS: Well, I think, Jake, that what we see trending in this country is the need for some humanity to be re-instilled, not just within our police and community interactions, but with how we are going about addressing these things so we don't see them happen again. But, Jake, I've been on your show for years, and we often find ourselves at the same impasse. And there's a call to action, we have a visceral reaction to these things. But I think that this is a moment in this country where we can truly

stand together and say, as the governor pointed out, these folks don't have to have lost their lives in vain. We really have an opportunity to bring back a level of common decency to what we're trying to do. And, again, as everybody, my heart goes out to the families and everybody that's involved in the situation.

TAPPER: Gentlemen, thanks so much for sticking around. We really appreciate it.

Coming up, we're going to talk live to the mayor of San Jose about the shooting.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, we are following breaking news. Eight innocent people have been killed in a mass shooting in California, and police say that the male suspect is also dead after a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Plus, the mother of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick who died after the capitol insurrection is pleading with Republican lawmakers to get on board with the commission to look into the January 6th insurrection.

And leading this hour, new action in the search to find out where COVID came from. Today, President Biden tasking the U.S. intelligence community to further and more intensely investigate as speculation grows about a possible lab leak in Wuhan, China. The timing of Biden's new order is notable as reports from journalists this week reveal what his administration may already know about this.