Return to Transcripts main page

Don Lemon Tonight

The Department Of Justice Digs Deeper Into 2020 Fake Electors Scheme; The January 6 Committee Continues Its Investigation; NHK: Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Rushed To Hospital After Possible Shooting. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 07, 2022 - 23:00   ET



SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But in recent months, it has expanded to cover the fake electors scheme in seven battleground states with subpoenas to prominent Republicans like Arizona Senate president Karen Fann, Georgia Republican Party chairman David Shafer, and Arizona Republican Party chair Kelli Ward.

KELLI WARD, FORMER ARIZONA SENATOR: Do not let this election be stolen.

MURRAY (voice-over): The probe also inching closer to Trump as investigators raided Jeffrey Clark's home, the former DOJ official who pushed Donald Trump's voter fraud claims.

JEFFREY CLARK, FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: They even brought along something, Tucker, I've never seen before or heard of, an electronic sniffing dog, and they took all of the electronics from my house.

MURRAY (voice-over): And also seized electronics from former Trump election attorney John Eastman, who peddled baseless fraud claims and pushed illegal theory that Vice President Pence could block the 2020 election certification.

CLARK: All we are demanding of Vice President Pence is this afternoon at one o'clock, he let the legislators of the state look into this.

MURRAY (voice-over): Beyond the DOJ probe, a separate criminal investigation into Trump and his allies is escalating in Georgia, where investigators subpoenaed key Trump allies, including Rudy Giuliani and South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham. The district attorney there says more subpoenas may soon be headed to Trump's inner circle.

FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We're going to do our due diligence.

MURRAY (voice-over): And a separate congressional investigation unearthing new details, like Trump's eagerness to go to the Capitol on January 6th and the legal risks that went with it.

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of, please make sure we don't go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We're going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.


MURRAY (voice-over): Those revelations increasing Trump's criminal exposure and raising the odds he could face repercussions.

(On camera): We heard there Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony regarding Pat Cipollone. He is expected to meet with the January 6 Committee behind closed doors tomorrow. We can expect at least one of the things he'll be asked about is to corroborate at least parts of her testimony. Back to you, Laura.



I want to bring in CNN legal analyst Elliot Williams and political commentator Alice Stewart. Good to see both of your faces here tonight. I got to tell you, I mean, Elliot, as you know, the DOJ, I mean, you're formally with DOJ, they're stepping up their investigations.

You've got the raid of a former DOJ official who wanted to be the attorney general. We heard testimony as to why they did not think he should be. You heard about seized electronics from a former attorney, John Eastman. Now, they're honing in on the fake electors scheme in seven battleground states. That's a lot of ground to cover.

Which case, in your mind, stands out to you the most as potentially the most significant legally?


legally, and the amazing thing about this is this is how cases are built. You know, it's easy to forget that 800 people or so have been charged with crimes here, but the way it works is that -- and this was in Sara's piece -- there's violence, there's unrest, something happens.

It gets investigated by the Justice Department. They start talking to those people, bringing them in, getting some to cooperate, and moving not just up the chain but almost around the jungle gym, so to speak, and so you end up around the country in states like Michigan and Arizona.

So, it's hard to say that there's any one that is the alarming one other than the fact that they all suggest a lack of faith in institutions in America and led to people acting out.

COATES: Well, speaking of that, I mean, in terms of alarm, Alice, I wonder what your perspective is because you've got some subpoenas calling for prominent Republicans, as Sara indicated, who are connected to the fake electors scheme, required to provide documents by tomorrow.

Do you have some pause or cause for concern about these officials that may be cooperating? Is this the price that's being paid right now and will it be long-lasting?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR SENATOR TED CRUZ: Look, the fake electors scheme is ridiculous and it should have never been bought into by anyone. I'm pleased to hear news that the DOJ is actually looking into that as well and will be interested to see if they take an action.

I think it's really incumbent upon Republicans moving forward as to work and comply with this hearing and everything we can find out about January 6th and put the fake electors scheme behind us and do everything we can to put integrity back in the election process.

And, look, I do want to touch on Pat Cipollone's testimony tomorrow. I've worked with him before. He is a straight shooter. He is someone that in the midst of a storm, he is the calm in the midst of a storm. And also, when there is chaos and there is difficulty going on, he is the person that will go right to the principal and give them the difficult, hard, straight truth about the proper course of action.

That's exactly what he did here with regard to encouraging Donald Trump not to go back to the Capitol, saying that that would spur up many criminal charges.


STEWART: He did not do so.

So, the intent to overthrow the election and cause chaos is much different than actually following through, which he did not do. Look, Donald Trump took lot of bad legal advice on January 6th, but it does not appear any of it was from Pat Cipollone.

COATES: Well, I mean, Cipollone, if he is the calm in the storm, it's a hell of a storm, Alice --


COATES: -- in terms of what was --


COATES: -- actually brewing that day. To stick with you on this very point, why do you think if that's the case, if he is the steady hand, why did he not come forward until after Cassidy Hutchinson to provide a testimony? What do you think was the basis for that? I know you can't get into his mind fully, but why do you think there's been the delay?

STEWART: Well, clearly, he has provided some information and has answered some questions. Clearly, you two are the smart attorneys, you understand the concerns about attorney-client privilege and what is privileged information, what he can and cannot put forth, but he also understands that he is not Donald Trump's private attorney, he is counsel for the presidency as a whole, and he clearly is doing the right thing, I think, in coming forth and providing additional information.

I think it is wrong for anyone to assume he's going to provide anything different than what he has said in the past. He will continue to acknowledge the information and the advice and counsel he gave to the president. And if nothing else, I think it will corroborate some of the testimony we heard from Cassidy Hutchinson, but I don't think we'll see a smoking gun tomorrow.

WILLIAMS: You know --

COATES: Elliot, what do you think? Go ahead.

WILLIAMS: You know, it's one thing, and Alice raises a really important point with this attorney-client privilege and executive privilege point, which is largely the reason why Pat Cipollone hadn't testified before and why many others in the White House haven't, but it's sort of a way that folks tend to hide from coming in and testifying.

Take, for example, a statement that he is reported to have said, that he thought the fake electors scheme was, and I -- quote -- "kooky" was, I think, the word that he used. There is no universe --

COATES: Or murder-suicide pact.

WILLIAMS: Murder-suicide pact. There is literally no universe, Laura, you know this as well as I, in which that will be protected by any sort of privilege. There is no universe in which if we do this, we're all going to be charged with crimes, said to another colleague, who is not the president. He is essentially, you know, speaking, you know. So, there's any number of meetings, conversations that he would have been a part of that aren't going to be protected by privilege.

And we've seen this time and again where folks merely on account of having a law degree think that -- and working in the White House thinks that, you know, they never have to come in and testify or provide truthful information to Congress. That's just -- it's a convenient excuse. I don't want to impute motives to anybody.

But at the end of the day, there's plenty of information that he could and should provide, and I hope he does tomorrow.

COATES: Well, I remind people, talking about presidential privileges, there is a president of the United States right now, his name is President Joe Biden --


COATES: -- and he has said, hey, speak away. If you're talking about the office of the White House counsel whose job it is to protect the institution of the presidency, go ahead and speak out on this issue. Both of you, I am curious about this. Call it the lawyer in me who is a bit champing at the bit to have him explain specifically what exactly were the crimes you thought you'd be charged with if you were to go to January 6th. And I want to line them up against the things that you've heard referenced by and intimated by the likes of Congresswoman Liz Cheney.

To you on this point, Alice, I'm wondering how you think this is all landing among the electorate perhaps more broadly but more specifically the Republican electorate in particular because before the actual hearings commenced, just the amount of time it took to get a lot of these hearings to start in the first instance showed the impatience, justifiably, of the American people. What do you think and make of how these are going so far among Republican voters?

STEWART: Look, I've listened to every bit of the hearings and the testimony. I think it's pretty damning, and I think it does show a president that is unhinged and certainly, you know, uncertain about the course of action to do because he is clearly in denial of the fact that he lost the election.

But I've also spoken with many Republicans who supported the former president and buy into the election fraud nonsense and did support the protests at the Capitol. And, look, they're not moved by what they're hearing. Many of them aren't watching it, aren't paying attention to this. They're not looking at the 2020 election.

What they are concerned with in terms of politically moving forward, they're focused on, you know, the economy and gas and bills and crime. Those are the issues they're concerned with looking forward.

But there are many people that are undecided and independents who are watching this and are taking a look at this.



STEWART: And I think the testimony has moved the needle for those people, and they are really turned off by the actions of the former president.

COATES: Alice, on that point, can our team bring up -- there's a Quinnipiac poll to that point you just referenced. The Quinnipiac polling taken before, say, Hutchinson's testimony, just to give a reference point. It showed that 36% of people have learned new information from the hearings, while 62% have not learned new information.

And I'm wondering from your perspective, when you think about this, Elliot in particular, if you're presenting a kind of a case -- this is not a criminal proceeding. Let's reiterate that till we're blue in the face. Congress is not the prosecutor. They are not DOJ.

WILLIAMS: Right. COATES: They are an entirely separate branch of government. Remember our civics lessons here. But if you're presenting a case to the court of, say, electoral opinion, Elliot, do you think that Cipollone's testimony or the remaining witnesses, whoever they may be, is going to be persuasive? I mean, if you're not learning --


COATES: -- anything new, does that mean that this is an exercise of futility for many voters?

WILLIAMS: No, no. Number one, you're making me want to sing three- ring circus from Schoolhouse Rock about the three different branches of government.

COATES: Oh, I'm just a bill.

WILLIAMS: Oh, here we go.

COATES: If we go -- I'm just a bill. I'm going to chime in right now. Are you kidding me? We just dated ourselves.


WILLIAMS: We just did. We're doing the deep cuts here, Laura. But with respect to public opinion, at the end of the day -- I don't want to say that public opinion doesn't matter because it does, it's a political process, but public opinion doesn't determine whether the Justice Department brings charges.

And at the end of the day, if Congress makes a persuasive case, they can present it to the Justice Department, but that's not -- you know, what the public thinks isn't going to factor into the decision.

Now, look, if the Justice Department brings charges and the public doesn't like it, then Merrick Garland is going to have to do a bunch of press conferences and answer questions from reporters, but that doesn't change the underlying decision to move forward with charging.

I think we're blurring in this national conversation, these two things together, what the public thinks and what is legally correct or accurate. You know -- and they fit together. You know, there's some harmony to it. But at the end of the day, you know, if the facts and law support charges, the Justice Department should go ahead.

COATES: Thank you to you both. I just want to say I'm sorry to interrupt you, but we're having some breaking news tonight out of Japan. The former Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has been rushed to a hospital after a possible shooting. That's according to NHK. Stay with us.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) UNKNOWN (voice-over): This is CNN Breaking News.

COATES: Breaking news tonight out of Japan. The former Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, rushed to a hospital after a possible shooting. That according to NHK.

CNN's Blake Essig has more. Blake, I mean, it's shocking.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Laura, Japanese public broadcaster -- yeah. Japanese public broadcaster NHK is reporting that former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been shot in the chest while delivering a speech around 11:30 this morning local time in Nara.

Abe was rushed to the hospital, as you mentioned, and I've personally seen one report on NHK saying that he wasn't conscious while he was being taken away. He was there in Japan's western city delivering a stump speech ahead of the upper house elections set for this Sunday here nationwide in Japan.

Abe is Japan's longest-serving prime minister, known for his nationalist views and economic policies. He was first elected in 2006 and then again in 2012, 2014, and finally in 2017 before stepping down in August 2020 because of health reasons.

Again, still very little information that we know about the condition or exactly what happened in Nara with the former prime minister, but what we do know, the NHK reports that we've heard is that he was rushed away, that gunshots were heard.

I've also seen reports that there's potentially one man who has been taken into custody. But, again, these are all details that we are working to currently confirm. Very fluid situation here in Japan. Laura?

COATES: Stunning, Blake. I mean, did you say gunshots, plural? That maybe more than one shot was fired at the former prime minister?

ESSIG: Again, Laura, I mean this is -- it happened 45 minutes ago. Details still kind of trickling out very slowly. We've been trying to contact the former prime minister's P.R. people, his office, to try to find some details. We've tried to contact the police there in Nara as well. Very few details at this point. Just a lot of what we're seeing play out from NHK, the Japan's national public broadcaster as well as on social media where you're starting to see some clips, videos start to populate.

So very much, again, a fluid situation. We're learning more by the minute and, again, trying to get a grasp on exactly what happened and the condition of Japan's longest-serving prime minister.

COATES: Blake, please stay on your reporting. We'll get back to you on this. Please follow this story. This is unbelievable. I mean, gun violence is very rare in terms of what we're seeing right now in a place like Japan comparatively speaking.


I want to bring in CNN global affairs analyst Susan Glasser now. Susan, I mean, Glasser, excuse me, Susan, Japan almost has no gun violence. I mean, at least comparatively speaking. I mean, it's so unusual that this has happened, let alone this has happened to the former prime minister, the longest-running prime minister in Japan. What's your reaction?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, obviously, it's a shocking event, and we'll have to see more as the news develops. But, you know, Shinzo Abe is one of the sorts of towering figures of modern Japanese politics.

As your reporter mentioned, he is the longest-serving prime minister in Japan's history, actually is the grandson of a prime minister of Japan. So, this is, again, someone who occupies a larger-than-life role, especially in his role as a leader of sort of Japan's nationalist faction.

It's interesting that he was giving a campaign speech when this apparently took place. I guess it was around 11:30 a.m. local time. So, this is -- you know, we'll have to wait and see, but I think we're looking at a political event of enormous significance that has clearly taken place in Japan.

COATES: I mean, he was the longest-serving prime minister. He officially resigned as prime minister in September of 2020 over health reasons. I mean, do we know what he had been up to in the last few years since he actually resigned?

GLASSER: Well, he has continued to remain active in politics, which, again, is the reason for his public appearance today at which this event occurred. And so, you know, I think it's really a notable thing at a time when the U.S. is looking to shore up its alliances, when Japan's politics -- it's not really clear there's an election upcoming. Again, reason for the speech.

So, I feel this is an event, as we see how significant it is, that may well have serious political consequences not just inside Japan but in the renal as well, Laura.

COATES: You know, we talk about the election system or politics in the U.S. being quite divisive at times. I'm wondering, as you mentioned, elections in Japan are this coming Sunday. Do you think that there is some correlation -- we don't want to get ahead of our skis. We need to have the reporting to be accurate, to know what happened. This has just happened. Do you think there's some kind of correlation that we should be considering here, Susan?

GLASSER: Look, obviously, it's too early to tell, but it's hard not to rule out the idea that Shinzo Abe, one of Japan's most well-known political figures, if not the most well-known political figure in Japan, may have been targeted for who he is, of course.

And so, we certainly can't rule that out. And the timing in a middle of a campaign speech is notable and it does suggest the possibility of political violence here. From whom and why, we know nothing at this time.

COATES: Can you talk about his general popularity in Japan? You talked about him being a towering figure, Susan, and the reverberations of something like this not only regionally but globally.

GLASSER: Well, that's right. Again, you know, this is a moment where you're in the middle of a round of crucial summits. The G20 meetings are just beginning to take place. Japan is an important member of both the G7 and the G20 at a time when the U.S. and its other allies have been very focused on the Pacific region, and the question of how to shore up, you know, the alliance against and dealing with the threats coming from China and Japan's tradition adversary.

You have Abe representative of a nationalist faction in Japan at a moment when there are new elections, when there are questions in Japan just as there are in all the other industrialized democracies right now in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, surging inflation, oil prices. Those are all hitting Japan very hard as well.

COATES: We're learning that he has been talking about Taiwan more recently, and we know about the significance of that in the region in particular. It is a particularly hot-button issue. Could that play a role in at least the discussions politically that are taking place in Japan right now?

GLASSER: Well, again, the primary focus for, you know, Japan's national security in recent years has been this question of dealing with a resurgent china challenging the security order in the region in a very significant way.

Abe, as you know, was president -- was prime minister throughout the presidency of Donald Trump. Many credited him with being perhaps the world's premier Trump whisperer, but it was all done in the service of shoring up Japan's alliance with the United States at a time of enormous concern on Abe's part and others about China, and was the U.S. going to serve as the guarantor in the region in the way that it had in the past.

And so, I think that, you know, again, this -- Taiwan is only one piece of the overwhelming focus right now on China and security in the region for Japan.


That is the paramount issue of national security in Japanese politics.

COATES: Susan, I mean, I want to talk more. It's hard not to look at this, this active gun violence, without thinking about the backdrop that we in the United States have been focused on for longer than we care to admit to the rest of the globe, and the idea of gun culture and the conversations politically and our congressional viewpoints towards it and really the prevalence of what we're seeing right now.

Tell me more about this notion of gun culture in Japan. I mean, is it even a misnomer to talk about the idea of there being a gun culture? How rare is this notion that gun violence, this degree, is now in the headline?

GLASSER: Well, again, Laura, we don't know what we're dealing with here yet, but, you know, I would look more to questions around, you know, politically-motivated attacks and assassinations, which have occurred, you know, in countries around the globe. I'm not sure, you know, this is the same resonance as here in the United States.

As you pointed out, in Japan, they just don't have anything like -- frankly, no country in the world has anything like the prevalence of guns that we have here, the level of attacks and things like that, but this does not appear -- facts could change, but it does not appear to be just a random act. I would look to the politics here first and foremost.

COATES: Absolutely. Of course, we're thinking of what's going on in Japan and just thinking about the effect of a former leader here in the United States being impacted this way and how this would impact not only our country but beyond.

Susan, we're going to have more on our breaking news. The former Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, rushed to the hospital after a possible shooting.

More in a moment.




COATES: Breaking news tonight out of Japan. Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rushed to a hospital after a possible shooting. That according to NHK. CNN's Blake Essig is in Tokyo. Blake, you have more details for us? What's happening now?

ESSIG: Yeah, you know, Laura, NHK again reporting that former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been shot in the chest while delivering a speech around 11:30 a.m. local time. Now, NHK is reporting that Abe was rushed to the hospital bleeding from his chest, and the suspect has been arrested in possession of a gun. An NHK reporter on the ground heard two shots while Abe was delivering a speech.

We do not know the condition of the former prime minister at this point, but we do know that he was there in Japan, this western city of Nara, delivering a stump speech ahead of the upper house elections set for this Sunday.

Abe, again, the longest-serving prime minister in Japan and the youngest prime minister in Japan, first elected in 2006, before stepping down after his third term in August 2020 because of health concerns.

Now, despite stepping down, Abe remained a key player in Japanese politics, speaking very candidly about Taiwan and hinting at Japan's military role in Taiwan.

Laura, just to talk about, you know, gun violence briefly here in Japan, really almost nonexistent. The number of annual deaths resulting from firearms hasn't reached triple digits since the year 2000 with the number of homicides involving gun often in single digits. And the reason for that, you know, according to gun control advocates, is because of the regulations here in Japan that are extremely restrictive as a result of a 1958 firearm and sword law.

Most guns are illegal in the country. In order to possess a weapon, you have to obtain special approval, passing mental health checks, background checks, explain to police why you need a gun, receive formal instructions and pass a collection of written mental and drug tests.

And while it is rare, when it comes to mass killings in Japan, those who are often responsible resort to using guns -- or excuse me -- knives or arson instead of guns.

So, gun violence in Japan, incredibly rare, and the fact that there was an attack on the former prime minister about an hour ago is just incredible.

COATES: It's truly stunning to think about that based on the figures you've given, the amount of people, the population size in place like a country like Japan. I mean, it's really stunning to think about gun violence in this way, an incident like this.

And, of course the target, the former and longest-running prime minister of Japan. We don't yet know his condition. We do not yet know the treatment. We do not yet know information about the why or the motive or who the suspect is.

But based on what you've just said, Blake, I mean, it would probably be easier to narrow down who the suspect is based on the stringent gun control regulations, if he was able to access and have this gun legally at least. It's unbelievable to think about.

We'll bring more details as soon as we get them on our breaking news. Blake, stay with this story, please. Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rushed to a hospital after what appears to have been a shooting. Unbelievable. We'll bring you the latest in just a moment. We'll be right back.



COATES: Breaking news tonight out of Japan. Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rushed to a hospital after what appears to have been a shooting. That according to NHK.

I want to bring in CNN global affairs analyst Susan Glasser. Susan, this is incredibly shocking to hear.

[23:40:01] We're learning more and more details and it's likely to have a huge impact on Japanese society overall. I mean, we're very close to an election coming up this Sunday. In fact, he was giving a speech at the time, we're understanding, this happened. Tell me about the significance of these upcoming elections and the ramifications in society in Japan.

GLASSER: Well, Laura, I think this is an important and excellent point to make, really. You know, you can't overstate how rare this kind of gun violence and political violence is in Japan. You know, foreign correspondents I know who have worked in Japan say they can recall never, never having covered a shooting, never mind the, you know, weekly drumbeat of mass shootings we have here in the United States.

There has been a history of political violence in Japan as in many other societies, but very, very rare. You have to go back to 1932 to when a prime minister was assassinated. I believe a party leader was assassinated in 1960. But, you know, this is almost a cataclysmic event, one might imagine, in terms of its ramifications in Japan, a country that just simply has not the culture of gun violence that we are just, you know, soaked with here in the United States.

COATES: I mean, the regulations, the small pool of people who are able to access the small pool of guns, the notion of all the gun control measures, the large population in Japan, and yet relatively few -- I mean every life is significant, but comparatively speaking, relatively few deaths as well.

I mean we actually have video that came in just now, Susan, that is showing the moments after the former prime minister collapsed. You can see him on the ground, and people are gathering around him. I mean, it's truly stunning to see right now. I mean, this is the former prime minister of Japan, the longest-serving and twice-serving prime minister.

And for the audience, of course, this is the highest government office in Japan. And the former prime minister, he had a large international role, Susan, as a member of the G7, and we're seeing this play out right now. Tell us about the role he played on the international and global stage as well.

GLASSER: Well, I think you're right to highlight this. So, Abe is a figure -- he's not just another prime minister in a society that has had a lot of turnover in its political offices in recent decades. Abe is perhaps the best-known political figure in Japan as well as internationally, in part because of his long tenure in the job. He also was the grandson of a prime minister as well as himself being prime minister.

He's probably best known in recent years as being perhaps the premier Donald Trump whisperer among the western allies. He was uniquely patient and gifted at that. He solicited. He understood that he would need to remain very close to Trump at a time when Trump was very questionable about alliances and partnerships in Asia, in the region. It was Abe largely who tried to steer him in various directions. He was willing to do things that other world leaders were not. And I think in the end, it might not have been a role that he coveted, but he left office in 2020, not that long before Trump himself very involuntary left office.

And so, I think he will be remembered on the world stage in part for the years of hand-holding of Donald Trump that marked the final stages of his premiership.

COATES: You know, I want to be clear, we -- stand by here, Susan, for a moment, please, as we recover more information here. CNN's Blake Essig is in Tokyo with even more details. Blake, what are you learning?

ESSIG: Yeah. You know, Laura, again, NHK at this point reporting that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been shot around 11:30 this morning local time in Nara, a city in Western Japan. NHK again reporting that Abe was rushed to a hospital bleeding from his chest and in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest, essentially meaning that his heart wasn't beating.

Witnesses say Abe was shot from behind. He didn't collapse after the first shot but did after the second shot. People were conducting at that point CPR. Witnesses on the scene say that the suspect didn't even attempt to run. He just got arrested on the spot. Several police officers on-site were able to take that suspect into custody. He's now being questioned as we speak.

NHK again at this point reporting that two gunshots were heard while Abe was delivering the speech. He was there in Japan's western city delivering a stump speech ahead of this weekend, Sunday's upper house election. Laura?

COATES: I'm stunned to think about this, the idea of two shots, you said from behind.


The suspect did not even attempt to run. We know that it's a male from the reporting you're talking about. The person being questioned now not quite understanding -- we don't know at this point the motive or whether there was a known relationship of some kind.

I mean, just speak to me a little bit -- and, Susan, I want to bring you back into this as well. But, Blake, in the reporting, we're learning more about this. Let me ask you. I mean, a former prime minister and as Susan just talked about, we're talking about somebody who recently has held this position, this position of extraordinary importance, the longest-running and twice occupying the position of prime minister.

Can you get a sense of what the security detail would be like for somebody like the former prime minister? I'm thinking about here in the states, what that detail would be like for a former president here. I mean, obviously, there is still assigned detail. It lasts for the duration of their life, of course, given the nature of the position, the extraordinary importance of having a world leader on that stage be protected.

Can you give me a sense of what the security may be like normally around somebody like Prime Minister Shinzo Abe?

ESSIG: You know, Laura, it's hard to speculate regarding exactly how things played out here in Nara just about an hour ago. Again, you know, looking at some of the scenes, you know, on social media play out, it surprises me that somebody was able to potentially get as close, you know, walk up right behind the former prime minister and get off two shots, you know, as you had said.

In the United States with the Secret Service, you know, it seems incredibly difficult, let alone, you know, to carry weapons. Again, we had talked about it previously, gun violence here in Japan extremely rare, perhaps not -- you know, maybe an omission or thinking that, you know, because it's so rare, people don't take it as seriously. But, you know, clearly, you know, something that played out today.

I think that the protection of -- whether it's former prime ministers or politicians, you know, will likely be looked at very closely here moving forward as a result of what we saw here happened today.

COATES: Blake, I know the story is still developing and you are getting your reporting in and following this story very closely. I know you will do this. Do we know at this point in time what he was speaking about at the time of the shot?

ESSIG: We know he was in Nara delivering a stump speech. Again, upper house election scheduled for this Sunday. So, we don't have any specific details about exactly what he was talking about. We can assume that he was there, again, promoting certain candidates for office despite, you know, the health issues that caused him to step down from his role as prime minister in 2020.

You know, he's still been very active in the political scene here in Japan. Again, talking very openly, candidly about Japan's involvement militarily in Taiwan, and then almost serving, you know, as a kingmaker within politics here in Japan, you know, getting his endorsement, getting his support, you know, is huge towards any success as a politician here.

COATES: We're going to follow this completely and really understand what happened here. This is really shocking news for the world to be watching right now. We are waiting for more information about the health condition of the former prime minister of japan, Shinzo Abe, delivering a stump speech.

We're learning that he was shot twice from behind, did not collapse after the first shot, but did collapse after the second one, and was in apparent cardiopulmonary arrest. We're learning more details as they come in. The suspect, I believe, is in custody. He did not run.

We will talk more after a quick break.




COATES: Our breaking news out of Japan. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rushed to a hospital after reportedly being shot. It happened at about 11:30 am local time. According to an official, Abe was shot in the chest, and carried away by an ambulance, according to NHK reporting. Police have arrested a man of suspicion of attempted murder and they have retrieved a gun, NHK reports.

Now, before we go, here is a preview of the new CNN Original Series "Patagonia: Life on the Edge of the World." Watch the premiere Sunday at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

Our live coverage picks up with a CNN's Lynda Kinkade right after this.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): This is Patagonia. See this land of extremes like never before. Where animals and humans, once enemies, now fight together against new challenges. What does it take to live in one of the most wild and isolated places on earth?




UNKNOWN (voice-over): This is CNN Breaking News.

LYNDA KINKADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello. I'm Lynda Kinkade at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Breaking news out of Japan right now. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been rushed to hospital after possibly being shot. That's according to reports from Japan's public broadcaster NHK.


It happened as he was giving a speech in the city of Nara in Western Japan. Our Blake Essig is live at this hour in Tokyo.