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Inflation Reduction Act Passed In The Senate; Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) Is Interviewed About The Inflation Reduction Act And January 6th Committee; Ceasefire Reached Between Israel And Islamic Jihad; Space Junk Falling Into Earth; Four Muslim Men Killed In Albuquerque. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired August 07, 2022 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Jim Acosta in Washington. The U.S. Senate has passed a major piece of President Joe Biden's economic agenda, containing the biggest legislative climate investment in U.S. history.
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KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The yays are 50, the nays are 50. The Senate being equally divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative and the bill as amended is passed.
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ACOSTA: The bill known as the Inflation Reduction Act also contains measures to lower health care costs. President Biden has released a new statement on this saying this. "I want to thank Leader Schumer and every member of the Senate Democratic caucus for supporting this bill. It required many compromises. Doing important things always does."
CNN's Melanie Zanona is up on Capitol Hill for us. Melanie, I hope you weren't up all night following all these twists and turns. I suspect you were. Getting this bill out of the Senate was not exactly smooth sailing for Democrats. They ran into some head winds and some rocks, I guess, along the shore in the name of Senator Kyrsten Sinema. How did it all play out?
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. As Chuck Schumer put it, it was a bump in the road. So, there was a little bit of drama here at the very last minute before this bill got to the finish line. And what happened was Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema was concerned about the 15 percent corporate minimum tax, impacting small businesses. And so, she joined in on a Republican amendment to address that issue.
But it also included an extension of the cap on the state and local tax deduction. And Schumer said he was told that some Democrats would not vote for the final bill if those SALT changes were in there. And so, behind the scenes, Democrats were scrambling to come up with a solution to prevent this deal from falling apart.
And what they came up with was letting Sinema support that amendment and then they offered another amendment that essentially took out the SALT changes and instead added in a different way to pay for those changes. But look, that is the reality of a 50-50 Senate. They needed the support of every single Democrat. And here's how Chuck Schumer described it.
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SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): It's been a long, tough, and winding road. We did it without a single vote to spare. To do something with 50 votes is rough. To do small things with 50 votes is rough. To pass such a major piece of legislation with only 50 votes, an intransigent Republican minority, a caucus running from Bernie Sanders to Joe Manchin, wow.
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ZANONA: In the end, every single democrat was there with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie after this marathon voting session that lasted all night and into the morning. And this is a huge deal for Democrats. It includes a number of key priorities, including extending Obamacare subsidies. It includes allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. It includes a historic investment in the climate. And it also imposes that 15 percent corporate minimum tax.
So, now this bill heads to the House where we are expecting a vote on Friday and we are expecting it to pass. And so, this bill could very well be on Joe Biden's desk by the end of next week. Jim?
ACOSTA: Yes. Some of those house moderates that they were concerned about because of some these last-minute changes, they started to signal that they're going to support this legislation. So, it does look like it's headed to the president's desk after making its way to the House. Alright, Melanie Zanona, thanks very much.
And I'm joined now by Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California. She's also a member of the January 6th Select Committee. Congresswoman, before we get to the January 6th developments we want to discuss, let's talk about this landmark vote in the U.S. Senate. It now goes to the house. It sounds like it's going to pass.
Are there any compromises or last-minute tweaks to this legislation that concern you? It doesn't give progressives everything that they wanted initially at the start of this process. I'm old enough to remember when they were calling this the Build Back Better agenda. It's been pared down somewhat. What are your thoughts?
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Right. Well, I think it's a very good bill. I mean, when you're in a legislative body, you don't get to specify every single thing in it. It's, you know, I would have done some things differently. But taking a look at the entire package, it's a win for the American people.
It's the biggest investment in climate change in history. It's going to lower the cost of medicine for senior citizens. It's going to help people with their health care premiums in the Affordable Care Act. I mean, it's a very, very big deal and I look forward to voting for it next Friday in the House of Representatives.
ACOSTA: And you know, in the last hour we were talking about one of the provisions that was stripped out of the bill. Republicans were successful in having won a provision removed that would have capped the price of insulin for people who suffer from diabetes. I mean, this is something that affects so many Americans across this country. What was your response to that?
LOFGREN: Well, this is something that the House has voted for. You know, insulin is life saving for people with diabetes and, you know, it's off patent and has been off patent for a long, long time. So, there's some price gouging going on and that's a disappointing thing to not cap as we did in the House.
But I'll tell you this, there are some other things going on with insulin. Insulin re-capped for Medicare recipients, but also in the state of California, our governor has made a proposal for the state of California to manufacture insulin and make it available to people at cost. So, in California, insulin costs will be capped. It will be affordable.
ACOSTA: Alright. And Congresswoman, let's switch gears. Let's talk about the January 6th investigation. I wanted to ask you because we now know the former President Donald Trump's lawyers are in talks with the Justice Department about the federal investigation into January 6th.
ACOSTA: And as you know, there have been other developments regarding the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, and so on. Do you think it's time for your committee to hand off this investigation into the Justice Department? Has the committee or any members of the committee given any consideration of that?
Have you heard that conversation come up that since the DOJ has made some progress or appears to be making progress? Merrick Garland, the attorney general seems to be saying they are moving forward. That maybe it is time for the January 6th Committee to wind down. What do you think about that?
LOFGREN: Well, we have different objectives. Their objective is to see if there's evidence sufficient to indict people and prosecute them for a crime. Our mission is to find the truth, tell it to the American people, and then make suggestions for legislative changes that would prevent this kind of thing from ever happening again.
We -- as the chairman has announced, are going to have just a few more hearings, probably in September. We are going to issue a report. New information is coming in. So, the two efforts are not in conflict with each other. They're complementary, I believe. ACOSTA: And do you think you're lighting a fire a little bit under the
Justice Department by keeping the investigation going?
LOFGREN: It's hard to know. I mean, they don't report in to us, nor should they. The Department of Justice and prosecutors generally don't give press releases, they don't consult with legislative bodies. If they have evidence, they let you know by indicting someone.
So, we'll find out, along with the rest of the world, if they think a crime is committed and there's evidence to prove it. Meanwhile, we will finish our work and I think the American public will be well served by both efforts, I hope.
ACOSTA: And there are clearly more questions that need to be answered about the missing Secret Service texts. I know that's one of the aspects that your committee will be looking at from the day of the capitol attack. The agency is now given investigators the personal cell phone numbers of agents. That is a very unusual step. Can you confirm whether the committee was given some of that information or is in the process of perhaps taking a look at that information?
LOFGREN: Well, let me just say as you know, we don't publicly discuss the evidence under our rules and we haven't voted to release it, but we are going to follow this to the end. I'll tell you, you know, the Secret Service was told by the four committees of jurisdiction before the J6 Committee existed to preserve all the evidence. And 11 days later they erased it.
The inspector general found out about it and sat on that information, didn't tell the committee for more than a year. And then when forensics started, told the Secret Service to stop the forensics, which is outrageous. And the other thing of concern is that, you know, we were working with the Secret Service. They were sending over information.
It wasn't until we issued a subpoena that hundreds of thousands of records started appearing. So, I have some concerns. This is not a good look, Jim. And I want to give credit to the Secretary of Homeland Security, who has named a person of tremendous integrity as an adjunct general counsel over the department to make sure this is done right. We need to get to the bottom of it. Maybe it's innocent, but it seems like a lot of coincidences.
ACOSTA: Well, sure. And why not haul the director of the Secret Service in front of your committee?
LOFGREN: Well, we're not ruling anything out, but we are intending to get to the bottom of this and just to get the truth. It's a concern, as well as that --
ACOSTA: Would that be a reasonable request to make, to talk to the director of the Secret Service?
LOFGREN: We don't object to that, but I think we are, you know, we're going to dig in and get all of the documents, whether or not he knew about that, you know, we don't know. But we are -- let me just say this, without announcing our witness list, we're going to talk to everybody who can let us know what we need to know.
ACOSTA: Alright. And these texts are just one example of missing Trump White House records. I'm sure you're aware of this exhaustive list, but they -- to remind our viewers, we're talking about missing texts from top Trump national security officials, torn up White House documents recovered by the National Archives, gaps in Trump's call logs on January 6th, papers flushed down the toilet, and so on. The list goes on and on.
LOFGREN: Well, and Mark Meadows burning documents in his fireplace. Don't forget that.
ACOSTA: Well, let's not forget that one either. So, this was a concerted effort inside the Trump administration to make sure there was no paper trail, was it not?
LOFGREN: Well, it doesn't look good, does it? And, you know, the coverup always gets you, not always just the misconduct.
ACOSTA: Do you think we're ever going to get to the bottom of that?
LOFGREN: It's our intent to get to the bottom of it. You know, every time a text is sent, there's the sender and the person who receives the text. So, we're going to track this down. We're going to use forensics. We're going to be going to the telecoms to see if they can recover this material and the like.
I mean, by the way, we don't know what is in it, but we fully expect to get or hope to get the -- all the next messages sent by Mr. Jones, who just lost his defamation case. You know, we're going to find out, get to the bottom of this and then let the American people know what we found out.
ACOSTA: I was just about to ask you about that. An attorney for the families of Sandy Hook victims says the January 6th Committee and federal investigators have asked for Alex Jones' phone record, who you just mentioned. What do you want to look for in those records?
LOFGREN: Well, we know that his behavior did incent some of the January 6th conduct, and we want to know more about that. We don't know what we're going to find in the texts as a way I'm seeing them, but we will look at it and learn more, I am sure.
ACOSTA: And what about the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Ginni Thomas? Is that no longer going to be an avenue that you'll pursue? There was the prospect that she might be interviewed at one point. What's the latest on that?
LOFGREN: Well, when we indicated we wanted to hear from her, she made a public statement that she was eager to come in. She looked forward to talking to the committee. Subsequent to that, it's been publicly reported that she's retained counsel and so there is discussion, but she's never said publicly or so far as I am aware through her counsel, that she has anything other than the intention she first stated, which is to come in to talk to us and to be happy to talk to us. So, we look forward to that. And that's all I can say at this point.
ACOSTA: And I appreciate you indulging me as I jump around on a lot of subjects here, but I think it's very important to bring up the fact that the former President Donald Trump addressed CPAC over the weekend. And as you know, there was this informal CPAC straw poll, not a scientific poll, but it is sort of a measuring stick for presidential candidates, as you know.
And when asked, you know, who the attendees preferred to see as the nominee in 2024, Donald Trump got 69 percent of the vote. In February, he got 59 percent of the vote. That means the conservative support for trump has gone up since these January 6th hearings.
ACOSTA: And I'm just wondering, how do you explain that and, you know, what do you make of the prospect that you have potentially somebody in Donald Trump who incited an insurrection, who has not shown any remorse for it, who continues to lie about the 2020 election, potentially positioning himself as the nominee of the Republican Party in the next presidential election?
LOFGREN: Well, I don't know who attends that convention. I think there are people who were pretty extreme. I think they had, you know, the pillow guy there and some, you know, pretty extreme individuals. Whether or not that reflects normal Republicans in the country, I'm in no position to say.
I will say this. That as I travel around, Republicans, regular Republican voters are coming up to me in great numbers, thanking me for the January 6th committee work. And they always say, I'm a registered Republican and I voted for Trump, but thank you for what you're doing. It's a very interesting phenomenon I found.
ACOSTA: From time to time, Congresswoman, we hear that as well. Either a lot of folks it seems who are afraid to take on the former president inside the Republican Party. But we've seen a couple on your committee who have done just that. Thank you very much, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. We always appreciate you coming on. Thanks again.
LOFGREN: Thank you. Have a good evening.
ACOSTA: And you, too. And coming up, major developments in the Middle East. both Israel and Islamic Jihad say a cease-fire agreement has been reached after a weekend of violence where more than 40 people were killed in Gaza. We'll have the latest developments on that coming up next.
[17:20:00] ACOSTA: A cease-fire agreement has been restored in Gaza after days of violence. More than 40 people were killed in fighting between Israel and members of the Islamic Jihad militant movement. CNN's Ben Wedeman joins me now from Jerusalem. Ben, what do we know about the terms of this agreement and what each side is going to have to do to make this stick? Do you have confidence that this is going to stick?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, it went into effect 49 minutes ago, and even though we have heard reports that sirens went off in the area in Israel around Gaza, it does appear to be, by and large, sticking. Now, what's going to make it stick? Well, so far just the fact that both sides have stopped firing at one another.
What we understand the conditions that apparently Egypt has been very active in working out, one of them is that the Egyptians have committed to trying and push the Israelis to release Bassam al-Saadi, who is an Islamic Jihad field commander in the northern West Bank, who was arrested six days ago. They want him released.
And also, there's a Palestinian prisoner affiliated with Islamic Jihad, who has been on hunger strike for 130 days, and the Egyptians have committed to try to convince the Israelis to move him to a hospital for treatment. Beyond that, there seems to be a general promise to try to ease the blockade that's been in place on Gaza since 2006, but there's been no specific commitment to do that.
We understand, according to the Israeli media reports, that there are 30 trucks full of fuel waiting to cross into Gaza to try to power up the main power station there that, as of noon local time Saturday, basically stopped to function. People in Gaza are getting by with just four hours of power a day.
Now, this conflict went on for about 50 hours this time. The death toll in Gaza 44, 15 of them children on the Israeli side. No fatalities from the conflict, but certainly a lot of disruption to ordinary life. However, this is the fifth of this sort of kind of conflict between Gaza and Israel since December 2008. And few here on the round expect that there won't be another such round of violence in a year or so or on the horizon. Jim?
ACOSTA: Absolutely, Ben. I know you've seen it many times. Ben Wedeman reporting again on this ongoing cycle of violence. Hopefully we'll see a cease-fire hold here. Thanks, Ben, very much.
In Cuba, one firefighter is dead and 17 other people are missing after lightning struck an oil storage tank. Look at this video we're showing you right now, and sparked this massive fire. The flames set off a second tank explosion nearby. Cuban officials say at least 121 people were hurt. Hours afterward, the smoke could still be seen from miles away. More than 1,300 people have been evacuated from the area. Cuban officials say Mexico and Venezuela sent crews to help put out the flames.
Coming up, it seems like space junk is falling from the sky more and more these days. Why is this happening and what are the risks as we enter a new chapter for space exploration. We'll discuss with an astrophysicist, lots more to (inaudible) in this regard. We'll talk about that next. You're live in the "CNN newsroom."
ACOSTA: As we embark on a new commercial era of space exploration, more and more people are finding space junk falling out of the sky. Late last month, chunks of space debris were found on a sheep farm in a remote part of Australia. NASA and Australian officials say the objects are likely hardware from a SpaceX Dragon capsule. And just last week, pieces of a Chinese rocket reentered the atmosphere free falling into the Indian Ocean.
Astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell joins us now from Summerville, Massachusetts. Jonathan, great to see you again. We always appreciate the expertise. Now, we're not afraid of space junk falling out of the sky and hitting us on the head. I mean, I don't think we should be that worried about that. But it is happening more frequently. Is this something we're going to have to get used to?
JONATHAN MCDOWELL, ASTROPHYSICIST, CENTER FOR ASTROPHYSICIST, HARVARD & SMITHSONIAN: I think so. And it's been happening throughout the history of the space age. I think we're just becoming more aware of it now as social media makes these events, you know, more widely known around the world.
ACOSTA: And what kind of risk does this stuff pose?
MCDOWELL: You know, it is a risk. I mean, when the junk enters the earth's atmosphere, it's going at 17,000 miles an hour. But the burning and reentry slow it down to just a couple of hundred miles an hour. Even so, the pictures we've seen in Australia, these enormous shards of material sticking out of the ground, if that hits you at a couple of hundred miles an hour, you're not going to be happy.
And so, it is a risk. And so far during the space age, we've just played the odds that most of the earth isn't covered by people. And so, the chance that something hits you, that hits anyone, is small.
ACOSTA: Yes. We're looking at some of the video right now. It looks like, you know, a car door or something like that fell from the sky and landed in some field there in Australia. And SpaceX has said this debris was likely found or was from the trunk of a Dragon capsule. The FAA has said the trunks typically burn up in the atmosphere, but in this case it obviously did not.
I suppose to some extent we're relying on these private companies, as they're more and more operating in space, to make sure that, you know, this kind of stuff isn't falling from the sky and posing a risk to the public.
MCDOWELL: Right. Well, and the FAA and the FCC license space launches from American companies and the companies are meant to provide evidence that their design is not going to cause dangerous amounts of material re-entering. And so, you know, what SpaceX have said is, oh, yes, this is kind of is what we expected. And we've accepted this sort of risk in, you know, so far.
I think most people looking at that go, hmm, maybe we shouldn't be accepting that level of risk. It's probably not great to have huge chunks like that falling out of the sky.
ACOSTA: And Jonathan, I have to ask you about this because I think this might be my favorite story of the week. I have to ask you about a space prank that went viral. A French scientist tweeting out an image, I know you know exactly what I'm talking about here, but to tell our viewers, claiming it's the image of a star taken by the James Webb Space Telescope, which has been wowing the public with these amazing images in recent days.
It turns out though this was a slice of chorizo sausage. What did you think about that? Were you initially fooled by this?
MCDWOWELL: I actually didn't see it until I heard about the debunk. But yes, I don't think I would have been fooled by it, but I can totally understand why the public would be. You know, all I can say is, astrophysicists have a reputation for being smart people, but actually we have the same share of idiots as everybody.
And you know, this was -- this is a prank. It was meant to make you think, okay, don't just, you know, necessarily trust everything that scientists tell you, which is fair. But the public don't have the expertise to sort of distinguish between fake and real in this case. And so, I think it's unfortunate that someone would misuse their authority to kind of try and con people into thinking this was real. The pictures we do have are amazing and, you know --
ACOSTA: They are. Not as tasty perhaps, but amazing nonetheless. No.
MCDOWELL: That's true.
ACOSTA: I was -- I was thinking of the line from "Star Wars." I'm paraphrasing, "That's no moon, it's a piece of sausage." But any way, Jonathan McDowell, astrophysicist, we have to have little fun here on the Newsroom. Thanks very much for your time. We appreciate it.
MCDOWELL: You're welcome. Cheers, Jim.
ACOSTA: Alright. Cheers. Good to see you.
Coming up, we're going to switch gears now. Four Muslim men have been killed in Albuquerque, New Mexico in separate shootings and police say their deaths could be connected. Those details and live report next. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."
[17:35:00] ACOSTA: President Biden is condemning the fatal shootings of four
Muslim men in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the killings may be linked. Biden says he is angered and saddened by the murders and said his administration stands strongly with the Muslim community. The most recent shooting happened on Friday. Two other men were killed in the past two weeks. The first victim shot to death in November and the FBI is assisting the Albuquerque police department in its investigation.
CNN's Camila Bernal joins me now. Camila, what are police saying about the possible link between these murders and we should note to our viewers, we may get a press conference from Albuquerque in all of this in a few moments. We'll standby for that, But Camila, what's the latest?
CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL: CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Officials are currently lined up and we are waiting to hear from them. So, some of these details may change or develop within the next couple of minutes. But as of now, the thing that has so many members of this community concerned and frankly terrified is the fact that all of these four men were Muslim.
And even members of the community are trying to connect the dots. Authorities say that at least two of them were going to the same mosque. They also say that at least two of them were killed in the same area in the southeastern part of Albuquerque. And then they also say that at least three of them were ambushed. They were not expecting it, but they were shot dead.
And so, they're seeing some of these similarities and really trying to figure out how all of these cases are related. If we start with the latest one, it happened on Friday and authorities say a man in his mid-20s was killed. And of course, he was a Muslim man. They're also looking into two other victims and they were killed within the last two weeks, more or less, almost just a couple of days apart.
And these two, they're finding easier links because they were both going to that same mosque and they were both killed in the same area. But then authorities are also looking at the fourth case, and that happened in November of 2021. And they say this was another Muslim man who was outside of the business that he ran with his brother, and that's where he was killed.
So, that's why this is so concerning as authorities try to figure out who is responsible for this. Of course, the community waiting for answers, trying to figure out who is responsible because they're all worried and they are terrified and want answers.
We heard from the FBI and local authorities yesterday, but as I mentioned, they're lined up at the moment as we are speaking, but here is what the FBI special agent in charge said yesterday as he asked the community for help.
Or we don't have that sound, but he basically told the community that they need to be looking out for what's going on and telling the community to speak up if they see something or if they, for some reason, believe they have some sort of evidence because they're looking for those answers and for those connections.
We have -- our team has talked to members of this community and they have said that they're just concerned that everyone is trying to figure out exactly what happened, and they're remembering these victims because they all have a story.
The first one of those victims or the most recent victim has not been identified yet, but of course, we're waiting for that presser. Hopefully, we get more details in terms of the victims and of course who is responsible for this. Jim?
ACOSTA: Alright. Camila Bernal, thank you very much. And of course, we again, want to caution our viewers, you're looking at live images right now from the Albuquerque Police Department. They are scheduled to have a news conference at any moment now to bring the public an update on the progress that they're hoping to make in that investigation.
In the meantime, let me go to CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem who joins us now. Juliette, based on what we know so far, what are the details of these murders tell you that they might be connected, that they might be linked?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATOIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. So, the first, I start with demographics. The Muslim community in Albuquerque is only 0.3 percent. It's got a murder rate of about 70. So, you're just statistically looking at a significant pool. So, this is not -- you can't sort of excuse this as randomness.
The second is the location of where two of the four murders happened. One was near a halal market, the other was near a sort of Islamic community center, which are prevalent in the community. Ironically or tragically, this most recent death on Friday, the victim was leaving the funeral of the other two. And so, you don't know if the community was being targeted at the funeral, if he was followed.
They're all men of varying range and they're all, as our reporter said, they're all caught by surprise. There are no linkages to sort of why the randomness in the day, in the evening, two of them were near their home. So, this is obviously, if you're the targeted community, this is absolutely terrifying because it does statistically look like -- it is statistically relevant. It's not that it looks it. It is statistically relevant.
And of course, the police in a really, I think, responsible manner have been addressing the community, urging their help, telling them to take this seriously, speaking -- this is so important after Uvalde -- speaking in Urdu, Farci, Arabic, all the right languages, to get to a community that is quite diverse.
ACOSTA: And Juliette, the first shooting happened back in November.
KAYYEM: Yes. ACOSTA: This is puzzling. And then months went by. And then three more happened within a matter of weeks. What is that gap tell you?
KAYYEM: Well, I would put it slightly differently or at least how I'm interpreting what the police are saying, is because they have an unsolved murder at a halal market. All of a sudden now you're -- of a Muslim man, you're now going to investigate it as potentially part of what looks like a much more, you know, a faster pace spree, which has been happening in just the last couple of days.
So, they'll be able to figure out whether it's aligned. We don't know and we're waiting for details about whether there's evidence, type of bullet, type of gun, maybe eyewitnesses that would link the fourth. It's not uncommon that unfortunately in these serial killings, that you have sort of first that then is delayed, something triggers the murderer.
And of course, you know, this is a hate crime. This is a targeted -- a community that is targeted because of their religion and there's both federal and state statutes and investigations that come into play.
ACOSTA: And the FBI is now insisting in this investigation.
ACOSTA: What do you think? Is that -- was that an important development in your view?
KAYYEM: Oh, yes. Yes. I mean, one is you -- you just want to elevate this. This is a targeted community that is an exceptionally minority community in Albuquerque. I actually couldn't believe the numbers when I saw 0.3 percent of the population. So, you're looking at a targeted community.
And so, the FBI just, and as President Biden rightfully said, just you're elevating it so that there is focus. You're assisting the community. You're doing the right outreach. Once if they find a perpetrator during the investigation, there might be federal charges, as well. So, you'd want the FBI in. There is also help from the ATF or ballistic investigations.
FBI is good with signal intelligence or you know, data footprints. And so, those are the kinds of things that the federal government can bring. Albuquerque is a pretty sophisticated police department.
And once again, it has aggressively, and I think importantly, gone out to the community after you sort of have, you know, back-to-back deaths.
ACOSTA: Alright, Juliette, let's go to the mayor of Albuquerque, Tim Keller. He's holding his press conference now.
TIM KELLER, MAYOR OF ALBUQUERQUE: -- and firstly, I just want to thank -- I know we'll introduce some of the dignitaries as they come up, but we have representatives from Senator Heinrich here as well as Senator Lujan. We also have our chief of state police, Chief Johnson is here. So is the head of the FBI. I saw him, well, you're here. As well as our U.S. Attorney. You can see many other familiar faces on this. Our area commander, of course, Ahmad Assad (ph), from the Islamic center right down the street.
Now, I want to thank you all for being here. And we actually all have so much that we want to share about what's happened. We're going to mare with you a little bit of that, but we want to make sure we get a clear message out. We really need the public's help today on a specific issue. And so, we'll get to that in just a moment.
Now, I also want to mention interpretation. Because of individuals involved in this, and the language capabilities that are sometimes a little hit and miss here in Albuquerque, we are grateful to have interpretation. And our interpreters are going to be providing what the chiefs and I share and others if they want to join us in four different relevant languages after this.
So, we're going to go through our material in English first and then we're going to go through a subsegment of that in our sort of four relevant languages with our translators. And I know our translators are here. Can you give us a little wave back there? Let's -- I just want to take a moment, you know, this is their community and they are impacted by this.
These are their friends and family. So, I want to thank you for being a part of trying to do what we're trying to do going forward, as well despite the pain you're suffering. Thank you so much.
Now, let me begin by mentioning that there is -- this is never a situation that anyone ever wants to have, that anyone ever wants to talk about or have to deal with. And one we never expected or thought would ever happen in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Today, we are gathered in a very, very difficult time in our city. This is a frightening time for many. We have members of our Muslim community who are afraid to participate in everyday activities that they should never be afraid to --
ACOSTA: Aright. We just lost the signal from that news conference, the mayor of Albuquerque holding right now in his city about these killings of Muslim men that may be linked. Juliette, let me go back to you.
ACOSTA: I know you're still standing by and we'll try to re-establish that signal. It might go back to that press conference.
KAYYEM: Yes. Good.
ACOSTA: Anything stand out to you? I mean, obviously, the mayor is, you know, it's obvious that he would say this, but expressing his concern for what must be a lot of fear in that very tiny Muslim- American community there in Albuquerque. KAYYEM: Yes. So, there's two important things. One is, again, the use
of community members for -- by law enforcement for outreach. You cannot underestimate what it means for community to hear these warnings, information in their own language. Whether it's Arabic or Farci there. I think there's four different translators there and I think that's really important because this is a community that's going to identify, probably be relevant for this investigation.
There's a second piece and that's why we're waiting to hear it back on. The mayor did start with a discussion that he needs help on a specific issue. Here we are. So --
ACOSTA: I'm sorry, Juliette. The post conference is -- we got that signal back. I'm so sorry to do that to you. Let's go back to the press conference.
KELLER: -- that we have seen over the last month, especially in the last few days. We want to express our solidarity with the New Mexico Muslim community. We also want to extend every support that we possibly can to friends and family and anyone who is experiencing fear in the Duke City.
Our highest priority is of course locating and arresting the perpetrator. Now, we really need the community's help on this. We have learned some about what's happened. We have some leads. We're going to talk about some of those today. And we've been clear from the outset that regardless intolerance, violence, targeted violence has no place in Albuquerque, and we will not stop until this perpetrator is found and held to justice.
Now, all levels of the government are working together closely on this. I'm especially grateful from our governor's office to our state police to Benalillo County, to FBI, to our congresswoman's office, and to all the law enforcement agencies. I want everyone to know there has been zero lack of communication. It's been exactly the opposite. Everyone is offering to do everything they can, whether it's on the investigative side, whether it's helping to do things like offer patrols during prayer time at our mosques.
Or whether it's helping relieve some of APD's investigative work by taking field calls. Whether it's using our different air supports and special units to try and track down this perpetrator. I know every agency in central New Mexico is participating. We also know we're in close coordination with the D.A.'s office so that we do this in a way that will stick and will hold up in court and then will ultimately bring justice.
I know he couldn't be here today but I want to thank Raul Torres for his work right away from day one on this issue as well. Now, here's at the city level a few additional items we want to highlight. Number one, this mobile command post is going to be here. We're going to have a few throughout the community so that there is an in-person point of contact location for people to go to, to discuss this issue or to access services or to provide tips and leads.
We also know there's a website available to upload video camera if you have it. And so, we're trying to have multiple touch points. This is one physical one right here at the Loma Linda community center, which is located just a stone's throw from the mosque just down the street.
Now, we also have been in contact with the APS police. We are working with them. We are very concerned about student safety when they go to school and protecting them and making sure that they feel safe. The APS has been in touch with us and is working on a plan to do just that starting Wednesday for most schools.
This will also include our specialty schools, one of which of course is focused and centered around our Muslim community. And so, we are in touch with them with respect to additional public safety support. This also goes for UNM and UNM police. We've been in touch with their police department and tomorrow, in fact, there are several meetings at different levels including with students to discuss their personal safety and how we can make sure that they're protected at UNM.
Now, this has affected so many in our city and we're providing a couple of other services because of the impacts that this is happening. We have heard from the community that the fear is so strong, there is a concern about even things like groceries and getting meals for certain folks in certain areas of town. So, our senior affairs department and our community safety department is going to be providing meals as long as we need to, to anyone who needs a meal, who is affected by this tragedy.
If you are in need of that service, simply call 311, and we will patch you through on how that's going to work and how we can get you that hot, fresh meal. We also know that if you are experiencing personal trauma, mental health issues, behavioral health issues, you can call any of these specific hotlines available at the state. If you just don't know what to do, call 311 and they will connect you with the right service, which also may include if you want to talk someone in person that is safe and trained. Our community safety department will also be a liaison for those services.
Now, the last thing that I want to mention before we move on to an update from APD is that we have a very, very strong lead. We have a vehicle of interest and we want everyone to take note of this vehicle who lives in central New Mexico and we have got to find this vehicle. Again, we don't know at this point what it is associated with or who owns it, and all of the other questions that I know you're going to have.
And I want to tell you right now we are not going to jeopardize this investigation by revealing every detail. But the detail that you need to know is the description of this car and we need you to help us find it as soon as possible. So, with that, I want to hand it over to Deputy Chief Cecily Barker with more on this. Chief?
CECILY BARKER, DEPUTY CHIEF, ALBUQUERQUE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Good afternoon, everybody. I want to thank everybody for being here as well. I'm about to share some information with you in which we need your help locating a vehicle. We have information and leads that we are actively investigating. We are reviewing all leads and when they're confirmed, we will release that information.
We have photos of a Volkswagen Jetta or Passat, which you will get a copy of this flyer. What we really want you to focus on is the first picture. The second picture does have notations of possible damage to the vehicle. However, if you see a dark-colored, four-door sedan, a Volkswagen Passat or Jetta, we encourage you to call the police with that information.
Again, the vehicle is a dark silver sedan with four doors and tinted windows. If you are the owner of that vehicle or you know who might have been driving that vehicle, we encourage you to give that information to police. If you do have information, please call Crime Stoppers at 843-STOP or go to the website at www.crimestoppersnewmexico.com. Please spread this flyer throughout the community and through social media.
As Chief Medina said yesterday, most often in these types of cases, it's tips from the public that help us solve cases. We urge people not to take things into your own hands.
If you see this vehicle or you know who might possibly be driving it, call police. Again, we are going to pass this flyer around, and this is a picture of the Volkswagen.
KELLER: Thank you, Chief. Now, we want to create some space for some folks to share words and I want to express in advance my gratitude for our governor. Her and the state police and her team were available immediately to discuss different ways in which they can help. And so, we're working tactically on those.
One of them is certainly going to be to help provide extra policing presence at mosques during times of prayer. That is something the APD is committed to, but also, we appreciate all the help that the state police have offered and the leadership of our governor. Governor?
MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM, GOVERNOR OF NEW MEXICO: First, I want to say to the -- thank you -- to the Albuquerque Islamic community and frankly that community statewide, I am incredibly angry about this situation. Every New Mexican should stand up and against this kind of hatred. It has no place in this city and it has no place in our state.
I've had the opportunity to be in touch with the leadership of the Islamic center in the community and we stand ready to do whatever the state can do with whatever resources we can bear to support the city and every aspect of both community service, support, the meals, like anything else that provides both safety, comfort, and respect during this incredibly harsh situation that we are facing together.
Second, I appreciate the mayor's recognition that when we have these issues, it takes a collective effort, and the law enforcement, the greater law enforcement community much prior to today has been leveraging and working together. And what you've heard is that the state police are continuing to create additional presence, working in collaboration, but in addition, taking up some of the investigative work tied to this issue particularly, but also making sure that we're continuing on the other investigative work for every violent crime in the city and the state.
We are also increasing our air support. Now that we have information about a vehicle of interest, that kind of support is going to be crucial --
ACOSTA: Alright. And there's the governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham also at this press conference in Albuquerque. Let me go back to Juliette Kayyem, who is standing by. Juliette, I think some very interesting developments there, one being a vehicle of interest that the investigators were quick to point out there. That seems like a lead in this.
KAYYEM: Yes. I mean it's the best kind of lead, and I -- in other cases like this where you have such a significant lead, it means they have identified a car that is consistent across three, if not four -- a couple of the murders if not all of them. They have lost track of it. They are now crowdsourcing to the public, not just the Muslim community, but the general public in Albuquerque.
They gave a sense of where they had last identified it. The governor has now said they're doing air patrols with state assets. So, not -- I don't want to claim victory at all whatsoever, but this is significant and incredibly good for the community if there is -- if this ultimately results in a relatively quick chase or identification of who owned the car, who had access to the car, where has the car been? All of those details lead you to at least a person of interest if not a suspect.
ACOSTA: Yes, it's very important. And let's show our viewers -- let's call attention to this vehicle. It's up on-screen right now. If anybody in the Albuquerque area has seen this vehicle, granted it's a little bit of a grainy image there, but you get the idea.
ACOSTA: You need to call the police immediately. This is a big lead.
KAYYEM: Yes, it is. And there's a reward by the Albuquerque police department, so people should know that. If they're afraid to come forward and you're -- this may seem odd to us, but a lot of people don't want to get involved with things like this. You make it easier by offering rewards that the police department is.
So, any knowledge of not just where the car is, but a potential ownership, that will then lead to a significant investigation that could lead to the perpetrator. So, this is, you know, in the world we live in, Jim, this is good news in the sense like it's not -- it's not like there's no trails. Having the car and whether it's been at one, two, three, or all four of the murders is really important to the community. [17:59:57]
I just want to say that Mayor Keller was remarkable and that people should be, you know, I should -- we should praise political figures when they do right in terms of not just the outreach to the community.