Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Five Killed, 25 Injured In Mass Shooting LGBTQ+ Club In Colorado Springs; Interview With Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers About Mass Shooting In Colorado Springs; Attorney General Merrick Garland Appoints A Special Counsel To Oversee Trump Probes; Justice Samuel Alito Denies Leaking Of Supreme Court Decision; Four Students In Idaho Murdered; Gabby Giffords' Fight Against Gun Violence. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired November 20, 2022 - 16:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington and we are following the very latest on yet another mass shooting in America.

At least five people are dead and 25 are wounded, some in critical condition after the shooting inside an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs. Police say the suspected shooter, a 22-year-old man, entered Club Q just before midnight opening fire with a long rifle, as it's been described by police.

The incident itself lasted only minutes, and police say that's thanks to at least two heroic people who are able to stop the gunman. Police say the attack will be investigated as a potential hate crime.

A short time ago, I spoke to Colorado Governor Jared Polis about the impact this has had on the Colorado Springs LGBTQ community.


ACOSTA: Places like Club Q are supposed to be safe spaces from discrimination. You're one of the few LGBTQ governors in the nation right now. Can you describe the impact a tragedy like this has on the community?

GOV. JARED POLIS (D), COLORADO: Well, you know, Colorado Springs, a city of about 500,000 people, has a strong LGBTQ community, but it's also very intimate. People know one another, right. I mean, I think almost everybody in the El Paso County community either knows somebody or knows somebody who knows somebody who was injured or was there that night. There's only two gay bars, gay clubs in a city of 500,000. So this is one of the main venues.

Everybody knew it. I knew it. You know, this guy knew. And it's just shocking. And that's still settling in for people. But I know we're going to bounce back. We're showing love for one another. We're showing healing for one another. There's already a vigil this morning. I attended virtually at a universalist church in the area. People are coming together with love and outpouring of support for the victims and the families, and those who were traumatized.


ACOSTA: The governor went on to say that this was an act of evil in Colorado Springs. And I'm joined now by the mayor of Colorado Springs, John Suthers.

Mayor, thank you very much for being with us. We now know five people were killed, 25 others injured. Can you update us at this hour how those injured are doing?

MAYOR JOHN SUTHERS, COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO: Well, so far of those that, you know, who are in hospitals, there are none that are deemed truly, truly critical. We think that the vast, vast majority if not all of them are going to survive. Of those that you're talking about the 25, 19 have gunshot wounds of some sort, and then another a group of them, you know, who are injured and trying to get out of the club and things like that. But we're crossing our fingers that we'll have no more fatalities.

ACOSTA: Yes, let's hope for that. And, Mayor, police have said the shooter was actually stopped by people inside the club. What more can you tell us about that, how the people inside the club managed to keep this from becoming an even worst tragedy?

SUTHERS: Incredible act of heroism. Jim, the call came into the police at 11:57 p.m. Police were on the scene by 12:00. An amazingly quick response. This incident was over by 12:02. And that's largely because of the intervention of at least one, possibly two very heroic individuals, who subdued this guy, appears to have taken his handgun. He had a handgun with him and used it to disable him, and so -- not shoot him but to hit him with the gun, and disable him.

But for that, as tragic as this incident is, it's a horrible crime. It could have been much, much worse whereas but for these heroic actors.

ACOSTA: And we have now the identity of the suspected shooter. Have you learned any new information about his past? The governor was telling us in the last hour it appears to be the same person who's popped up on the radar screen of law enforcement in the past, making a threat in the past involving his mother. Do you know anything more about that?

SUTHERS: Not that the police are willing to talk about at this point in time. Any criminal history is very much a part of the criminal investigation at this point in time. And the police aren't willing to make any further comment about any prior involvements as I say at this point in time.

ACOSTA: Any new information about a possible motive? Does this look like this club was targeted?

SUTHERS: Well, obviously he went to this club. It has all the makings, and I think everybody has to acknowledge, it has the makings of a possible hate crime.


But it is premature. His motive is very much under investigation at this point in time. But this is a scenario that's pretty familiar to many of us, or all of us in America. A young male, this guy is 22 years old, acting on his own, and with incredibly, incredibly tragic results. But his specific motive, what was driving him to do this, we'll have to see what the investigation shows.

ACOSTA: And Mayor, witnesses have said the suspect was wearing a mask and some sort of vest. Do we know whether or not this was a kind of tactical gear that he was wearing? Do we know anything more about that?

SUTHERS: I think that -- I think it's too far to say, it was clearly tactical gear. The gear has been recovered. Obviously, he's in custody. And I think there'll be more comment on that in the future. But I would hesitate to describe it in that fashion at this point in time.

ACOSTA: Gotcha. And tell us about Club Q, and what it represents to the community there.

SUTHERS: Club Q has been around, I've learned today, about 21 years. The police department say it is a very, very well-managed club. They have very, very infrequent calls for service there. I have personally spoken to the owners of it today earlier. Met them. They seem like people who have cared deeply about this business and their role in the LBGTQ community here. And as I say, all indications are, it was an extremely well-managed business.

ACOSTA: All right. Mayor John Suthers, we appreciate your time very much. We know you're very busy after everything that has happened there in your community and our hearts go out to you, our thoughts go out to you during this very difficult time. Thank you, Mayor, for your time.

SUTHERS: Thank you, Jim. Bye-bye.

ACOSTA: All right. Bye-bye. We appreciate it.

Joining us now, CNN analyst and former CIA counterterrorism official, Phil Mudd, and CNN national security analyst and former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, Juliette Kayyem.

Phil, let me start with you first. Police say the suspect used a long rifle and began shooting immediately after entering the club. You heard the mayor there just a few moments ago say, you know, you have to acknowledge that it appears the club was targeted. Law enforcement officials aren't, you know, making that declaration as of yet, at this point because things are still under investigation. But it does sound like the investigation may be moving in that direction.

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: You have to move in that direction. And that's one reason, and when you looked that the feds are already involved in this. Look, the locals can deal with the immediate issue here, the murder investigation, for example. There is a hate crime issue here, and you don't want to wait days until you start investigating that, if you're the FBI.

So if you're thinking about charges against the individual, Jim, you want the locals to be investigating local charges. But early on, regardless of whether you have final information on the subject's motives, you want the feds to be involved when sure that if there are federal charges, that the feds were involved from day one. So I think that's part of what you're seeing here in terms of the FBI involvement.

ACOSTA: And Juliette, police are also looking to whether this was the same suspect who was arrested for a bomb threat last year at the time. The mother of a man with the same name said he had threatened her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, ammunition. If this turns out to be the same person, what does that mean in terms of missed warning signs. You know, we had the governor on in the last hour, and he was talking about the red flag law in that state.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. This is again one of those instances where the family is often the first victim, a girlfriend, a mother, or target, as we've seen in so many of these cases in Pennsylvania, in Florida and elsewhere. And then it escalates because it's not de-escalated either by authorities or a family member. We don't know what's happened between that year, and if it's the same person, then that's going to be part of the investigation.

Why did an internal focus, in other words, on a mother, who whatever his relationship is with her, then became targeted against what seems more likely than not, I'm with Phil here, you know, a target against the LGBTQ community? We can say there might be other motives, but this is my -- you know, we would have to sort of put on, you know, blinders not to think that this particular bar was targeted because of the community.

And what now is part of the investigation is in that gap between what was maybe personal issues with his mother and a more, say, public attack against the LGBTQ community.


What was happening in terms of his mental state, in terms of radicalization, that's what I would be focused on at this stage.

ACOSTA: Yes, Phil, what are your thoughts on that?

MUDD: Let me be really clear here, Jim. I think the conversation appropriately, initially, is about criminal charges, about ensuring whether we understand whether those charges are just state and local or whether those charges are federal. That is the wrong long-term question. This is not a law enforcement question. This is a political question.

Law enforcement, in my experience, in my engagement with law enforcement favors laws to take away weapons from people with mental health issues. The question is, how much latitude do politicians give law enforcement to take a weapon away. Forget about whether someone commits a crime. If someone threatens their mother, can law enforcement go to a judge and say, we want that person to have a weapon taken away indefinitely?

The cover that politicians give law enforcement to take weapons away is critical. This is not solely a law enforcement question. It's a judge question, it's a politician's question.

ACOSTA: Juliette, you were going to chime in on that?

KAYYEM: Yes -- no, I agree with that. And I also think the radicalization issue, I want to -- we have to be careful about what the motive is, and look, often, there's mixed motives, right? I mean, often there's a personal issue, other mental health issues, some triggering event. We don't know. I mean, this is sort of a stew of hate that we're seeing in this country, and maybe you can't define a single moment in which someone targets an LGBTQ community.

But obviously this is a community that has been under threat, whether it's, you know, attacks on LGBTQ youth or what we've seen at some of the Pride Parades. I'm not saying that this is what we know now, but what I am saying is that if you are a member of that community or you have an establishment where -- that caters to that community, you are definitely making the assumption that you are under attack.

This is true of the Jewish community right now as well. And so we just have to take cognizance of that as well, that this is, of course, another active shooter case, another mass shooting, but it's also more than that for so many people in these targeted communities. It is about their essence and their sense of whether they are accepted in this country. That we can't solve through the law enforcement lens. That is something much bigger about what this country has become.

ACOSTA: Right, and Phil, a lot of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric was in the public discourse, leading up to the midterms. I mean, it was out there. It was just hanging out there, over this country. And then less than a week, you know, a little bit more than a week after the midterms, something like this happens. Again, as Juliette was saying, as you were both saying, we don't exactly know the motive at this point, but that has to be a concern. It has to be something that law enforcement is looking at and thinking about.

MUDD: It does, but I think there's going to be too much analysis in this regard. My point, Jim, is that people are going to be looking at things like social media postings, interacting with friends of the individual, who allegedly was responsible for this, and saying, there are pre-existing conditions in this individual where he hated the LGBTQ community if that's what it ends up being.

To go back to where we were a couple of minutes ago, I think that will obscure the key question because politicians won't want to deal with it, which is if someone shows before a criminal act that they are capable of an act of violence, will you take their weapon or not? Is this a mental health question? I think it is. Is it a Second Amendment question? I think it isn't.

This is for the politicians to decide. They need to give cover to law enforcement to take away weapons from people before they commit an act of violence, regardless of whether that person is charged. ACOSTA: All right. Juliette Kayyem, Phil Mudd, thanks. Excellent

discussion, as always. And you know, if those red dots are connected, I think we' going to be having this conversation in the days to come, no question about it. Thanks to both of you. Really appreciate it.

New York state police are increasing surveillance and protection for communities at risk of hate crimes. This comes after the shooting in Colorado and after two men were arrested at New York City's Penn Station yesterday in connection with a developing threat to the Jewish community. Police say one of the men had a Nazi armband with a swastika and a large hunting knife. He was arraigned this morning on charges of making a terroristic threat, criminal possession of a weapon, and other charges.

Police also seized an illegal Glock firearm and a 30-round magazine. The other man arrested is facing weapons charges, including criminal possession of a firearm.

Coming up, what the appointment of a special counsel means for the many investigations into Trump's world. We'll talk about that, next.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: Sources tell CNN it was the announcement that former President Donald Trump's legal team was dreading, the appointment of a special counsel to oversee criminal probes in the Mar-a-Lago documents case as well as the investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Based on recent developments, including the former president's announcement that he is a candidate for president in the next election and the sitting president's stated intention to be a candidate as well, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel.


ACOSTA: Trump's response was all too familiar, an airing of grievances, self-pity, and baseless claims.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The corrupt and highly political Justice Department just appointed a super radical left special counsel. They want to do bad things to the greatest movement in the history of our country, but in particular bad things to me. Why isn't there a special counsel being set up for them?


Tremendous corruption. They're corrupt people. They're criminals. We've done nothing wrong and they've committed massive crimes. I've proven to be one of the most honest and innocent people ever in our country.


ACOSTA: Let's bring in CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig.

Elie, I won't ask you whether Trump's claim that he is one of the most honest people in America, I won't ask you to weigh in on that. That probably goes without saying, but -- that that's not the case.

But, Elie, Attorney General Garland says that he factored in the former president's 2024 announcement, as well as President Biden's stated intention to run again. Did he have any other choice but to assign a special counsel? You know, I talked to Leon Panetta in the last hour, his former White House chief of staff, and many other roles in D.C., and he thought maybe Merrick Garland didn't really have a choice. That maybe it was the right decision. What do you think?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So, technically, Merrick Garland certainly did have a choice. This was a decision by Merrick Garland. The law did not require him to appoint a special counsel. Merrick Garland himself acknowledge that. But what the law says is this is within the broad discretion, the judgment of the attorney general.

Now there is a fair argument, as Secretary Panetta has said, that this was the right move. The intention here is to create some insulation for the Justice Department. The law says the reasons you would appoint a special counsel are either a potential conflict of interest or extraordinary circumstances. As we just heard in that clip from Merrick Garland, he said, well, now we have a situation where a declared candidate for office is being investigated by the attorney general for the president, who also is a likely candidate for office.

Now, Trump is trying to turn this on the head -- on its head. But one thing that I think is misleading about Trump's statements is, it's not as if they went from no investigation to now let's open an investigation. This investigation has been going on for more than a year and a half already. There's simply now a new person, an outsider, who's going to be making a lot of key decisions.

ACOSTA: Right. And the special counsel, I mean, the appointment of the special counsel makes it very clear that this is an investigation into Trump, I mean, by and large. But does the investigation slow down at all, Elie? I think people have been wondering about this because you have a brand-new person coming in, who may need to review documents and other aspects of the investigation. What do you think?

HONIG: Well, Jim, as you know, I'm very aware of the timing and I've been talking quite a bit with you about the need for speed here, so to speak. Clearly, Jack Smith understands that, the special counsel. He repeated that in his statement. He said, I will not slow this down, this will not flag under my watch. Now, without question, the special counsel is going to have to get up to speed. He's got quite a bit of material to catch up on. But another factor here is you're taking the big decisions out of the

hands of Merrick Garland. And whatever one may think of Merrick Garland, it is widely agreed he moves slowly, he moves deliberately. We've seen that already in this case. Jack Smith is a bit of an unknown. He's a hard-driving federal prosecutor. So it could be that even if he needs to spend some time getting up to speed, perhaps he just moves at a generally quicker pace than Merrick Garland. We'll have to see.

ACOSTA: And do you think Garland would have done this if he didn't think there were something that might stick? I mean, it seems to beg the question, you know, if there was no there there, why would he go forward with a special counsel?

HONIG: Yes, there's no way Merrick Garland appoints a special counsel if he thinks this is a big nothing. If he thinks there is absolutely no there there. I wouldn't conclude that Merrick Garland definitely thinks this ought to be indicted, and therefore he brings in a special counsel. The key thing to know here is we now have a different person, the special counsel, who's going to make the at least initial decision whether to indict or not.

Ultimately, though, Merrick Garland will have to review that decision. Now, the law says Merrick Garland, the AG, has to give great weight to whatever this special counsel recommends. Merrick Garland is very much by the book. So unless there's something really out of the ordinary here, I expect to see the special counsel's decision. And then Merrick Garland again, unless there's something really extraordinary will say, I am giving that great weight and that's what we'll go with.

ACOSTA: And the new special counsel, Jack Smith, he's a longtime prosecutor, no stranger to the Justice Department. Known for his work in international war crimes prosecutions. He's obviously doing this in the shadow of everything that happened with the Mueller probe. What are you going to be watching for with Jack Smith, Elie?

HONIG: Well, there are a few big differences between the Mueller probe and this new probe. For one thing, this is not brand new. Mueller essentially more or less started from scratch or towards the very beginning of that case. In this case, Jack Smith is taking over a well-developed investigation. I imagine he will keep most of the prosecutors and investigators and keep their evidence.

But the other huge distinguishing factor, Jim, is of course when Mueller was doing his investigation, Donald Trump was the president, and under DOJ policy, could not be indicted. Of course, that's not the case now. There's no protection, by the way, for a former president or for a candidate for office, no formal protection. So Jack Smith, unlike Mueller, will have the option, at least, to indict Donald Trump.

ACOSTA: All right. Elie Honig, we'll be watching. We have been watching. We've been watching and watching. We'll continue to watch and we'll have you back, Elie. Thanks, as always. We appreciate it.

[16:25:05] Now to a U.S. Supreme Court justice denying allegations that the outcome of a key high court decision was leaked at a dinner he and his wife hosted. We're talking about Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito. The story spins kind of a complicated web, but it involves wealthy donors and a landmark ruling concerning contraception and religious rights. Alito now saying neither he nor his wife let anything slips.

CNN Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue is following all of this for us.

Ariane, what can you tell us?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT CORRESPONDENT: Jim, this case involves the Reverend Rob Shank. He used to be an opponent of abortion. And he's telling "The New York Times" that he knows of another instance of the leak of the outcome of a Supreme Court opinion. He formally ran a nonprofit that was dedicated to religious liberty basically through donors.

He would trying to get access to the justices. He says that back in 2014, one of his donors told him that she and her husband were going to have dinner with the Alitos, and that she was going to ask him about an important pending religious liberty case.

He said that afterwards, she called him to say that she had learned the outcome of the case, that Alito was going to write it and in fact it was going to go in their favor. So flash forward a few years later, when Reverend Shank then became a supporter of abortion rights. And last spring when he learned that Chief Justice John Roberts was launching this investigation into the leak of that abortion opinion from last term, Shank said that he wrote Chief Justice John Roberts this letter to say, look, I have information from 2014 that might help you in your investigation.

It's worth noting that Justice Samuel Alito yesterday really issued a strong statement denying this. He said in the statement, "I never detected any effort on the part of the rights to obtain confidential information or to influence anything that I did in either an official or private capacity. And I would have strongly objected if they had done so."

CNN reached out to Wright, and she, too, said that the allegations in "The New York Times" story were patently untrue. But what's interesting about this story is it might be not so much about the particular leak, but the very fact that there was this behind-the- scenes effort going on trying to influence the Supreme Court. That's what causes concern for the country and members of the court because they feel like if this court looks like just another political institution, then people might move to sort of dismiss the court's opinions, not take them seriously.

That is the true import of this story, and that's why it really would cause concerns, not only for court watchers, but the justices themselves -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Thank you. Coming up, new details about a 911 call made after four University of

Idaho students were murdered at an off-campus house. Police still on the hunt for a suspect. That's next.




ACOSTA: Police in Moscow, Idaho, are releasing more details about the 911 call made in the hours after four college students were brutally stabbed to death. They say the call was made from inside the off- campus house where the victims were found.

And earlier today, investigators could be seen searching the backyard area of the house.

Joining us now from Idaho is CNN's Camila Bernal. Camila, what more are you learning right now?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Jim. And not just the back of the house. Investigators, again today, coming in and out of this house. We also know they searched all four of the cars that are still parked outside of the house.

In terms of new information, though, police giving us a little bit more details about the two other roommates that were here at the time of the attack but that survived. They're saying these other two roommates were also out on Saturday night. They returned to the house at about 1:00 in the morning.

And they are also saying that the other four, after they got home at around 2:00 in the morning -- we already knew that at least two of them, Kaley (ph) and Madi (ph), they had taken a ride from someone. They're saying that the driver of this car is not a person of interest.

Now, "The New York Times" reported that Kaley (ph), she had called her ex-boyfriend at least seven times that night, after they had gotten home. Well, police confirming that, saying that it was both Madi (ph) and Kaley (ph) who were making these phone calls to a man. They say, now, this is all part of the investigation.

And, again, there is no suspect. There is no weapon. They're asking local businesses if they have seen or have sold one of these knives recently.

So, still a lot of work to be done here and a lot of questions to be answered. But the one thing that police continue to say is that this is targeted. Here is state police.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We still contend that this was targeted. We cannot divulge the information of why we believe that or how. That is integral to this investigation.


BERNAL: Now, there's been a lot of frustration because police initially said that there was no threat to this community. Then, they came out and said, wait a minute. You have to be vigilant because we don't have anyone arrested at the time. It's now seven days after these murders.

And now, what police are asking for is surveillance video. They're saying between the times of 3:00 in the morning and 6:00 in the morning, any business or any home that has surveillance to send it to them.

But people are frustrated. And friends and family just taking matters into their own hands. They're posting these all over the area. They're asking for help. Asking people to put in any tips available.

Of course, this is the tip line.


BERNAL: And so, that's what they're doing because they don't see any movement. They're waiting for police to give us any updates.

We are waiting for a press conference in about an hour and a half. And, hopefully then, we'll get more answers -- Jim.

ACOSTA: Yes, hopefully, we will get more answers. It's just a baffling and just an awful, awful case. Camila Bernal, thank you very much.

In the meantime, she was a rising political star transformed by gun violence. Now, you can watch her inspiring comeback story. Here is a preview of "GABBY GIFFORDS WON'T BACK DOWN."



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joining us now is representative Gabrielle Giffords.

GIFFORDS: If an idea is a good idea, it's a good idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congresswoman Giffords was the target of the mass shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's beginning several months of rehab.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me two fingers. All right. Give me five.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are not allowed to quit on me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good news about Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. She was discharged today. GIFFORDS: The words are there in my brain. I just can't get them out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She laughs at my jokes, even when they're bad.

GIFFORDS: Funny, funny, funny, funny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gabby Giffords making her way back to the Capitol.

GIFFORDS: Too many children are dying. We must do something.

BARRACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody could have been more compelling than Gabby was that day.





ACOSTA: The Coast Guard says it's searching for five migrants still missing after their homemade vessel capsized off the Florida Keys yesterday. At least 19 people were on the vessel. It's believed four drowned and a fifth was found dead. Nine people were rescued. Some were wearing life jackets, which the Coast Guard says saved their lives in the eight-foot high seas.

More sad news coming in. There are reports that Jason David Frank, one of the origin Power Rangers has died. Fans of the hit T.V. series will remember him as Tommy Oliver, the green ranger, who was introduced as an enemy of the power rangers way back when the show debuted back in 1993. He later morphed into the white ranger, became one of the good guys and the leader of the group.

Frank's fighting abilities on the show actually translated offscreen. He was a trainer -- or I should say, he was a trained MMA fighter, who knew many different styles of martial arts, including Tae Kwon Do and Jiu-Jitsu.

His representative told "People" magazine, quote, "Please respect the privacy of his friends and families during this horrible time, as we come to terms with the loss of such a wonderful human being."

A very sad story. Frank is survived by four children. He was just 49 years old.

As we continue to follow developments on the mass shooting in Colorado Springs, we're getting an unfiltered new look at the effects that another mass shooting had on former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. The new CNN film, "GABBY GIFFORDS WON'T BACK DOWN," takes viewers inside her relentless fight to recover from a 2011 assassination attempt, and her new life as one of the most effective activists in the battle against gun violence today.

Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a former member of Congress here, Gabby Giffords, who's going to give a brief message -- Miss Giffords.

GIFFORDS: Thank you for inviting me here today. Speaking is difficult but I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something.


ACOSTA: And joining us now is Peter Ambler, the Executive Director of Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence, an organization he cofounded with Gabby Giffords.

Peter, thank you so, much for being here. Thank you for what you do.

You know, Gabby Giffords, you know all too well, she has felt the consequences of gun violence in the way few survivors have. What's it been like to watch this level of determination to continue her work? She is a fighter.

PETER AMBLER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GIFFORDS: COURAGE TO FIGHT GUN VIOLENCE: Gabby is the most inspirational person I know. She is such a phenomenal leader for the millions of Americans who make up the gun safety movement.

Each and every day, she goes to work, not only in the fight for her own recovery and rehabilitation, but in this broader fight to protect hundreds of millions of Americans from the epidemic of gun violence that we face as a country.

It takes a real special Tucson, Arizona, quality and quantity of grit and determination to wage this fight. But we're so grateful that she does it.

ACOSTA: And, Peter, we've just seen yet another mass shooting here in this country. This time in Colorado Springs. Five people have been killed. Some 25 others injured.

We know that Giffords' organization has helped to pass more than, what was it, 525 gun safety laws in 49 states in Washington, D.C. Just a remarkable record.

I guess, what are your thoughts today, given what's happened in Colorado Springs? And what is Gabby's top priority right now when it comes to preventing gun violence, so these sorts of tragedies don't keep repeating themselves?

AMBLER: You know, today is the Trans Day of Remembrance across this country. We are remembering the thousands of lives lost to senseless violence against the trans community.

It's a tough day for the LGBTQ community today in Colorado Springs and across the nation. [16:45:00]

AMBLER: We're reminded of the 13,000 hate crimes that have targeted members of the LGBTQ community across the country. The majority of which have used firearms.

We like to say that we must disarm hate. We have this -- these twin threats that face us as nation. The threat of hatred. And the threat of unrestricted access to firearms.

We need our leaders to, you know, stop this irresponsible dehumanization of the LGBTQ community. We need to -- we need leaders who approach these issues with respect and humanity.

And we need to, you know, pass the gun laws, like universal background checks. We need to pass the Disarm Hate Act that will prevent people who have been convicted of a hate crime from owning a gun.

We can and we will do this. We have the public support. We just need to see the leadership across the political spectrum.

ACOSTA: And, I guess, some of this involves finding ways to compromise with the other side of the issue. And I just -- I knew this, but maybe some Americans don't know this. That Gabby Giffords and her husband, Senator Mark Kelly, are both gun owners.

Does that -- when they -- when they approach (ph) the subject of this issue and have this conversation, and these conversations can get heated on this topic, does that help at all, in terms of trying to find a compromise in all of this?

AMBLER: It's our core focus, as an organization. Gabby, as you pointed out, is not just a survivor of gun violence, she's a gun owner herself. On the day, nearly 10 years ago, when she said, enough is enough, in the aftermath of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

She felt compelled to take on this fight, because she wasn't like a lot of other gun safety advocates. She was not from the coast. She was from Tucson, Arizona. She was not just a survivor, like I said. She was a gun owner herself.

She wasn't in either political extreme. She was a Republican before she was a Democrat. She was always a moderate member of Congress.

And that's what we do at Giffords. We have organized over 100,000 gun owners across the country. We organized survivors across the country. We reach out to Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.

And if you look at the polling, that's where the majority of Americans are, right. You have 90 percent of Americans across the spectrum who want universal background checks, who want safer gun laws.

ACOSTA: All right. Peter Ambler, I know you're going to stay on top of this issue. Thank you very much for this time this afternoon. And be sure to tune in, the all-new CNN film, "GABBY GIFFORDS WON'T BACK DOWN." It's a very inspiring story. It premieres tonight at 9:00, only on CNN. We'll be right back.



ACOSTA: Tonight, a CNN exclusive. Former first lady, Michelle Obama, opening up about her struggles with self doubt and offering this bit of advice. Listen.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY: One of the most important things I've learned is that you can't control what other people think and do. That the first thing we have to master, I have to master, is my own -- my own thoughts, my own heart.

And that's a habit that you have to practice. Snuffing out the doubters. Pushing out the negative voices. Many of them not true, not applicable. We as women, we as people of color, we have them more. Those demons are -- you know, they are socially structured to keep us small.

But you have to practice letting light into you. Because if you don't see your light, you can't shine it on anyone else and no one will see it in you. So, the work begins here. It always has for me.


ACOSTA: Our very own Sara Sidner hosts "MICHELLE OBAMA'S MISSION: EMPOWERING GIRLS," a conversation with Michelle Obama, Amal Clooney and Melinda Gates. That's tonight at 8:00 p.m.

No parent wants to be separated from their newborn right after childbirth. And animals, as it turns out, are no different.

Take a look at this. Cameras at a zoo in Kansas capture this new chimpanzee mom reuniting with her baby, after doctors had to take the newborn away because of low oxygen levels. As soon as she saw her baby reach up, she grabbed him and held on very tightly.

The zoo also released this adorable photo of the baby boy named Kucheza, look at that adorable face right there, which means play in Swahili. Just adorable.

And the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2022 have been announced. One of whom will be named the CNN Hero of the year by you, our viewers. So, we are reintroducing each of our top 10 as you vote for your favorite in the next few weeks.


DEBRA VINES, CNN HERO (voice-over): You plan. One, two, three, bam. Being a parent of a child with autism in the 1980s and the 1990s was very, very challenging. The support groups that I found, I was the only black woman there. We had a color barrier, income barrier, equity barrier, period. It was just all types of barriers.

(on camera): Good morning.

(voice-over): Everything that we provide is a blueprint of what I was missing as a parent. And so, we have (INAUDIBLE) support group. The kids go to their classes. We are a family.

And I'm very adamant about educating the community, because people are afraid of what they don't understand. We want to make sure that first responders are trained in how to deal with our children.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long has your mom been doing this kind of stuff?

VINES (on camera): Because he's smiling, it makes it a little bit easier. But what if you get ahold to somebody that's not smiling. And they're running around and they're biting themselves.

(voice-over): Advocacy is a gift. I'm good at it. And it makes me feel so good.


ACOSTA: Go to right now to vote for her or your favorite CNN Hero of the year, any of our top 10 favorites.

That's the news. Reporting from Washington, I'm Jim Acosta. I'll see you back here next Saturday. You know, I just have to ask one last time. Can we put that picture of Kucheza up one last time? I mean, my goodness.

I'm going to make a phone call right now. Can I take Kucheza home? I think there's a resemblance there between Kucheza and myself. I think I could pull it off.

All right. Kristin Fisher takes over the CNN NEWSROOM, live after a quick break. Have a good night, everybody.