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Club Q Suspect Facing Murder and Hate Crime Charges; Court Hearing on Special Master for Mar-a-Lago Documents; Maricopa County Supervisor Taken to Secret Location on Election Day. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired November 22, 2022 - 09:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Tuesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

Right now, investigators searching for a motive in the deadly nightclub shooting in Colorado Springs that killed five and injured more than a dozen others. This morning the suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, remains hospitalized as court documents show he faces both murder and bias-motivated charges.

We're also learning new details about the victims. Derrick Rump was a bartender at Club Q. His sister says he loved the community there. Daniel Aston was a bar supervisor. A co-worker said he was the best supervisor anyone could have asked for. Ashley Paugh's family said she had a huge heart and was big on family. Kelly Loving's sister says she was a wonderful person, caring and sweet. And friends of Raymond Green Vance said he would go out of his way to help anyone.

The father of Raymond's girlfriend was at the club that night and helped to take down the gunman. Richard Fierro spoke with CNN about those terrifying moments.


RICHARD FIERRO, TOOK DOWN GUNMAN IN CLUB Q SHOOTING: I lost my kid's boyfriend. I tried. I tried for everybody in there. I still feel badly that there's five people -- there's five people that didn't go home. And this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) guy, this guy - I told him while I was hitting him, I said, I'm going to kill you, man, because you tried to kill my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) friends. My family was in there.


SCIUTTO: Imagine what he was asked to do.

Let's begin this morning with CNN correspondent Rosa Flores. She's in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Rosa, the suspect could be formally charged today. What charges exactly will he be facing? And part of the delay here has been because he's been treated for his own injuries. ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, you're absolutely right. And

authorities here tight lipped about his condition right now. But as you mentioned, the suspect is still in the hospital. According to police he has not made any statements. And the district attorney says that the suspect has not been formally charged yet, that he is being held, he's still in custody pending those formal charges. And he's being held without bond.

Now, those possible charges, and the key word here is possible, is the reason why for that is because he has not been formally charged. So, at this point, what court documents show is he could possibly be charged with five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of hate crimes. But the DA warns that once he is formally charged, those charges could grow. They could be elevated. It just depends on what they find and the -- what the investigation tells the district attorney at that point in time.

Now, we also know that those charges could grow, the DA points out, because 19 people, at least 19 people, were injured as well. And we know that five have died.

And now we're learning more about those individuals because of their families. They're starting to share some of their stories. Let me share those with you right now.

Raymond Green Vance was 22 years old. His family described him as being kind and selfless, gifted and just willing to go out of his way for anyone.

Kelly Loving, her sister Tiffany says that her sister was just a good person. She was loving and caring and sweet and that everyone loved her.

Ashley Paugh, her husband says that they were high school sweethearts and that she worked at a non-profit that helps foster children find homes.

Daniel Aston, his family says that he moved here to Colorado Springs to be closer to his mom and his dad.

And Derrick Rump, I talked to a survivor at Sanders who described Derrick Rump as just an incredible individual and bartender. He says that he would never let him go home when he had had a few drinks. He would always make sure that he could get an Uber or he would drive him home. Derrick Rump would drive him home to make sure that he got home safely.

And, Jim, of course, we're also learning the names of the two heroes that authorities say saved multiple lives here.


Richard Fierro, who you just heard from, and also Thomas James. And just a little more about Fierro. We know that he's a U.S. Army veteran that served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.


SCIUTTO: Just senseless murder yet again.

Rosa Flores, in Colorado Springs, thanks so much.

Well, Richard Fierro, we were just discussing there, likely saved lives. The former Army major is one of two men who took down the shooter Saturday night. Fierro was at Club Q with his wife, daughter and his daughter's boyfriend and family friends. In an interview with CNN, he recalls hitting the ground the moment he heard the shots, but then says he immediately went into fight mode.


RICHARD FIERRO, TOOK DOWN GUNMAN IN CLUB Q SHOOTING: I went to the ground as soon as I heard the rounds. I dove down. I pushed over my friend as best I could and we both hit the ground, me and Chip. I put my back against - I fell - I tried to stand up and I fell. And then I fell against the -- it's like a bench seating. And I -- and I -- at that point I saw the shooter. I had no idea what was going on. But apparently I saw him going to the patio area -- because I saw a lot of people in the window -- it may not have even been a window, but I saw a lot of people and this guy was there and I saw the ACU (ph) pattern flak vest. And, for me, that was like, there's a handle, I'm getting it.

So, I ran across the room, grabbed the handle, pulled him down and then started to -- well, actually, I think I went for his gun with him. His rifle flew in front of him and the young man that tried to jump in there with me, he - he -- we both either pulled him down or whatever but he ended up at his head and right next to the AR. And then, with the AR, he - we -- I told him, push the AR, get the AR away from him. The kid pushed the AR. I don't know what his name was.

And then I proceeded to take his other weapon, the pistol, and then just started hitting him where I could, but the armor's in the way. And I just started -- I found a crease in his -- between his armor and his head and I just started wailing away with his gun. And then I told the kid in front of me, kick him. Keep kicking him. And we were -- I was -- I was - there was a guy that was telling people call 911, call 911. I brought him down. I -- I - I was in mode. I was - I was doing what I did -- I do down range, you know. I train - I train for this. I don't want to ever do this. I didn't even - I'm retire because I was just -- I was done doing this stuff, it was too much. And, I - I'm -- you know, it came in handy.


SCIUTTO: But he had to do that to save lives.

Joining me now to talk about this, CNN's senior law enforcement analyst Andrew McCabe, former deputy director at the FBI.

Andrew, good to have you on this morning.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Good to be here. SCIUTTO: So here you have a veteran of war, right, who is called, in

effect, to save lives by taking down someone wielding a weapon of war here. In the wake of something like this, and God knows we've talked about countless numbers of incidents like this in which weapons like this are used to kill a lot of people, folks will talk about the weapon in addition to the person.

In your experience, did you see convincing data that banning assault weapons like this one, it appears to be an AR-15, which we've seen used so many times before in shootings like this, that banning such weapons, and I know it's difficult to define them at times and I know it doesn't stop every shooting, but does it reduce deaths from mass shootings in your experience at the FBI?

MCCABE: Sure, Jim. So, look, this is not -- this is an - that's an easy question. We have a direct time in our history, recent history, to look back to, and that is during the pendency of the previous assault weapons ban, which, as you mentioned, was not perfect. There were all kinds of challenges to how you describe them and what things qualify a weapon in the assault weapons ban. But, nevertheless, it had the effect of limiting the number of high-capacity semiautomatic weapons, shoulder-fired weapons that were in circulation. And we saw a great decline in mass shooting events and deaths during that time. So, this is not even really debatable on any significant means. They do work for their intended purpose.

SCIUTTO: Right. So let me ask you the next question, because the response you will often hear then is, well, if other folks in that room, that club had had weapons and they had been armed, they might have been able to take him down sooner. I mean, granted, you know, the bulk of the deaths seem to have taken place in the span of a minute and a half, two minutes here.

Did you see any data in the FBI that arming more people in clubs or schools or wherever you see this kind of violence statistically helped take down shooters quicker and save lives?


MCCABE: I -- Jim, in my experience, there is no definitive data. There's - there -- it's almost impossible to study this. There's not a similar period in our past when more people were carrying guns in which we could compare events with lots of private, you know, personally held firearms and whether that had an effect or not. So, there's just not good -- there's no information to substantiate that theory. It is simply a theory that many people ascribe to that if, you know, more good guys had guns then we'd be more successful in our deterrents of mass shootings.


MCCABE: I will say, as a law enforcement officer, somebody who carried a gun for 21 years on the job every single day, I am a gun owner. I have privately owned firearms. I can tell you that there's almost nothing more challenging to a law enforcement response than showing up on a scene where all kinds of people, good and bad, have guns. That completely changes the responding officer's ability to identify where the threat is actually coming from, and they can put everyone there in greater danger.


MCCABE: So, the idea that we're suddenly going to be safe when everybody has guns is just a pipe dream.

SCIUTTO: OK. So, another positive solution is red flag laws. Colorado had a red flag law, passed in 2019, has one today, intended, as others, to temporarily prevent an individual who's in a crisis from accessing firearms. Now, this person had threatened his mother. The alleged shooter threatened his mother with an explosive device. Why would that not have led to him being banned from purchasing or keeping a weapon? Is that a hole in the red flag law in effect?

MCCABE: It may be. So, there's -- first - first, let's say, there's a lot we don't know about that prior incident because -- because the charges -- no charges were brought under Colorado state law. Everything about that incident on the official judicial side is sealed. So we really don't know how decisions were made around that.

The Colorado red flag law is -- it works when a family member or a cohabitant or a police officer proactively file the requisite paperwork and go before a judge and make the argument that someone should not have a -- access to a weapon. There's nothing that I'm aware of that requires a red flag law kind of inquiry anytime someone is brought in, you know - it's not clear to me from this situation whether that guy was subjected to a temporary restraining order or any sort of mental health evaluation. Even if he was, it's not clear that there's a requirement of a red flag consideration when there is a TRO or a mental health evaluation. So, it's entirely voluntary.

And I say this to people, red flag laws are a nice thing to have, but it cannot - it will never be our first defense against keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them.

SCIUTTO: Is there a way to write red flag laws better or more stringently to make them a more -- I'm not saying they're a final - you know, a solution to all of this, but to make them more stringent, to make them more likely to prevent something like this?

MCCABE: You know, I would suggest, Jim, that the avenue to look at is to determine whether or not a red flag sort of inquiry or consideration should be required in any situation where law enforcement interacts with someone and it results in a mental health evaluation. Like, I don't know -- you know, there may -- there could be -- of course, there's all sorts of legal issues whenever we start to put in process - put in place processes that might infringe upon a person's Second Amendment right. But it does seem to me that a red flag evaluation should be kind of a normal part. If you're - if you're (INAUDIBLE) -


MCCABE: Someone involuntarily to be evaluated by physicians to determine if they are, you know, mentally healthy or experiencing an episode, why wouldn't we also consider if you have a red flag law implicating it.


MCCABE: It's very tough, this red flag law situation. Just think about it. This is another entire new set of responsibilities that we've kind of dropped on law enforcement's head.


MCCABE: The idea that every police officer is going to consider a red flag law every time they encounter someone who seems a little bit off is just -- I don't think that's going to happen. I don't think it's fair, either.


MCCABE: Our law enforcement have a lot to do, and this is a significant complication.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and, in effect, having to make mental health judgments, right, to some degree.

Andrew McCabe, thanks so much.

MCCABE: That's right. Thanks.

SCIUTTO: Later today a federal appeals court will hear arguments on whether to remove the special master review of materials that the FBI seized during a search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. The Justice Department is investigating if Trump mishandled those White House records, many of them classified, and it is asking the court to throw out the entire third-party review.


CNN's Paula Reid live outside the courthouse in Atlanta.

Paula, I imagine some folks listening here might be wondering, wait, he's still reviewing those documents a couple months later? But what is the Trump team's legal argument for why a special master is still necessary?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, this is a big day. This is the first big test for the newly appointed special counsel Jack Smith. This is the first court hearing since his appointment and he is not going to be here in-person today but he is personally approved all of the arguments that prosecutors are going to make today before this appeals court as they try to remove what has been a significant obstacle in their investigation, and that is the requirement that a third party review all of the documents that were seized from former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago home back in August.

Now, former President Trump requested this review because he argued that privileged material may have been caught up in that search. Now, a lower court agreed and appointed a so-called special master to review 22,000 documents, but they are continuing to push back on this. As you noted, it's been a while. It's been a long appeals process. But the key issue here, Jim, is we know that the former president uses delay as a very successful litigation tactic. And there are concerns about how long this investigation will go into the 2024 presidential cycle.

You may remember on Friday when Smith's appointment was announced the attorney general said, look, this is not going to slow things down. I talked to sources who know Smith. They say this is a guy who's not going to dawdle, who's not going to sit on things. He'll move as quickly as he can. But if they can remove this special master, that will help them move a lot faster.

Now, some good news for the prosecutors is the fact that this court has already granted them an exception, a carveout to that requirement, allowing them to at least investigate classified materials. And so this is a big test for this new special counsel who just inherited two of the most politically high profile cases in the country.

SCIUTTO: Yes. No question. Big responsibility.

Paula Reid, at the courthouse, thanks so much.

Still to come this hour, we are learning the elections supervisor for Maricopa County in Arizona had to be moved to an undisclosed location on Election Day due to threats to his safety. This as election lies still being peddled by many in that state.

Plus, an intercepted phone call from a Russian soldier shows the shear desperation on the battlefield as Ukraine fights back and makes progress.

And we're seeing a rise in cases of respiratory illnesses in young people. Now a shortage of medication key in treating those children. What doctors have to do about it.



SCIUTTO: CNN has learned that the local sheriff had to move the top election official in Maricopa County to an undisclosed location on Election Day due to threats to his safety. County supervisor Bill Gates, a Republican, has publicly fought back against conspiracy theories peddled by some Republican candidates about the county's ballot counting.

Let's bring in CNN national political reporter Maeve Reston.

So, listen, it shows that these threats were real if he had to be moved to an undisclosed location.

What kinds of threats, who do they come from, and why did they take them so seriously? MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, what we've learned so far was basically that it was a very specific threat on social media that led the sheriff to put him under their protection. It was just for that one night of Election Day.

But, I mean, what it says in Arizona, which has been ground zero for all of the election denialism and misinformation that he's pushed back against so much, is that is very much still alive and well here. And the spokesman also told our Kyung Lah that so many of the threats against election workers, there's been an uptick this time. And so we're still really dealing with this at a granular level, even though so many election deniers were defeated this time.

And in Arizona, you know, Katie Hobbs, who is the governor-elect, has talked about the threats that she got, the death threats, and her opponent, Kari Lake, still has not conceded.

Also, the secretary of state candidate there, Mark Finchem, has not conceded. And they continue to raise doubts about this election.

And as long as that continues, we are going to see threats like this. And it's really carry because a lot of rank and file election workers don't have the same kind of protection that elected officials do.

SCIUTTO: Yes, I mean, listen, you could lose the election, but it could still be a genuine threat to the people involved.

Maeve Reston.

RESTON: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Thanks so much.

Well, joining me now to discuss, Ryan Lizza, chief Washington correspondent and "Playbook" co-author for "Politico," David Swerdlick, he's senior staff editor for "New York Times Opinion."

David, Ryan, good to have you both.


SCIUTTO: I wonder, it's not the first time we saw genuine threats to election officials and others from deniers and from other extremists here. Have top Republican leaders, Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, Ryan Lizza, directly condemned this kind of behavior here, particularly with a case like this in Arizona? I mean he was a Republican state election official here?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They -- I don't believe they have. I don't -- I don't 100 percent know. But I have not seen any comments.

I think I take a little bit of a different view of this, though, Jim. I do think basically -- as Maeve pointed out -- that this election was a turning point from what happened after November 2021 when there was this burst of activity on the right around monkeying around in elections, trying to get partisans into office to control the election machinery.


It really was rejected almost everywhere. And so - and some of -- you know, and some of the biggest election deniers aren't doing what Katie - what Kari Lake is doing in Arizona, not - you know, not conceding. Most of them have conceded and moved on. And, you know, it's not like Trump. Lake doesn't have some, you know -- she doesn't control the Republican Party in the way that Trump does. It - I don't think it matters all that much that she is out there not conceding. She's not going to be the governor. Hobbs is. And it's sort of a -- you know, a sort of interesting footnote, but she lost and most of these election deniers lost. And I think that's probably the most important take away when it comes to this movement that burst on to the scene over the last year.

SCIUTTO: David, I wonder if you agree because it seems to be true politically, right, that the election deniers by and large lost, and you haven't seen a grand post 2020-like broad effort to deny the results of this election. Even some of the election deniers ended up conceding their losses. But it doesn't stop the crazies like this from - from, it seems in this case, giving a very credible and specific threat to a county election official.

SWERDLICK: Yes, good morning, Jim and Ryan, and early happy Thanksgiving.

LIZZA: You too.

SWERDLICK: I agree with Ryan that it's a good thing that in 2022 we saw an ebb in election deniers refusing to concede, that we didn't see President Trump out there banging the drum the way he did in 2020. But we still do have this fundamental problem, to your point, Jim, where we, in 2020, had one political party where the lion's share of the party, their stance was that their party couldn't lose elections. And if they did lose, it was because that there was something going on, that their - that the books were cooked or that there was election fraud. That it has -- that this reduced in 2022 is a positive step. But the fact that the Lake campaign and Kari Lake and others around her are still pushing election conspiracy charges without evidence suggests that the fever has subsided but not broken (INAUDIBLE) side. And I think that is what we need to look at going into 2024.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes.

Ryan Lizza, different topic because with a new Republican majority in the House border issues, border security are going to be top of their agenda here. I wonder, is there any genuine discussion of comprehensive immigration reform? It's been talked about for 20 some odd years in which you have increased border security but also address some of the legal issues here, right, which create, for instance, you know, an asylum seeker can then wait inside the country for a long time perhaps for the case to be adjudicated. Is there any actual effort that's possible to address those issues from a legislative standpoint?

LIZZA: Boy, it's going to be extraordinarily difficult in a divided Congress. I think there will be serious discussions in the Senate, but, you know, a lot of the Republicans who once favored comprehensive immigration reform, like Lindsey Graham, who was a leader on it almost ten years ago with the last big attempt that passed the Senate with Graham leading the way, but then really faced a major backlash in the House and was defeated. Now, fast forward a decade later, the Republican -- that was after the 2012 election. One of the last - or a lot of Republicans was, you know, we've got to pass comprehensive immigration reform to do well in the Latino community.

Today, one, that political argument no longer exists. Republicans are doing better in the Latino community even as a more restrictionist, hard core immigration party. And, two, with the rise of Trump and Trump-like candidates who now fill Congress, especially the House, there's absolutely no appetite for anything beyond strict border security.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean that, David, does that -

LIZZA: But that's long (INAUDIBLE).

SCIUTTO: I mean, does that kill the issue? Because, I mean, even when you had Democrats, for instance, controlling, though with very thin margin, both houses of Congress and the White House, you didn't have any genuine, realistic movement towards such reform.

SWERDLICK: No, I don't think it kills the issue. It might kill comprehensive reform.


SWERDLICK: But this is a core issue for Republican-based voters. You have Congressman McCarthy, in advance of what looks like will be his speakership, going to the border soon. It's designed to do a couple of things, put pressure on the Biden administration to cede the ground for potential hearings and also prove himself to the hardest of the hard core among his caucus.


And the issue is alive and salient, even if you have divided Congress and a Democratic-controlled White House, which will continue to sort of stymy that comprehensive big package legislation that the Obama administration couldn't get, that the Bush.