Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

U.S. Faces Threat Of Rail Strike After Union Rejects Deal; NY Gov. Announces Plan To Combat Domestic Terrorism, Extremism; Supreme Court Clears Way For House CMTE To Get Trump's Taxes; Three Arrested In Beating Of Inmate At GA Detention Center. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired November 22, 2022 - 15:00   ET




VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Top of the new hour here on CNN NEWSROOM. Good to have you. I'm Victor Blackwell.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: And I'm Bianna Golodryga.

We are following several developing stories for you. As we enter the holiday shopping season, the U.S. could soon face a crippling economic setback, a freight rail strike. Leaders of four railroad unions and management returned to the negotiating table today after members from the largest rail union rejected a tentative labor deal.

Now, if no deal is reached, a strike could happen as soon as December 5th.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich joins us now. Vanessa, a lot at stake here.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, a lot at stake, including the U.S. supply chain 30 percent of freight moves by rail and when you take one transportation mode out of commission, that is crippling for the supply chain and also impacts inflation. But as you said, the four unions that voted no on this deal are back at the negotiating table today with these rail companies, trying to get some sort of deal done in the next two weeks.

Now three of the unions have agreed to a December 9th strike date while one union is looking at a December 5th strike date. But this all centers around rank and file members saying that they unhappy with the lack of paid sick time in this deal despite record wage increases. Here's President Jeremy Ferguson, he's the head of that largest union of conductors that voted no on the deal just yesterday, take a listen.


JEREMY FERGUSON, DIVISION PRESIDENT, SMART TRANSPORTATION: Members aren't necessarily voting on the money issues, it's the quality of life and how they're treated with dignity and respect while they're at work. When big corporations cut too deep and they expect everybody else to pick up the pace, it becomes intolerable. You don't have the family time, you don't have the time that get adequate rest, mental rest from being on the road and being at the away from home terminal. All the issues that we have to deal with when we're keeping America moving 24 hours a day, seven days a week nonstop.


YURKEVICH: There are three possible outcomes here, the two sides could reach an agreement on their own. They could extend the negotiating period pushing back the strike dates or Congress could get involved. They could impose a contract or extend the cooling off period.

We have heard from major retailers in just the past two days on this issue and they are calling on policymakers to get involved to avoid - what they're calling "self inflicted economic disaster." But remember, guys, if just one union can't come up with a deal before the deadline, all 12 unions will head on strike. It could be a very significant development ahead of the holidays and into next year, guys.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. Congress, as you noted, and it's important to note, has a legal avenue to intervene but as of now they would like decides to work it out amongst themselves.


GOLODRYGA: It's getting tight though. Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you.

YURKEVICH: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Just in to CNN, a Michigan man has been charged with threatening to kill FBI director Christopher Wray and a California Congressman.

GOLODRYGA: CNN's Evan Perez is covering these developments for us.

So Evan, what more can you tell us?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianna and Victor, look, this is part of the overall threats that you hear the FBI and Homeland Security warning a lot constantly about because these are coming not only against members of Congress, of course, you saw the recent attack on Paul Pelosi.

In this case, this man - his name is Neil Walter. He's from Michigan and he is charged with leaving threats not only on - in voicemails to a member of Congress but also online in the case of the Congressman Garamendi of California. He left a voicemail saying, "John. Hey, John. You're going to die, John you're going to die."


In the case of the FBI director Christopher Ray he left a comment on a live stream of Christopher Wray's - of the Director's testimony to Congress. And that he said, "I will kill you, Director Wray. You will die. I will kill you in self-defense."

It is somebody that, according to the court documents, is clearly troubled. He had an interaction with local police, in which he was holding a handgun and continued to make these threats. According to the prosecutors, they also found that he made threats on Facebook as well. So he's facing these charges now, guys, and as I mentioned, given the fact that you have these threats against not only the Speaker of the House of Representatives, but members all over the country, it is part of what drives the concern that you hear from the FBI and the Homeland Security department, Victor and Bianna.

BLACKWELL: A very dangerous time, reading some of the posts on Facebook he left online for this congressman. Evan Perez, thank you for the reporting.

PEREZ: Sure.

GOLODRYGA: This afternoon, President Biden called one of the heroes of the attack on the LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado. The President offered thanks and support to veteran Richard Fierro who stopped the gunman with two others. Police say the attacker shot and killed five people inside Club Q Saturday before Fierro took down the shooter, grabbing him by his military jacket and then pummeling him with the gunman's own weapon.


RICHARD FIERRO, HELPED TO SUBDUE NIGHTCLUB MASS SHOOTER: I lost my kids boyfriend. I tried. I tried to get everybody in there. I still feel bad that five people - there's five that didn't go home. And this guy - I told him while I was hitting him, I said to him I'll kill you, because you tried to kill my friends, my family was in there.

As soon as I got done with that guy and the cop came in, I went across the room and started first aid with my friend who was shot in the chest, in the legs, in the arms and I told her, "Joanne (ph), stay with me. Look me in the eyes, stay with me." And I moved her head so she wouldn't see her arm because she it was shot.

And Chip (ph) was right there, her husband was reaching for her. So I put her hand in his hand so that they can be together. I didn't know if they're going to make it. This whole (inaudible) this guy, man. This whole thing was a lot. My daughter and wife should have never experienced combat in Colorado Springs. They're going to live with this now till whatever - it's a lot for any human, man. This kid that was helping me, he was kicking another human in the head and I told him to do it.


GOLODRYGA: I've watched that quite a few times and still get so emotional just listening to that pain in his voice. You heard from Fierro there and he mentioned his daughter's boyfriend Raymond Green Vance, who was just 22 years old. We're also learning about the other lives that were cut short.

BLACKWELL: Kelly loving was visiting Colorado Springs from her home in Denver. A close friend said Kelly had been a resource for other trans women. Twenty-eight-year-old Daniel Aston was a bar supervisor at Club Q. Aston worked with Derrick Rump. You'll see him here in bowtie. He also tended bar at Club Q.

The co-workers said that they both had big hearts. Family members say that Ashley Paugh also had a huge heart and that her 11 year old daughter, Riley, was our whole world.

Last hour, Colorado Attorney General told me that the suspect should face hate crime charges in an acknowledgement of all those impacted by the attack, the slain and those who survived.


PHIL WEISER, (D) COLORADO ATTORNEY GENERAL: By prosecuting this as a hate crime, we are honoring victims who were victimized because of who they are. And that's something that Colorado is committed to protecting everyone's right to live as their best authentic self. So even if there's not an additional sentence consequence, we believe from a message and from other victims, it's important to go forward with hate crimes as well.


GOLODRYGA: CNN's Rosa Flores is in Colorado Springs for us. So Rosa, I know you spoke with a survivor of the shooting who was right by some of those who were killed. Tell us about that.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bianna, he speaks about those intense moments and like you and Victor were just mentioning emotions are still very raw here. A lot of the survivors are still very much in shock. I spoke to Ed Sanders in the hospital, in his hospital room and he describes some of those moments. But he said that it all started like a normal day. He said that he was ordering a drink at the bar. He could see people dancing. The music was going.


And then he says before he got his drink, the shots rang out and he says that he didn't get a good eye at the shooter, but he could see that he was shooting from the waist. And he says that he remembers two volleys of fire at fire very clearly. He says with the first volley of fire, he got hit in the back and he didn't even realize that he had been shot.

And then there's a second volley of fire that hit him in the leg and that's when he says that he fell down. And at that moment, he says he was still conscious and he could - and he can remember how people were just helping people. He could hear those around him.

Now, he couldn't get up, obviously, but he could hear those around him trying to help each other and also he said that he could hear people asking for tourniquets, because they were trying to put tourniquets on the people that were there and he says that officers arrived very soon thereafter.

But he says, Bianna and Victor, that he cannot be more thankful to those heroes that intervened. And he said that what he wanted to tell them is God bless them. Bianna and Victor? BLACKWELL: Rosa Flores there for us in Colorado Springs. Thank you.

New York governor, Kathy Hochul announced new plans today to fight domestic terrorism and extremism in the state.

GOLODRYGA: And the move comes after authorities recently thwarted a planed attack on a New York synagogue. The suspects were caught with a knife guns and a Nazi armband, officials said.


GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D) NEW YORK: We have the power as individuals, as a government, as society to pull back and say no more. And never forget that this is our city, this is our state and today we reclaim both from the haters, the bigots, the white supremacist. It starts right here right now.

GOLODRYGA: One of the bills requires convicted hate crime offenders to undergo mandatory hate crime prevention and training, and other establishes a statewide campaign around inclusion, tolerance, understanding and diversity.

Greg Ehrie is the Vice President of Law Enforcement and Analysis at the Anti-Defamation League. He's also served as FBI special agent in charge in Newark, New Jersey. Thank you so much for joining us.

Just earlier this hour, we covered the new threats against FBI Director Wray. He just spoke with an ADL group that came together last week at a conference. And on the issue of anti-Semitism, he said the FBI is "hitting back against anti-Semitic attacks in full force." Did he give you any specifics as to what that entails?

GREG EHRIE, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Well, thank you for having me on. And when Director Wray was kind enough to speak with us at our Number Is Now (ph) event. He talked about this rising, in this case, anti-Semitism, this rising rhetoric that we're seeing in this country and it's quickly becoming the priority of the FBI.

As a former FBI agent, those aren't words that are used lightly. That means resources are being directed. That means there's a high degree of concern that this rhetoric, these and these rising anti-Semitic thoughts are going to translate into violence. And I hate to say it, we've seen some of this, this weekend, some of the issues that you just described that we've been dealing with as a society.

BLACKWELL: The investment in protection, the security of some of these places that like many synagogues, as we've discussed for some time now, they're at the risk of attack, balancing the investment in the protection with the prevention, as we see with this new federal money that's going to different groups and the governor of New York says that people convicted of hate crime, they have to undergo a mandatory hate crime prevention.

Is there any way to know how effective the de-radicalization programs and this training is, do we know? EHRIE: Well, it's a two-part problem, Victor. The first one, as you bring up, there are monies available for people and I just spoke with several of my colleagues in the nonprofit space with these constituents, with community members who said what can we do. Specifically looking at houses of worship, how do we harden it, how do we protect ourselves there so we can gather in safety, which is a terrible thing just to have to think about.

These are houses of worship where people want to come and receive some kind of relief or practice their religion. Now, we don't want to make these castles with armed guards out front. But these monies are available. The expertise is available.

As far as the de-radicalization, this is something that's still in its nascent stage. We've been looking at this for years, not only in the law enforcement community, but in other communities. Does it work? Because in its simplest form, proving it works means nothing has happened, but is that proof enough?

So I'm not sure it's worth us exploring, but the whole idea to protect ourselves and understand the society of this threat is growing and identify those threats as quickly as we can.

GOLODRYGA: As you know, hate crime isn't isolated to one group, to one community, as we see sadly with what just unfolded in Colorado at an LGBTQ safe haven as well and the nightclub.


Can you talk about what you think some of the best ways to prevent these types of attacks are barring having law enforcement at every single establishment? And the reason I'm asking is because we speak with spokespeople from these communities that say, yes, the vitriol online, the misinformation online, all of that is really bad and leads to violence. But they also point to some of the legislation, specifically anti-LG BTQ legislation and laws. There are hundreds of out there - of them out there that have been proposed. They say that also leads to this type of hate. What do you make of that?

EHRIE: I think we're seeing this grow again, as you just mentioned. We're seeing this growing rhetoric in the social media platform, so have to maintain some responsibility for this because they're amplifying these messages. And it's not good enough to say it's just too difficult to police it, but when you talk about we saw and my - I get often tired of saying my hearts and prayers are going out to these people, because it is just another tragedy that we've seen and people like Mr. Fierro who prevented this tragedy from becoming even more horrific.

This is what we've come to in our society when you're seeing and I listened very intently to your story, average citizens who were just going out for a night out in a nightclub and in an establishment and they had to instantly turn into combat veterans attacking and assaulting somebody to prevent him from killing people and then providing triage, first aid to their - the other members and strangers who were just on the ground. If this is what we become, this is going to be a difficult piece of our history.

BLACKWELL: Greg Ehrie, thank you so much.

EHRIE: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Just moments ago, the Supreme Court paved the way for the release of former President Trump's tax returns to a democratic-led House committee.

BLACKWELL: And the Federal Appeals Court is hearing arguments in the Mar-A-Lago documents case. They are just two of several legal cases that are happening today, involving the former President as he announces the 2024 presidential run, we'll get into them next.



BLACKWELL: The Supreme Court has just cleared the way for the release of former President Trump's tax returns to a Democratic-led House committee.

GOLODRYGA: Elie Honig is CNN Senior Legal Analyst and a former federal prosecutor. The House Ways and Means Committee has been seeking these tax returns for two years now, Elie, how soon can they get a hold of them now with this ruling?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Bianna, it's over, first of all. Those tax returns are now going over to the House Ways and Means Committee as soon as they can obtain them and there is no further recourse. The Supreme Court has now said it will not interfere with the ruling.

And just so people understand where this comes from. There's a federal law that says if the House Ways and Means Committee files a written request with the Department of Treasury, with the IRS for an individual's tax returns, then the IRS "shall furnish," shall furnish, that's it, "those returns over to the Ways and Means Committee."

Now, Trump took it to the courts, the district court, the trial level court said, no, shall furnish means shall furnish. Ways and Means gets it. The Court of Appeals agreed. They said, yes, courts - the tax - that ways and means committee does get those returns and then Trump asked the Supreme Court to step in and today just briefly ago the Supreme Court said we're not taking this case and so the ruling stands and Ways and Means gets those tax returns now.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's turn to this fight over the special master, the DOJ is back in court arguing that this is improper for the special master to be involved at all. But the special master has been working on these documents that were seized from Mar-A-Lago for months now, what happens if the court determines, yes, it was improper and the work is already done?

HONIG: Well, the first thing I believe Donald Trump will do is what - exactly what he did on the tax returns case we just discussed, which is go to the Supreme Court and say, I would like you to intervene now, which will drag out the timeline a bit further.

But Victor, you're right, there's a practical side of this and a legal side of this. As a practical matter, the special master has been reviewing documents for months now and is well into that work and may even finish by the time this legal dispute is concluded.

But from DOJ's perspective, there's an important legal principle here. Regardless of the practicalities, they have gone to the courts and said, this district court judge in ordering the special master overstepped her legal authority and DOJ feels it's important to establish that principal win.

GOLODRYGA: It was interesting in the DOJ's filing yesterday, Elie, that the DOJ argued or made clear that the newly appointed special counsel Jack Smith had reviewed and approved their arguments in that case. So what does that tell you overall, about how quickly he's come up to speed with these cases, given that he was just appointed on Friday?

HONIG: Yes, Bianna, that jumped out to me as well. We're talking two business days after the appointment of Jack Smith and DOJ is representing to a court. He has been briefed on this and he agrees with these arguments that we're making. And that tells me Jack Smith understands the need to move quickly here to not waste any time and to get up to speed as quickly as possible.

Now, this doesn't mean - he's not superhuman, he can't be completely up to speed on an investigation of this magnitude this quickly, but he learned what he needed to know in order to sign off on this and this does tells - tell him tell me that Jack Smith is - intends to be true to his word that he will move quickly here.

BLACKWELL: After months of fighting it, Sen. Lindsey Graham testified before the Special Grand Jury down in Georgia investigating the former president's attempts to overturn the state's election results. Just quickly remind everyone of the value his testimony brings to this grand jury.

HONIG: Yes. Lindsey Graham we know was involved in coordinating with the Trump campaign in interacting with and pressuring state and local officials in Georgia. Keep in mind Lindsey Graham is not a senator from Georgia, he's from South Carolina.


He received a subpoena. He went to the courts argued he should not have to testify and the court said, no, you do have to testify except about legislative activity, but most of this falls outside of that. So Lindsey Graham did have to testify today and in all likelihood about virtually everything that he did.

BLACKWELL: Elie Honig, thank you.

GOLODRYGA: We got a lot in there, Elie. Thank you.

HONIG: Thank you, both. GOLODRYGA: Well, more news just in to CNN, three employees of the Camden County, Georgia Sheriff's Office have been arrested in connection to the beating of a detainee while he was in custody.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Ryan Young is with us now. Ryan, get us up to speed.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Some breaking details in this story. When you think about this, almost about a week and a half ago, five members of this unit were sort of disciplined and put on administrative leave. At this point, three employees now have been arrested.

Now, I want to warn our viewers at home, the video that you're about to see is quite disturbing. But you see what takes place in this Camden County facility. It has so many people asking questions. Just take a listen to the screams coming from one of those jail cells.

(Begin VT)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Son of (inaudible) ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) no, stop. This is (inaudible) ...

(End VT)

YOUNG: This happened in late September. This was Jarrett Hobbs. He's 41. He was in that facility and then at some point, there was a scuffle. And you can see several members around him and they are punching him several different times. Now at some point this video got released and the lawyers for this man say he was in some sort of distress and the employees took it way too far.

Now once this video was released, the GBI, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation started doing an investigation to exactly what happened inside the cell. We now know they've moved to arrest three of these employees. In the next 25 minutes or so, we're supposed to learn some more information from the GBI as they step forward. But this is the video that so many people found disturbing of showing these three, as they call them, employees at this point reacting inside that cell.

So somebody questions I hope we get the answer from investigators, but you can understand why people in the community we're trying to figure out what - one, why did it take so long for this to come to light. And then the next part of what was the investigation going to lead to.

Now, we know three members have been arrested who were inside that jail cell at that moment, so hopefully, we'll get some more information in the next 30 minutes. But you can tell clearly see, this was a disturbing investigation from the very beginning.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely. Coming up at the top of the next hour, of course, one of my top questions is there are five employees in that cell, why are three facing charges. Maybe we'll get an explanation for that. Ryan Young, thank you for bringing it to us.

GOLODRYGA: Well, this just in to CNN, the White House plans to once again extend the pause on federal student loan payments. We'll have the latest from Washington after the break.