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Ex-Instructor: Shooter Had Been Mourning Death Of A Girl; Starbucks' Schultz Accused Of "Vicious" Union-Busting; Manhattan Grand Jury To Break April Five Most Of The Month. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired March 29, 2023 - 14:00   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Boris Sanchez.

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

We are getting a window into the mind of the mass shooter who gunned down three children and three adults inside a Nashville school, Monday. CNN has spoken to a former art instructor of 28-year-old Audrey Hale, that's the person Nashville Metro Police say shot through the doors of the Covenant School in a calculated clot before being neutralized and killed by officers. The former art instructor named Maria Colomy said for the last year, Hale had grieved online over the death of a girl who used to play basketball with her.

SANCHEZ: Colomy also told CNN it was around this time that Hale wanted to be referred to as he--him and go by the name Aiden. Colomy says that Hale was apparently suffering.

Now, police have yet to release a motive for the shooting. They're still investigating that going through writings and videos, and messages sent by the shooter. But no one person was Hale's target, they say. It's still not clear exactly why Hale attacks the elementary school.


JOHN DRAKE, CHIEF, NASHVILLE POLICE: As of right now, we don't have any indication if there were any problems at the -- at the school or at home. Of course, she was 28 years old and still living at home with her parents but we can't confirm any type of problems at this time.


SANCHEZ: We want to take you to Nashville now, and CNN national correspondent Dianne Gallagher. Dianne, you've learned some additional details in the last few moments about Audrey Hale and their knowledge of guns.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Boris, Bianna, I talk to the police this morning and they told me that they still do believe as the chief had initially mentioned that the shooter had some kind of firearms or weapons training. And the chief initially said that because of actions that happened when they first arrived there on scene Monday morning because the shooter began shooting through an upper window on another story at police when they arrived.

But it was the actions of that shooter that led them to believe that perhaps they had some kind of weapons training. Today, Nashville police told me they still do believe that although they are working to determine when that training may have taken place, and where and to what extent as well, whether it was just basic firearms training, or something more.

Look. Remember, they found seven different firearms in the possession of this shooter. And they noted that they had all been purchased between October 2020 and June of 2022. We have talked about the fact that police say that the parents of the shooter said that they were being treated for emotional disorder.

I asked police if they could describe or explain when that treatment began. They told me they could not talk to me about that at this point. But, Boris, Bianna, they said that they do believe this is somebody who was quite, quite adept with weapons.

GOLODRYGA: And it's worth noting, there are no red flag laws in the state of Tennessee either. So, it's still questionable as to whether anything could have been done to stop the shooter if it had been known that the shooter was seeking medical treatment. We are also though learning more stories of heroism coming out. One Samaritan shared what he experienced that day. Tell us about what he saw and who he helped.

GALLAGHER: You know, Bianna, there's been no shortage of people who come out -- coming out here, to the vigils that you can see behind me outside the entrance of this school and church. And many of them say that they were in the area when this happened on Monday morning.

One of those was Jason Hoffman, the father of a nine-year-old himself. He was driving by and he said he began seeing teachers and children running out of the woods. That's when he stopped his car along with other people on a busy road to try and get those children to safety.


JASON HOFFMAN, HELPED KIDS FLEE SCHOOL SHOOTING: I had no idea at the time what was going on. I didn't know if it was like a police chase that ended up in a shootout. It was when I saw the teacher come out of the woods and the kids behind her that my heart sank.


GALLAGHER: And he also told "CNN THIS MORNING" that he -- again, he's a father of a nine-year-old. Three of the six who were killed on Monday morning here at this school were just nine years old. Tonight, the city of Nashville will hold a city-wide vigil which will include state and local dignitaries, the singer Sheryl Crow, and also, Boris, Bianna, the First Lady of the United States, Jill Biden will be in attendance as well tonight here in Nashville. [14:05:10]

GOLODRYGA: Yes. It just leaves you breathless there seeing those children running across the street there and heartwarming I guess to know that there are so many good Samaritans who stopped in their tracks to help them. Dianne Gallagher, thank you.

SANCHEZ: Pivoting now to news out of the Nation's Capitol, Republicans continue to hammer out a strategy on the debt ceiling and they have invited Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to speak at a closed- door study committee lunch. The deadline to raise the debt limit, keep in mind, is just a couple of months away.

GOLODRYGA: CNN Capitol Hill reporter Melanie Zanona is covering this for us today. So, Melanie, what are your sources saying about a possible meeting?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER (on camera): Yes. Well, this meeting with the Republican Study Committee just wrapped up. The Republican Study Committee is the largest group of conservative members on Capitol Hill. There are a lot of Republicans who belong to that group.

And I'm told that a big topic of conversation today was inflation. That has obviously been a huge concern for the country. And I'm told that Powell was pressed on how many more interest rate hikes there are going to be. And he told them, they anticipate one more rate hike this year.

He also talked about the banking crisis and gave lawmakers an update on those two recent high-profile collapses of those banks. Here's a little bit more of a Republican said they talked about in the meeting.


REP. BYRON DONALDS, (R-FL): Members are obviously still concerned about inflation. And you know, Fed's ability to get back to inflation expectations.

ZANONA: Did anyone express any criticism or concerns about the decisions to continue raising an interest rate?

DONALDS: No. I don't -- I don't think so. And look, I don't think you're going to have a lot of members who are going to critique it because inflation is the -- is the true contagion in our economy. We got to get it under control. But he did indicate that you know, there's just no more need for fiscal stimulus.


ZANONA: Now, one topic that surprisingly did not actually come up in that meeting, say was the debt ceiling. Congress only has until sometime this summer to raise the nation's borrowing limits. But Kevin McCarthy, the speaker, and President Joe Biden have not had any communication directly since their first meet meeting. This was a while ago. And so, there is no clear path right now for how they're going to resolve this.

House Republicans still haven't laid out their own House budget or what cuts they plan to make. Kevin McCarthy did say that he is prepared to in the next meeting, lay out $4 trillion worth of cuts, but is still very vague and unclear what Republicans are willing to commit to.

And so as of right now, it's a lot of jockeying -- finger -pointing. It's a lot of political gamesmanship right now. But time is running out and the stakes are incredibly high. Boris and Bianna.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Melanie, the White House saying that they are not ready to negotiate until they see that Republican budget. We'll wait and see when that emerges. Melanie Zanona live from Capitol Hill, thank you so much.

GOLODRYGA: Well, it's federal regulators testify on Capitol Hill about why the warning signs at SVB and Signature Bank weren't caught sooner. The Washington Post is reporting that President Biden may take things into his own hands.

SANCHEZ: Yes. After those unprecedented bank runs earlier this month, the Biden administration guaranteed that customers would receive the billions and uninsured deposits from both banks. CNN's Jeremy Diamond joins us now live from the White House. So, Jeremy, what is the White House considering here?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, look, over the last several weeks since the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, of course, we've seen a number of hearings on Capitol Hill with bank regulators and other officials, as well as banking executives. But here at the White House, White House officials have really been scrubbing and looking for potential regulatory authorities that could be strengthened, in particular, as it relates to these mid-sized banks SIMILAR to Silicon Valley Banks.

These are -- we're talking about banks, which have deposits between a hundred billion and 250 billion. These are also the banks that saw some of their regulatory authorities weakened under President Trump as a result of action -- that bipartisan action in Congress. The White House is now preparing to call for tougher banking regulations on those mid-sized banks. And you can see some of the proposals here that include requiring stress tests from federal regulators, greater stores of immediately available cash, and mandating that banks formulate plans for an orderly dissolution in the event of another potential crisis.

But ultimately, what's important to underscore here is, first of all, folks here at the White House are still looking -- and the shape of those regulations that they could call for could certainly change in the days ahead. But what's more important is the fact that these are ultimately going to be proposals from the White House. It's ultimately going to be up to banking regulators, particularly those at the Federal Reserve to decide what kinds of regulations they want to take. Some of those proposals are things that regulators have already indicated that they themselves are looking at. And then of course, there's the question of potential congressional action, which is something that President Biden has also said he would support.


Namely, measures that would allow regulators to claw back executive bonuses for example from bank executives at failed banks. That's -- legislation that's now been introduced a bipartisan -- in a bipartisan way by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Josh Hawley. So, we will see where that goes. But that is one thing that the White House has already expressed support for, Boris, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, I know that there's still a lot of uncertainty in the financial sector specifically among those small to midsize regional banks. Jeremy Diamond, thank you.

SANCHEZ: We want to turn now to the billionaire accused of union- busting tactics. This morning, the outgoing CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, testified before a Senate committee led by his foil, Senator Bernie Sanders.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, he opened by accusing Starbucks of the most aggressive and illegal campaign against unions in the modern history of our country.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (D-VT): Think about a multi-billion-dollar company with unlimited resources, with all kinds of lawyers, advisors, consultants, and yet they have not yet signed one contract with any of their nearly 300 unionized shops.


GOLODRYGA: CNN's Matt Egan is here now with more. So, Matt, how exactly is Starbucks being accused of working against unions?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER (on camera): Well, Bianna, this was quite the showdown, right? On the one hand, you have the most progressive -- or one of the most progressive members of Congress, in Bernie Sanders, then you have the billionaire businessman, in Howard Schultz. And we should note that Schultz initially, he declined to appear before this committee and he only relented after being threatened with a subpoena.

So, Bernie Sanders did not hold back, right? And he basically accused Starbucks of illegal union-busting -- the most aggressive and illegal union-busting campaign in modern history. And to make his case, he pointed to a ruling from just a few weeks ago from the National Labor Relations Board, which accused Starbucks of "egregious and widespread misconduct in its dealings with employees, were trying to unionize in Buffalo in New York."

And for his part, Schultz, he stressed that Starbucks has not broken the law here. And he referred to these findings from the NLRB as mere allegations. Listen to what Howard Schultz had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HOWARD SCHULTZ, FORMER CEO, STARBUCKS: We have never ever taken any benefit away, and we never would of anyone who was interested in joining a union. We simply have said that under the law, our understanding is we did not have the right to provide incremental benefits during the bargaining process. But Howard Schultz, the leadership team of Starbucks, the Board of Directors, some of whom are here today would never take benefits away of any kind of someone who was involved in trying to join a union.


EGAN: Now, this hearing created some strange bedfellows with Republicans, including Rand Paul and Mitt Romney, coming to the defense of Howard Schultz, who, by the way, just a few years ago, seriously considered challenging former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Listen to what Mitt Romney had to say.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY, (R-UT): I think it's kind of rich for folks who have never created a single job in their life to grill someone who's created hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans and people around the world. And to somehow suggest that this woke company has not woken up, it's really extraordinary. And of course, the conflict of interest my Democratic colleagues get overwhelmingly their financing for their campaigns from unions, so they want to force unions in places where the employees themselves are not looking for them.


EGAN: Now, all of this just shows how Starbucks has become the latest flashpoint in this effort from workers really around the country to fight for better wages and better working conditions, and stronger benefits. And we know that this battle between the labor movement and corporations is not going anywhere anytime soon.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Despite that testimony, we know it's a fight that's not going anywhere, anytime soon, like you said. Matt Egan, thank you so much.

GOLODRYGA: Former Vice President Mike Pence says he has nothing to hide when it comes to January 6. So, will he now testify in front of a grand jury about his conversations with former President Trump leading up to the insurrection? We'll have new details up next.



GOLODRYGA: The Manhattan Grand Jury hearing the Trump hush-money case is scheduled to break one week from today. The court administration source telling CNN that the grand jury will be off April 5 to the 24th but cautions that these proceedings are secret and subject to change.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it's not immediately clear whether the grand jury will hear the case again before they break on the fifth. Remember, it was more than a week ago that Trump incorrectly predicted that he would be arrested on charges related to this case.

GOLODRYGA: Meantime, former vice President Mike Pence says that he says -- won't say if he'll appeal a federal judge's ruling that says that he must testify about his conversations with Donald Trump leading up to the insurrection.

SANCHEZ: Now, let's bring in CNN's Sara Murray. She's live for us in Washington. Sara, how is Pence responding to this?

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, he's not really giving a straight answer to reporters in Iowa today about whether he may try to further appeal this decision by a federal judge, essentially saying, Mike Pence does have to testify before a grand jury as to answer questions about his conversations with Donald Trump in the run-up to January 6, where of course, we know the former president was pressuring his then-Vice President who's to block the certification of the election.

But, you know, Pence got a little bit of a ruling that he can hang on to as at least a partial victory. The judge is saying he would not have to answer some questions about his role on January 6 when he was serving as the president of the Senate. So, here's what Pence had to say about how they're considering that ruling today.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have nothing to hide. I believe we did our duty under the Constitution on January 6. And I truly do believe that preserving the constitutional protections enshrined in the Speech and Debate Clause was very important, reviewing how he sorted that out, but at the end of the day, will obey the law.



MURRAY: So, he says he's still going to talk to his attorney who was very complimentary of the judge's ruling, which may give you at least a hint of where they're headed on this. We will wait to see what more Mike Pence has to say on the subject. And as far as we know, there's still no date set yet for his testimony, guys.

GOLODRYGA: All right. Sara Murray, thank you.

Well, joining us now is Tom Dupree, former Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General under President Bush, and CNN chief national Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny. Welcome both of you.

Jeff, let's start with you. And let's parse through this language that we heard from former Vice President Pence. He says he has nothing to hide, that he will obey the law, so from what you're hearing, do you think that this will ultimately lead him to testify before this grand jury?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Look, he certainly did not come out swinging, if you will, this morning. And the venue where he was speaking in Urbandale, Iowa, was at the West Side conservatives club breakfast. It's a place where presidential candidates -- potential presidential candidates come and speak. And if you wanted to sort of come out and attack the judge's ruling and, you know, sort of show some loyalty to the former president, he did not do that.

And this is really what we've seen with the former vice president. He was complimentary, as Sara was saying to the judge's ruling, in a sense that did draw a distinction between his role as the senate president but he also said, look, I have nothing to hide. So, he is still consulting with his lawyers.

But I must tell. Republicans around him would be very surprised if he would appeal this ruling. So, it certainly looks like he will comply with the law. Now politically speaking, we don't know really what the fallout from this is. His lane is very narrow in terms of the Republicans who certainly are interested in seeing him. He is essentially ruled out in most of the Trump base.

But there is a wide sense of Republicans and others -- and other voters who you know were very happy with what he did on January 6. We will see what the politics of this are going forward. It's a fine line for him, no doubt. But I think his tone this morning show that he is certainly going to comply and not appeal this. People would be very surprised if he would do that.

SANCHEZ: And politically, just to note, the backdrop is important, too.

ZELENY: Right.

SANCHEZ: He's in Iowa talking to voters and shaking hands and doing all of that as this is happening. Tom, from your perspective, how significant is this for the special counsel? And if you were prosecuting this case, what would you ask the former vice president?

TOM DUPREE, FORMER PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Sure. Well, first, I think it is a significant win for the special counsel. And look, the special counsel has had a bit of a run of victories here. He has methodically brought these witnesses before the grand jury or attempted to. He's successfully batted back claims of privilege. And now, he's got kind of a big catch, so to speak, the former Vice President of the United States.

If I were prosecuting this case, I would be exceedingly interested in the conversations between former President Trump and Mr. Pence in the run-up to January 6. We know just from prior reporting, that the president was exerting incredible pressure on the Vice President often in caustic terms to basically overturn the election when he served as president of the senate and counted the votes on January 6.

The Vice President pushed back. But I suspect we will get a lot more insight into precisely what former President Trump said to Vice President Pence and all the pressure that he attempted to bring to bear to get the vice president to do his bidding. GOLODRYGA: So, Jeff, on that note, have we heard any response from the former president's camp yet? Because you know it his side continues to argue that this is just another example of the legal system being weaponized. Could this in a way -- in a perverse way, I guess once again help him at some point?

ZELENY: Well, we'll see about that. I mean, the reality is this is one of the lines of inquiry that is potentially very damaging to the former president, much more so than the New York case we've been talking about, really at nauseam for the last several weeks. So, this is one of the things where at least legally speaking, he may complain about this ruling but substantively, this is a very serious investigation in terms of what the former president was potentially trying to do to undermine the results of the federal election. We were talking federal crimes potentially here.

So, they may certainly complain about this. But the former president has been pretty quiet about this, which is unusual for him. He's been focusing on the New York -- the New York case in recent weeks. But this is one of the two more consequential cases, this case and of course, in the Atlantic case as well.

SANCHEZ: And, Tom, as Jeff pointed out, Pence, likely will comply given the circumstances around all of this. We don't know that for sure. His language has been non-committal. So, I'm wondering if there's a chance he does appeal, what do you think his lawyers might argue?


DUPREE: Well, I think what they will argue is that the judge simply didn't give Pence all the protections that he requested, all of the privileges that he claimed. It's hard to know exactly what he would argue, though because, of course, the judge's ruling remains under seal. We do know that he gave the former vice president a victory of sorts and that he apparently upheld and vindicated Mr. Pence's claim that his conduct on January 6 was protected under the Constitution's Speech and Debate Clause. So, it's very possible that you know, in the quietude of his home, the former vice president is actually celebrating this ruling and the vindication of his legal position.

We don't know what this is that he is genuine when he says he wants to consult with his lawyers, make an assessment of the likelihood of success on appeal, and whether they actually want to challenge this. If he were to challenge it, I tend to think the DC Circuit would probably uphold the district judge on this one.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, he seems to have bought himself some protection, especially by carving out the defense of the Speech and Debate Clause as well. But we'll see. Jeff, I know you'll continue to follow this story for us. Tom Dupree and Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

SANCHEZ: So, Russia says it has suspended all nuclear notifications with the United States. This decision could have massive implications on global security. And we're to discuss the implications next.