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Erin Burnett Outfront
Awaiting Vote on Jan. 6 Commission Bill; Senate GOP Expected to Block it, Caving to Trump, 2022; Gaetz & Greene Take Road Show & Trump's Election Lie to Georgia; Gaetz-Greene Rallygoer Clings to False Claim Trump Won 2020: "This was too Great of a Crime and We Just Can't Let it Go"; Current, Former Republicans Take Sides as Trump Looms Large; Authorities Previously Detained California Shooter, Found a Hatred Toward Employer, Had Books about Terrorism and Manifestos; Protesters March In Louisiana to Demand Justice for Ronald Greene; Texas Republicans Emboldened After Blue Wave Eludes Democrats. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired May 27, 2021 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is white extremists. It is people who are motivated by racial prejudice who present the greatest threat and who are most likely to carry out deadly attacks in this country this year.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The CNN Original Film Dreamland is on this airs Monday night. There you see the burning of black Wall Street 9 pm Eastern Monday night.
Thanks very much for watching. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, a crucial vote tonight in the Senate on the January 6th commission, Republicans set to block it. Are they turning their backs on the truth?
Plus, a tale of two parties. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene holding a rally tonight pushing Trump's big lie. Well, former House Speaker Paul Ryan speaks out against it.
And alarming new details about the gunman who killed nine co-workers, CNN learning he was detained by U.S. Customs officials in 2016. In his possession, books on terrorism, and that's not all. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, we are standing by for a key Senate vote on a commission to investigate the deadly insurrection. One of the worst attacks on the U.S. Capitol since the war of 1812 and that vote, all but expected to fail. CNN has learned Republicans are confident that they have the votes to block it. Block it despite a bipartisan group of former Homeland Security Secretaries issuing a last minute statement, urging senators to put politics aside and support the commission.
This is a commission that remember was negotiated by Republicans and Democrats. One that Republicans had said was necessary in the days after the riot, so what changed? Well, for one, Trump.
Some Republicans are scared of upsetting the man who incited the deadly riot. And for others, it's about power. They believe the commission's findings could get in the way of winning back the majorities in 2022. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is said to have taken twisting of arms to the next level, asking his colleagues to do him a personal favor by voting against the commission. It is a blatant 180, given what he said the day after the insurrection writing this, "I salute and applaud those front-line U.S. Capitol Police officers who stood bravely in harm's way during yesterday's failed insurrection. A painstaking investigation and thorough review must now take place."
Yet now, he doesn't want a thorough review. And what about saluting and applauding the Capitol officers who protected him and his colleagues that day? Our Manu Raju caught up with McConnell to ask if he spoke with Officer Brian Sicknick's mother today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brian Sicknick's mom is meeting with folks. Have you had an opportunity to meet with her, have you wanted to?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: No answer there. Gladys Sicknick did meet with other Republican senators saying that she had hoped, her words, would change their minds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLADYS SICKNICK, BRIAN SICKNICK'S MOTHER: Usually I'm staying in the background and I just couldn't I couldn't stay quiet anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: She felt she had to speak out and she also said in a recent statement this, "Not having a January 6 Commission to look into exactly what occurred is a slap in the faces of all the officers who did their jobs that day."
A source tells CNN today's meetings were very hard on Sicknick's mom and that she said, "How can they not be doing the right thing?" Gladys Sicknick lost her son. At least 140 other officers were injured; cracked ribs, smashed spinal discs, officers hit with baseball bats, flagpoles, pipes. You've seen the video with your own eyes.
And the Republicans who are expected to vote against the commission are now going to have to answer this question, are they really ready to put Trump and politics above the truth and an independent commission designed to make sure that deadly day, when all of their lives were threatened, never happens again.
Manu Raju is OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill. Manu, the timing of this vote is still in flux and it's looking like this may be a very late night for everyone on the Hill.
RAJU: Yes. This was expected at the moment. The reason why it is late is not related to this but other issues that are on the Senate floor that need to be resolved first before they ultimately get to this key vote. But the outcome is not in doubt. Republican leaders have been working behind the scenes, have been making their case publicly and privately that they don't want this bill to go forward.
Mitch McConnell's pitch privately has been about politics concerned that Democrats, in his view, will try to change the narrative heading into 2020 to focus on what happened in the insurrection, focus on former President Donald Trump's role in all of this and even focus on some Republican senators and Republican congressmen about how they handled the run up to January 6th. That is something they do not want to litigate in the run up to the 2022 midterms in which both the House and the Senate are at stake.
So that argument really has taken hold across the Senate Republican Conference, even Republicans who had been uncertain if they were going to support this, someone like Senator Shelley Moore Capito who's actually leading negotiations over an infrastructure package with the White House would not go forward with this bill, she told me because of concerns that it'd be too political. And that has been voiced by Republicans up and down the spectrum.
So the vote ultimately tonight, Kate, was simply just to break a filibuster to open debate on this issue, but they need 10 Republicans to break ranks. The expectation is potentially anywhere from five to seven, but certainly not 10. Republican leaders say that they have the votes to defeat it. They want to move on. And at that point, the ball will be in the Democrats' Court as they plan to have an investigation one way or the other, potentially, on their own in the House in which they would lead the investigation, not this outside commission which should be split evenly between the two parties, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Right. So being too political is only if they let it be too political, because by design, it is not. It is exactly what they all, at least, pretend they're looking for. Manu, thank you very much. Manu is standing by. He's going to be watching this very closely.
OUTFRONT with me now is Chuck Hagel, Defense Secretary in the Obama administration. He's also former Republican senator from Nebraska. Secretary, Senator, thank you for being here. I really appreciate it.
You have written quite eloquently about why you think the Senate should approve a commission. What do you say to fellow Republicans who very clearly are planning to vote against it tonight?
CHUCK HAGEL, (R) FORMER SENATOR FROM NEBRASKA: Well, thanks, Kate, for the time. What I have said to them and continue to say this is not a Republican or Democrat issue, this is an American issue. What happened on January 6th is unprecedented. We've never seen anything like it.
And we need to understand not just for the police officers and their families, those brave Capitol Hill policemen who defended these members of Congress and the Vice President. Yes, that's strong enough. But also all Americans, all American citizens need to know what happened, why did this happen, how could this happen, in this democracy that we hold up to the world as the greatest democracy in the world.
This sanctuary of democracy which Capitol Hill is was attacked and this is serious. This is as serious as anything, I think, we've seen in recent years. An independent commission, equal number of Republicans, equal number of Democrats model on the 9/11 Commission could do a fair job on this, independent. Not under the Speaker and not under the Minority Leader, but independent.
And I just don't understand why we're afraid of the truth. Why all Americans wouldn't want to know the truth.
BOLDUAN: I sincerely appreciate hearing you say that, because it's not that hard. This is pretty clear cut what is needed, I think here. But the Republicans, look, John Thune has openly admitted enough of the Republicans have openly admitted that this commission isn't good politics for them, that they are afraid that it will hurt them in 2022. Cynically, are they wrong?
HAGEL: Well, I'll leave that up to the voters. But they are so cowed and intimidated by former President Trump that they're afraid of their own shadows. When I was in the Senate and had the privilege of being the United States Senator representing Nebraska for 12 years, I never got confused about why I was there. I didn't mean I was a good Senator or voted the right way all the time, but I always went back to the oath of office I took.
I took an oath of office like all elected representatives do, the military does, to defend the constitution, to defend this country, to defend our process our people, not to defend the president or what a president wants or a political party or philosophy. If that's your north star, that's the compass you use, then there's no other way around this. You have to have a commission because you want to get at the truth, what's right and this is right. Politics, yes, I'm sure the Republicans are very concerned what might come out of this.
Well, I don't know what's going to come out of it, but the point of this commission is not to assign blame or not to play politics. It's to get to the truth as to why it happened, what happened and who is involved and what reasons were they involved. This is a big country, 330 million Americans, and we have different points of view. We should have points of view. That's different points of view. That's OK, but not what we saw on January 6th.
BOLDUAN: Yes. And one member of Congress said to me, you know what, Kate, this kind of a vote on this commission it's time to put your big boy and big girl pants on. These are decisions you've got to make. It's not really that hard when it comes down to it.
You've known Mitch McConnell for a long time.
[19:10:00] My colleague Jamie Gangel who you know as well is reporting that he
asked other Republicans to oppose the commission as a personal favor to him. Does that surprise you? Does that concern you? What do you think of that?
HAGEL: That does concern me. Mitch has been the Majority Leader of the United States Senate. He's now a Minority Leader. He has a big responsibilities, has had over the years. And to say something like that to his caucus, if he actually said it, this is a personal favorite for me. This personal favor to me is bigger than the interest of America, that's shameful. That is absolutely shocking and shameful to hear that from a leader, if he said it.
I don't know if he said it. I know it's been reported. But if he said it, it's shameful and he should not have responsibility or the privilege of being a leader in Congress.
BOLDUAN: Senator, as I always call you, Secretary, thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate it.
HAGEL: Thanks, Kate. Thank you.
BOLDUAN: It's good to see you. I hope you're well.
OUTFRONT for us next, live pictures of Matt Gaetz right there and Marjorie Taylor Greene, they're next up on their road show and what do their supporters have to say this time about Trump's big lie? Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN CASE, OWENSBORO, KY: I think this was too great of a crime and we just can't let it go. We're not going to let it go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: More of that to come.
Plus, troubling new details about the gunman who killed nine of his co-workers. CNN learning authorities had previously questioned the shooter about his hatred for his workplace.
And the family of Ronald Greene who says they were told Greene died in a car accident instead of at the hands of police, meeting with the Governor of Louisiana tonight. Do they believe charges are actually coming?
BOLDUAN: Looking at live pictures right now out of Georgia. Republicans, Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene making their next tour stop in Dalton which is part of Greene's district actually and Gaetz who has repeatedly done Donald Trump's bidding and push the big lie over and over saying the GOP is 100 percent the party of Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MATT GAETZ (D-FL): This is Donald Trump's party and I'm a Donald Trump Republican. It's our ideas, America First, that fills the stadiums, and the halls, and the ballrooms, and the prairies all across this great land. We're not going back to the days of the Bush's, and the McCain's and in the Romney's. Our way, America First, is the way forward for America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Donie O'Sullivan is OUTFRONT at the rally for us. Donie, that is what we're hearing from the stage. What are you hearing from the people in the audience?
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: Hi, Kate. When we were last here, actually, it was just two days before the insurrection, Donald Trump had his last central rally here as President and back then on January 4th, people were unable to accept that Trump lost the election and it's very much the same message today. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'SULLIVAN: You'd agree the 2020 elections is (inaudible) ...
CASE: We're in new territory. Unless I'm mistaken, this is the first forensic audit of a presidential election. Forensic. So we don't know.
O'SULLIVAN: Do you genuinely think there's a possibility that the election could simply be overturned.
CASE: That Trump could obtain the Electoral Slate of Arizona? Yes, I think that's a possibility. And if that happens, could it happen to Georgia? Possibly. Possibly.
O'SULLIVAN: You're still clinging on to this belief, false belief, that the election could be overturned. You're clinging on to that, are you?
CASE: Clinging to it? I'm hopeful. I'm hopeful.
O'SULLIVAN: Would it not be better for Republican politicians, for Republican supporters to move on and to look forward, even to look forward ahead to Trump running in 2024 instead of keep on looking backward?
CASE: No, because we think this was too great of a crime and we just can't let it go. We're not going to let it go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'SULLIVAN: So Kate, you can hear there that the sham audit in Arizona is really giving hope and it's giving people hope because Trump has been out there with messages giving interviews to MAGA media saying that Arizona might be the first domino to fall in overturning the election which, of course, is false. Gaetz is speaking right now. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who really is the
main attraction here tonight in her district, is due to speak shortly. I asked some folks here today about those terrible remarks she made about the Holocaust during the week and rather than being offended by them or worried about them, people here were praising those remarks. They said that it's good that Greene speaks her mind and that she makes comments like this, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Even though they make absolutely no sense and they belittle the killing of 6 million Jews. OK. Thank you so much, Donie. Great reporting as always.
OUTFRONT with me now Chief Strategist for the Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign, Matthew Dowd, and former Republican Governor of Ohio, John Kasich. It's good to see you both. Thanks for being here.
Governor, you just heard one of the men that Donie spoke to at this rally, one of the people who were there to see Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene. I recall very clearly that Gaetz and Greene have targeted you, actually, in these rallies as well. What do you say to what you heard tonight?
JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you for doing that. I mean, I can't hardly believe that, Kate. It's like fantasy land. I feel sorry for this gentleman that thinks that somehow this election is going to be overturned. I mean, I don't know how his head gets filled with this. Rather than be kind of critical and angry, I'm sort of feeling sorry and I'm worried about our country, because when you look at the numbers, it's amazing how many Republicans actually think it was not a legitimate election.
And so how does this carry on? What are the implications for the future? Are we going to have one election after another that's going to be contested, where there'll be no legitimacy? Because when you don't have legitimacy in the results of an election, it's pretty hard to sustain the system that we have.
I'm very hopeful we're going to recover from this. But we've been waiting a long time, so it's pretty amazing. And you've got Matthew Dowd, a very smart guy on this. I'll bet he's just stunned at what he's been seeing.
It's just not the party that I grew up with or the party that we know. And attacking Romney, and Bush, and Kasich, it's really something, so it'll change. This is just this moment in time and the winds of change will come.
BOLDUAN: But Matthew, jump in, I mean, every time we've talked, I mean, we talked about the unicorns that are the Republican Party or the Republican Party that we once knew and the winds of change, it might be a long time before it does. Because this is the Republican base that Gaetz and Greene speak for and feed off of and apparently the Republican Party is depending on now. MATTHEW DOWD, CHIEF STRATEGIST FOR THE BUSH-CHENEY 2004 PRESIDENTIAL
CAMPAIGN: Well, it's great to be on with the Governor. I've always been a big fan.
I mean, this is the Republican Party today and that's what I think people have to face that reality. The only change that has happened over the course of the last five years is it's gotten worse. I mean, Donald Trump has an 82 percent favorability rating among the Republican base in this country. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz are more popular than Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney in the Republican Party today.
Anybody that's sane in the Republican Party today that admits to a common set of facts that wants to sort of investigate what happened on January 6th and all that is basically almost impossible to win in a primary in this country. So to me, I agree that we're at a crucial point in our democracy, probably as crucial as we were at an 1860 or 1861 in what we have, because we have one of the two major legacy parties, that is occupied by conspiracy theorists, charlatans and people that push for huge conflicts in our country.
To me, the only path forward is that a decimating losses to be suffered by the Republican Party in a series of elections, decimating losses. That's the only way I think, politically, we'll move through this. They have to, the Republicans have to suffer a series of devastating losses in 2022 and 2024 and maybe then we'll be able to renew this thing to a place that's rational. But right now, the Republican Party is Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
BOLDUAN: Matthew, it really is something to hear you put it in those terms. I mean, we've got another Republican, I know you both respect, who's speaking out tonight. Paul Ryan is back out speaking tonight. The former speaker, former VP nominee, he's going to be making a speech and he's going to, according to excerpts, he's going to speak out against the big lie. He's going to take on Donald Trump tonight.
I want to read for you one of the things that he is expected to say. He's expected to say, "Once again, we conservatives find ourselves at a crossroads. And here's one reality we have to face. If the conservative cause depends on the populist appeal of one personality or on second-rate imitations, then we're not going anywhere. Voters looking for Republican leaders want to see independence and mettle."
Governor, but does Paul Ryan still know what conservatives want? I mean, we just listen to what Matthew said.
KASICH: Well, we know what conservatives want. I mean, the traditional Republican Party, that DNA, is low taxes and limited government. And so the problem with the Biden administration are piling all this new government on top of government that currently doesn't work very well. So the Republican Party needs to focus on those things that are going to provide for economic growth and that's limiting the size and the scope of government.
Republican Party has to focus on things like the cost of pharmaceuticals. This is what people are talking about all over the place. The party has to come up with alternatives to immigration. We ought to really have a plan for the dreamers, so these kids that came here through no fault of their own has a place to live in America. I mean, it's a party of hope, opportunity, expansion and growth.
And now what I hear them talk about what is America First, I don't even know what that means. That's just rhetoric without any plan.
BOLDUAN: Yes. It just makes them feel good. There's nothing behind it.
KASICH: Now the sad thing ...
BOLDUAN: I mean, it just makes them feel good.
KASICH: Yes, there's nothing ...
BOLDUAN: It's just rally cry.
KASICH: ... right. But here's the problem, the problem is the Republicans are likely by historical standards to win the House, to win one of these houses of Congress. And then we have to see where we are because that, I hope they don't think that legitimizes them, because we're almost like a government in Britain where we're breaking down on political party.
BOLDUAN: But it's going to make feel them that way, Governor. I mean, it's going to make them ...
KASICH: Well, I don't know.
BOLDUAN: ... a win is a win, I mean, at the end of the day.
KASICH: Kate, here's the only thing I know, the less that Washington gets done, the more is for us to do where we live. And as I've told you many times before change in America comes from the bottom up. We have to seize power in our communities and begin to drive things that way.
BOLDUAN: I hear you. Matthew, real quick, as if on cue, Matt Gaetz has now just taken a shot at Paul Ryan as we're just talking about Paul Ryan is going to speak out tonight.
I want to hear what you have to say, Matthew, but let's listen to Matt Gaetz real quick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GAETZ: As we gather tonight, Paul Ryan is giving a speech in California, taking advice on party building from Paul Ryan would be like taking advice on how to interact with your in laws from Meghan Markle.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: He's saying Paul Ryan as if it's like synonymous with like
the devil incarnate, Matthew.
DOWD: Well, I don't think Matt Gaetz should be given any advice including on dating advice, so I would leave him out of advice giving of this. To me the problem with Paul Ryan is Paul Ryan is living in a land that no longer exists. There's not a Reagan Republican Party that exists.
If Reagan were alive today and went down to that rally, Reagan would be booed. John Kasich would be booed at that rally. Mitt Romney would be booed at that rally. Every single principled conservative who stood up would be booed at that rally. And to me, Paul Ryan, the first order of business of Paul Ryan who sits on the board of Fox News should be to criticize what Fox has done.
Because if anybody has propped up Donald Trump over the course of the last five years and continues to do, it's Fox News. And the one main entity that has propagated the big lie that led to January 6th is Fox News. And so if you want to redo the Republican Party, you got to start with Fox News.
BOLDUAN: And the propaganda machine that is driving this message that these people are listening to and feeding off of at this rally that we're looking at tonight. Matthew, it's great to see you. Thank you. Governor, thank you again for your time. It's always (inaudible) ...
KASICH: Thank you. I'm not giving up. I'm not giving up on principle. I'm not going to do it.
BOLDUAN: You don't. I'm the cynical one and you always try to convince me to stop being cynical.
KASICH: Not giving up.
BOLDUAN: We're going to continue this for a while. Thank you, Governor.
KASICH: We shall overcome, believe me.
BOLDUAN: Thank you both.
OUTFRONT for us next, new information about the nine people killed during the mass shooting at the rail yard. I'll speak to a San Jose city councilman who is mourning his childhood friend tonight.
And the mother of Ronald Greene marching for justice for her son who died after being arrested.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MONA HARDIN, RONALD GREENE'S MOTHER: It hurts the hell out of me to even say my son was murdered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Tonight, warning signs. Alarming details about the San Jose shooter who killed nine co-workers yesterday. CNN is learning that in 2016, U.S. Customs officials detained the man and found with him books on terrorism and a notebook filled with hatred for his workplace. It comes as we're learning much more about those who lost their lives yesterday.
Josh Campbell is OUTFRONT.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, a city in mourning, after Wednesday's mass shooting in San Jose, California.
GLENN HENDRICKS, CHAIRMAN, SANTA CLARA VALLEY TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY: Let's take a moment of silence for our fallen workers.
CAMBPELL: Valley Transportation Authority's board chairman Glenn Hendricks, honoring the nine victims today with a moment of silence, and promises of help.
HENDRICKS: We're all grieving together, and we want to do everything we can to support each other.
CAMBPBELL: Investigators are now uncovering more about the 57-year-old man who killed nine of his co-workers Wednesday. The shooter identified by law enforcement as Samuel James Cassidy reportedly fired 39 rounds at the scene, and may have targeted specific co-workers. Detectives have located three millimeter hand guns at the scene, which included 32 individual high capacity handgun magazines loaded with additional ammunition. They also found bomb-making material in Cassidy's employee locker.
SHERIFF LAURIE SMITH, SANTA CLARA COUNTY: We had our canines there, and they did a search. Some of our dogs alerted on what was his locker inside were precursor things for explosives, ingredients for a device actually. Detonation cords, things like that.
CAMPBELL: A DHS official told CNN Customs and Border Protection officials detained him in 2016 after a trip to the Philippines and found notes about hatred towards his employer, as well as books about terrorism, fear and manifestos.
CNN obtains surveillance footage from a neighbor's house that the neighbor said shows Cassidy leaving home with a duffel bag at 5:40 Wednesday morning. The same neighbor saw also says he saw Cassidy's house go up in flames around the same time the shooting took place.
SMITH: It's my opinion that he had some kind of a device in his house to go off simultaneously.
CAMPBELL: Officers say they did not exchange gunfire with Cassidy and that he died by suicide.
Kirk Bertolet, an employee at the rail yard, witnessed the shooting.
KIRK BERTOLET, EYEWITNESS: I do know that he had a specific agenda, and was targeting certain people. He walked by other people, he let other people live as he gunned down other people.
CAMPBELL: In court documents and interviews with those who knew the gunman, he was described as a man with anger issues, and who was allegedly abusive.
Cassidy's ex-wife, who was married to him for ten years, spoke to our affiliate and said he resented his work and co-workers. And that he had two sides. When he was in a good mood, he was a great guy. When he was mad, he was mad.
The nine victims who tragically lost their lives ranged in age from 29 to 63, including 36-year-old Taptejdeep Singh who was killed, his family says, while helping his co-workers hide.
BAGGA SINGH, TAPTEJDEEP SINGH'S BROTHER: One lady he put in the control room to hide over here, you know? He can go there too, actually, but he just saved her.
CAMPBELL (on camera): And, Kate, here at that maintenance yard, the site of the mass shooting, the investigation continues. Today, they moved the perimeter back of this crime scene, they're attempting to reconstruct exactly what took place. As these forensic examiners do their work here, we know that investigators are also poring over everything they know about the shooter. At this point, they're treating as workplace violence, but authorities tell us they still have much more work to be done -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Josh Campbell, thank you.
And now, I want to bring in Raul Peralez. He's a city council member in San Jose.
He's also a former San Jose police officer.
Councilman, thank you for being here.
When we spoke yesterday, you were still waiting to hear final word on your childhood friend, Michael Rudometkin. And sadly, we now know that he is one of those who was killed in this shooting.
I am so sorry. How is his family doing? How is his family holding up?
RAUL PERALEZ, SAN JOSE CITY COUNCIL; LOST FRIEND IN SHOOTING: Yeah, first off, thank you. It has been extremely difficult. It was agonizing waiting yesterday and the news came in around 6:00 p.m. our time and, you know, it was like a big weight being lifted. But then all that weight sort of dropped right on you, as that news sunk in.
And it's been tough. It's been extremely difficult for all the families, obviously. And a lot of disbelief still as we're processing everything that's happened.
BOLDUAN: You can completely understand that. What do you want people to know about Michael?
PERALEZ: Yeah, you know, Mike was a terrific human being. You know, a lot of the outpouring of our friends and loved ones and family members that knew him all throughout the years, the common thread right now is how he was truly a great friend to everybody. People questioning is there anybody that he wasn't -- he wasn't a friend to. And making this all that more harder as we learn more about this story, because he was just a very genuinely terrific human being and, you know, would do anything for his friends.
BURNETT: That is making it so hard, you're hearing such wonderful things about those who were killed, and then the complete opposite of the grotesque nature of the person who is responsible for their death. I mean, we have learned a lot since we spoke last night about the man responsible for this.
The sheriff says he appeared to target some people. We heard from some folks that he was -- the sheriff said that he was walking around saying to one person he encountered, I'm not going to shoot you, and then proceeding to open fire and shoot others.
What more are you hearing tonight?
PERALEZ: Yeah, similarly. It's obviously hard to hear. You know, Michael was somebody that loved his job. You know, he had been a mechanic his entire career and loved the challenge of working on the trains and most recently transitioned over to an even more challenging job of an overhead linesman, and kind of the opposite picture, somebody that really enjoyed his work, enjoyed the challenge of work, enjoyed the camaraderie there, loved working for VTA, and to hear, you know, that there were potentially people that were targeted in this, and that he was included, it's difficult. It's difficult to comprehend.
BURNETT: Yeah. Makes what's impossibly hard maybe even worse. Thank you. I'm very sorry. Thank you for coming back on.
PERALEZ: Thank you. Thank you.
BURNETT: OUTFRONT for us next, the family of Ronald Greene they say, they were told Greene died in a car accident. But the video tells a very different story. Today, they marched and pushed officials to bring charges.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MONA HARDIN, MOTHER OF RONALD GREENE: This is for my son. This is for a lot of what's been happening here, the cover-ups, the corruption.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And Texas Republicans on the verge of passing controversial bill that Democrats say are going to make it even harder for them to win elections in that state.
BURNETT: Tonight, protestors taking to the streets in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, demanding justice for Ronald Greene. His death is now in the national spot right now after body camera footage became public of his fatal arrest from two years ago.
I want to warn you, you may find this disturbing as we play it. Greene, he died after he was tased, kicked and dragged face down by troopers after a pursuit. Greene's family says that they were initially told by troopers that he died in a car crash.
The family met today with the governor of Louisiana and state prosecutors who say that they are just now getting access to all the evidence surrounding his death. Again, more than two years later.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARDIN: It's so disrespectful to the state of Louisiana to continue this, to run this through, hoping that eventually it will lose traction, for some reason or other it will die away, which is not going to happen, because this is for my son. This is for a lot of what's been happening here, the cover-ups, the corruption.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT now, Alanah Odoms, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana. She took part in the march for Ronald Greene tonight.
Alanah, thank you for being here.
You marched arm in arm with Greene's family today. What did today mean for them?
ALANAH ODOMS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ACLU LOUISIANA: Today means the opportunity to vindicate the rights of their loved one. Ronald Greene was a father to Taylor Greene. He was a sister to Alana and Dinelle. And he was a son of Mona Hardin. He was also the brother of Sean.
And to see this family had the opportunity to meet with the governor, to meet with state prosecutors to finally have the opportunity to make their demands heard, this means everything to the family, and it means everything to the activists on the ground supporting them.
BOLDUAN: As you mentioned, the family met with the governor today. He put out a statement. I want to read what he said here.
He said, John Bel Edwards, he said: I pledged to Ms. Mona Hardin that Louisiana State Police is cooperating fully with the Union Parish District Attorney and the United States Justice Department in their investigations and under the leadership of a new state police superintendent, change has already started at the agency.
Do you feel any more hopeful after today that arrests and charges will be coming?
ODOMS: I do feel hopeful. But I have yet to see just as the rest of the public has to see the substance of these investigations. I believe that it is incumbent upon our elected leaders to call for state charges to be brought, for the appropriate charges to be brought, and for all who are involved to be held accountable. And I believe that state charges, as well as concurrent federal charges are appropriate, as does the family.
And I also believe that it is incumbent upon elected leaders to actively and forcefully call for federal oversight of the Louisiana state police. It does not matter that these investigations are ongoing. If you want to stand for justice at this time, you can actively, should actively, proactively, voluntarily and forcefully call for these things to secure today.
BOLDUAN: Now, the family's attorneys said the D.A.'s office told them that they were just now gaining access to all of the evidence. I want to play for you what Lee Merritt said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE MERRITT, ATTORNEY FOR RONALD GREENE FAMILY: They reassured us that the Union Parish authorities would seek criminal accountability for these officers in due time. Time is well due. We are overtime. We are two years later.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: How do you think it is possible that the D.A.'s office still didn't have full access to evidence from police until just weeks ago?
ODOMS: I don't think it's possible. I don't think that's plausible. And if it is, in fact, plausible, we have a lot bigger problem in the state of Louisiana than any of us understand. If the state's top prosecutors and law enforcement officers do not have access to evidence in a criminal case, do not have access to videographic evidence, corruption is a euphemism.
We are looking at a system that is wholly, wholly unworthy of trust and wholly unworthy of anyone's confidence. And I would -- I would pray that is just a falsehood and not, in fact, the truth, because if we do not have the confidence that our district attorneys have access to all information from law enforcement, including all evidence, we have a system, a kangaroo court, if you will. We have a banana republic.
And I don't believe that Louisiana -- I don't believe the state of Louisiana is a banana republic. So I would -- I seriously question the integrity of that.
BOLDUAN: Yeah. A lot more questions now, you know, keep questioning. Thank you very much, Alanah Odoms. Appreciate it.
ODOMS: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, Texas Republicans trying to pass a controversial bill that critics argue is aimed at stopping Democrats from winning elections.
And the Department of Homeland Security, with an alarming warning tonight about white supremacists ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre.
BOLDUAN: Tonight, the Republican-controlled Texas legislature is wrapping up its session and working towards, well, a lot of controversial bills, one, that critics say directly targets voting rights in the state. This after years of Republicans, of course, holding on to power in the state amid lots of warnings of a coming blue wave for Democrats.
Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the clock struck midnight inside the Texas capitol. This group of Democratic state representatives celebrated the end of a day long effort to kill a number of Republican bills. But it was one of the few moments you will find a Democrat smiling in Texas these days.
STATE REP. DONNA HOWARD (D), AUSTIN: We have really been just steam- rolled.
LAVANDERA: Texas lawmakers are wrapping up a legislative session and Democratic State Representative Donna Howard says she is surprised even by Texas standards by the red meat agenda pushed by Texas Republicans in the months since the November election.
HOWARD: I think it has a lot to do with what happened this in the last election. There's some bitterness there and that they want to see some of the Democrats squirm.
LAVANDERA: Remember are all that talk about Democrats turning Texas blue in 2020? Republicans crushed those dreams. For now.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": CNN projects that President Trump will win the state of Texas.
LAVANDERA: In 2012, Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama in Texas by 16 points. In 2016, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by nine points. And in 2020, Trump won by five. So, you might think that as presidential elections here in Texas get closer and closer, that Texas Republicans would be more moderate. But that's just not what we've seen here in the Texas Capitol.
Texas Republicans have passed a heartbeat bill banning most abortions as early as six weeks, a permitless carry bill will allow Texans to carry a handgun without a license or training. Republicans are pushing an election overhaul with new voter restrictions. Another bill aims to control how systemic racism is taught in schools, but bills aimed at fixing the state's power grid system that failed during February's deadly winter storm have not yet passed.
Brendan Steinhauser is a veteran Republican strategist in Texas. He says when predictions of the Republican downfall in Texas went up in smoke, the Republicans felt emboldened to push further to the right and toward Donald Trump.
BRENDAN STEINHAUSER, STEINHAUSER STRATEGIES: There's no real political incentive for those in the state house or in the state senate who are Republicans to do anything but appeal to the base.
LAVANDERA: Steinhauser just helped run the campaign for Michael Wood, an anti-Trump Republican candidate in the special congressional election. Wood didn't come close to winning.
Where is the Republican Party in Texas right now?
STEINHAUSER: So, we find ourselves having been very successful in the last cycle but also kind of worried about the long-term future of the party.
LAVANDERA: Signs are everywhere that Trump's shadow looms larger than ever over Texas Republicans, and now the state's Republican Party is led by Allen West who is pushing the party to not be afraid of embracing Trump.
We caught with him at a neighborhood fundraiser with conservative activists.
Do you worry that sessions like this --
LT. COL. ALLEN WEST, CHAIRMAN, TEXAS GOP: No.
LAVANDERA: -- end up driving away maybe middle of the road voters?
WEST: And you know what my dad taught me, I grew up in Georgia. He said the only thing in the middle of the road is roadkill and I don't want to be roadkill.
LAVANDERA: So, Kate, this year will only get more interesting politically here in Texas, because lawmakers are gearing up for a redistricting fight. Lawmakers will be brought back to Austin later this year, where they have to hammer on out a redistricting, because this state is getting three new congressional seats. So, it's going to be a long hard fought political year here in the state -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Great reporting, Ed. Thank you.
OUTFRONT for us next, a troubling warning. White supremacists may be targeting upcoming events to honor the victims of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre.
BOLDUAN: Tonight, CNN learning the Department of Homeland Security has issued a bulletin, warning events associated with 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre next week could be targeted by white supremacists. The Greenwood neighborhood was a historic center of black prosperity. It was also the site of one of the nation's most shocking mass murders. 1929 white vigilantes went through the district, hunting and killing black men, women and children.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So many people have said there were no bodies there. But you know, all the black folk in the community, we believe they are there. Those stories were passed to us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a systemic cover up of the event. It should not have taken 99 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to pay attention. We have to pick up the charred baton that has been left in our hands and figure out where the screams are coming from.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: This is from the new CNN film, "Dreamland: The Burning of Black Wall Street". It premiers on Monday on CNN at 9:00 Eastern.
Thank you all so much for joining us. I'm Kate Bolduan.
"AC360" starts now.