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Police: Patrons Subdued Gunman To Stop Carnage At LGBTQ + Bar; 5 Killed, Dozens Hurt In Shooting At Colorado LGBTQ + Bar; Authorities Seek Motive In Deadly Attack At Colorado LGBTQ + Bar; Suspect Previously Arrested In Connection With Bomb Threat; Kinzinger: McCarthy "Completely Hostage" To "Extreme" GOP; McCarthy Navigates Narrow Path To Speakership; Biden Pushes Short-Term Agenda As GOP House Majority Looms; Trump Deepens GOP Divide With 2024 Announcement. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired November 21, 2022 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us. An American wound splits opened in Colorado, a man with a gun, storms into an LGBTQ nightclub, sprays the crowd with bullets. New details this hour about the two heroes who saved countless lives. Police still searching for a motive. And today, survivors searching for an answer too, why are they alive, five others not?


MICHAEL ANDERSON, BARTENDER AT CLUB Q: There was a moment in time where I feared I was not going to make it out of that club alive. And I have never prayed so sincerely and quickly hit my life as I did in that moment.


KING: Plus, the Washington math problem. Republicans retake the House, but only by the slimmest of margins. The numbers mean the man who wants to be speaker may end up a hostage within his own party. And will Republicans finally say never again to Donald Trump, a roster of would be presidential challengers turns up at a big meeting in Vegas, their message to former president should not get a third chance.

Up first for us though sadly, six minutes of terror. New details this morning out of Colorado Springs and the scene of the latest American massacre. This is Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub where a gunman wearing body armor burst inside at 11:56pm Saturday evening and open fire. Witness accounts from inside the club describe a frenzy. A hailstorm of broken glass, muzzle flashes, blending with strobe lights, people diving behind tables, tout race bullets.

The club's owners tell the New York Times that surveillance tape shows the gunman had a rifle and what appeared to be six magazines of ammunition. The chaos interrupted only when two people threw themselves into the line of fire and pin the gunman. Police arrested the shooter just minutes later 12:02am Sunday. Inside those six minutes, at least five were murdered, 25 more injured. The why is still a big unknown at this hour. Another big and painful question. Why was the suspected gunman 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich able to get a weapon after an incident just last year in which he made a bomb threat against his own mother.

Let's get straight to Colorado Springs, CNN's Rosa Flores is there. Rosa, what's the latest?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we are learning new details from the Colorado Springs police chief. He is telling CNN that one of the individuals that you just described that ran towards the gunfire to pin the suspect to save lives is one of the individuals that's in the hospital right now. And we do not know the extent of this individual's injuries. But according to the police chief, that's one of the individuals who's injured.

The police chief also telling CNN within the last hour that the suspect is still in the hospital that he has not been booked. And that according to the police chief, the suspect was carrying an AR style rifle and a handgun. Now about when he purchased those weapons, and how he purchased those weapons? Two law enforcement sources telling my colleague Evan Perez, that the suspected shooter Anderson Lee Aldrich indeed purchased these two weapons, but that the timing is unclear.

But that the arrest of Aldrich back in 2021, when he allegedly called police - excuse me, when his mother called authorities about a bomb threat that those charges would not be part of the background check. Because that case was not adjudicated, meaning that there were no records. Those charges were dropped. And so, it would have not showed up during a background check.

Now, all this as the owners of Club Q telling the New York Times about the intense moments that happened at Club Q on Saturday night. They were able to review the surveillance video. Now think about that for just a moment. These are individuals who were not there but got the opportunity to see what was going on in their beloved club, John? And from their description, as you might imagine, they describe the gunman, firing those shots and those heroic patrons running towards that gunfire to save lives. John?


KING: Rosa Flores, on the scene for us at this sadness and tragedy. Rosa, thank you. Let's get some important insights and perspective now from the former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, and the former federal prosecutor Elie Honig.

Andy McCabe, let me start with you first. The police chief says, the suspect has not yet been interviewed because he is hospitalized, also said his mother is not cooperating, at least at this point with investigators. Obviously, you have the surveillance video. You have the witnesses inside. From an investigative standpoint, what are the next critical steps? ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR, FBI: Well, John, the evidence from the scene will build a strong case against this defendant in any respect. And there's a question as to whether or not he'll be charged with a hate crime. But certainly, he'll be charged with very significant felony crimes of violence.

What investigators are doing today is coursing through whatever background and information they can find about this guy, whether that's from social media, or from computing devices, telephones, iPads that he may have had in his residence, to try to understand why he did this. Also, to understand if there are other people that he's in contact with who may be similarly motivated, we want to identify that network as soon as possible.

Once you've ruled that out, you're really looking for evidence of motivation, particularly if they're considering charging them with a hate crime. They really need comments, statements, writings, things that indicate these defendants mental state and whether or not he targeted any of these people specifically, because of their gender or sexual orientation, or any of those other factors that are in the statute.

KING: And so, Elie, weigh in on that point as well, how you try to build that part of the case, get into the motive. But let's listen first, obviously, the witness testimony, it sounds like it's going to be more than compelling and more than damning for the suspect. This is Michael Anderson, who was the bartender, who says, he thought he was going to die. Listen?


MCCABE: I was anticipating that outcome and afraid for that outcome. It got quiet. As I was praying and hoping it got silent, the gunshots stopped, I saw what I believe was probably the gunman lying on the ground, getting beat up and kicked and yelled at by two very brave people who I still don't know the identity of those two people. But I hope I can find out one day because I truly believe those two people saved my life.


KING: When I witnessed there, obviously the two people he believed saved his life will also be interviewed by police. When you're trying to get to the motive question though, la gets a loud nightclub. Unclear as to whether anybody inside heard, whether the shooter said anything as he went through how do you build the rest of the case?

ELIE HONIG, FORMER ASST. U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: Yes, John. So, this shooter almost certainly will be charged with first degree murder under Colorado law, which means the intentional killing of another human being. The question is, will the authorities, will prosecutors be able to bring a hate-crimes charge either under state law or it could be federal as well, if they can show that the motive here was an illicit bias and bias based on, as Andy said, on gender or on sexual orientation, certainly counselors. So, what you need to do, you start with, of course, interviewing the people inside the club. The bartender, who just showed actually pointed out that this was one of only two LGBTQ clubs in this entire city. So, you would take that into consideration the nature of the location, you try to ask questions of the suspect of the shooter himself. Sometimes people actually do just come out and confess I did it because I hate this type of person.

You of course, want to speak to any patrons in the club to the extent they were able to hear or see anything. And then you comb through the social media posts, you talk to every family member, every friend who knows this person, and you look to see if you can get some the motive. If you can, and we could see additional charges for hate crimes as well here.

KING: And one of the things you tried to do, Andy, is rule things out in these cases, right? I want you to listen to one of the owners of the club here, who says he believes this was a hate crime because the suspect here had never done business there before. They didn't have an internal grievance if you will, listen?


NIC GRZECKA, CO-OWNER OF CLUB Q: He's never spent money on a credit card, or Id were scanned in our business that we know of, I think this was a community of target for him.


KING: So not a patron, not a grievance against somebody in the bar that they know of anyway. But is that enough?

MCCABE: Well, probably by itself, John, it's not. But you know, it's very easy for us to assume that that's what he was targeting. This club is not operating, you know, in the shadows are very clear about who their patrons are, the club is pretty identifiable, even from the exterior. So, the simple fact that he went there, as Elie mentioned, is a strong piece of evidence that that points towards possible motive.

I would suggest, though, that the prosecutors will want more than that. They'll want statements, either things that he told his friends and family members or maybe things that he's written on social media and or in other places. They're going to want hard evidence that shows a distinct bias against LGBTQ folks and it's entirely possible that we'll find that. The investigation is only in its early stages.


KING: And Elie, again, again, sadly again, people are asking why. Could this have been prevented. I want you to listen here to the attorney general of Colorado. You heard Rosa at the top of the program, in the last year an alleged bomb threat against the suspects own mother, but charges were not pressed, and therefore, apparently, a pretty wide loophole in the red flag law. Listen?


PHIL WEISER, COLORADO STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL: I do believe officers know we have a red flag law. We need to make sure it's top of mind and that everyone understands how it works and what the rationale and reasoning for it is. I don't have enough information to know exactly what the officers knew. What we can do is make sure that we embrace this as a call to action to better educate about this law to make sure that law enforcement understands it and is able to use it to protect lives.


KING: Is it Elie, just about education? Or do these laws need to be scrubbed again, and if a family member will not, pick up or phone or file the necessary paperwork to say make sure this person never gets a weapon. The police have to be required to do so what can be done?

ELIE HONIG, FORMER ASST. U.S. ATTORNEY SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: John, it's about education. And it's about police officers taking action. Red flag laws do not operate on their own. You have to have either a police officer or in some instances, a family member who goes to court, who goes to a judge and says we need to take away this person's firearms, at least temporarily.

And the truth of the matter is, even in states like Colorado that have red flag laws on the book, they're one of 19 states plus D.C., it doesn't happen automatically. And those laws are very rarely used. The public data shows that in the entire state of Colorado, the red flag laws were used to seize firearms about 50 times per year in the entire state. So that gives you a sense of scale. Now that's a low among other states, but people need to not just know about these laws, but someone actually has to take action to enforce them.

KING: Someone has to take action to enforce them. Excellent point there. Andrew McCabe, Elie Honig, appreciate your insights. On this day of tragedy in Colorado. We'll stay on top of the story. And on Sunday, members of the Colorado Springs' community did hold a vigil at a makeshift memorial to remember the victims of this tragic shooting.

In a statement posted social media, Club Q said it was "devastated by the senseless attack on our community. And thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack. The parents of Daniel Aston told the Denver Post, their son was killed, a bartending in club Q. Two years ago, he moved to Colorado Springs to be closer to his parents. Club Q only a few minutes from their home.

Colorado Springs police have not yet released the names of all of those killed in this horrific attack.

Up next for us. Back to politics here in D.C., the new Republican majority in the House will be tiny, still full speed ahead with investigations, but gridlock likely looms on any big policy questions.




KING: The new Congress will convene in January, 43 days from now. And we know Republicans will have a narrow majority. They have clenched 219 seats. It takes 218 to have the majority. We don't know the exact final number yet, because there are still these uncalled races. But take a look at them, Republicans lead in three districts in California, Democrats lead and one in Alaska. It is more than probable. This is how it ends up.

The Republicans keep those leads and Democrats keep that one. That would get you a House of 222 Republicans, 213 Democrats, essentially a flip of what we have now. There are 222 Democrats at the moment. Kevin McCarthy hopes to be the speaker of this new House, hopes to be the leader of Republicans.

But there are still several members who say they will not vote for him under any circumstances. One, Andy Biggs of Arizona challenged him for Speaker. Kevin McCarthy has 43 days to convince them think otherwise. And he says, they need to think twice so they can get things done.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) MINORITY LEADER: That continue to move forward. All the investigations, we asked to happen, to securing the border, the stopping the movement, none of that can move forward without. It's worth being challenged to make sure to competitions there. But we have to work as one conference because if for one to vote (Ph) one way for converted another, we have to unite as Republicans.


KING: With me to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's MJ Lee, Carl Hulse of the New York Times, and Tia Mitchell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Carl, he doesn't mean it when he says it's nice to be challenged. He didn't want to be challenged. The question is can he convince them either to vote for him? Or to try some parliamentary maneuver, vote present, do something, so that he gets a majority of those presents? And he's the next speaker? Or is he in trouble?

CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think he has work to do, obviously. And I think he admitted, that 30 people voted against him, 30 some for the leadership to be the nominee. A certain number already saying they won't vote for him. He's got very few votes, as far as you know, it's a majority. It's not 218, so people can wander off and not vote, that sort of thing. But I think it's still in doubt whether Kevin McCarthy is going to be speaker.

KING: And adding fuel to the fire. I don't know what the right words for it all, are his critics. Adam Kinzinger, who will not be there because he's leaving the House. But one of the two Republicans who serve on the January 6 committee, says even if Kevin McCarthy is speaker, he will be weak.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER, (R) JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE: I think he has cut so many deals with bad people to get to this position that I think he's not going to be a leader at all. I think he'll be completely hostage to kind of the extreme wings of the Republican Party. And I frankly, don't think he's going to last very long.


KING: We'll see if he gets there. We'll see if he lasts very long. But to the point about cutting deals, so Kinzinger may use the language, he uses, but it is true. You have Marjorie Taylor Greene from the state you cover the most already saying that she wants to have hearings on Nancy Pelosi treatment of the people who stormed the Capitol on January 6, or their imprisonment.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION: Yes. You know, Marjorie Taylor Greene has made it clear that she expects to be sent to the oversight committee, particularly if Kevin McCarthy become speaker. I think that's the question. Yes. Could the conservative wing blow up this speakership nomination process, but if they come along and Kevin McCarthy is able to become speaker, that raises a lot of questions about what assurances, what deals, what compromises he's reached and what will be the effect of that when it becomes to actually governing this new U.S. House.


KING: And so, what's the take? You've covered the Biden White House, which has to now deal with this whole new world, right? They may say Kevin McCarthy has a tiny majority, that may hurt more than it helps from the White House perspective. And it leaves him no room to negotiate on things. So, they're going to hire more lawyers to be ready for more investigations. But what about policy priorities they need to fund the government.

The president hopes the Senate, this is a Senate question, we'll sign the bill to codify same sex marriage, they'll get the sign that they want to pass the electoral reform act, confirmed some judicial nominations. That's in the so-called lame duck session, most of that between now and the end of the year, but then January comes in, what do they expect?

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, there is a ton that Democrats want to try to get done in the next couple of weeks. And that's almost like an insurance policy. Right? We all know that come January, the governing landscape in Washington and on Capitol Hill is going to change so drastically. And so, Democrats want to try to use the small window that they have to try to get some of these essential things done, especially in terms of funding the government.

But as Hakeem Jeffries said, over the weekend, there is this fear that Kevin McCarthy, if he does become speaker will sort of use the sort of basic functions of government as leverage and to hold these things hostage. So, even more pressure for Democrats to try to get some of these things done. Before it just becomes nearly impossible to get legislation passed and really have a say on Capitol Hill and the way that they have over the last two years.

KING: It's been a long time, Carl, since we've had big change like this. You're going to have a new Republican Speaker, probably Kevin McCarthy, but we're not certain about that. You mentioned the democratic White House dealing with him in a whole new Democratic leadership team. We assume Hakeem Jeffries will be the Democratic leader, which means the Minority Leader come January, he says he doesn't have much of a relationship with Kevin McCarthy, but he does with the number two, listen.


HAKEEM JEFFRIES, (D) DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CHAIR: I haven't had the conversation with Leader McCarthy recently. I do have, I think a much warmer relationship with Steve Scalise, look forward to working whenever and wherever possible. However, Jake, with the entire House Republican conference and a leadership team to find common ground.


KING: Is there going to be A, any common ground, and B does a relationship with Scalise help at all?

HULSE: I do think it helps. I mean, there needs to be somebody that Democrats can talk to. I'm not sure - the relationships with McCarthy are so bad that Scalise, and this has happened before Steny Hoyer has also been somebody who as Majority Leader worked across the party lines to help-Republicans, but I think what you touched on appropriations is just going to be a hot mess, because Republicans are going to try and use that as a line-item veto.

You're already hearing people talk about, we're not going to fund the special counsel. It's just going to be fight after fight after fight. I mean, even the most basic things that the government has to do are going to become extremely difficult. So, the idea that some, you know, there's a bigger agenda at work here, you know, that's a bit of a pipe dream.

KING: And how can you find any common ground when, you know, Republicans are mad that the Democrats stripped Marjorie Taylor Greene, I'll go, sorry, that was of committees after they did pretty egregious things publicly. So, they're going to retaliate. They're going to take Ilhan Omar the foreign relations committee, the Democrat member of the squad from Adam Schiff is going to lose his committee assignments. Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff part of the investigations of Donald Trump, Ilhan Omar, because the Republicans just think she's too liberal and they don't like her. They think she's anti-Israel.

MITCHELL: Yes. And I think, you know, Democrats knew that that was a door they were opening when they made that decision against Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar. I think what Republicans run the risk of is going too far and losing voters who say, we don't agree with this. This doesn't make sense.

KING: Right. Retribution, we'll see. We'll see. Up next Republicans and their nagging sense of deja vu, Donald Trump running for president again. He's invited back on Twitter. And he could face a crowded Republican field of rivals, the early 2024 rumblings. Yes, have a very 2016 feel to them.




KING: A weekend Republican meeting out in Vegas featured a half dozen or so potential 2024 presidential candidates who in different ways made clear they believe it is time for the GOP to move on. And that meeting also featured Donald Trump who made clear, he isn't going anywhere. He is a declared candidate for president already. His Twitter account was just reinstated if he wants to fire it up again. And he is heaping scorn on the Justice Department decision to name us new special counsel to handle its investigations of the former president.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: This horrendous abuse of power is the latest in a long series of witch hunts. The corrupt and highly political Justice Department just appointed a super radical left special counsel, better referred to as a special prosecutor to start the process all over again. This is a rigged deal just as the 2020 election was rigged and we can't let them get away with it.


KING: Grab bag of greatest hits there from the former president, but it's almost like the Republicans have this is a dual track. Is it parallel universe where you have all these faces coming out in there, some saying it straight up, some just implying it's time to move on. And then he says nope, I'm here.

MITCHELL: You know, I'm old enough to remember January 6, 2021. And all the Republicans said, it's time to move on. We can't have this, and they all slowly came back. So, the question is, is this current posture towards Donald Trump really going to have staying power