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10 Killed In Rampage At Southern California Dance Studio; Investigators Seek Motive In Deadly Mass Shooting In California; Hero Who Wrestled Gun Away From Killer Speaks Out; FBI Searched Biden's Home For Nearly 13 Hours On Friday; Evan More Docs Found After 13 hour FBI Search On Biden Home; Biden Lawyer Bob Bauer Behind WH Classified Docs Strategy; Sources: Bauer Broke News About Investigation To Biden. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired January 23, 2023 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing this sad news day with us. An American horror story in California. A gunman kills 10, five men and five women at the dance studio. This hour, the shooter is dead. The motive not yet clear. And the second attack was stopped in its tracks by a hero.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRANDON TSAY, DISARMED MASS SHOOTER: I realized I needed to get the weapon away from him. I needed to take this weapon, disarm him or else everybody would have died.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Plus, yes, there are more. 13-hour FBI search turns up, more classified documents at the president's home. It's another major embarrassment for team Biden and it's a gift to Donald Trump and House Republicans. And the White House shuffle. Ron Klain plans his exit. The president now turning to a familiar face for his next chief of staff.
Up first for us though, sadness. The shooter turning a celebration into a nightmare. This morning, police trying to piece together what they call an awful puzzle. Why a 72-year-old Asian man chose to spray bullets inside the Star Ballroom in Monterey Park, California. The rampage killed 10, interrupting the Lunar New Year and ending lives.
The attack happening at 10:20 pm. The shooter then fled the scene before taking his own life in the middle of a standoff with police. In between, the gunman visited a second ballroom with a clear intent to kill more innocent people. That's where Brandon say, intervened and undoubtedly prevented more carnage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TSAY: I lunged at him with both my hands, grab the weapon, and we had a struggle. We struggled into the lobby, trying to get this gun away from each other. He was hitting me across the face, especially in the back of my head. I was trying to use my elbows to separate the gun away from him, creating some distance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's get straight to the scene in California, CNN's Natasha Chen there live for us. Natasha, what's the latest?
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, like Brandon was saying - as Brendan said in that interview, he had to intervene. People call him a hero. They've been applauding his courage. But he also said in that interview to ABC that the real courage now has to be shared with the family and friends of the victims of people who were injured.
We are now learning the names of two of those victims from the L.A. coroner's office, you know, 65-year-old of My Nhan and 63-year-old Lilan Li. There are three more women and five more men who have not yet been identified. But their ages range in the 60s and 70s, one woman in her 50s.
And right behind us, we see that there are people now gathering at the gates right there by the business, laying flowers that clearly this community completely shaken. As you said during a celebratory weekend, not just the city's public festival that was in the streets but private homes and businesses celebrating the Lunar New Year, businesses like the star dance ballroom here.
And we're actually learning that the suspect 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, was a regular at this ballroom according to his ex-wife. His ex-wife told CNN that he actually gave him formal dance lessons here that they actually met at this dance studio. He saw her dancing, offered free lessons. And they got married shortly after.
Now, the question everyone asks is why did he do this? Investigators still don't have a clear motive. They have issued a search warrant for his home in Hemet, California. And they also talk about the weapon that was recovered that were Brandon say wrestled him, they said in the Alhambra location. They describe that weapon as a magazine fed semi-automatic assault pistol with an extended large capacity magazine.
A law enforcement official tells CNN, it was a Cobray M11 nine- millimeter semiautomatic weapon. And our colleague John Miller tells us that the use of a weapon with an extended magazine like that as well as any other modifications to that weapon would make it illegal in California. So, there are a lot of questions regarding what he was trying to get out. How did he obtain this weapon?
And meanwhile, as the community seeks those answers, they are also grieving, as you can see from the people behind me and with planned vigils that we're hearing about not just here in Monterey Park, but throughout California in the coming days. John?
[12:05:00] KING: Natasha Chen, live at the scene for us. Natasha, grateful for that important update. Let's get some expertise and insights now from the former top cop in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Chief Charles Ramsey, and the former Deputy Director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe.
Chief, let me start with you from what you just heard from Natasha, 72-year-old Asian man walks into this ballroom where he is familiar, police say he starts shooting. We have a timeline then he went to a second ballroom, there were Brandon say, you heard him at the top of the show intervened.
And then you have pretty much a day goes by before they find this van that was reported leaving the scene and you have the stuff (Ph). From a law enforcement question now, the gunman is obviously dead. Police say they believe he acted alone. But you heard Natasha talking about the search warrant. What are you looking for and what are the biggest questions?
CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER WASHINGTON, D.C. POLICE CHIEF: Well, they're looking for evidence that would lead them to a motive. I mean, it's starting to kind of shape up now. I mean, you look at his age, the aged victims. He frequented that place in the past. He's even alleged to make comments that he doesn't think people there treat him very well. This is starting to look more like a personal type of issue, as opposed to what originally was speculated. And that is that it was a hate crime because of the fact that it was occurring during the Lunar New Year.
So, I think they'll eventually get to a motive, but they're going through any written documents. If he had a computer, whether or not he had any kind of social media footprint, they've already located evidence in advance that really led them to know that the two incidents of both Monterey Park in Alhambra were connected. So, they're just gathering the information, they need to be able to really get a clearer picture on why.
KING: And so, Andy, follow the chief and come in there. What makes it interesting, the violence project says, the median age of mass shooters in the United States over the last six decades is 32 years old, here you have a 72-year-old man. So, an outlier to that degree, does that in any way change sort of how you go about the investigation?
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR. FBI: You know, not particularly John. I think there are different elements that are likely to be less relevant because of his age, like, for instance, as Chief mentioned, whether or not he has a social media presence or platforms, probably less likely that he does simply as a result of his age, it's not he can't rule it out. But it's - I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't one.
But they're going to be doing all those things that the Chief just mentioned, talking to friends, talking to neighbors, talking to people who are connected to him through any possible work or occupation they may have had. They want to know what sort of things this guy said about his prior experience in that ballroom dancing community. It clearly was - that location was a place of great significance to me.
According to the witnesses, he spent a lot of time there years ago, met his ex-wife there. It was the source of some frustrations or grievance, who knows maybe, those are the things are part of back there. It remains to be seen to like what was his connection to the second location where he struggled with the young man who prevented a great deal of additional violence likely.
So, that's what investigators are looking for, you know, there's no prosecution here. This isn't like the search of evidence, put someone to jail, but it's very important to the community.
KING: And so, Chief, to that point. And Andrew makes a key point about why the second location, and we could look, maybe he had some experience there as well. If he had deep experience at the first ballroom, or perhaps there's some connection or perhaps it was just ballroom, he went to another ballroom. So, let's listen to the hero Brandon Tsay. And then on the other side, you can help me from a police standpoint. If this is one of your witnesses, what are you learning? Listen?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TSAY: I turned around and saw that there was an Asian man holding a gun. My first thoughts was, I was going to die here. This was it. It seemed like he was here for any money. He wasn't here to rob us. When he was looking around the room, it seems like he was looking for targets, people to harm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Walk me through Chief if that's one of the witnesses. What did you learn from that in terms of you're trying to get motive, you're trying to think is this, as you mentioned before, personal to specific people or personal because of a mental health issue? Walk me through it?
RAMSEY: Well, I don't know if that would lead you to a motive. I don't believe it would. But he certainly would be a good eyewitness. I mean, he had very close contact with this individual, he saw. He clearly averted another disaster that would have taken place there at that particular ballroom through his actions.
It also gave the police additional information in terms of a different location where they could go through video footage to see if they could get a better read on the type of vehicle he was using, because he did frequently other Monterey Park ballroom. You might have had some eye-witness folks there that really recognized who he was at that point in time.
So, Mr. Tsay, certainly saved a lot of lives. In my opinion, he would be an excellent witness. That wouldn't lead you to a motive, but he certainly showed the intent of this individual to commit more crime.
[12:10:00] KING: And Andrew McCabe, I want to put a map up on the screen. You and the Chief in our talking right before we came on the air about how we always have these conversations about horrific things. 33 mass shootings, we're three weeks into the New Year. That map is very cluttered. That's the point. Coast to coast everywhere across the country, 33 mass shootings in the first three weeks of this year.
In this case, Andrew McCabe, you have this magazine, a large capacity magazine, which makes the gun illegal in California. Just we've - again, we've had this conversation too many times, but a large capacity magazine. Is there any recreational reason to have a large capacity magazine on a semiautomatic pistol?
MCCABE: No, John is not. There's no recreational imperative to being able to fire 30 rounds without reloading. There's no, you know, target shooting competitions that require you to shoot 30 rounds without reloading. So, recreation, no. I mean it could somebody argue self- defense, I guess. But it's just, it boggles the imagination as to how or why you would ever need a 30 round magazine anywhere other than on a battlefield.
So, look, it's possible. We don't know all the details about this weapon. It's possible he purchased this and or the magazine before those laws went into place. These sorts of guns have been on the street for a long, long time. And it's been a problem pretty much that entire time. So that stuff is remains to be seen from the results of the investigation.
But look, I think this incident is instructive. In some ways, it is not the typical, ethnically motivated violence that we typically see in these mass shootings. So far, the indications are that may not be what's going on here. But the but the mass shooting issue in this country, the problem, the pox of this mass shooting issue that we're confronting is not just something that's relegated to ethnically motivated violence, it is a part of crime, it's part of domestic violence, it's part of violence committed by people who are mentally unstable. So, it is though the availability of high-powered weapons is the thing that links all these elements together. It gives you these horrific mall shooting numbers that we're seeing now and 2023.
KING: And so, Chief, in the town where you were once chief at the town where I work, these conversations get caught up in Democrat and Republican gun groups, political spending, campaign contributions. From a law enforcement standpoint, we're having another conversation about a large capacity magazine, used to just kill people just indiscriminately kill people. You know, I don't ask police when I meet them, whether they're Democrats or Republicans or Independents? What do they think about this?
RAMSEY: Well, first of all, we're going to continue to have this discussion because unfortunately, this isn't going to stop. And we're not even talking about the daily carnage that takes place on the streets of many of our cities. Today, that may not rise to the level of what the FBI defines as a mass shooting. But you go to a scene, you find 30, 40, 50 shell casings on the ground, each one of those potentially could strike someone and therefore and kill them or seriously injure them. So, I mean, this happens every single day.
My biggest fear is that people are getting desensitized to this kind of violence. I mean, the average person that really watches this show and others. When we walk through the process, they know it as well as a police detective, because they've heard it so many times. And we get desensitized to this to a point where we don't put the kind of pressure on elected officials to do what they need to do, to deal with the mental health issues that surround this gun safety issues.
I mean, we just showed a toddler last week, walking around with a semiautomatic, a six-year-old that shot his teacher. I mean, you know, all these things fit in and it's like, you know, we just become desensitized to it as a country and that's dangerous.
KING: And it is dangerous. In the next few days, we will learn about the husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, friends lost in Monterey Park, California, hopefully, hopefully, something comes up those stories to maybe jar people out of what you mentioned their chief becoming desensitized Chief Ramsey, Andrew McCabe, appreciate it gentlemen, very much.
Up next for us. Even more classified documents found after the Justice Department searches President Biden's well-maintained home, that was on Friday, and brand-new reporting just ahead.
KING: More Democrats are publicly raising concerns now that more classified materials were discovered at President Biden's Delaware home. The Justice Department with the president's permission that part's important, spent 13 hours Friday, going through papers stored at Biden's Wilmington home and they found even more materials that belong in secure government storage.
The president's attorneys announced the results of the Friday search, and the White House cites that as evidence it is fully cooperating, still the White House is not ready to share all the details, including the specific subjects covered in the recovered classified materials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IAN SAMS, SENIOR ADVISER, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL'S OFFICE: And I understand that there's a desire for public disclosure of information, that there's a desire for facts to come out. But it's important that the full set of facts be gathered by the Justice Department and then presented publicly so that people can understand all of these details.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: With me CNN's Dana Bash, Yasmeen Abutaleb, from the Washington Post, and our CNN legal analyst Elliot Williams. Sam is out there trying to project look, we're cooperating, we can share so much, not much more. This is the fifth time I believe there has been a document discovered they found initially they had searches. Now the fifth time, are they done? Can they say with confidence? We found them all?
YASMEEN ABUTALEB, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I don't think they can. I think the pattern here proves that they can't say with confidence at any point, be the last search of President Biden's home. You know, they gave the FBI access for 13 hours to search the home completely. But I think this caught off guard a few times as this case has played out where they've tried to say, OK, we're done. We think this is everything.
And then a few days later another disclosure comes out. So, I think now they're very wary of saying at any point. This is the end. They know it's done. They just keep saying they're cooperating with the Justice Department. They hope to wrap it up quickly, at least the way things have played out over the last several weeks, they can say with full confidence at any point in this is going to turn up. That would just be a little bit reckless at this point.
KING: Yes, a history. So, from someone who understands this, the idea that, you know, there are you found a classified document, you found one in the initial search. So, you have an issue, the fact that if you can put the timeline, November 2 classified documents found there's notification the archives notification of the Justice Department, personal attorneys find more on December 20.
Public White House counsel admits it. January 11, they find more. January 12 more found. Forgive help us walk through at home. I've been watching this saying Keystone Cops. Why can't you just conduct a big search at once? I understand it's not that easy. You're talking about you need people who have clear it's sensitive, sensitive documents, but five searches five times?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, look, I think so, John, what something we've talked about before is that we just have a problem as a nation with regard to keeping track of classified information. A big part of the problem is that a lot of it's an honor system for people at all levels of government.
Now, there are certain documents that you have to look at, basically, in a giant safe, you can't have them in your house, but a lot of them are classified at the level that you can put them in a folder and take them home. And at the end of your time in government, you certify that you've given them back. But things get mixed together.
It's a problem, right? Because what you end up with now is multiple presidents, two of them, and Lord knows however many other people with classified documents at their home, I think how you ended up turning up more documents is people don't find everything. And they're there clearly. And, you know, to the Biden folks' credit, they've been cooperative with the Justice Department to this point. But it is a big problem that extends far beyond the president.
KING: But if you have this problem, if you've served nearly 40 years in the Senate, eight years as vice president, you're supposed to the idea being, you're supposed to know this as a problem, right? That's the whole thing, which is why, let's bring in our Jeremy Diamond. Two sources telling CNN now, longtime democratic lawyer Bob Bauer, who had to break the news to President Biden that he will face a federal investigation now into the handling of these classified documents.
Jeremy, you're a great profile. I urge our people to go to cnn.com and read the full profile. But Bob Bauer, veteran democratic lawyer, veteran White House insider, now has this job trying to help guide the president through this. When you're investigating during the reporting for this profile, what jumped out the most?
BOB BAUER, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well listen, Bob Bauer is a man who has often been thrust in this position of being the bearer of bad news. So much so we're told that he has a knack for it and his former colleagues in the Obama White House would often come to him, asking him to join them in the Oval Office to deliver bad news to President Obama.
And I've now learned that Bob Bauer was thrust back into that position on November 2 of being the one to break the news to the White House that these classified documents had been found at the Penn Biden Center offices. I'm told that that, initial heads up was relayed to President Biden by a White House official, and that subsequently, in the days ahead, Bauer then gave President Biden a full briefing on the matter and laid out how he hoped to navigate the fallout of this.
And since then, he has really been at the center of this strategy by a President Biden's legal team led by his lead personal attorney, Bob Bauer, that has focused on cooperating with federal investigators and trying to zero out Biden's legal risk. But at the same time, it's also drawn a lot of criticism for worsening the political and the public relations woes that President Biden has faced and in reporting on this story, our sources have told us that it's clear that Bauer ultimately and this team believes that short term pain is worth it if in the end run, it leads to a positive legal outcome for President Biden.
And even today, I'm told source familiar with the matter tells me that making more fulsome disclosures, they don't believe that that would have lessened the public fear. That's in particular about that first statement, where they omitted the news about the classified documents that were found at the Wilmington home, talking only about those that were initially found at the Penn Biden Center.
KING: Jeremy, thank you for that reporting. So, let's bring the conversation back in the room here. Jeremy makes the point. We'll see if they're right. We'll see in three months or six months or however long it takes the special counsel to do his work, whether they are right, politically, or the first reaction from Democrats was to defend their president, then round two, round three, round four, round five and you get this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER, (D-VA): Safeguarding those documents is about safeguarding our nation's secrets. And so, I think it's important that the attorney general has appointed a special counsel.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA): I have a deep concern over anytime we discover that they're classified information in materials anywhere they shouldn't be.
SEN. DICK DURBIN, (D-IL): Diminishes the stature of any person who is in possession of it, because it's not supposed to happen.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D-WV): It's unbelievable how this could happen is totally irresponsible and who fault, but with that being said putting in a political kangaroo courts not going to help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Diminishes the stature of any person who is in possession of them. That's the chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, former close friend, current close friend, the former colleague in the Senate of President Joe Biden.
DANA BASH, CNN CO-ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: Yes. And on state of the Union yesterday, I asked him specifically, which is what garnered that response about just, the raw politics of it. He had already said that he's concerned about it. He already said that this is inappropriate. He'd already explained how he handles classified information, which is to not ever let it leave his Senate office or whatever office in the capitol in a government office that he's working on.
That was about whether or not politically speaking, President Biden has given up the high ground, because he was really tough on former President Trump, not necessarily about the way that they handled returning the documents, which aren't - we can't say this enough, the way that they've done it could not be more different.
But he was tough on the former president for having these documents. And even someone like Dick Durbin, as you said, is not only the number two in the Senate, he is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. And at this point, people like him are trying to seek distance and try to explain, this is not OK, because there is a lot of politics understandably, going on.
KING: Protecting themselves before we wrap this conversation. You heard Jeremy explaining. Bob Bauer thinks. It's the right legal strategy, even if we take short term political hits. Do you agree?
WILLIAMS: Yes. Look, somebody is the right or often the right legal strategy is not the right public relations strategy. Clearly, they have a big public relations and political problem now. If you notice, nothing that the folks were saying this weekend on the Sunday shows were that, you know, the president is in legal peril. They're starting to lose their allies, and they've lost the public on this issue.
So, this drip, drip, drip of information that's coming out, it's not causing legal peril for the president. It's just causing a mess for them. And if you've lost your friends, who have you got, and I think that's the problem.
KING: Well. Up next for us, a rare change in the president's inner circle. The White House is getting a new chief of staff what you need to know about Jeff Zients.