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Inside Politics

Saying Goodbye To CNN Center In Atlanta; Police Still On Hunt For Suspected Gunman Who Killed 18; Official: Divers To Search Waters Near The Location Where Suspect's Car Was Found; Suspect Still On Loose More Than 40 Hours After Mass Shootings; Investigators Find Suspect's Cellphone, Note Left Behind; Explosions Seen Over Gaza City; Pentagon: U.S. Strikes Military Targets In Syria; Source: "Significant Progress" On Negotiations To Free Hostages. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired October 27, 2023 - 12:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CO-ANCHOR, CNN NEWS CENTRAL: That's amazing. As our team says goodbye to the CNN Center, here is a live look at the warriors behind the scenes, our control room team and a few others. We actually need two control rooms to get this fantastic behemoth of a show on the air every day. We see everyone now crowded into one. And that, is that Jack Womack in there, too, for the final hurrah.

A moment to mark in CNN's history. Onward and upward team. It's great to see you guys. It's really the only time we ever get to see them by the way. Thank you so much for joining us. This is CNN NEWS CENTRAL. INSIDE POLITICS is up next.

DANA BASH, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Today on INSIDE POLITICS, a mass shooter is still on the loose. Official say, they are now using divers to search the river close to where the killer's vehicle was found. But are they any closer to finding the armed and dangerous suspect. Plus, a potential breakthrough.

Sources tell CNN, there's been significant progress on negotiations to release hostages kidnapped by Hamas. This as Israeli tanks conduct a second night of targeted raids inside Gaza. And the 2024 presidential field just got bigger, but this time it's another Democrat jumping in. Congressman Dean Phillips says, President Biden is doing a spectacular job as president, so why is he trying to take his place?

I'm Dana Bash. Let's go behind the headlines at INSIDE POLITICS.

We begin with the state still gripped with fear as the manhunt continues more than 40 hours after the shooting rampage that killed 18 people at a bowling alley and bar in Lewiston, Maine. Authorities are still on the hunt for the suspect Robert Card. Residents and communities across the state are told to continue to stay inside and lock their doors. Officials say, they will now be putting divers into a nearby river to aid in their search.


MIKE SAUSCHUCK, COMMISSIONER, MAINE DEPT. OF PUBLIC SAFETY: We will be putting divers in the water along the Androscoggin River which you see here. And that's going to look like a couple of different things. So, the very first thing that you're going to see out there is you're going to see some air resources that will fly over this particular area. And they're looking to see what can we clear from the air.


BASH: We're also learning more about the victims, including Joseph Walker, who was the night manager at Schemengees Bar and Grille and apparently tried to stop the gunman with a knife. Here's what Walker's dad told CNN earlier.


LEROY WALKER, SR., SON JOSEPH WAS KILLED IN MAINE MASS SHOOTING: For someone to do this to so many families as well as mine. It's just crazy. It leaves you an empty hole that I don't know how we'll ever be filled. If this person was at the time in his right mind, I believe he would have been a loving person just like we are. There's something that went wrong.


BASH: Just absolutely heartbreaking. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is on the scene in Lisbon, Maine. Shimon, I know that you have been talking to law enforcement and you are now physically near where the alleged gunman's vehicle was found where the law enforcement is actually searching in really intense ways. What are you learning?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, we were heading to the area where the car was left at the boat latch, which we've been for the past two days, because that's where they're going to be doing the searching. So, while we were on our way there, we saw the police here, racing to this area where we are here because they got a tip of a loud noise.

People who work, this is a lettuce farm here, thought they heard a gunshot. And so, police swarmed this area. And they were searching all back here and into the woods to make sure that there was no one in there. And just a short time ago, the police chief here in Lisbon came out. They finished the searches. And they said they found nothing, and they clear this area.

But the point of this is just to show you just how on edge this community is. They're calling 911 when they're seeing something, when they're hearing something, and police are not taking any chances at all. They're responding in force. They're in tactical gear as they go around. And they do their searches. And they've been doing this for the past two days, responding to tips, responding to 911 calls, because they really don't know where he is.

Now today, as you said is a significant day here for law enforcement because they're bringing in more resources here. They're bringing in divers, they're bringing in helicopters, and more law enforcement officials to focus around that river area where the car was last seen. And they say they're going to go in the water. They're going to search the water and they're going to search the areas around the river to see if they find anything.


That's really still, Dana, they have no idea where he is. And so, they're trying to do everything they can obviously to find them, and you know, this community has been with this now for two days. Many of the stores are closed, people are afraid to leave their homes. And the police here are really trying to get this to some kind of a resolution for so perhaps, you know, people here could feel safer.

BASH: Safer, and then begin to grieve as a community, which has not really been allowed to happen yet. And I know you have spoken to the police chief there in Lisbon, Maine. What are they saying about their level of confidence about the area in which this gunman is at this point.

PROKUPECZ: They still are working under the theory that he's here. Yesterday, when I was talking to some of the officers who were manning some of the security posts. They said as well, they believed that he was still here. They have no evidence at this point to suggest that he has left this area. So, they are working under the theory that he is still here.

However, you know, this morning when we first got here at around 7 am, things actually changed. It seemed like everything was over because many of the roadblocks that the police had in place were taken down. But now it seems what's happening is that they really want to focus around this river area, go where they haven't gone before, which is underwater. It's not clear why all of a sudden, today, they're starting to do this, you know, perhaps you can ask why didn't they start doing this yesterday. But it's clear that someone has come to the opinion and the feeling that, you know what, it's time we get into this water, and we start searching.

And I think, Dana, the point you make about the families, they are still living and so with so much fear in this community, still living with so much fear that they can't get to that grieving point yet. And so, hopefully this can come to a resolution soon.

BASH: No question. Thank you so much for your excellent reporting, Shimon. Appreciate it. And for more on the investigation, I want to bring in CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analysts, John Miller. John, what does it tell you that they are using divers in the waters near the location where the suspect's car was found? We just saw Shimon now close, very close to there.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYSTS: Well, every investigation is a progressive thing. So, you know, we know things today that we didn't know yesterday, and that we didn't know the day before. What they learned yesterday with the execution of three separate search warrants. One on the car, another on the house, and another on a different property is things that are influencing what they're doing today, and they found a note, which indicated that he didn't expect to be around when the note was found. So that's the equivalent of a suicide note in some manner. So, that shifts that search to the water. His car ends up there. There's no sign of him. There's water in front of where the car is. Did he get on a boat and further escape? Or is he under the water? Did he follow through on the idea that he was going to take his own life was that by drowning? The only way they're going to know that is with divers. Another clue yesterday was in the search of the car, they found a rifle, an AR-15 platform in the 308 caliber which is similar in description, making model to the gun used in the attack.

So, was that the gun from the attack? Did he leave it behind and take his own life? Or did he escape and has access to another weapon. So, that's why the shift, but in the background, as Shimon demonstrates by being on the scene, they are still poised, coiled, if you will to respond to anything that could be a citing or a sign because they also know what they don't know. And right now, we're still in a period of increased knowledge, but some uncertainty.

BASH: Yes. I mean, as they should be doing exactly that, of course. Can you just drill down a little bit more, John, and what you mentioned about this note that was found. I know you've been talking to sources about this, in addition to the suspects cell phone.

MILLER: So, I don't have the copy that the node contains. But it was characterized to me as a note that was written that gave information to others about where things could be found, and you know, how things could be disposed of. It was clearly a note that suggested when it was found or read, that he was no longer going to be with us.


Now, of course, did his plans change? Did he follow through? We don't know. But one of the reasons that that is critical to know is, if they can establish that he took his own life, then the whole shelter in place thing can be lifted right away. The other reason it's critical is because if they can establish that that is not likely the case, then they still know that they're hunting for a person who's likely armed and definitely dangerous.

BASH: Yes, absolutely. And the community is understandably extremely on edge, as Shimon has been talking about from there and others as well. John Miller, thank you so much for that reporting. I want to dig deeper with experts who we have with us, Neil Franklin is a retired Maryland state police commander, and Katherine Schweit is a former senior FBI official and an active shooter expert.

Neil, I'm going to start with you. What is your takeaway from what we heard earlier today? There was a press conference. We didn't play a lot of it, actually any of it because there was a lot -- let me just put it this way. There were a lot of words, there weren't a lot of details, except for that critical one, which is that they're sending divers into the river.

NEIL FRANKLIN, FORMER MARYLAND STATE POLICE COMMANDER: Yes, yes. Let me begin with it. John brought up a lot of important points here. It is a process of elimination that the teams have to go through, searching everywhere. So, searching this, this body of water, it will just help them out so much in this investigation. But there's one thing that I was thinking about here, you know, his car was located here.

But if he hopped on some type of watercraft, where is it? If he took it to another part of the lake, where is it? Did he -- would he sink it? And that's another reason they would have to search. It's a process of elimination at this point, especially when it comes to that body of water, and searching other places.

And I'd also like to say during this process of elimination, it's important that the citizens do their diligence. In a community like this, very seldom do people lock their doors. I mean, they feel safe. They don't lock their cars, they might leave their keys in their car, they leave their doors unlocked, or outbuildings unlocked. And I think it's important that they secure these premises, you can get into them easily.

However, being locked, it makes noise, you know, force is applied, which can alert someone to the presence of Card or someone else. So, I think it's very important that people lock their doors and their cars, secure their facilities. It's going to help a lot. It's going to help a lot in this investigation.

BASH: Yes. And it sounds like people are definitely complying there. Katherine, you are not only a former FBI official, but your specific area of expertise is with active shooters. What are your (Audio Gap) right now, and the information that has been found that John Miller and Shimon were both talking about?

KATHERINE SCHWEIT, FORMER SR. FBI OFFICIAL: I think, you know, as they mentioned that this is just kind of the doggy dog kind of beat the leather on your shoes, kind of investigative work that has to be done now that almost has kind of nothing to do with the fact that that he has committed this heinous act. He's a criminal, they're looking for him now. And they have to apply those same techniques that they apply in any other situation.

I think, maybe some of the added layers on top of it really have to do with where this mindset of this individual might be because we know that this is a planned event. Targeted violence is a planned event. So, this person planned it. He gathered the things that he needed for it. He's carrying it with them, a lot of shooters, sometimes we see them they carry way more ammunition, for example than they're ever going to use. But they want to be prepared.

And so, if he had a car and he abandoned it at someplace, you know, my instinct says, oh, did he -- he may have hopped on a boat? Did he hop another car? Did he have materials staged someplace else? And maybe the search of the house will help to give them some of that information that kind of speaks to his future where he wants to go.

BASH: And Katherine just staying with you. This note that was found, and you know, we're being careful because nobody knows what he ended up doing. But it seems as though officials are approaching this in part as he might be dead, which is why they're looking down. Divers are going down into the river. How does that sort of connect with the idea of him going in with his face fully visible? He didn't cover his face. people know who he is.

SCHWEIT: Yes. He intended to do this, and he intended to for people to know it was him for sure. When I think about, you know, when I as an FBI agent, when I work bank robberies, and you have somebody who takes off after a bank robbery. They're trying to get away. They cover their face. They run and they continue to run. We don't have that here any evidence of that.


This individual knew that people in the bar and the bowling alley likely would know who he is. He's from the community and active shooters, mass shooters. Active shooters shoot in their communities. They shoot in places they're familiar with. They shoot people who they know, and they get frustrated with and that leakage that comes out beforehand.

It might include a note that goes out on social media or a note that goes out someplace else, right? But in this case, they find a note. You have to know that they're looking for the idea that 30 percent to 40 percent commit suicide or do want to commit suicide, and maybe that's what we have here.

BASH: All right. We're going to have to leave it there. We will no doubt be back, talking to both of you soon. Thank you so much Neil Franklin and Katherine Schweit. Appreciate it. And we are going to continue to stay on the latest of this manhunt rather throughout the hour.

But first new details on negotiations to release the hostages taken by Hamas during their brutal attack on Israel, almost three weeks ago. Sources tell CNN, there has been significant progress. We'll get you up to date on that. Coming up.




BASH: You're looking at video. From just moments ago, Gaza city lit up by explosion that is after the IDF stage. A limited ground raid into Gaza overnight as it prepares for an expected ground invasion. Nic Robertson is in Sderot with some of the details. And Nic, I know before coming on, you said that you are seeing a lot of activity at this moment where you are.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: We are knowing that the IDF has had ground incursions over the past couple of days and said that they will be having them in the coming days. And presumably that means tonight as well. We've heard a lot of outgoing tank fire from around here. That's unusual, intense sustained for well over a couple of hours.

We've heard a lot of artillery fire, a lot of explosions being reported in Gaza, small arms fire behind me right now. And at one point, a huge wall of smoke that lasted 15, 20, 30 minutes, literally blew up the hill towards where we are off of Gaza. The sort of smoke, it tasted and felt like the sort of smoke that can be used by the military for a smokescreen for activity, that's happening on the ground. We can't comment and say whether or not there's an incursion underway here.

Now, these sorts of things tend to be clarified by the IDF the morning after the event. But knowing that the IDF has said that these incursions will be sustained and continued that for all intents and purposes, what we've heard behind us here over the past two hours has sounded like it might be that.

And while we've been listening to that heavy fighting behind us, we know that my colleague, our colleague, Becky Anderson has been reporting from the talks in Doha, where there's a hope that the hostage talks over hostage released might be realized, might come to pass. But the call from that discussion was for the guns here to fall silent. The guns here have absolutely not fallen silent right now. The guns are very much doing the talking, Dana?

BASH: All right. Nic, please stay safe where you are, and get back to us if you see and hear anything else. Last night, the U.S. retaliated against Iranian backed militias inside Syria, that after a series of attacks on U.S. military personnel in the region left nearly two dozen U.S. troops injured. That as Hezbollah also backed by Tehran, launches rocket attacks into northern Israel from Lebanon.

CNN's Jim Sciutto is live in the Golan Heights with more on the strikes. Let's start with Syria. What are you hearing from your sources about what happened there, Jim?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, these were significant strikes for the U.S. to carry out now. And I should note where we are. As you said in the Golan. That is Syria, just beyond those lights there, the border less than a half a mile from where we're standing. That's a U.N. base there.

The U.S. carried out these strikes on two bases inside Syria. The eastern part of the country, used not just by Iranian backed militias, but also and this is crucial by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, IRGC, which the defense secretary reference specifically, the U.S. knows that those bases are used not just by those Iran backed militias, which are Syrian and other nationalities, but by Iranians themselves.

So, this has the makings, at least of a direct U.S. strike, potentially on Iranian personnel there. We don't know the results of that strike, how many casualties, but it shows the seriousness with which the U.S. has been taking those Iranian back strikes on U.S. forces both in Syria, but also in Iraq strikes that we know have injured U.S. service members and lead to the death of one U.S. contractor who had a cardiac event fleeing one of those alerts there.

It is, Dana, one of those measures of just what a volatile mix we have here because, of course you have Syria here. And then you have Lebanon here where Hezbollah has been launching attacks with regularity every day. We were up on the border yesterday on that side. All the population has fled south from there because it is so unsafe at this point, and there were more attacks from Hezbollah forces into northern Israel today.

That is the volatile mix. Of course, the concern is, if there is more Israeli activity inside Gaza, will Iran order its proxies such as Hezbollah to then attack Israelian retaliation. That's what we're watching for.


BASH: Where you're standing really is illustrative of the fear about this widening into a bigger regional conflict. Thank you so much, Jim. Appreciate that. There are still more than 200 hostages believed to be inside Gaza, according to Israeli officials, including grandmothers in their 80s and young children. There are intense negotiations ongoing to bring them home. CNN chief national security correspondent Alex Marquardt has new reporting on those talks. Alex?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, what we've been told is that these talks are going in the right direction. They are progressing, but sources have been cautioning us that this is not a done deal. And what this is, is the expectation, the hope that there will be another release of hostages.

But unlike the last two that we've seen, where only two hostages were released at each time, that this would be a much bigger group. Israel, the United States, Qatar, which is leading these discussions with Hamas. They of course, are pushing for all of the civilians to be released. Men, women, children, everybody, certainly on the civilian side, both foreign and Israeli.

But at the very least, there's an expectation and a hope that there would be a much larger group than we have seen in the past be released by Hamas. We have heard from sources that there has been significant progress. There are some issues that remain, but negotiations are going very well. We are told but there is caution. I should note, Dana, from a U.S. official speaking with our colleague, Jenny Hansler, saying this is very touching -- it's very touching go and that for the moment things remain very fluid. Dana?

BASH: Certainly, there's a lot of hope that this ends up happening. Thank you, Alex. And a new primary challenger for President Biden, a wealthy congressman from Minnesota. How Dean Phillips could impact the 2024 race ahead.