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President Biden Gives Speech about Reducing Gun Violence in U.S.; Teacher Falsely Accused of Leaving Backdoor Open for Shooter to Enter Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Describes Her Experience; Miami Mayor Francis Suarez Interviewed on What Legislation Congress Can Pass on Gun Regulation; Key Committee Insider: DOJ Should Have "Compelling" Case. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired June 03, 2022 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: A former key adviser to the House's January 6th committee is speaking out. What he says his team found and other evidence he believes will be uncovered. And the highly anticipated May jobs report will be released this hour as warnings of a recession intensify.
Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. It is Friday, June 3rd. And President Biden making an impassioned plea to Congress and the nation as gun violence takes more American lives. In a rare primetime address, the president demanding action from lawmakers on stricter gun laws, a somber line of 56 candles burning behind him, representing victims of gun violence from every U.S. state and territory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow Americans, enough. Enough. It's time for each of us to do our part. It's time to act for the children we lost, for the children we can save, for the nation we love. Let's hear the call and the cry, let's meet the moment. Let us finally do something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The president issued several proposals including a ban on assault weapons, or at least raising the age to purchase them to 21, expanded background checks, new rules for safely storing weapons, new red flag laws, repealing the immunity that protects gun manufacturers from liability, and addressing mental health. His speech came on a night when Democrats on the House committee passed a string of proposals that have little to no chance of getting passed Republicans in the Senate.
KEILAR: And this morning, the teacher who was falsely blamed for leaving a backdoor propped open ahead of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School is speaking out. Emilia Marin says the accusations left her second guessing herself and feeling alone. CNN's Omar Jimenez is live in San Antonio, Texas, with more on this story. Omar, what can you tell us?
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna. Her attorney tells me that in recent days she has had to see doctors because she can't stop shaking, not just because of those accusations, but because of what happened that day. Now, according to her attorney, Don Flanary, Emilia Marin was setting up for an end of the school year party on the day of the shooting, and she was going to this door to meet a coworker who was pulling up to the school with food. As she's doing so, she sees what was the gunman's car crash. So she goes back inside and calls 911, but to report the crash.
When she gets back to the door, she sees her coworker running, someone across the street is yelling "he's got a gun," and she sees the gunman coming toward her, and according to her attorney, she knows what's about to happen.
So she kicks closed the door, runs and hides in a classroom, she hears gunshots first outside, then closer inside. According to her attorney she made peace with the idea she was going to die. She survived, and outside of what happened that day, her attorney says that she has no plans to sue the school, the school district, or the Uvalde police department. But her and her attorney just filed -- are planning to file a deposition, pre-suit petition, excuse me, to depose Daniel Defense. That is the manufacturer of the firearm used in this attack. And while it's not a formal accusation of wrongdoing, if granted by a judge it would open up discovery and potentially get them answers around the marketing of this particular weapon, things of that nature.
And the attorney says they're partly inspired by the recent settlement that the Sandy Hook families got against gun manufacturer Remington because, to use his words, we have to hold these people accountable.
We also, I should mention, Brianna, we reached out to Daniel Defense on this and we haven't heard back, but they did put out a statement acknowledging that the weapon used in this Uvalde attack was one of theirs, and that they described that attack as an evil one.
KEILAR: I can't imagine this teacher, she heard him, she saw him coming. Omar Jimenez, thank you for that report.
BERMAN: A bipartisan group of mayors, more than 250 of them, signed a letter urging senators to take up two pieces of legislation aimed at curbing gun violence. The letter calls for senators to pass gun safety legislation that is already passed in the House.
Joining me now, one of the mayors who did sign that letter, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. Mayor, thank you so much for being with us this morning. First, if I can, I do want to note, you are a Republican, elected official in Miami. What was your reaction to the president's speech last night?
MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ, (R) MIAMI: Well, I think, you know, the president is trying to get some sort of action on something that has become a national plague, sort of a pandemic.
[08:05:03] And I think there is a sense of desperation of all elected officials from both parties in how do we find the way to stop this from happening. This is something that particularly offends the conscience when we see little children. My wife was shaking tremendously after the shooting in Uvalde. It is something that we should never have to experience in any American city in the country.
BERMAN: So, mayor, obviously Parkland happened not too far from you. After that, Florida did pass some new laws including, actually, a waiting period to buy assault weapons, raising the age to 21, red flag laws. How have they worked in your state?
SUAREZ: Well, we're -- we have been very blessed. We have not had a mass shooting in our state. I feel very blessed as a mayor of a large urban city and I say that knocking on wood, obviously, we haven't had a major incident in our city. But you're always holding your breath as a mayor. You never know what -- the day you'll get up and get and receive that phone call. And it's something we talk about as mayors in these annual conversation conferences that we have and the one we have annually in Washington, D.C. we talk about it. We talk about how we should respond to it, what should we say, what should we feel. And it's -- it's a horrifying reality that we have to deal with, and unfortunately on an increasing basis.
BERMAN: Would you like to see these measures that have been taken up in Florida passed at a national level?
SUAREZ: Absolutely. In Florida, it is a Republican state, in the sense that there is a Republican governor, a Republican Senate, state Senate, a Republican state house. So this should not be a partisan issue. And those -- those laws, including the ones that we signed off on and maybe some other ones that need to be considered, I think that, in conjunction with, of course, issues relating to mental health, we see that a lot of the shooters in these cases are feeling a sense of isolation, don't have a stable family, unfortunately. So we have to look at that. We have to look at also technology in terms of safety, but also technology in terms of detection. What are we doing to make sure people are broadcasting before the incident that they're going to do something? What are we doing in terms of technology to highlight and stop this from happening?
BERMAN: You mentioned Florida is now a Republican state with a Republican governor and two Republican senators, Senator Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, who was actually governor during Parkland. What is your message to them? Because I don't think either of them are supporting most of the measures that you are now putting forward.
SUAREZ: Well, look, I don't want to make this a partisan thing, because I highlight party when it makes sense in terms of some of the reforms that you mentioned, were passed by Republican legislatures. It is not for me to call people out per se. It's for me to say, look, we all need to get in a room and figure out what are the best pieces of legislation that we can pass that are comprehensive in nature to stop this from happening again.
BERMAN: It's not for you to call them out, you say, but would you like to see them vote for some of these measures that will come up?
SUAREZ: Sure. That's precisely what we signed on to this letter. These are the two pieces of legislation that we signed off on are background checks, and loopholes. So these are things we think can make a difference. And we think that they're bipartisan. That's why we're a group of bipartisan mayors.
BERMAN: Why do you think there are some people who are afraid of these measures?
SUAREZ: I'm not sure. Obviously, people will argue it is about campaign contributions, and things of that nature. I don't know. Obviously, there are a lot of people, particularly in my party, who are extremely concerned about how these incidents affect their rights. And they obviously have a right to feel that way. And I think that's what it boils down to for a lot of them, they're afraid of a scenario under which something that we hope is rare and doesn't happen often affects the everyday decisions that people have to make.
BERMAN: Mayor Francis Suarez, Republican from Miami, we appreciate you being with us this morning.
SUAREZ: Thank you so much.
BERMAN: The House committee investigating the January 6th Capitol attack holding its first public hearing next week. What our next guest, a former committee insider, thinks will be revealed.
KEILAR: Plus, we're awaiting the release of the May jobs report this hour.
And the new Scripps Spelling Bee champ is going to join NEW DAY after her historic down to the wire win.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gaydiang.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: G-a-y-d-i-a-n-g.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Parison.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: P-a-r-i-s-o-n.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excimer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: E-x-c-i-m-e-r.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Next week the House Select Committee on January 6th will be holding its first public hearing on what it has found on in the investigation into the attacks on the capitol. In an announcement, the committee said it will present previously unseen material documenting January 6th, and that it will summarize what it calls the coordinated multistep effort to overturn the 2020 election.
Few people have had access to their inner workings, but our next guest has. Joining us is former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman. He was a senior technical adviser to the January 6th committee, and we thank you, sir, for coming in. You have a really interesting kind of combination of skills. Obviously, you have insight as a former member of Congress, but you also served in the intelligence community. And there is a lot of kind of intel that went into looking at what happened here. Let's talk broadly, though. Is there evidence of crimes by the former president, by Donald Trump?
DENVER RIGGLEMAN, FORMER SENIOR TECHNICAL ADVISER, JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE: That's a great question. I think there is certainly evidence of communications that led to certain types of activities that could lead to what I call coup-like movements, right.
And that's the thing that the committee and the challenge of the committee has right now is how do you put all of this data and all these interviews together to present a story?
The biggest challenge we have, Brianna, is how do we compete with the story of fantasy? How do we compete with that compelling sort of fantastical, apocalyptic conspiracy theory that we have to take over the government or there's deep state or globalists or QAnon?
Facts are boring. And I think the thing that we have to do is we have to be able to present those facts in a compelling way, and to merge that data with the amazing amount of interviews and I would say the expertise of each of the committee investigative teams.
So the challenge is that each team, there are separate teams that are stove piped into certain categories. Each of those teams then have to blend all of that knowledge into a cogent story for the American public in only two weeks. That's going to be interesting.
When the -- when the writing comes out about it, or the book about it, the summary, the report, that comes out, that story has to be compelling enough that people read it and try to understand it.
I don't think the baseline is going to be about -- and I know, goodness, I don't want to create massive news, I don't know if the baseline will be about the criminal activity. I think it's going to be about the belief systems that we have to combat in the future.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: You made it clear the Meadows texts are the crux of this, right? It is the scaffolding on which so much of this investigation is built. Is it clear, through this investigation, that those are really a direct line to President Trump? Does that pull him in here?
RIGGLEMAN: I think when you're looking at the -- I guess as somebody who looks at facts, right, it is very difficult to imagine that the chief of staff do not have a direct line to the president. I think people that say otherwise, say you don't have specific proof of that contact or that communications is really interesting to me. So --
KEILAR: Between the texts and also, of course, there is going to be -- there is testimony.
KEILAR: Is there evidence of crimes by the former president, do you think?
RIGGLEMAN: I don't know. You know, a lot of people, I think, want me to say, you know, something, you know, where I think there is criminal activity, I think if you're trying to obstruct Congress and that could be proven that is criminal activity.
And I believe, you know, looking at the data, that's why I don't want to take the thunder away from the committee because all the stuff we did with our technical team has been pushed to the committee. So I want to let them make that judgment, but I can tell the American people this, what there is evidence of are multiple individuals and organizations communicating on a specific line of, I would say, a plan, or a mission plan.
And that's the thing that really bothered me about what I saw was the -- was the incredible amount of links. We're in a new era. If we don't -- I think if we don't meet the challenge of --
KEILAR: Are you saying there is proof of a conspiracy?
RIGGLEMAN: I think -- well, conspiracy is an interesting definition, right, that's just two people sort of doing something together in a specific line or specific type of activity. So all of this, you know, somebody is talking about how do we actually, you know, do -- do a plan between the legislative branch, the executive branch, the judicial branch, and we have to actually influence all those branches to make something happen. You know, that's a conspiracy of thought for sure.
KEILAR: Did anyone in the White House have direct knowledge or involvement in the planning of the actual breach?
RIGGLEMAN: I think -- I think what you're going to see with the committee is they're going to have to look at those specific groups like the rally planners, how they were connected to the White House. They're going to have to look at all these separate groups and how many were actually discussing what was going to happen on January 6th.
But I think, Brianna, I want to tell you about this, I think the interesting part of what the committee is going to do is not just January 6th, but the buildup before that. I think people need to pay specific attention to follow the money and some of the things that you're going to see there.
KEILAR: You talk about the texts. You have talked about the texts not just from January 6th, but from earlier. And you said that your sort of emotion turned to horror. At some points you had to step away from what you were reading. Why?
RIGGLEMAN: I think it is not just the text messages themselves that the committee has, but also the amazing amount of links that were sent in the text messages. And part of that too was some of the language that was used.
You know, I mentioned Ginni Thomas, you know, and that the five very chilling words --
KEILAR: Justice Thomas' wife, to be clear.
RIGGLEMAN: Justice Thomas' wife, Virginia Thomas. I hope this is true, and then there is a rant about Gitmo, a rant about QFS watermarks or quantum Blockchain, you know, watermarks that they're hoping the National Guard is out there, you know, executing arrests or identifying individuals and pulling them in because somehow, you know, there is watermark ballots that Trump had actually planned in the future.
I don't know how we fight that. I don't know if we have the ability to tell a story that's facts-based that can match the story of what Carl Sagan said, you know, is apocalyptic exaggeration. It's just very difficult.
That's the thing that I'm worried about going forward is how do we fight that type of social media inundation, almost the mainlining of these types of things in people's frontal lobes.
I think that's very difficult to fight.
KEILAR: You identified who was messaging who using geolocation, using different data collection. What did that entail?
RIGGLEMAN: Well, we didn't -- we didn't really have the ability to do geolocation. You know, being a public trust investigation, rather than criminal investigation, I obviously couldn't get the things that law enforcement and the intelligence community can gather as far as geolocation of specific phones and things like that. That's a thing out there where people are -- even with lawsuits saying that's there, it's not.
I think that's the other thing the committee has really been effective at is merging unclassified information, open source intelligence, with the call detail records, with stuff that's been sort of given up as far as content. Merging all that is a challenge, but they have been very effective with that and I'm proud of how that went down.
KEILAR: What do you hope that the Justice Department does? What do you hope Merrick Garland does here?
RIGGLEMAN: Oh, goodness, what do I hope that he does? Well, I think when you have the evidence, I don't know what the DOJ
has, but I know what we have. And if that evidence can be combined, merged, I think you can have a pretty compelling case, right, of the individuals that really were pushing a falsehood or false narrative into the social media ecosystem, but also through fund-raising.
So, again, I think had you look at this, we have -- the American people really are going to have the final judgment on this. What if criminal charges don't come out of this, do we have to identify why this is so dangerous to the American public, and do we have to have some kind of facts-based strategy to combat what's going to happen? It's just getting worse.
And, you know, when you're looking at the DOJ or you're looking at Congress, were sort of two different lanes, I think we have to identify to the American people that at some point, you're going to have to vote for facts, or you're going to have to say that these people are actually grifters, you know, there is fraud maybe in the financial space. How do we actually prove that, how do we identify that?
I think the DOJ has a tall order but I think that data has to be combined in the full scope of this, because we are in a new era, you know, of data-based investigations.
KEILAR: If Mark Meadows' texts, if he was the MVP, as you put it, who was second? Who was second?
RIGGLEMAN: Goodness, I think second would be -- I think it would be the cavalcade of rally planners and how they were connected with some of those individuals coming up with the strategy for Stop the Steal. So, if you look at second, I think it's a team. You know, I think it is the QAnon team.
They were able to really to put forth a plan for radicalization pipeline I think that was very effective.
KEILAR: All right. We have more ahead with you. We're going to talk about what Republican leadership has done since January 6th, and what you think about that.
Some more with Denver Riggleman here in just a moment.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The Labor Department just moments away from releasing its latest monthly jobs report. What the numbers will reveal as experts warn of a looming recession.
BERMAN: We're back with former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman, who worked as part of the January 6th Committee investigating the events around that day. Congressman, you told Brianna in terms of evidence that the president
committed crimes, you said, quote, you have evidence of communications that led to coup-like movements from the president. Explain.
RIGGLEMAN: Well, it's really not from the president. What I guess I'm trying to say is when I looked at this at the beginning, I wanted to see if there were individuals that were trying to do things that were nonfactual and they were pushing this into the ecosystem.
So, I never wanted to use the word "coup" or "insurrection" when I started this. I just -- I used, you know, coup-like movements, you know, to try to actually define, you know, what you're looking at when these individuals are doing those type of things.
So, you know, that's what's really interesting is people I think are afraid to use is this an internal coup, how do you define it? I think that's a challenge for the committee, is that if people believe this for real, if they believe the election was actually stolen. How far do they have to go in order to try to say, hey, was this actually fraud or was these people who actually believed it? And I think that is really a challenge for the committee, but I think they're going to rise up to that challenge.
BERMAN: Broadly speaking in a vacuum, what would constitute a presidential dereliction of duty?
RIGGLEMAN: Well, for me, personally, I'm going to speak for me personally, as far as an opinion is. You know, I've always been shocked at the length of time there was no communications during the day of January 6th. That's a leadership vacuum.
And I think that's something that's been bothering me, you know, since I started this personally is why that long gap. And I think when you're looking at an individual, right, who continually tries to push disinformation into the social media ecosystem, that's another thing that bothered me for a long time, it is somebody who actually I would say expands or amplifies things that are patently false.
That's really the challenge, John, is how do we fight, even if it is a belief system, somebody might believe in, how do we fight those who are profiting off that type of disinformation, how do you fight this whole ecosystem out there of information that is happening and someone like me who gets very boring with facts, that's why some of these answers are really just sort of facts-based, as you see this investigation happen, in the committee goes through all of these steps, what at the end what is the conclusion.
And I think with all the different aspects you have of this, it is going to be a challenge, but, again, I do think the committee will rise to the occasion.
BERMAN: Let's talk about facts. You said the idea of a possible dereliction of duty has bothered you for some time. You've now seen the evidence. Do you think you have seen evidence of an actual dereliction of duty? RIGGLEMAN: I'm going to let the committee, since I was on the
committee, I'll let them come to that conclusion.
BERMAN: What has it been like to work in this committee?
RIGGLEMAN: Say that again, John.
BERMAN: What has it been like to work in this committee? There have been two Republicans there, you know, Congresswoman Liz Cheney has come under quite a bit of attack from members of your own party for doing this. What do you make of those attacks?
RIGGLEMAN: Well, I think -- I know what attacks are like. When you look at the members of the committee and working with the committee, specific investigators I think it has been very disappointing and very sad for people to attack the investigators that are behind the door that are not asking for any fame. They're just doing this, you know, because they're Americans. I see them as heroes.