Return to Transcripts main page


Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether President Trump possibly attempted to obstruct justice; New update on the condition of house majority whip Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana after a shooter with leftist views a grudge and a gun opened fire on House Republicans who are practicing for tomorrow's charity congressional baseball game, Democrats versus Republicans; Tragic shooting at a UPS facility in San Francisco, California; Aired 11:00- 12:00mn ET

Aired June 14, 2017 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:28] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Jake Tapper. This is a CNN Special Report.

Tonight, we are following two major breaking news stories here in the U.S. There is an update on the condition of Congressman Steve Scalise. He was one of four people injured during a Republican baseball outing, a shooting this morning as the FBI right now is removing evidence from the dead shooter's home. We will have more on that story in just a moment.

But also breaking news this evening. The President of the United States, not his campaign, not his advisers, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, is now, according to "the Washington Post," under investigation.

"The Washington Post" says that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether President Trump possibly attempted to obstruct justice. According to the report three top intelligence officials will be interviewed by Mueller as early as this week to see what President Trump may have said to them about possibly undermining a contradicting the FBI investigation into possible collusion between Russians and members of his 2016 campaign team.

Let's bring in CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez.

And Evan, forget for a moment about what "the Washington Post" is reporting. What do we know? What is going on?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: We know, Jake, at this point that the FBI and the special council are gathering information as part of this investigation. Now, we know that they are going to talk to Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence. Michael Rogers who is the head of the national security agency as well as the former deputy at the national security agency. And what they want to do is try to gather information to determine whether or not they are going to launch a full-scale information of possible obstruction. Now, again, there's a few steps here before we get to that stage.

But, look, there is no doubt here that that is where everybody believes this is going to go, because the President has made it almost impossible for the FBI or special counselor not to investigate him. And the irony being that one reason why he fired James Comey as FBI director was because Comey wouldn't go out publicly and say that he wasn't investigation. And at the time that was true. But by his actions and tweets and statements, he is now made it impossible for that to be still true.

TAPPER: And let's game this out. If the investigation goes into whether or not firing Comey and everything are surrounding that was obstruction of justice, that could have ramifications at the department of justice.

PEREZ: Right. Exactly. If now Mueller decides he wants to investigate the firing of Comey as part of a possible obstruction scheme by the President and other people, then Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who right now is the head of the this investigation --.

TAPPER: Because Sessions had to recuse himself.

PEREZ: Sessions had to recuse himself. Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general is now the top official in-charge of this investigation. He would have to recuse himself because he participated in the firing of James Comey. It seems like it would be impossible for them to continue to oversee this. And then there would be another recusal at the justice department. Another show to drop so to speak at this investigation --.

TAPPER: Because, of course, he wrote the memo explaining why he thought Comey --

PEREZ: Right. He prepared the memo. And he has now explained why he did it and believes strongly that he was right.

TAPPER: All right. Evan Perez, thank you so much for this breaking news.

Let's go to CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House for us at this late hour. And Jim, what is the reaction from the White House to this "Washington Post" report?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, not surprisingly, Jake. The White House is pointing us to the outside council Mark Kasowitz and a spokesman for Mark Kasowitz is responding to "the Washington Post" story where they state, it is brief statement. We can show it to you and then talk about it in a larger context. He says the FBI, leak of information regarding the President is outrageous, inexcusable, and illegal.

A couple of interesting things about that statement, Jake. One is that the spokesman for Mark (INAUDIBLE) who is a spokesman for Mark Kasowitz is not denying -- this is not a denial. It is not denying that the President is under investigation for obstruction of justice by the special prosecutor Bob Mueller.

The other thing that is interesting about the statement, Jake, is that it seems to chocks up this "Washington Post" story to an FBI leak. That's not at all proven at this point. It's just something that the legal President's legal team appears to be throwing out right now as part of the defense of the President against some pretty bad news tonight.

TAPPER: And Jim, an interesting tweet earlier this evening from the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Romney McDaniel accusing Mueller of making an unfounded accusation against President Trump. I don't know of any accusation founded or otherwise that Robert Mueller has made at least openly about the President. I assume there are -- there is some talking points being distributed for the President's supporters.

[23:05:18] ACOSTA: That's right. And we obtained some of these talking points. There are talking points coming out of the RNC going out to their various surrogates all over Washington. Here are some pictures of them right here. And essentially, it ended with a conclusion that says that here are the main talking point. The illegal leaks are the only crime here according to reports from the RNC. The investigative committees have clearly struck out on the collusion charge and are now shifting to baseless obstruction of justice charges. It goes on to say there is still case for obstruction of justice and when is this fishing expedition going to end so we can back to the real issues that matter to Americans?

A couple of interesting things there, Jake. Obviously, we have been hearing from the Republicans here at the White House, hearing the President's surrogates that the real crime here are the leaks. Now, obviously if the President was somehow involved in obstructing justice here, that would be the overriding crime that would have to be investigated by authorities. And so it does seem at this point that the RNC, the President's surrogates, the President's aides and allies out there are trying to put a stop to this investigation as best as they can, and put a stop to the media attention as best as they can with these talking points. But it's unclear, Jake, as to whether that's going to be successful, obviously, because you know, when you have the President of the United States firing the FBI director going on NBC News and saying, well, is it because of the Russia thing, I did it because of the Russia thing and then James Comey putting down in memos that he felt pressured by the President. Obviously, you know, that is going to lead -- I would think most special prosecutors to at least take a look at this.

TAPPER: All right. Jim Acosta, thank you so much.

ACOSTA: You bet.

TAPPER: Joining me now is Democratic congressman Eric Swalwell of California, represents the San Francisco area. Serves on the House intelligence committee among other assignments. Thanks so much for joining you for joining us.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Yes. Thank you for having me, Jake.

TAPPER: I want to get to the "Washington Post" story in a second. But first, I want to get your reaction to the shooting today. You are on the Democratic baseball team. Tell me what's this day been like for you?

SWALWELL: Awful. You know, just awful. I at the Democratic side. You get up early. You go to practice. And you never think that something like this could happen. You know, we see police cars out there from time to time. And, you know, we always joke, like, you know, who would come attack us this early in the morning. And now you see why they are there. So we are all just hopeful that the majority whip, his staff and the officers recover and that tomorrow night we can come together for a good cause and hopefully, you know, this can be a bridge to more working together in the future.

TAPPER: The shooter's Facebook feed was full of a lot of anti- Republican rhetoric, anti-Trump rhetoric, much of it reposted. He wrote Trump is a traitor. Trump is has destroy our democracy. It is time to destroy Trump and company. Also, Trump is guilty and should go to prison for treason. To be frank, it is kind of thing you might see on poster boards at a resistance rally. Do you worry that the left has gone too far in the rhetoric?

SWALWELL: Well, I worry that anyone would think that the way to express themselves would be through violence, you know. And that the beauty of this country is, you know, our protections of speech, and you know, sometimes we see from time to time on both sides it turns into violence. And it should be roundly condemned whoever the person is, whether they are a Republican, Democrat or independent. It never should be tolerated to move your actions from a belief to violence.

TAPPER: Well, I guess the question is if people are using rhetoric like this President is a traitor and the Republicans are treasonous and they are destroying the country and they are going to kill our people through health care and all this stuff, that might give the unhinged among you an excuse or a target as it were.

SWALWELL: Yes. And I certainly hope that no one would be out there trying to incite violence. I think what we can do tomorrow is, you know, show the country we are coming together. I was 20 years old as an intern when September 11th happened. I remember being sent home and then watching Congress stand on the steps and, you know, hold arms and sing "God Bless America." And you know, that is the moment I will never forget. Today we went to the capital visitor center (ph) and prayed together hand and hand. And, you know, I think if there is more gestures like that that we could do to just calm the tone around Washington.

TAPPER: Let's turn to Russia. What is your reaction to the "Washington Post" report that the special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice?

SWALWELL: We just want the FBI and the department of justice and the congressional investigations to proceed without any further interference from the President. They have a job to do. We have a noncriminal but important job to understand, you know, what Russia did, whether any U.S. persons were responsible and what we can do to make sure it doesn't happen again.

The President at every turn seems to kind of rear his way in, obstruct, and disrupt. And he needs to get out of the way. And, you know, let special counsel Mueller report back to the American people whether anyone in the U.S. was responsible, whether the President -- if this is true, obstructed justice. What we cannot have is any further involvement by the White House.

[23:10:25] TAPPER: Are you concerned at all about the leaks? The President's - a spokesman for the President's attorney Mark Kasowitz talked about it is out and he didn't deny the investigation, but he said it's outrageous that the FBI or whoever is leaking. Are you upset about the leaks? And also are you worried that it might give the President a predicate to fire Bob Mueller as it might be his, you know, his right under the constitution?

SWALWELL: Yes. Leaks are bad.

TAPPER: To order Mueller to be fired.

SWALWELL: Yes, leaks are bad. And you know, the department of justice has a responsibility to investigate that. And you know, they should not, you know, be stopped from doing so. But there are also serious allegations here that need to be looked at.

And for anyone, though, to impugn the integrity of Bob Mueller, that is stooping quite low. You know, he is someone who has served our country, I think, with the highest integrity. And at least at this point, I don't see any reason why shouldn't at this point be allowed to go forward. And the President should state unequivocally that he will not fire Bob Mueller despite what his friends are pedaling right now.

TAPPER: Is there an actually a case, do you think, that the President obstructed justice? Let me give you the Trump defense from people who support the President. They say if he did in fact say I hope you can see your way toward letting this thing go with Mike Flynn, that's -- it obviously wasn't serious enough that Comey felt like he needed to do it and saying I hope is not do it. There is wiggle room there.


TAPPER: There is nuance.

SWALWELL: So first I'll say this about Comey. The President intimated that he had tapes. Comey did not know whether if he did or he did not, but he came forward anyway. So under the risk of perjuring himself, he told what saw. If he wanted to embellish, he could have just said the President ordered me to make the case go away. He said no, the President said I hope. But in that context, I hope, coming from the President with no one else around, sure, I think is a directive. And so that's something Bob Mueller should weigh.

He also should look for other corroboration. I think there is a story that admiral Rogers and Dan Coats have to tell about, you know, what happened as well as people like Jared Kushner and Jeff Sessions who were allegedly in the room when the President ordered them out.

So I hope he looks at all that. I miss being a prosecutor in the courtroom. But this is one I'm leaving to Bob Mueller and trust that they will report back to the American people.

TAPPER: What position are you playing tomorrow night?

SWALWELL: You know, I'm usually designated as the runner for my fresh legs, not for my glove or my bat. So anyone that needs a pitch runner, I will be there, ready to go.

TAPPER: Congressman, good to see you. Good luck tomorrow.

SWALWELL: My pleasure. Yes, thanks.

TAPPER: Our other top story this hour, Congressman Steve Scalise needing more surgeries than previously had been reported and his battle is not over yet after a gunman with a left wing political vendetta ambushed Republicans. Stay with us.


[23:16:42] TAPPER: Welcome back. I'm Jake Tapper.

Tonight, we have received a new update on the condition of house majority whip Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana. The third highest ranking House Republican, in fact, after a shooter with leftist views a grudge and a gun opened fire on House Republicans who are practicing for tomorrow's charity congressional baseball game, Democrats versus Republicans.

And the update on Scalise's condition is more alarming than many anticipated. MedStar Washington hospital says quote "Congressman Steve Scalise sustained a single rifle shot to the left hip. The bullet traveled across his pelvis, fracturing bones, injuring internal organs and causing severe bleeding. He was transported in shock to MedStar Washington hospital center, a level one trauma center. He underwent immediate surgery and an additional procedure to stop bleeding. He has received multiple units of blood transfusion. His condition is critical and he will require additional operates."

Late this evening President Trump visited the hospital, but he was not able to see congressman in his current condition. Three other survivors were shot and are recovering tonight. They are Matt Mika, a lobbyist for Tyson foods and former congressional Stanford who by many witness accounts is shot in the chest, congressional staffer Zach Barth, and Capitol police officer Crystal Griner. Capitol Hill police officer David bailey was also injured during the may night.

Witnesses describe a terrifying and chaotic scene with people jumping into dug outs and over fences in order to dodge bullets. And if not for the heroic capitol police officers who are there this morning, I might now be reporting to you about a massacre on the baseball field. There are new details tonight about the shooter identified as 66-year-

old James T. Hodgkinson. The FBI is now investigating the social media posts. One calling for President Trump's destruction, for example.

CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider is digging deeper into his back ground and his motives.

And Jessica, well documented hatred of Republicans and President Trump on his Facebook page.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Jake. And we know that the gunmen, he spent significant time on his laptop computer in Alexandria, Virginia over the past two months right near the scene of the crime typing up some of those messages of hate.

The FBI says the gunman came to Alexandria in March, lived out of his van in the baseball field and filled his Facebook feed with political rants.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): In public Facebook postings James Hodgkinson repeatedly railed against Republicans calling them stupid, writing that the party hated Americans and is full of smoke and mirrors. In this post saying Republicans are the Taliban of the USA.

And in March, linked to a petition. Trump is a traitor. It's time to destroy Trump and company.

In 2015 he posted a cartoon about congressman Steve Scalise, the lawmaker he shot this morning, commenting here is a Republican that should lose his job, but they gave him a raise.

The gunman's profile picture, Bernie Sanders as Uncle Sam. Hodgkinson reportedly volunteered for the Sanders campaign, but there's no records of his involvement, according to Sanders' staff. The senator denounced the shooting on the Senate floor.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I am sickened by this despicable act. And let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society.

SCHNEIDER: Everyone for being after the primaries, Hodgkinson seemed to shift his support to Green party candidate Jill Stein and shared anti-Hillary Clinton stories from the Russian state media outlet RT. He called and emailed his owned Republican congressman ten times over the past year complaining about policies like health care.

Congressman Mike Boss tells CNN there were no red flags even though in one email Hodgkinson wrote if you vote this way, we will remember you.

A law enforcement source says two weapons were recovered at the scene, an FKS rifle, a Chinese-made AK variant that investigators believed was using the shooting and .9 millimeter pistol, just next to the ball park as where Hodgkinson parked his van. The FBI says he has been living in it since March.

[23:20:45] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). Do we know where he is at?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was behind home plate.

SCHNEIDER: He joined the YMCA nearby on April 4th and cancelled his membership yesterday. But since his dues were through July, the gunman checked in this morning at 5:31 a.m. Staff saw him sitting in the common area on his laptop.

The former mayor of Alexandria saw Hodgkinson at the Y every day and often engaged him in conversation.

BILL EUILLE, FORMER ALEXANDRIA MAYOR: I concluded until I learned who he was today that this was a person that seemed very calm, very, you know, no mental health issues or anything like that. He was very respective and spoke very well, and just a normal person.

SCHNEIDER: But at the local bar Hodgkinson frequented the perception was quite different.

KRISTINA SCRIMSHAW, BARTENDER, PORK BARREL BBQ: I recall him sitting down. I go up and say, hi. How's it going? And he was very gruff, very, like, not friendly. That's a good way of putting it.

SCHNEIDER: Hodgkinson was arrested for battery in April 2006 for allegedly punching a friend of his daughters in the face, firing off a gun then dragging his daughter from a house by the hair and flying her out of a car by cutting her seatbelt with a pocket knife. The charges were dismissed later that year.

He also reportedly belonged to some anti-Republican groups including one called terminate the Republican Party. According to his local paper, the (INAUDIBLE) news democrat. Hodgkinson repeatedly wrote letters to the editor in 2010 through 2012 denouncing Republican policies and expressing concern about the unemployment rate and taxes.


SCHNEIDER: And Hodgkinson was unemployed after quitting his own company late last year. He was fired from a job in 2003 for what his employer called quote "unacceptable behavior."

Meanwhile, the FBI is still piecing together all the details about Hodgkinson's movements, where he got his gun. And Jake, they are asking the public now for any help that they can give.

TAPPER: Jessica Schneider, thank you so much for that. Appreciate it.

He was a battlefield medic in Iraq. And flip that switch on again at the ball field to help save Steve Scalise's life. Congressman and surgeon Brad Wenstrup will join me with his riveting firsthand account of the shooting next.

Plus, I will talk to a man who spent time with the shooter in the last weeks, their interactions coming up. Stay with us.


[23:26:55] TAPPER: Welcome back to the CNN Special report. I'm Jake tapper.

House majority whip Steve Scalise remains in critical condition at this hour while three others are also recovering from shooting wounds. But the most recent serious attack on a sitting lawmaker could have been far worse if not for the brave capitol police, and if not for Ohio congressman brad Wenstrup, an army reserved officer. He served in Iraq as a combat surgeon and the Republican rushed to treat Scalise.

Congressman Wenstrup spoke with me earlier giving us the chilling descriptions of what happened and how is congressman Scalise was doing shortly after being shot.


TAPPER: You tended the wounds of Congressman Steve Scalise during the attack. It sounds like you went straight into physician mode. How was he holding up during the moment of shock that he must have been going through?

REP. BRAD WENSTRUP (R), OHIO: Yes. He was doing well. He was talking. He would answer all my questions. I was concerned about fluid loss internally. I found his entry wound but didn't find an exit wound and that concerned me greatly. So even though we were able to stop the bleeding externally, I was concerned what was going on inside. So we were getting him water, Gatorade, whatever we could to keep his fluids going in and wanted to get an I.V. as soon as possible which we didn't have, unfortunately.

TAPPER: Senator Rand Paul said that if these two officers hadn't been there, it might have been a massacre. I assume you agree.

WENSTRUP: Yes. You had people fenced in. I mean, everyone was in the fence. The man, in my opinion, knew what he was doing, had been there before, had seen the set up because he started at a position of advantage beyond the third base dugout and no one is over there. Everyone is on the first base side. And I was along the first baseline. I could see him. Then he went behind the dugout and he came closer to home plate on the other end of the dugout, shot from there. Then he went behind a building that's behind home plate and came around the back of that.

All the while coming closer to all the people that were there and taking their escape route and hiding behind trees or whatever they could do taking cover. And then he went back behind the building and he came out at that point after exhausting a lot of ammunition with his rifle and at that point he had a handgun, and that's when they were able to take him down. And that's when I was able to run out to Mr. Scalise.

TAPPER: Your other colleague, Congressman Mike Bishop said that you were all sitting ducks.

WENSTRUP: Well, we really were in so many ways. If not for the fact that the Capitol Hill police were there because he was moving in toward us, toward our only escape route. And so, Steve Scalise was a sitting duck. Everyone was basically a sitting duck in many ways. There was only so many places you could go, especially when leaving the field. So he never got as far as he would have liked. I'm quite sure. But he was methodically moving everyone into one area where he had hoped, I believe, to open fire on them.

But, again, thanks to the Capitol Hill police, he was thwarted. Sadly, others were injured. And we are going to pray for them. And I know they are fighting hard to get well.


TAPPER: Calls today from President Trump. The House speaker and Democratic leaders for a recognition of the shared humanity and some semblance of working together. Earlier I spoke with Republican congressman Mark Walker who left the field right before the shooting began. I started by asking him how he was holding up.


[23:30:07] REP. MARK WALKER (R), NORTH CAROLINA: We are doing fine. My heart and immediate attention as all of it should be to the ones still victims, not only Steve Scalise, but a lot of times when these things happen we talk about saying the name and those are the folks, David Bailey and Crystal Griner along with Zachary Barth and Matt Mika. There is the people that are still in our thoughts and prayers today.

TAPPER: Describe what you remember from this morning, sir.

WALKER: Well, in slipping out there, I get a chance to be the starting pitcher for tomorrow night. So I was resting the arm a little bit this morning. But it was a very tragic scene, almost surreal. I had just, myself, when the shooting took place, we had departed. But in relaying accounts to several members of my staff, it was a very tragic situation.

TAPPER: Did you see the gunman? Did you hear him say anything?

WALKER: No, I did not hear the gunman nor did I see the gunman, but his first shot was at Trent Franks. Trent FRANKS is a colonel, retired colonel, playing third base which is about 30 feet away from where the gunman was located crouched behind the third base dugout there filling Alexandria.

PEREZ: You tweeted that the gunman wanted to kill Republican members of Congress. Obviously, his social media is full of anti-Republican viewpoints. This country is obviously very divided right now, although, thankfully most people are not like this horrific shooter. What message do you want to send today to Republicans and Democrats and unaffiliated voters? WALKER: Thank you for the opportunity. In fact, I was just a few

minutes ago when the first time the entire members of Congress came together, I was asked to lead in a prayer being a former pastor. But I will share with you what I shared in. A verse that said let our speech be seasoned with salt, with grace. And I think right now living in the days and times that we are, the rhetoric is quite heated and I think it takes a discipline on all our parts to make sure that we are able to separate the policies from the personality attacks?

TAPPER: Many people pointed out that if majority whip Steve Scalise had not attended the practice, the security detail with him, because he is a member of Republican leadership would not have been there, and the outcome could have been much worse. Do you think members of Congress need to have more production?

WALKER: Well, I will tell you, it looks like we are trending that way. But to your point, had Steve Scalise not been there with a couple of agents there, there is no doubt in my mind there would be 15 to 20 potentially dead congressmen along with staffers as well. There was no way to defend yourself. You are in athletic gear. You don't even have your phone with you. You have a baseball bat, but that's not going well against the guy who is bringing the fire powered that the man did this morning.

TAPPER: The baseball game, obviously, scheduled to go on as planned tomorrow. Do you support that?

WALKER: Absolutely. Because it's for such a great calls. It is one of the great bipartisan since 1909. The Republicans and Democrats have played. Tomorrow night at Washington national stadium, $600,000 we have raised to go to the boys and girls clubs here in D.C. We think that's a great cause. And we think it's a great way to show that we are united when it comes to reaching out to our different communities to bring help and hope to these places.

TAPPER: Congressman Mark Walker, we are so glad that you are OK. Thanks for your time and rest up your arm. Good luck tomorrow night.

WALKER: Wouldn't object. Thank you.


TAPPER: Just minutes before he started his rampage, the shooter spoke with two members of Congress. What did he say to them? That's coming up next.

Plus, we will talk to a man who had met the shooter and spent time with him in the last few weeks. Did he notice anything unusual about his demeanor? Stay with us.


[23:37:37] TAPPER: Welcome back. Another tragic shooting this morning. This one happened at a UPS facility in San Francisco, California. Moments ago, a source close to the investigation told CNN the shooter has been identified at Jimmy Lam, a UPS employee. Police said that he opened fire at the package sorting and delivery facility killing three and wounding two others then he turned the gun upon himself. It's not clear how many people were trapped inside the UPS location at the time of the shooting, but the company said the facility employs about 350 people. Police said that there is no indication the shooting was related to terrorism. But they are still investigating whether the shooter specifically targeted the victims.

Here in Washington, two of the victims in today's attack in the baseball field are in critical condition including the third highest ranking Republican in the House majority whip Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana. Scalise suffered an injury to his internal organs and will require more surgery, the hospital says.

Let's get to CNN's Brian Todd who is at Washington hospital center where congressman Scalise is being treated.

Brian, the statement from the hospital this evening suggests the congressman has something of a long road ahead of him in terms of his recovery.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He certainly does, Jake. The hospital gave us some very jarring detail of the congressman's condition a short time ago. They say that he sustained a single gunshot, a rifle shot to the left hip that the bullet traveled across his pelvis. That it fractured bones, injured internal organs and caused severe bleeding.

He was transported to this facility in shock, they say. He had one immediate surgery and then another procedure to stop the bleeding. He has received multiple units of blood transfusion, and he is going to require additional surgeries. He does remain in critical condition.

Also tonight, Jake, another victim, the officer who helped save a lot of people's lives there today. This is special agent Crystal Griner of the U.S. capitol police, she is in good condition after receiving a gunshot to the ankle. Witnesses throughout the situation at the ball field and elsewhere are telling us that if it hadn't been for the presence of those officers, this really could have been a blood bath on that field.


TODD (voice-over): The gunfire captured on cell phone video by an eyewitness seemingly came out of nowhere, aimed at members of Congress and their staffs.

REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA: I hear the big blam and I thought it was a car backfiring until the I see the rifle barrel, and a white male taking careful aim at congressmen, staffers, whoever he could get ahold of.

[23:40:10] TODD: Witnesses say the gunman identified by police as 66- year-old James Hodgkinson appeared to be laying in wait with a long gun behind the dugout at this Alexandria, Virginia YMCA baseball field. On the field, Republican representatives practicing for tomorrow's annual bipartisan congressional baseball game. REP, CHUCK FLEISCHMANN (R), TENNESSEE: All of a sudden there were

multiple gunshots being fired.

TODD: It was just after 7:00 a.m. and Congressman Rodney Davis was at bat.

REP. RODNEY DAVIS (R), ILLINOIS: Somebody on the field yelling run. He has a gun. I ran into the dugout like most people on the field.

TODD: Steve Scalise, the majority whip and the third ranking House Republican, was the first victim. He was in the infield.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: He dragged himself after he was shot from near second base about ten or 15 yards into the field just to be, I think, a little further away from the gunman. But he was laying motionless out there. And so I wanted to get to him, but there were still shots going overhead from both sides. And so finally when we heard that the shooter was down, I just ran low out to Steve and started putting pressure on the wound.

TODD: A Republican staffer identified as Zach Barth was also hit.

BROOKS: He was gutsy. He was saying it wasn't bad at all. But I mean, there was a hole in his leg.

TODD: Capitol police officers assigned as protective detail to Scalise because of his leadership position returned fire.

REP. JOE BARTON (R), TEXAS: I saw at least two of them go toward the shooter. They were putting their lives directly in the line of fire.

FLAKE: Two of his detail were shot. One African-American gentleman shot in the leg and I believe he's the one that brought the shooter down. He ran around for quite a-while with a leg wound returning fire.

TODD: Witnesses are crediting the bravery of the officers with saving countless lives.

MARTY LAVOR, EYEWITNESS/PHOTOGRAPHER: It was the capitol police that saved us all. If it wasn't for the capitol police, I would assume that everybody would have been killed this morning.

TODD: A total of four victims were shot including congressman Scalise, lobbyist Matt Mika, staffer Zach Barth, and Capitol police officer Crystal Griner.

DAVIS: I watched my friend and my fellow member Steve Scalise lay motionless on the field wondering if he was going to be OK. That's a picture I'll never forget.

TODD: The hail of gunfire evident in bullet holes is far away as the YMCA building as well as cars parked on the other side. As investigators try to find a motive, two members of Congress, Ron de Santos and Jeff Duncan are pointing to a conversation they had with the shooter earlier this morning in a parking lot. REP. JEFF DUNCAN (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He asked me if this team was

the Republican or Democrat team practicing. I responded that it was the Republican team practicing. And he proceed to shoot Republicans. Take that for what it's worth.


TODD: And tonight President Trump and first lady Melania Trump came to Washington hospital center visit with congressman Scalise and his family. President Trump, we are told, sat by congressman Scalise's bedside and spoke to members of his family, presented them with some flowers, also brought flowers for the wounded agent Crystal Griner.

So Jake, a very dramatic day and evening here at Washington hospital center.

TAPPER: All right. Brian Todd, thank you so much.

Next we are going to go live to the home of the shooter where the FBI is gathering evidence. What are they finding? Is there anything they are specifically looking for?

Plus Steve Scalise, he is just the latest victim in a long line of congressional victims. The history of lawmakers becoming targets of political assassins, madman, even cult members. Stay with us.


[23:47:33] TAPPER: I want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around. This is a CNN Special Report. I'm Jake Tapper.

Authorities are combing through evidence to try to determine exactly how James Hodgkinson planned the attack on a congressional baseball practice. Investigators are tracing clues in the shooter's home in Belleville, Illinois, not far from St. Louis late into the night.

CNN national correspondent Ryan Young is standing outside the shooter's home.

And Ryan, officials both from the FBI and the ATF are there at this hour. Is there anything specific that authorities are looking for?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, it looks like they are doing a thorough investigation. They are still working at this hour. In fact, we saw an FBI ATF forensic van arrive around 3:30 this afternoon. And even now we are seeing agents going back and forth from the home as they seem to be moving throughout it. Taking bags of evidence out.

When you talk to neighbors nearby, they are all shocked about this activity. There is a corn field right across from where we are standing. A lot of them are shocked by the activity that they see right here in their neighborhood.

TAPPER: And Ryan, as we reported earlier, the gunman left a social media footprint, political rants against Republicans, against President Trump, pro-Bernie Sanders, pro-Jill Stein, did his neighbors say whether there were any signs that could have predicted that his political anger would turn into political violence in.

YOUNG: Well, there is five homes just in this area. And in fact, four of them we can't get to because the FBI has the area shut down. The one neighbor that we able to talk who said the one thing he never talked about was politics. He did see the Bernie Sanders sign up front, but he said most of the time they talked about home repairs and how the weather was going.

Now, there was a time the sheriff's department did have to come out here because of some shots fired call. That was because he was using a deer rifle in the backyard. A neighbor became concerned. They came out here and realized he was doing everything legally so she stopped shooting. But the idea when you talk to neighbors, they hear shots out here all the time. But then again, that gun was not confiscated from him. It was not the gun that was used the sheriff believes, because it was a rifle, not a semiautomatic weapon.

TAPPER: All right, Ryan Young in Belleville, Illinois, thank you so much.

Here with me in studio is Stephen Breenwald. He is an attorney who regularly works out at the YMCA in Alexandria, Virginia right next to the baseball field where the shooting happened. And he regularly saw the gunman there at the YMCA in the weeks before the attack.

And Steve, thanks for being here. You say you saw the shooter roughly 20 times. When was the last time you saw him?

[23:50:04] STEPHEN BREENWALD, REGULARLY SAW GUNMAN AT YMCA BY BASEBALL FIELD: I believe I saw him on Monday when I came into the gym to workout. I would see him when I came in to workout. He was already there sitting at his table. He would set at different tables. But most of the times he sat on the table that - have worked in the chair that back to the glass window that was shot out today. And that glass window, if you turn around 180 degrees, you can see the ball field maybe 60 yards away from him.

TAPPER: What was your impression of him?

BREENWALD: You know, my friends there jokingly call me the social director of the Y although I don't work for them.

TAPPER: You are a friendly guy.

BREENWALD: And I tried to talk to him. I talk to everybody. I would look at him. I would pass and still view him constantly. He never looked up at me. Even if he was looking straight ahead and I am still in his still vision. He never said anything to this -- had this look like he was alone in the world.

TAPPER: Did you ever try to talk to him?

BREENWALD: I did. I mean, I don't actually go and say because he wasn't looking back at me. But I always, you know, look at him. Sometimes I would talk to people at near my tables and look over just to see if he's looking up at us. He will never look up at me. He never look - he would look at his laptop and just kind of this having a blank stare.

TAPPER: Did you ever see what he was looking at in his laptop? He spent a lot of time on Facebook apparently.

BREENWALD: Right. Well, he had his back to the windows. And so, I would have had to go really near him and he would (INAUDIBLE) and suspicious. Even when he sat at the table in the lobby, he always had his back to the wall so no one could see it his laptop.

TAPPER: Did he talk to anyone?

BREENWALD: I heard today that he spoke to the former mayor Euille. And I heard that mayor Euille privately that he is a funny guy. He struck me as an unhappy guy. He, you know, every (INAUDIBLE) even if they are tired, they workout, they smile. It is a very friendly gym. There are older of people and younger people, there are heavier and thinner and every ethnicity and every language we are all funny and love each other. This guy, he never worked out. He did talked to anybody I saw and he just sat there at his laptop for weeks.

TAPPER: So he did not necessarily fit in per se.

BREENWALD: He did not fit in at all. I try not to profile him. I try not to profile him even an older white male in front of the profile of something. When I first saw him I thought he maybe a contractor there or a sales rep or somebody. But then I saw him week after week after week and he keeps sitting there, never in gym clothes, always in some kind of polyester pants and polo shirt. He then did not fit in and it was incomprehensible.

TAPPER: He was apparently living in his van parked nearby, does that surprise you?

BREENWALD: It does because he never smell bad and he never look -- his clothes never looked like they were wrinkled. He never looks like de-shelved. So he really presented as a clean cut businessman some sort. That's what really surprising.

TAPPER: But even in retrospect, it doesn't sound like it was anything - he was anything about him that would cause anyone to necessarily report him or that he would do something violent. He just seems, the way you described him, like a cranky old man, but you don't --.

BREENWALD: Right, exactly. He seems like a kind of guy who you want to -- just leave me alone, everybody. I don't need to talk, but why are you at the gym? It made no sense that he would be sitting there for hours and not doing anything.

TAPPER: How close is the YMCA to the baseball field?

BREENWALD: About 50 or 70 yards

TAPPER: It is really close. BREENWALD: Yes. If you turn around, there is a little drive way.

There is a parking area that really just has two lanes of cars and that has a little grassy area and the baseball field right there.

TAPPER: We ran the tape at the congressman who was at the basketball game earlier today or at the baseball practice earlier today and thankfully escaped, OK. But he said it seems as though the shooter had scoped up the baseball stadium that he knew where to go to do this heinous act. Is it possible that he was at the YMCA to try to stake out the baseball part?

BREENWALD: I think that's the only reason he would be there because this is not a coffee shop. You don't come there to hang out. I mean, it happened right where he was installing and consulting in his chair for weeks and weeks that he had there. And the thing is when he asked about is this a Republican or a Democratic group, to me I thought that's a confirmatory question. Because he had to know there was something going on there somehow for him to be there today.

Most of the games that are played are kids. The YMCA is a very secured facility. The people care about everything. There are children coming and going. The YMCA is very careful about making sure the kids are safe. And I have only seen kids playing on the field. I have never seen older people playing in that field. So he had to know something was up. And I don't know what's in his mind but it was suspicious

TAPPER: Stephen, thanks so much for coming in. I really appreciate it. N

BREENWALD: No problem.

TAPPER: Thank you so much.

The shooting today sadly not as uncommon as you may think. We are going to take a look back at some other members of Congress who had been targeted. Stay with us.


[23:58:27] TAPPER: Welcome back to today's shooting of House majority whip Steve Scalise is hardly sadly the first time a lawmaker was so attacked since congress was established in 1789. At least 17 members of the institution had been shot well the office among those tragedies of January 2011. Democratic congresswoman Gabby Giffords of Arizona was shot at a political event in Tucson. She survived, but six others were killed. In November 1978, California Congressman Leo Ryan was shot and killed during his trip to (INAUDIBLE) to investigate the people's temple cult headed by (INAUDIBLE). Ryan and four others were murdered. Current congresswoman Jackie Spear who now holds Ryan's seat, was on that trip as Ryan staffer. She survived despite being shot five times.

In 1968, of course, following his California primary victory, Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated by (INAUDIBLE) in Los Angeles. Kennedy was the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

And the shooting attack involving the most members of Congress happened in 1954 when a group of Puerto Rican nationals opened fire in the House press gathering injuring congressman Clipper Davis, Alvin Bentley, Ben Jensen, George Fallon, and Kenneth Roberts. Luckily, all of them survived.

Senator Hewey Long died after he was shot in the stomach in Louisiana state capital in 1935. Texas congressman John (INAUDIBLE) was shot and killed in 1905. In 1800s Congressman James (INAUDIBLE) were shot and killed just about a year apart from each other.

We often forget how much our public officials sacrifice in their services. And it is so sometimes a great person exposure and sometimes rest. It is no doubt of an unsettling day to be office holder. And we at CNN are thinking of you and all of your families.

I'm Jake Tapper. I will be back tomorrow for the "LEAD" at 4:00 p.m. eastern. Thanks for joining us.