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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
At Least Eight Killed In Shooting At San Jose Rail Yard; Prosecutors Investigating Trump Tell Witness To Prepare For Grand Jury Testimony; Mother Of Fallen Capitol Police Officer Wants To Meet With GOP Senators Ahead Of Commission Vote; Biden Gives Intel Agencies 90 Days To Probe COVID's Origins; Justice Rally For Greene At Louisiana State Capitol On Thursday. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired May 26, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: He suffered strokes and died of natural causes. Republican senators Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski, they have all said they will vote to advance the bill, but it's not enough to end the G.O.P. planned filibuster. Ten Republicans are needed to support the commission to move the bill forward. Don't hold your breath.
Thanks for joining us. "AC360" starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. We begin tonight with the shooting at a public transit rail yard in San Jose, California that ended with eight lives last plus that of the gunman.
For the families of the victims, tonight is just the beginning of what will be almost unimaginable pain and sadness and that pain will be uniquely and indelibly theirs.
For the country, what happened today was the 232nd mass shooting of the year. According to the data from the Gun Violence Archive, it was the 17th since last Wednesday. California's Governor spoke to that reality a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Here we are in the United States of America, we are experiencing something just is not experienced anywhere else in the world. There's a sameness to this. And that numbness, I think is something we're all feeling.
But it begs the damn question: what the hell is going on in the United States of America? What the hell is wrong with us?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: CNN's Dan Simon joins us now from the scene. Dan, what do we know?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, as usual, the main question is why? What would cause the shooter to go across the street, target his own coworkers, shoot and kill them? At this point, authorities have not established a clear-cut motive. What I can tell you is that authorities did recover multiple weapons at the scene. They haven't said what the make and model of those weapons were, but it seems clear that he wanted to inflict as much carnage as possible before taking his own life.
SIMON (voice over): At 6:34 a.m., the calls started.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deputies responded and received information that there are multiple shots fired calls.
SIMON (voice over): Just as workers at the maintenance yard will be getting their morning shift.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deputies and surrounding officers immediately responded to the location and addressed the threat and the situation. They did not wait. They merely went into the scene and rendered first aid and rescued victims out of the building as fast as they can.
SHERIFF LORI SMITH, SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: While the shots are still being fired, our teams with San Jose PD are still -- are entering the building long shots were still going off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We formed multiple tactical teams that came into the building to extricate victims out.
SIMON (voice over): Around the same time, firefighters were responding to a house fire. A source close to the investigation confirms belonged to the suspect.
SMITH: It's very complex investigation. We now know that San Jose is working on the house fire.
SIMON (voice over): As of now law enforcement says the shooter took eight lives before taking his own.
SMITH: I know for sure that when the suspect knew the law enforcement was there, he took his own life.
SIMON (voice over): The transit agency, a close knit family in mourning. Valley Transportation Authority's Board Chairman, Glenn Hendricks.
GLENN HENDRICKS, BOARD CHAIRPERSON, SANTA CLARA VALLEY TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY: VTA is a family. People in the organization know everyone. This is a terrible tragedy, and we will do everything we can to help people get through this.
SIMON (voice over): As friends and family members desperately search for their loved ones --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've just got to get to my wife.
SIMON (voice over): Others wanting action. And for this to finally stop.
NEWSOM: To the victims, to those who have lost their lives and the families, lost their loved ones, yes, our hearts go out, but we are resolved to not make this meaningless but to bring meaning at this tragic moment in our state and our nation's history.
COOPER: Dan, I understand, authorities also found explosives at the site.
SIMON: That's right, Anderson. A bomb sniffing dog was brought in and did discover the presence of explosives and I can tell you that right now, as I speak, a robot is going from room to room within the large facility behind me trying to find potentially more explosives.
And Anderson, I mentioned earlier at this point, we don't have a clear cut motive. But one thing to note is that the shooter's ex-wife spoke to the Bay Area News Group, a CNN affiliate and mentioned that during their 10-year marriage, he often spoke angrily about his coworkers and his bosses and seem to be very unhappy about his work.
She hasn't spoken to him in a number of years, but I'm certain that investigators will want to speak with her -- Anderson.
COOPER: Dan Simon, I appreciate it. Thank you.
Right now, Jonathan, a freelance video journalist who went to the scene, he doesn't want his last name used. He joins us by phone. So Jonathan, you took a video that we're about to show. Can you just walk us through what happened and how you got it?
JONATHAN, FREELANCE VIDEO JOURNALIST (via phone): Yes, so you know, I actually live in, you know, in a mile radius of where the shooting had occurred. And I just heard a lot of commotion from my apartment. You know, I just started hearing police sirens, firefighters, and, you know, just based off of my instinct as a journalist, I just decided to check on some resources and see what was happening in my area.
You know, I just happened to see that there was a large, you know, fire response going towards Younger where the shooting had occurred. So, I just wanted to go see what was happening and you know, as I was leaving my residence, I did see a lot of Deputies just rolling lights and sirens towards the direction of the scene.
COOPER: How quickly were you getting toward the scene from when this actually began? I mean, did you hear gunshots? Or did you just know -- see the action of police and know something was going on?
JONATHAN: So I just heard a lot of sirens, you know. I'm not -- I'm not, like I said, I'm within a mile radius. It took me three minutes to just get to the scene. And yes, on my way there, I actually did hear a loud gunshot and kind of just echo through the neighborhood, just because it's a pretty quiet area. You know, you don't really get a lot of things like this ever happening, especially in this part of town. Like it's just very quiet, really residential.
I mean, you've got the police department, you have -- you know, you have the Sheriff's Office, and, you know, some of the training facilities here. And it's just -- it was just really surprising to even know that that was happening, just, you know, not far away from home.
COOPER: So when you get to the scene, at what point did you realize this wasn't a drill or, you know, a false alarm or a fire? When did you realize it was an active shooter situation?
JONATHAN: Until they started bringing people out. You know, like I said, when I was going there, I didn't really know what was happening.
And, you know, just, you know -- I just thought it was -- you know, I thought it was one other like I just thought it was training and, you know, yes, when I got there, and I saw that they were bringing victims out and just seeing fire gear up in their tactical vests, you know, their bulletproof vests and bulletproof helmet, that's when you -- that's when I really realized like, you know, something was really happening. And, you know, just seeing, you know what I saw, just really, that was a shock.
COOPER: Yes, Jonathan, I appreciate you showing us your video. Thank you very much.
We'll keep updating the story throughout the program tonight. But there's more breaking news tonight, a warning from a highly respected Federal Judge handling the cases of some of the alleged Capitol Hill attackers. She says the threat has not gone away because the former President's big election lie lives on.
CNN's Jessica Schneider joins us now with the story. So Jessica, talk more about what we've learned from this Judge.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, Anderson, this is a warning coming from Judge Amy Berman Jackson. She is really an outspoken and longtime Federal Judge here in Washington, and she says that the public could really still be endangered if some of these Capitol riot defendants were released from jail because the exact lies that brought them to the Capitol on January 6th and inspired them to attack the Capitol, she says, they are still being repeated by the former President Trump and some major news organizations.
So this is what Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote in this 26-page opinion tonight. She said, "The steady drumbeat that inspired defendant to take up arms has not faded away. Six months later, the canard that the election was stolen is being repeated daily on major news outlets and from the corridors of power in state and Federal government. Not to mention the near daily fulminations of the former President." Of course, that being Trump.
And that was really a blunt assessment of the current political climate, Anderson, and how it poses this danger throughout our society. You know, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, she wrote these words as part of her ultimate decision to keep the defendant in this case, Cleveland Meredith in jail, because she says he posed a danger to the public.
Now, this is the man who allegedly texted that he wanted to shoot House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on live TV. And then he hauled a trailer of guns and ammunition allegedly here to Washington. He's pleaded not guilty. But obviously, Anderson, the Judge in this case, not holding back in this 26-page opinion keeping him in jail.
COOPER: She is not the first Federal Judge to issue this kind of a warning.
SCHNEIDER: No, we've seen it repeatedly over the past weeks and months that this continued push of the big lie, it may actually be keeping alive some of the grassroots anger that led to the Capitol attack in January.
So we've heard from several judges, one of them being D.C. Federal Judge Emmett Sullivan in April, he talked about how he was concerned that this dissatisfaction over the election that some Americans have still hasn't dissipated. And he also referenced the constant public comments that we're hearing from former President Trump about what he has repeatedly called the stolen election.
And then there was Judge Paul Friedman also here in D.C. He wrote about how actually one of the defendants who drove cross country with guns before allegedly assaulting police at the Capitol. The fact that this defendant idolized President -- former President Trump and believed those lies about the election fraud.
So really, Anderson, this is an ongoing concern for judges as these people who carried out the attack, they are still appearing in court. And because of this concern from these Judges, many continue to be kept behind bars because of the danger these Judges say they still present.
COOPER: Jessica Schneider, appreciate it. Thank you.
We have more breaking news coming up. New developments surrounding the grand jury investigating the former President and/or his organization that could signal a big change or shift from collecting evidence to actually presenting a case.
And later, and this is pretty amazing, new reporting at how difficult it is even for the mother of fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick to get answers from senators weighing the proposed Commission on the January 6th attack. Keeping them honest.
COOPER: More breaking news tonight involved in that special Manhattan grand jury convening to hear possible criminal charges against the Trump Organization and perhaps the former President.
"The Washington Post" first reported that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has the grand jury looking to among other things, the former President's tax returns and the overall finances of the company. CNN's Paula Reid joins us now with the new developments. So what do we know about what prosecutors are now focusing on?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we've learned that at least one witness has been told by investigators to prepare to go before a grand jury.
So this signals that this long running investigation, it has been going on for about two years now is entering an advanced stage.
REID: The grand jury is an incredibly powerful tool for prosecutors. It allows them to continue to gather evidence and they can also test their case to see whether they have gathered enough to potentially bring an indictment against the former President, the Trump Organization or anyone else.
Now, this investigation specifically, it's pretty wide ranging, but really, it is focused on questions about whether the Trump Organization lied about its assets, looking at whether when they went to the banks to get loans, they inflated their assets. And when it was time to pay taxes, they may have devalued their assets, so they didn't have to pay as much.
The former President, Anderson, has denied any wrongdoing and he has dismissed this as he does with most investigations, calling it a witch hunt.
COOPER: Do we know who the DA's office may look to as potential witnesses?
REID: The potential crime here, of course, one of them is fraud. And as we know, the former President, Anderson, he doesn't e-mail, he doesn't tend to leave a paper trail. So what prosecutors are going to need, they're going to need a witness who is in the room with him, anyone who talked about these specific issues.
So all eyes are on the longtime Trump Organization CFO, Allen Weisselberg. He is the kind of guy that if he was willing to cooperate, he can really give investigators some insight about the inner workings of this organization.
He is also facing his own investigation into his taxes, which could help pressure him to actually cooperate in this investigation. But we'll see, and, Anderson, just because there is a grand jury, no guarantee that the former President or anyone at all in this investigation will be charged. But a former prosecutor tells CNN that it would be very rare to convene a special grand jury in Manhattan that didn't at least consider charges.
COOPER: Paula Reid, appreciate it. I want to get some perspective now from Gwenda Blair, who teaches at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and is the author of "The Trumps: Three Generation of Builders and a Presidential Candidate." Also with CNN legal analyst, Elliot Williams, former Federal prosecutor. Elliot, what can you -- what does it tell you about where the
Manhattan DA's investigation is at given his office has apparently told at least one witness to prepare for grand jury testimony?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Look, it's abundantly clear that they've reached a point in their investigation where the District Attorney believes that there's evidence of a crime.
You know, it would be irresponsible for any prosecutor's office to have reached this point and not believe that there was at least some suggestion that there had been a crime. Now, look, in the grand jury, the prosecution has a relatively low bar to clear. It is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, which basically means in plain language, that it is more likely than not that a crime was committed.
Now, it seems based on the fact they are calling evidence and where they are, they probably know more than that, and are, you know, calling witnesses to establish that. So this is beyond the point where they're just poking around and looking for documents. And I think they're, in all likelihood onto something.
COOPER: Couldn't it be possible, though, that they just want a witness to explain some complex documents that the grand jury will be looking at?
WILLIAMS: It could be, you know, witnesses can come in to sort of help authenticate or make sense of documents. But again, when you're talking about an investigation into a former President, and frankly, step back and note, and we should always note how significant this is.
History has never seen this, the law has never seen this. And it's in their interest to only bring evidence that's going to get them, you know, more than a phishing expedition, I think, Anderson and closer to bringing charges.
So yes, it could be, but you know, I just think it's hard to believe that or see that at this point.
COOPER: And Gwenda, we don't know who the witnesses or if there is more than one. We do know that prosecutors have been investigating as we were just hearing this, the Trump Organization CFO, Allen Weisselberg. He's been with the company for almost 50 years. Paula Reid talking about them looking into his taxes. We also know they've looked at, I believe, one of his children, as well.
Based on your reporting for your book. Is there really much he doesn't know about what's going on there?
GWENDA BLAIR, AUTHOR, "THE TRUMPS": Is there much that Allen Weisselberg doesn't know? The simple answer is no. He is there. He is the guy who figured out all the tax strategies for the last half century. He's the guy.
COOPER: And what so what role -- I mean, he has been the person in charge of all of that, all this time? BLAIR: He has been -- he was an accountant. He started in 1973. That
was before Donald Trump actually took over the business. So he has been there the whole time. He is the guy who figured out the strategy that Fred Trump used to pass on his estate to his children and to avoid taxes. Shell corporations, all kinds of things that were documented extensively in "The New York Times" a few years ago in a very, very lengthy series.
And Allen Weisselberg was the guy who figured all that out.
BLAIR: I have to tell you that when I interviewed Donald Trump, it was back when he was at Trump Tower, of course, and everybody -- he had a very small staff. I was surprised at how small it was and some very stylish looking people there. It was a very glitzy, stylish, fancy super luxury environment. Over in the corner was this green eyeshade guy, Allen Weisselberg.
He wasn't there for the form. He wasn't there for this glamour. He wasn't there for any of that. He was there because he knew how to do tax strategies and he has been there for this whole time. He knows.
COOPER: Elliot, what kind of levers do prosecutors have to get something like, you know, the accountant to, to cooperate with them? And we've seen this in you know, mob cases and in you know, mob movies, where it's the accountant in the end who brings the people down.
WILLIAMS: Right. Look, if you are -- if prosecutors are investigating an organization for financial or tax regularities, the last person on earth an organization wants is their four-decade tenured Chief Financial Officer.
Now the huge incentive to answer your question, Anderson, is the risk of prosecution of him or his own family. And I think what prosecutors can hold over him is either look, you know, you can plead to a particular charge, or -- you know, you can plead to a pretty big charge, or, you know, we can go after members of your family, or we can go after you more seriously.
And so, avoiding being prosecuted or avoiding having loved ones be prosecuted is a huge incentive. And even for someone who might be loyal to an organization or the principal of the organization. So imagine if Allen Weisselberg just, you know, wishes to remain loyal to the Trump family, I don't know.
But, you know, the risk of being prosecuted and avoiding that could be a huge incentive to motivate behavior. Prosecutors do it all the time as a means of securing guilty pleas for people who are cooperating.
COOPER: Gwenda, Allen Weisselberg's former daughter-in-law, Jennifer, told "The New Yorker" about her former father-in-law saying, "His whole worth is does Donald like me today? It's his whole life, his core being. He is obsessed. He has more feelings and adoration for Donald than his wife," end quote. She also told CNN she thinks Weisselberg would flip and cooperate with
investigators if necessary to protect himself. I mean, it's sort of a stunning portrayal of this person. And again, there are all these people around the former President, who seem to pledge him loyalty even though loyalty is not something he himself pledges to anyone.
WILLIAMS: The simple fact is, yes, that that might be a one sided loyalty. But the simple fact is, if this is a question of going away for months or years in prison, what is that going to get you? And that is a question that criminal defendants, targets subjects face all the time, and based on what we know, this individual will have to confront here.
COOPER: Gwenda, does it make sense to you this whole kind of loyalty thing to this person?
BLAIR: His core staff and Allen Weisselberg is certainly one of them, he certainly -- loyalty he puts a great emphasis on that, except as we've seen, when it doesn't matter to him anymore when it's expedient not to, and Allen Weisselberg has been very loyal to him over all these years.
But going to jail? That's a pretty test -- that's the ultimate test and his own daughter-in-law, you know, former daughter-in-law. She said something very interesting, which she said, the way that the perks and benefits are handed out to staff, it is to keep them dependent, to keep them afraid to not stay there, to keep them docile.
And I think that that is very much the case with Allen Weisselberg. He is the poster child for how successful that has been in the Trump Organization. He was the -- we have to remember that he was the co- trustee of the trust -- of the setup that was supposed -- when Donald Trump moved to the White House, his two sons were going to run the company, the third person who was supposed to be running it was Allen Weisselberg.
He has absolutely been in the midst of everything. Everything. In the midst of Donald Trump being able to kind of gain the bankruptcy system and end up being you know, run up over a billion dollars in debt and use that to offset paying in taxes for years and years and years, for him having to pay taxes of $750.00 in 2016 and 2017. That's why Allen Weisselberg is still standing close.
COOPER: Gwenda Blair, I appreciate your time tonight and Elliot Williams as well. Thanks so much.
The next question of a commission to investigate January 6 attack on democracy and why not even the mother of a fallen Capitol Police Officer might not get answers from some of the lawmakers who will be voting on that commission.
COOPER: Given the Federal Judge's warning which we reported on tonight that the former President's big lie about election fraud could inspire yet more violence, this next story is not just about recent history, it also speaks to those who would close their eyes to what still may come.
Tomorrow, the mother of fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick will go to the institution he gave his life defending. She'll be there trying -- and I emphasize trying -- to talk with Republican senators about the bill to create a commission to investigate the attack that cost her son his life.
Now, you would think that no senator could refuse her, but CNN has learned answers from some senators are hard to come by. First though, it is when you think about it, hard to believe that some lawmakers would refuse to see her or to believe that there are human beings who witnessed the worst assault in democracy by Americans since the Civil War, who do not want to be reminded of what they saw with their own eyes.
And it seems they especially don't want to be reminded by a grieving mom, which I guess should really not come as a surprise considering the reason some G.O.P. senators are giving for opposing the January 6th commission. Some have argued that it comes too late and would spill over into an election year even though the bill before them imposes a December 31st deadline.
Others say that it comes too soon. And then of course, there's this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ANDREW CLYDE (R-GA): You know, if you didn't know the TV footage was a video from January the 6, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Congressman Adam Clyde, his remarks are so ludicrous and so offensive to the memory of Officer Sicknick that his mother Gladys included in her letter to lawmakers today. Here's what she said about that, as well as her son's role in protecting that congressman, quote, he and his fellow officers fought for hours and hours against those animals who are trying to take over the Capitol building and our democracy as we know it.
Well, they were fighting congressmen and senators were locking themselves inside their offices. According to some who barricaded in their offices said it looked like tourists walking through the Capitol. Really? She added I suggest that all congressmen and senators who are against this bill visit my son's grave in Arlington National Cemetery. And while they're thinking about what their hurtful decisions will do to those officers who will be there for them going forward.
More now from CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangal who joins us. Also the man who first swore Brian Sicknick in as a young Capitol Police officer is former Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer and we're pleased he could be with us tonight.
So Jamie, first of all, what are you learning?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the list of senators who have said yes has been in flux all day. We are reaching out to everyone thus far according to a source familiar with the list, only 15 senators have said yes, these are Republican senators Anderson out of 50. We've been told that seven others, including Mitch McConnell, have offered that Mrs. Sicknick could meet with staff members. So that leaves about 28 other members.
Now, our source has told us that some of those senators have told them no. But CNN is still in the midst of reaching out to the entire conference. I think it's not unimportant to note that at the beginning of today, some people said no. And then when we call them all of a sudden, they switch to yes.
COOPER: Chief Gainer, what does it say that some Republican senators won't even take the time to meet with Officer Sicknick's mom?
TERRANCE GAINER, FMR CHIEF, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: Well, it reinforces that some of them don't get the seriousness of what went on. And the sacrifices made by these officers, as it's just pitiful. And there's no reason they can't spare a few minutes for the mother of this fine officer. And she certainly has a right to speak for him.
COOPER: Jamie, do you think that anybody would actually change their mind after speaking to Officer Sicknick's mom?
GANGEL: It's really hard to say at this point. Right now, there are only three members, Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski, who have said that they will vote to end cloture to allow a vote on the commission to go forward. My sense is, especially when you look at these numbers today that we've only been able to confirm that 15 will actually meet with her, that Mitch McConnell has a very firm grip on his conference, and he does not want this commission.
COOPER: Chief Gainer, you knew Officer Sicknick personally -- personally you swore him in and I want to read more --
COOPER: -- of the letter from his mom. She says, putting politics aside, wouldn't they want to know the truth of what happened on January 6? If not, they do not deserve to have the jobs they were elected to do.
What do you think the message it sends to Capitol Police, the Capitol Police Force if the commission gets voted down tomorrow?
GAINER: You know, we talk a lot about the trust the officers have to gain with the public. But I think the leadership of the Congress and the members need to reinforce their trust of the officers. I think the officers are still hurting from the 6 in the loss of this officer. And the other two that resulted out of this. And they need some
affirmation besides just a nod from some of these members, that they care about them and can take some action to try to find out what happened so we can improve. Make sure it never happened again.
So, all I've gotten out in the past four months is really a lot of lip service about thank you very much. You're our heroes. We did let you lie in honor. But now let's move on and that's not fair.
COOPER: What do you remember about Officer Sicknick? I mean, you swore him in well in 2003 was it?
GAINER: Yes. And, you know, one of the things when you swear these young men and women and, a they look so old or young to us oldsters and that when you see him in and around the Capitol doing their job how proud you are of them. So he and the other two that died were people that I talked with, interacted with and other staff members talked very highly about them as do their contemporaries. We owe them this.
These members, whether they're Democrats or Republicans owe something to these officers, and the other people who've bought up there that day to get to the bottom of this and figure out how we can prevent it. How possibly could they not want to meet with this bought man's mom? I mean, it's like he's calling from the grave. She's speaking for him, reach out and talk to the woman. And then if you can look her in the eye and deny this, that I guess you've manned up.
COOPER: Terrance Gainer, appreciate your time tonight. Jamie Gangel as well. Thank you.
Earlier, I said the congressman's name you heard from was Adam Clyde his first name is Andrew, not Adam.
(voice-over): Coming up, the President takes action in a political controversy. That's also a legitimate mystery about whether COVID-19 emerged from a Chinese lab.
COOPER: President Biden has tasked his intelligence agencies to redouble their efforts to investigate the origins of COVID-19 and report back to him in 90 days. This comes after U.S. intelligence report found several researchers at China's Wuhan lab fell ill in November of 2019 and had to be hospitalized, which is fueling debate about where and how the pandemic began.
And also comes after CNN has learned of a secret investigation by the former president State Department into the mysterious origins of the virus that was shut down by the Biden administration.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins joins us now with more on all of this. Also, CNN medical analyst, Dr. Leana Wen.
So Kaitlan, what is the White House saying tonight, these are all the most substantive statements we've gotten from President Biden's since taking office on the origins of COVID-19. It suggests that he saw something that's driving this and the reports he'd requested.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It does and kind of what the President goes into in his statement where he was announcing this new directive for the U.S. intelligence community Anderson is he says that he asked his National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, about this back in March.
And he said they came to him he had follow up questions for them. And now because of whatever he saw, in those follow up questions, he's now directing them to lead this effort into basically getting a better answer as to what the origin of this could be, because he says the intelligence community has coalesced around these two ideas, but both have essentially low to moderate confidence in the fact that they are right and what their theory is. So he wants a more definitive answer.
And so, that's why he's instructing them to do this. But it does give you this indication that maybe he thinks there could be some credibility behind this theory of a lab leak, potentially, because he does want them to put the full force of the federal government behind it.
COOPER: And Kaitlan, the scene and reporting to the Biden administration shut down a Trump State Department effort looking into the origins of the virus. It's raising eyebrows, though, it's not entirely clear cut because it was run by allies of Mike Pompeo. And there were apparently concerns about political motives. That said, how's the Biden administration justifying the move?
COLLINS: Well, I think that's the big question facing them, because they're disputing that it was shut down. They're saying simply the investigation came to an end and that its work was done. But I think it raises questions, because obviously did not come to a conclusion over what the ultimate effect was. Obviously, there are still questions. That's why President Biden wants this investigation to go on. And he's putting the U.S. intelligence community behind it.
But I do think there was this concern that when you talked to Biden officials that they were worried that when it was attached to someone like Secretary of State Pompeo, who pushed it repeatedly, against what other experts were saying, people were doubtful of it. And of course, you saw former President Trump pushing it as well.
And so, I think it's kind of surprising to see that the Biden administration waited this long to say that, yes, we are going to put the intelligence community behind this. But I do think it speaks to the level of they want to figure out what's going on here.
They don't seem to think China's being cooperative. Of course, we've known that they have not been cooperative for some time, and they want to get answers to this. But whether or not we actually get those, it really remains to be seen. COOPER: And Dr. Wen, we talked about this topic earlier in the week, I know you did your master's thesis on the Chinese healthcare system. I wonder what your initial reaction to the new reporting is.
LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's really important that we get to the bottom of this. And clearly the World Health Organization hasn't been successful in their efforts, which would have been ideal.
And so, I do think it's really important that the Biden administration now takes a hard look at the two dominant theories that there are, it's important that we find out for the purposes of preventing the next pandemic, to know is this the spillover animal theory? Or is there a lab leak, in which case you might also want to strengthen better protections in labs.
I do want to say, though, then it's really important for whatever investigation that occurs to follow the scientific method, because the last thing that we want to do is to have a pre-determined conclusion. And then to cherry pick our answers accordingly. Perhaps that was the problem with the investigation under the Trump administration that they already had a conclusion in mind.
And that's why I hope that the Biden team keeps an open mind. And they really look at the scientific data and the facts as they come in, because overall, this is about the health and well-being of Americans and the entire world.
COOPER: I mean, without cooperation, though, from the Chinese, I mean, Dr. Wen it's going to be extremely difficult to get answers.
WEN: Right. And even if the Chinese government cooperated at this point, there's going to be an open question of are they falsifying documents? How can we really trust what it is that they're putting forward? The there are lots of lab samples, for example, that we know are out there, including of researchers, of individuals who are sick early in the pandemic? Do we have access to them now even if we can get access? How do we know that what we're getting is real?
And so, I think this is why I'm having of course, having cooperation would be ideal. But even if we got cooperation, I think there needs to be some intelligence and people looking into this to see whether we are getting truthful and accurate information.
COOPER: Kaitlan, is there a sense of how long this will take? I mean, I know the Biden administration obviously wants it as soon as possible.
COLLINS: So, President Biden said 90 days that he wants them to get back to him by that but the question that remains then is do we get to find out what President Biden is learning in 90 days? Does the White House wait to declassified that and get let reporters know essentially what that report that's delivered to the President's desk says? That's what we don't know yet.
[20:45:10] And I think the White House is trying to be really cautious here saying that they don't think or they don't know for sure that they are going to magically find out where this came from what happened in 90 days from now. They're saying that it could be a little vague then. But I think President Biden is pretty clear in his statement that he wants something more definitive by then.
And so, we'll see what happens at the end of these 90 days or if a determination is made before they reach that point.
COOPER: Yes. Kaitlan Collins, Dr. Leana Wen, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
(voice-over): Up next, we're joined by the mother Ronald Greene who died in police custody. She will join a big march tomorrow on police accountability.
COOPER: Tomorrow in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the ACLU and NAACP of Louisiana will hold a rally for justice in honor of Ronald Greene. His family will be there. He's the black man who was punched, repeatedly tasered, kicked and dragged by his feet while handcuffed by Louisiana State Troopers two years ago.
This is some of the police body cam videos CNN obtained last week. Authority have since released all of the video they've been sitting on it now for two years. Greene's family says police told them he died in a car crash after a police chase. Now they're accusing the police and state officials of a cover up, they filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit.
Joining me again tonight is Ronald Greene's mother, Mona Hardin. Ms. Hardin, thank you so much for joining us again.
We learned this week that one of the troopers involved in your son's arrest. And what we saw in that video was fired over the use of force in another unrelated incident. When you heard that, what did you think? Because it, he wasn't arrested, he wasn't -- he's -- there's been no repercussions for being involved in what happened to your son. It's just some other incident.
MONA HARDIN, RONALD GREENE'S MOTHER: And that's what I'm so infuriated by that, because they think that they this is worse than a band aid on a murder. And I don't understand how they can even apply this on any level. The fact that you already had one who supposedly died in a car crash (INAUDIBLE), you have another one who 50 hours administrative leave, we're talking about murder, it's clear, straight out murder.
COOPER: In some of the video, one of the officers, I believe it's in the video says that he didn't want to put your son up into a sitting position because he didn't want to get blood on him. He was afraid your son was going to cough up blood on him. I mean, that's extraordinary. HARDIN: You know, what points what would you see in this video, they're really some sick individuals here. And it's really sad that these sick individuals are employed by the Louisiana State Troopers. And they're continuously on a lot of issues. This -- my son isn't the first and it's really sick what you see here, how these people with badges, killing and torturing my son to the point that they killed him.
COOPER: It's clear in this video that this is not the first -- that they are not experimenting with stuff that they haven't done before. I mean, it seems they all are pretty comfortable multiple, you know, tasering your son multiple times, you know, screaming at him, getting him out of the vehicle, beating him, dragging him by his feet while he's handcuffed, you know, putting their foot onto your son to push him down on the ground so he can't get off his chest. I mean, is that the sense you have from watching this video as well that they've done this before likely.
HARDIN: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. And the word you use, and I agree totally is they're very comfortable with this, to the point that they know when it's done, someone else above them will help cover this up. It's like they're given these badges to go out, find you, somebody, kill them. We'll take care of it here. This cover up is corruption. It's not only the state troopers, it's those who employed them to let this happen.
COOPER: Also, I mean, they afterward were texting each other joking about it. I mean, they're police officers who know about evidence, it clearly would seem to indicate either the stupidest people on the planet, or they just assume no one's going to look into what happened.
No one's going to care what happened. And if they do, it'll just be covered up. I mean, I don't understand. These are police officers texting about, you know, jokingly about, you know, beating up your son. His blood, you know, I mean, it's incredible.
HARDIN: Yes, and, you know, Anderson what's so gut wrenching is the fact that this story, this back and forth of this nightmare, of this obvious killing of my son Ronnie, you know, it started from day one. They knew what happened. The cover up started way back then. Fast forward, September of 2020.
And then we're there, we're invited there to see these videos, but they give us only a small portion of it. And then part of it has no sound to it and then we leave. But the whole time we're there, they've already made plans of letting the colonel reach retire. They already made plans of letting the (INAUDIBLE), a court yard (ph) with the 50 our suspended administrative leave.
I mean, they already had that plan. So it was like the photo up. It was a big joke for the family of Ronald Greene and I'm so mad, I'm so, so mad. What the way it's here we are. How we how we try to justify what we clearly see is a murder.
And why do we keep this back and forth so that it can be politically correct for those that don't want to get thrown under the bus but they're going to decide who's going to pay for this while the rest is going to glory. That's how I see it. You know the corruption level.
COOPER: Mona Hardin, I appreciate your time and you'll be in Baton Rouge lending your voice. Thank you very much for being with us.
HARDIN: Thank you.
COOPER (voice-over): Next up, an update on the mass shooting in San Jose, California and the staggering total mass shootings to date this year alone when we continue.
COOPER: Recapping our breaking news from the top of the program. Prosecutors say the multiple weapons were used today in that mass shooting in San Jose California, the left eight people dead plus the gunman who authority said took his own life.
According to police, the gunfire broke out at daybreak at a light rail maintenance yard his workers were entering for their morning shift. This is the 232nd mass shooting of the year according to data from the Gun Violence Archive and the 17 since last Wednesday.
California's Governor Gavin Newsom reflected on the growing frustration over the sheer numbers of shooting saying and a quote, it begs the damn question, what the hell is going on and even United States of America. What the hell is wrong with us?
President Biden has again urged Congress to take what he called immediate action on gun legislation.
The news continues. Let's hand over Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?