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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Aurora, Illinois Shooting; Active Shooter Apprehended In Aurora; Mueller Met With White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders; Trump On Declaration: I Didn't Need To Do This; Officials: Shooter Apprehended After Incident In Aurora, Illinois; Hospital Say They Have Received Multiple-Patients. 4:30-5p ET

Aired February 15, 2019 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:30:00] JOSH CAMPBELL, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Cn151630. And again, that's what law enforcement officers will be doing. Through no fault of their own, a witness, whenever they see something especially in an emergent situation, where stress hormones are coursing through veins, where you have tunnel vision. Again, people, you know, sometimes see things possibly, you know, differently in the way that it happened. Again, that's not to despair what the witness was saying earlier.

But again, we just want to know more, hear from more people about what they saw and certainly from authorities. Because the law enforcement officers aren't come out and make a statement about what's there unless they are confident that what they have is actually what took place. But again, we need to have those details. And more important, the people in the community there need to have those details because we have a number of people, you know, you think about all the family members and friends of people who work in that facility, are wondering right now what is going on.

And so, again, those -- it's so critical for these details to come out, to the extent that law enforcement officers are able to provide an information without jeopardizing their own going investigation.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Right. You think about these multiple civilians, four police officers that are stable and what their families must be thinking as they trying to learn more about what happened here.

Brynn Gingras, I want to bring you back in because you've been monitoring the situation from the very beginning. I want to reset, if you for us, what the latest is, what happened and where we are now.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We're still waiting to hear information about what's happening actually on the ground. Of course, we're seeing so much activity there in Aurora, Illinois.

But what we know right now, I want to add to the conversation is that, US Marshals are also responding to the scene. So that makes a lot of federal authorities headed to Aurora including the ATF, the FBI from the Chicago Breuer as well as US Marshals. Again, this happened at a manufacturing facility. It's unclear what type of facility is, but you can by -- there was -- we're bringing up Henry Pratt, but I think it's still unclear whether it was a steel facility or Henry Pratt based on some varying tweets from different agencies.

But again, this happened in Aurora, Illinois, that's about one hour west of Chicago. We know that four officers as well as multiple civilians were hit by gunfire. And those officers are in stable condition. Of course, that's good news. However, we don't know sort of what condition that is, just that it is stable, so meaning it's not getting any better or it's not getting any worse.

The also other good news, is that we know that the suspect has been apprehended. But as you've been pointing out, Pam, we knew while this was an active shooter situation, that there was a school district that was on the soft lock down. We know that the town was saying don't go to that area, or stay away from that area. They have enlisted those distractions as of yet.

So it appears as if investigators are still on the ground trying to make sure that everything is all clear, even though this suspects as we're being told has been apprehended. We are also learning, again, from affiliates that someone inside this workplace, kind of describe it as workplace violence, someone had come in with a gun and started shooting. But again, that hasn't been corroborated as of yet.

So that's really where we are right now, Pam, waiting to get more information again from law enforcement their on the ground.

BROWN: And on that note, Brynn, let's take a listen to what this witness told CNN's affiliate WLS.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One our guys (inaudible) saying he said that the person was shooting and come on and down, he is bleeding pretty bad. The next thing you know he was walking back in front and we heard more shots. I saw the guy rolling down the aisle and with a pistol, with laser on it.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BROWN: OK. Jonathan Wackrow, what is your take on what we heard from that witness? That -- but we should say -- again, say CNN has not corroborated that account, and of course you want to hear from multiple witnesses. But go ahead.

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. I mean, listen, it speaks to what my colleagues were saying earlier that, you know, there's, you know, during moments of these dynamic incidents, there's physiological and psychological effect that stress has on an individual and their ability to, you know, accurately remember finite details in the immediate aftermath.

So I think that what is, you know, law enforcement is doing right now, is they want to speak to as many people as possible to get out all of the common themes, all of the common information, and, you know, they will be able to figure out what that outlier information, what is, you know, potentially something that may not be relevant to the investigation. They can push that aside.

But really, what, you know, these talks to right now is, you know, we're only about 30, I think 33 minutes into when law enforcement had notified that the suspect was actually apprehended. So what -- we're really in the second phase of this crisis. The first phase was really the incident, the active shooter. We had law enforcement, an emergency services rushing to this site to engage the threat and address the threat however means possible.

Now, it's time for everyone to, you know, to take pause, to go back into a very thorough methodical search of the facility ensure that there's no additional threats. It was said before that the sites seems contained, but it doesn't necessarily means that the site is secure.

[16:35:04] Law enforcement, you know, both federal state and local officials will start going through that facility. Again, this is a massive location. This is massive crime scenes. So there could be many different terrain features where, you know, different crimes were committed, thing of, you know, items of evidentiary value are contained.

It's going to take an awful long time for law enforcement to go through this site, and then, you know, actually start resolving and finding out what was the motive behind this attack, what was his, you know, his -- the attackers intention, was he going after one individual target, was he going after multiple targets, was this a crime of opportunity, was he trying to go somewhere else, I mean, there's a lot of unanswered questions here.

But again, what you going to start seeing is, information is going to start slowing down as the investigative process has to focus on the fidelity of the information available.

BROWN: And we're just getting information that Aurora Police is going to be holding a press conference soon. So hopefully, we'll learn some more details.

But I want to bring in my colleague Shimon Prokupecz because police also has said, Shimon, that the suspect had been apprehended. He, of course, is one of the only people presumably to know why he did what he did.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. So he's apprehended.

BROWN: I'm assuming that's a he by the way. I'm not sure if is that a he.

PROKUPECZ: Just assuming. But here's the thing, we don't know the condition of the suspect. We don't really know a whole lot of information. Let's be up front about that.

The big thing right now is that, we know that four officers have been injured, presumably, hit struck by gunfire. And they intercepted in the shooting here. And that's how they got injured. So, you know, it could be that the suspect shot, we don't flow. We don't have enough information. As in most of these situations, it sometimes takes a little while for the police to gather everything to forward.

If there was some kind of a threat, I think we'd be hearing from the police. We'll be told different information that there was an ongoing threat. But the one part of this is that there's no ongoing threat.

The other thing that's important and we're not hearing about is really the number of victims. We're not seeing a lot of ambulances leave the scene since we got there. So that to me is a little concerning because that could mean that there are victims inside that presumably, you know, may have died and that, obviously, they would not be transported. So we may have a very large crime scene here.

Again, we don't know a lot but, you know, the ambulance is not leaving, the police kind of standing around. It appears that right now what they are dealing with is a crime scene. So hopefully the police will be able to answer some questions about the shooter. You know, we do have a witness who was there who did tell one of our affiliates that this was a workplace shooting, that this was a coworker of his.

So law enforcement, I believe, at this point is acting on the theory that this is a workplace shooting. And that's really all we know right now. And we're seeing a lot of police officers I'm sure, probably standing around after witnessing what they did inside. They went in. It's probably a rough scene in there. You know, we've cover this so many times and, you know, how many times we hear when you go into these locations, with these officers and what they see.

And it's probably -- there was probably a pretty hefty gun battle here, when you have four officers injured like this. So, you know, hopefully, we'll hear more soon. But the thing that I want to know right now, obviously, is more about the shooter, what's his condition, was he shot, is he alive? We know he is apprehended, that doesn't necessarily mean that he's not injured. And the other thing obviously, the big thing that I want to know is the victims and really the impact this is going to have on this community.

BROWN: Absolutely. And again, we hope to hear more in this press conference from Aurora Police. James Gagliano, as we await to learn more information in this press conference, what would you want to ask the suspect if you were able to question he or she? Because again, we don't know the details of the suspect but what would you want to ask?

JAMES GAGLIANO, RETIRED FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Well, obviously, Pam, from the law enforcement perspective, we're always looking at motivation and causality. And look, that's not a fantasy. It doesn't solve everything. But it helps us understand why something happened so we can get in front of the next one.

Look, we're looking at a silver scene that Shimon just kind of described there. And I think it's really, really important to understand we've got to be very cautious because, you know, erroneous reports, you know, the facts and accuracy of reporting in the early stages these things, while critical incidents are going on, that is usually the first casualty of this, is getting reports that are -- that you can look at and say, "Hey, that's sustainable."

From this perspective right now, I'm looking at the posture and the disposition of the SWAT officers there. It looks like they do have scene that is contained, but as some of my other colleagues pointed out, that doesn't necessarily mean that there's not some fervent investigation going on in the interior of these buildings right here. Because again, the most important piece of this, we have one shooter in custody. We don't know his status necessarily but to make sure that there was nobody that either supported, assisted or provided material support to this person.

[16:40:09] So if I was going to ask this person, the first thing I'd want to know would be, why did you do it, what were you targets and was anybody else involved in those are the three questions i would hit him with right of the bat.

BROWN: OK. And as we are looking at this live footage from CNN affiliate, WGN, we just saw some of those ambulances there on the scene moving slowly. So, of course, are keeping an eye on the unfolding situation there and the aftermath, apparently, of this shooting at this (inaudible) company or a near by location.

We're trying to get some more details. We hope to get those details from police shortly at a press conference. We're going to take a quick break and we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] BROWN: Breaking news now. CNN was first to report today that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team interviewed White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders for his investigations. Sanders is saying this was a voluntary interview and the President urged her like everyone else to fully cooperate with Mueller's team.

Now, this was one of the final known interviews by Mueller's team and it came around the same time as a Special Counsel interviewed former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Sources tell me that happened late summer early fall.

Now also at this hour, President Trump is heading to Florida after setting up a massive legal fight in Washington in declaring a national emergency to get what Congress would not give, money for the border wall. Democrats blasted this move as a power grab bowing to take option and other groups are already starting to mount legal challenges.

Now in his speech, the President repeatedly claimed he needs to build the wall to protect against an invasion of immigrants and drugs, but he negated the entire argument in this five-second admission.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this, but I'd rather do it much faster.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Now, is today's declaration more about keeping a campaign promise to build the wall, that is the big question. I want to bring in my colleague CNN's Kaitlan Collins with her piece.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP I'm going to be signing a national emergency.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump declaring a national emergency today --

TRUMP: Because we had an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people and it's unacceptable.

COLLINS: Bypassing Congress to gain access to billions of dollars and fund his long-promised border wall after lawmakers denied him the $5.7 billion he demanded.

TRUMP: We have so much money we don't know what to do with it.

COLLINS: Trump granting himself the authority to use billions from the military construction budget, a move that will likely face immediate legal challenges.

TRUMP: They will sue us in the 9th Circuit even though it shouldn't be there and we will possibly get a bad ruling and then we'll get another bad ruling, and then we'll end up in the Supreme Court and hopefully we'll get a fair shake.

COLLINS: Speaking without a teleprompter today, the President undercutting his claim that this is a real emergency.

TRUMP: I didn't need to do this. But I would rather do it much faster.

COLLINS: As he repeated his false claim that crime in El Paso, Texas dropped after a fence was built.

TRUMP: It was not only better, it was like 100 percent better.

COLLINS: FBI data shows the violent crime rates in the Texas border city dropped long before construction began. Trump also falsely claiming that the wall is needed because most drugs enter the U.S. through remote areas.

TRUMP: And a big majority of the big drugs, the big drug loads don't go through ports of entry.

COLLINS: But the DEA's own 2018 drug threat assessment shows the vast majority of hard narcotics like heroin come in through legal ports of entry. Trump signing the emergency declaration before he even signed the spending bill today which he framed as a victory even though he came close to rejecting it.

TRUMP: He's not going to get one dollar. Well, I got $1.4 billion, but I'm not happy with it.

COLLINS: Democrats immediately calling the move unlawful.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: I think the fact that members of Congress will sue this administration over the use of expansive presidential powers that is not warranted and not appropriate --

COLLINS: As Republicans fear what goes around will come around.

REP. TOM REED (R), NEW YORK: For an executive order just to kind of go around Congress is not the appropriate way to do business.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: So Pam, a slew of Republicans are voicing concern about the President declaring a national emergency but his acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters earlier today that he's confident they have the authority. So publicly he's projecting confidence but privately we know White House officials are preparing for an onslaught of legal challenges in response to the President's announcement today, Pam.

BROWN: That's right. The President even laid it out there in the Rose Garden what he thinks will happen. Kaitlan Collins, thank you very much for that. I have my table of wonderful ladies on this Friday to discuss everything going on. It's hard to know where to start here. But let me ask you this. The President said today I didn't need to do this. Did that directly undercut his argument that this is a national emergency?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It certainly could. Legal expert are kind of split on this that we've spoken to today, but there are a lot of are jumping on this saying that since this is a national emergency, it should be something that you must do. And you're also hearing members of Congress jump on this and really take issue with some of the things that the president is going to perhaps pull money from, things like drug interdiction.

I spoke to a member of Congress today from the House Armed Services Committee, John Garamendi and he was saying that one of the things that could be problematic about this is that you know, there is a U.S. military program that actually is -- they work with Colombia to make sure that the drugs stopped before they get anywhere near the border. And if that money is taken out of that particular -- of that program, it would be counterproductive.

So there are a lot of conversations going on about how the how perhaps the White House could be blocked doing this and -- but to your to your point, that is one of the ways that they might come at that.

BROWN: And we still don't know exactly, Abby, where the money specifically will come from and which projects will be either on hold or own happen anymore. The President just said today when he was asked that some of the generals agree with him and that from what he thinks that they're less important. ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. It was really I

think a stunning admission for the President to say some of these projects the DOD had this money for, I didn't think they were that important anyway. I mean, that's something that politically is going to be used against him particularly once the details of this plan will come out.

The White House has been very vague about where this money is coming from and it's clear that it's coming from not only the Pentagon but from existing drug interdiction programs. I mean, the problem at the border according to a President is a problem about of drugs coming over, of smugglers using people to bring drugs over.

And if that is, in fact, the case then is the President will have to explain if he's taking money from this pot and moving it over to that pot, is that really a good use of resources. So far the White House has been very vague about this. But one of the process of those checks and balances is going to be pulling that information out of them. And I think Democrats are going to get on that as soon as possible.

BROWN: And the other thing that they're talking about already is look, he made the campaign promise about building a wall but he also said Mexico would pay for it. That's clearly not happening right now. Of course, he has said the trade deal with Mexico will eventually but it hasn't even passed Congress. So there's a lot of open questions.

I want to go to this reporting I had today about Robert Mueller interviewing the Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. Of course, she would be a logical person that Robert Mueller's team want to interview, but what is the significance of this in your view.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, obviously she's close to the team and she was close to the team and talking about in particular the one instance that we have that we know about at this point of -- in black and white the team working with somebody who was pitching information from Russia, right, that Trump Tower meeting. And she was part of how that communications went down, how that was released and whether the President was involved in that or not and knew about that meeting.

So I think that's probably top of the line, but you know, Mueller knows more than I do as usual.

BROWN: Well, Jen, of course, you were a former spokesperson for the government. What goes through your mind about this?

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I was reminded as this reporting was breaking today of the meeting that I had with Hope Hicks who came with President Trump two days after he was elected and you know, that was a transfer of power. We asked what are the things we can help you with. And the main question she asked about was well, how do you make sure President Obama sees every statement. And we say -- we said, he doesn't. And her reaction was President Trump does.

You know, he's involved in the dictating and the writing of all of these statements. That's not a surprise to anyone. That's been reported in general. But you know, I think this is a case where Sarah Sanders in the role that she is -- she's not just the press secretary, she's been playing a role clearly that hope Hicks was playing before where she is the close advisor to the president. Was she there taking dictation from him on how she was talking from the podium as you said in your reporting?

Also was she there for moments over the past year or so that have been you know discussed as possible obstructions of justice? And I think the question here is what does she know, what was she there for, and how involved was President Trump and what she was saying publicly which as you noted conflicted at times?

BROWN: And as we know from the podium, she had said that he merely weighed in as any father would do on an Air Force One statement but then the President's lawyers, later on, said, no I actually dictated it. But she didn't correct the record. I imagine that would be something investigators who want to look at. We got to take a quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] BROWN: An update now on the breaking news this hour. Officials tell us a shooter has been apprehended and is no longer a threat after a shooting at a business in Aurora, Illinois. Now, any moment, police will update us on the situation and we will the news conference for you live right here on CNN.

Now, the city say four police officers and multiple civilians were struck. Those officers are said to be stable. And we're also told multiple victims have been taken to area hospitals. We will continue to bring you updates as we get them right here on CNN. But I want to go to Jonathan Wackrow, former Secret Service Agent back with me. What is the biggest questions you want answered in this press conference, Jonathan?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I'd like to see a leading indication of motivation here. I'd like to see were there any warning signs of this individual, you know, his propensity to act out this violent act? I would like to see you know, is there something that we can do better as a community to get ahead of behavioral issues so that we don't you know, have another incident of workplace violence again.

What are the red flags? What are the warning signs that collectively you know, law enforcement community leaders and individuals in the workplace need to be aware of to identify you know, workplace violence indicators?

BROWN: And you said you would like to know a motive. We will find out. Of course, this is all under investigation. We hope to learn more about that -- about this gunman and more about those civilians who were struck. Our coverage on CNN continues.

[17:00:00]