|Capitol Hill Riot Commission; Remembering 9 Victims of San Jose Shooting; Unexamined Evidence In Covid Probe|
by KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST
Published on Friday May 28, 2021 - 4:52 AM
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. We begin tonight with what we've learned as Republican senators get ready to block the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol and democracy. The vote could come in this hour. But we know how this will end.
It will be blocked by Republicans, which may sound like a political statement by me, but it's not, it's a political statement by those Republicans. It's a statement of fealty to the man who inspired the insurrection and praise the attackers, the former president, the inability to form a bipartisan commission to look into an attack on all of us is a betrayal of all of us.
As 'The Wall Street Journal's' Gerald Seib puts it, quoting from a recent column, 'The political system will have shown that it remains incapable of reversing the very problems that produced the violence in the first place -- severe partisanship, rampant mistrust of the other side, a new willingness to question election results,' which is perhaps too kind, for incapable, maybe read unwilling, because this isn't a failure of the system, it is obstruction by certain members of it ahead in the Senate.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who has been working hard to kill the measure had this to say about it earlier.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL : We all saw what happened. We were witnesses. We were under assault by the insurrection. So we know what happened.
If we set up this commission, I think the basic goal of our Democratic friends is to keep re-litigating in public what happened back on January 6 rather than getting to a quick solution through arrest of those who did it and security adjustments to make sure it never happens again.
KATE BOLDUAN: Now, before getting to what Senator McConnell left out, we should know that one Republican source tells us he had lobbied members to vote against the bill as, quote, 'a personal favor,' unquote, to him, which raises the obvious question: why is killing a bipartisan commission so personal to him? That and what kind of elected official changes their vote on such a consequential item as this as a personal favor to the boss?
Now back to his actual comments, which you might have noticed missed a very important piece. He said, 'We should arrest those responsible and make security adjustments.' What's missing from that is any mention as to why the insurrection took place, which would naturally include the big election lie and the lawmakers, some of them Republican senators who spread the lie for months before the insurrection.
As for his belief that putting more police on the beat is enough, well, it is enough for one of the officers who was badly hurt in the assault or it's not enough for one of the officers badly hurt in the assault or the mother of Officer Brian Sicknick who died shortly after. They spent the day imploring Republican senators to support the bill.
QUESTION: Does it anger you, Mrs. Sicknick, to hear senators who do not support commission and what emotions do you feel when you're confronted with that.
GLADYS SICKNICK, MOTHER OF OFFICER BRIAN SICKNICK: This is why I'm here today. And you know, usually I'm staying in the background and I just couldn't -- I couldn't stay quiet anymore.
KATE BOLDUAN: 'This is why I'm here,' she said, to push for a commission, which seems clear enough, though apparently not to one of the senators she met with who seems to suggest Mr. Sicknick wasn't especially attached to a commission at all.
SEN. TIM SCOTT : Interestingly enough, the commission was a part of the topic but what they -- what they said they wanted, to me, was more of understanding what happened with or without a commission.
KATE BOLDUAN: Well, she also met with Senator Ron Johnson, who as you know
not only opposes the commission, but also routinely lies about the nature of the attack and lies about the election and traffics in Russian disinformation about it. Supposedly, he comes by his dishonesty, honestly.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia had a wonderful reason for her opposition to a bipartisan commission. She's saw the issue has become -- and these are her words -- too politicized. And isn't that why bipartisan or nonpartisan commissions exist to move an issue as far beyond politics as possible. It's what the 9/11 Commission and the Warren Commission after President Kennedy was assassinated sought to do, and by and large succeeded.
Meantime, listen to her Democratic counterpart, Joe Manchin on the negotiation that led to the House Bill now before them.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN : Democrats, basically, given everything they've asked for, any impediment that would have been there, and there is no reason not to now unless you just don't want to hear the truth.
KATE BOLDUAN: He supports a commission and from that, you would think he's all in In fact, it's more like yes, but, because the one thing he refuses to do is get rid of the filibuster on this, so the measure would be passed with just a simple 51-vote majority.
In his own words, he says I'm not ready to destroy our government, not even it seems to investigate the most serious attempt since the Civil War to destroy our government.
Joining us now with new reporting as we wait for the votes, CNN's special correspondent, Jamie Gangel.
What more do you know about McConnell's lobbying behind the scenes?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: We are told by two Republican sources, Anderson, that in the last 24 hours, Mitch McConnell was so worried that some Republican senators might be wavering, that he pulled out all the stops, and according to one Republican source, asked them to vote against the commission, as you mentioned as quote, 'a personal favor.'
I'm told the senators were really caught by surprise at his insistence, at his pressure, using those words. One Republican source said to me, quote, 'No one can understand why Mitch is going to this extreme of asking for a personal favor to kill the commission. How can you have an attack on the Capitol and the Republican leader is saying vote against it,' and the source went on to say, 'It is despicable.' I just want to add one other thing, Anderson, too. We saw that footage of Senator Scott saying that Mrs. Sicknick did not care about the commission. I am told by a source who was in the meetings that that is absolutely not true. That every meeting they went into, they asked for a commission. That was their number one priority -- Anderson.
KATE BOLDUAN: I mean, it's really -- it was interesting that Senator Scott said that because obviously, the late Officer Brian Sicknick's mom came to the Hill specifically at this time to lobby for this commission.
GANGEL: Right. Absolutely. And, as you mentioned, they also met with Senator Ron Johnson. I'm told most of the meetings were cordial. In every single meeting, they said, 'Please vote for a commission.' But as you pointed out, Ron Johnson has a different understanding about the insurrection. He's played it down. He called it a largely peaceful protest.
And I'm told that there was some pushback, as soon as they walked into his office, especially from Officer Mike Fanone who I am told, quote, 'Let him have it.' Keep in mind, Fanone is a Republican, as was Brian Sicknick. I'm also told that the meetings were hard and Mrs. Sicknick, as you saw there, she's a quiet person. She likes to stay in the background.
She did not want to come to Washington, but she waited until today because she really thought that they were going to do the right thing. And at one point, when she asked them to have a commission, and it was clear that Republican senators were not going to vote for it, Mrs. Sicknick said, quote, 'How can they not be doing the right thing? My son and all these officers deserve it. It's the right thing to do for them. It's the right thing to do for that country.'
KATE BOLDUAN: And I mean, it would seem -- or how much do you think the calculus of Republican senators on this vote is about the former President and his hold on McConnell in every aspect of the party in to 2022? You know, they're their own futures?
GANGEL: A hundred percent. This is all about don't upset Donald Trump.
Look, Anderson, we know Congress does Commissions. This is not a hard one. We all saw January 6th happen. Mitch McConnell, just like Kevin McCarthy sees the commission as a political loser for Republicans who now rely on the Trump base to win elections.
This is all about political power, regaining the Senate and the House, and for that, they feel they need to embrace Donald Trump, even though there are some days not anymore when they blamed Trump and held him responsible for January 6th.
KATE BOLDUAN: Yes, those days fleeted by very quickly.
KATE BOLDUAN: Jamie Gangel, thank you. We'll come back to Jamie for late developments on the Hill. Joining us now Senator Tina Smith, Democrat of Minnesota. Senator
Smith, thanks for being with us. What does it say that the majority of your Republican colleagues are planning to vote against this?
SEN. TINA SMITH : Well, you know, I've been thinking about this story that Mitch McConnell is calling this -- calling on his colleagues to do this as a personal favor. And, you know, on the Senate floor, senators asked one another for favors all the time. You know, could you let me go first in my questioning? Could you pick me up lunch? Could you help me on this special project that's important in my state?
But on this issue, to call for a personal favor on this issue, from the leader that has so much power over you and your career? I mean, I don't think that that sounds to senators like something that they can say no to. And it feels like a threat to me. And I think it's despicable to think that that's where we've come when it is so clearly the case that this commission is the right thing to do, it is the right thing to do to get to the bottom of what happened. So, it is -- I think, it's a sad day
KATE BOLDUAN: That sounds like a threat to you from Mitch McConnell to his fellow Republican senators, stay in line.
SMITH: Yes. Yes, stay in line. This is important to me, this is a personal thing for me. I need you to do this. It's not like a normal thing that you would have on an issue of this magnitude. And, you know, I keep thinking about how we all ran together from the Senate floor and there was a moment of actual human interaction between us.
We were fearful. We were calling our family. And we gathered together to say that we were going to work on this together.
And to see the about face that I'm fearful is going to be on display tonight because of people's fear of Donald Trump, putting politics first. It is just -- it is just a terrible day.
KATE BOLDUAN: So when you hear what Mitch McConnell is saying publicly, which is we know what happened. We were witnesses. We don't need a commission. You know, we'll make some adjustments on law enforcement, numbers of police officers. What do you say to that?
SMITH: Well, what I say is that this would be a bipartisan commission. We have accepted as I -- as far as I understand it, everything that the Republicans said that they wanted for a bipartisan commission. And not to do this in this moment, to say that we have all of the answers I just think is not true. That's why we had a 9/11 Commission. It's why we had the Warren Commission.
It's why we should come together in a bipartisan way to understand exactly what happened, to make sure that it will never happen again. And you know, Mitch McConnell is saying that we should hold those accountable who caused this, yet he is the one who said immediately after the insurrection that the President was directly responsible. He said it was a despicable dereliction of duty.
So the inconsistency here is just jaw dropping.
KATE BOLDUAN: Yes, it seems -- I mean, his focus is okay, well, you know, people have been arrested, justice should run its course on them and we should work on, you know, policing failures, or what the needs of the police officers are that would help them prevent this in the future, meaning, you know, more riot gear, whatever it may be. It doesn't get at, well, what actually caused this, like, who's responsible for that? And how do we make sure something like this does not happen again?
SMITH: Well, yes, I mean, that is exactly right. And to basically say that we don't need to know the truth here is what I hear when I hear them say this. I think that it just is -- it's nonsensical.
And you know, the reality of this is that we don't know exactly what happened. That's why we need a 9/11 Commission and we need to get to the bottom of it. And of course, the context here is a Republican Party filled with people that are trying to rewrite history, even as we speak to say that this was nothing, but a tourist visit to the Capitol that got out of hand, the big lie that the election was stolen.
So that's the bigger context we have to understand as we see this rejection of a bipartisan commission.
KATE BOLDUAN: So what happens when this gets voted down? Assuming it does, as it looks like it will because of the Republicans? Do you think that a House Select Committee investigation should be launched?
SMITH: Well, it's so ironic because what we want is a bipartisan commission. The House can do a select commission and that may well be the path that Speaker Pelosi decides to take. But I don't think that it will fulfill the same role that this January 6th Commission would and we will all have seen that the Republicans had a choice. They could choose to stand with Capitol Police, the 140 of them that were assaulted, stand with our democracy or stand with Donald Trump and they'll be choosing Donald Trump
KATE BOLDUAN: Senator Tina Smith, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
SMITH: Thank you.
KATE BOLDUAN: Next, as we wait for the vote, we will tell you about a new debate shaping up over what kind of party the Republican Party should be. We're joined by former Republican Senator Jeff Flake.
Later, new details emerging in the San Jose mass shooting that has now claimed nine lives plus that with the gunman.
KATE BOLDUAN: As we wait for what's expected to be the blockage by Senate Republicans to have a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol attack, the fissures in the party could not be clear.
In Dalton, Georgia tonight, the serial anti-Semite, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and Congressman Matt Gaetz who is embroiled in controversy of his own are holding another one of their so-called America First rallies.
And in California, former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is expected to speak out tonight against precisely their type of politics as well as the former President, though without naming him apparently.
Here to talk about this is CNN political director, David Chalian and CNN political commentator, Jeff Flake, the former Republican senator from Arizona.
David, one of the things that Paul Ryan is expected to say is that if Republicans depend on the quote, 'populist appeal' of one personality or on second rate imitations, then we're not going anywhere, which may or may not be true. Paul Ryan sits on the board of FOX, the parent company of FOX News where certainly past Board members have made a lot of money every year. Does he have the moral high ground here?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. You know, one of the other things he is expected to talk about is the so-called outrage peddlers urging his party not to take a swing at every little culture war that comes along.
I do think it's a fair question to ask, Anderson, is he taking that same message inside the FOX Boardroom, obviously, in terms of outrage peddling, they've cornered the market in many ways. But even if he is not sort of the perfect messenger on this, we shouldn't lose sight of the overall message, which is that he sees where his party is going, all in on Trumpism right now, for the most part. He is trying to steer it another way.
He represents a far smaller slice of the Republican Party right now. It's like him and Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, Mitt Romney and a few others. That's not where the party is, but he's clearly trying to coax the party back on course, in some way.
KATE BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, Senator Flake, is this even really a battle that's occurring in the Republican Party because I mean, you know, as David was saying, the group is pretty small there who are making these arguments that Paul Ryan is making.
You know, I know there's certainly a lot of voters who may be feeling that, but is this really happening as a big battle in the Republican Party? It seems like they've made their choice.
JEFF FLAKE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, right now, Republicans are clearly with the former President, and that's too blatant. You know, you're going to win an election here or there, but overall, the trends are not good. You know, since President Trump was elected in 2016, we've lost the White House, we've lost the House, and we've lost the Senate. Here in Arizona, two Democrats represent the Senate for the first time
in 70 years, and we're likely to have more of the same. So yes, that subset of a subset of Republican voters that vote in every primary, they're clearly with the former President and that is reflected in the polling.
But if we want to win, you know, statewide elections and national elections, then Paul Ryan is exactly right. We've got to change.
KATE BOLDUAN: Senator, when you left office in 2017, you warned your Republican colleagues about what you called the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms. As you look at who is welcomed within their Republican Party today, and the ideas that are embraced, has it only gotten worse?
FLAKE: It has, and that's the tragic legacy of the Trump years, the normalization of -- I mean, accepting of falsehoods, trafficking in conspiracy theories. The biggest one being the big lie now that the former President didn't lose the last election. So yes, it's -- I mean, I thought I was justified in giving that warning there. I didn't know the half of it as it turns out given what happened after he lost the last election.
So yes, our party is in a bad way right now.
KATE BOLDUAN: David, I want to read -- to that point, I want to read a poll question from Quinnipiac, and it's worth reading it in full. It is: which comes closer to your point of view, the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6th was an attack on democracy that should never be forgotten, or too much is being made of the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, and it's time to move on. Eighty four percent of Democrats said it was an attack on democracy, 74 percent of Republicans said, time to move on.
I mean, if you're Mitch McConnell, David, isn't it as simple as a commission examining insurrection would hurt Republicans perhaps at the ballot box next year, so it shouldn't happen?
CHALIAN: Yes, I mean, we don't even have to sort of try and ascertain why Mitch McConnell is doing this. His folks have said this out loud, right? I mean, John Thune, the number two in the Senate had said, we think having a commission will take us off message for the midterm elections and not allow us to sort of focus on the Biden agenda.
John Cornyn, the former number two talked about politics here and the campaign season, and that he is not in the business of helping Democrats and he is under the impression that the Commission being set up will help Democrats.
But here is the thing about those poll numbers that you just read, 74 percent of Republicans, three quarters of Republicans have a position that is only supported by 39 percent of Americans overall. When you look at the overall population in that poll, only 39 percent say it's time to move on, 55 percent say this is something that can't be forgotten. So when three quarters of your party is taking a position that really
only four in 10 Americans agree with overall, that's what Senator Flake talks about, sort of the damage that this kind of commitment to Trumpism is doing overall to the Republican Party.
KATE BOLDUAN: Senator Flake, what does it tell you that Senator McConnell reportedly felt the need to call members of his conference and ask them for a personal favor to vote against the commission? I mean, how -- you know, as somebody who knows how these things work, is that highly unusual?
FLAKE: That is unusual. Mitch McConnell doesn't do that often. So I don't know how accurate that reporting is, but it seems to be confirmed, so that is highly unusual. I think, one, the Republican Party may believe or elected officials may believe that this will give them some short term benefit. But overall, I think it's certainly detrimental to the country, and I think ultimately detrimental to Republicans.
I should mention when people talk about moving on, it's interesting. You know, Liz Cheney, for example, said let's move on. Donald Trump lost the election. And let's move on and, you know, craft a better argument for the next elections.
But other Republicans don't want to move on. Here in Arizona, we are going through this so-called recount of the votes because too many Republicans don't want to move on. So, it's a little cognitive dissonance there.
KATE BOLDUAN: Yes, Senator Flake, I appreciate your time. David Chalian as well, thanks.
Up next, remembering the lives lost in the San Jose mass shooting, and there's breaking news on the investigation into the background of the person behind it.
KATE BOLDUAN: There are new important developments in the investigation of the shooting yesterday in San Jose, California that claimed nine lives. We'll tell you all the latest in a moment, but first, I want to tell you more about the victims and what we know about them so far.
Abdolvahab Alaghmandan was 63 years old, worked for the agency for 20 years. Adrian Balleza was 29, worked there for seven years. Alex Fritch, 49 worked as a substation manager. Jose Hernandez III was 35 years old, he began there, 2012. Lars Kepler Lane was 63, a 20-year veteran. Michael Joseph Rudometkin was 40. He began working there in 2013. Paul Megia, 42, a 19-year veteran. Taptejdeep Singh, 36 years old, started on the job back in 2014 and Timothy Romo was 49 and served there over 20 years.
Nine victims, their families, the people who love them are in our thoughts tonight. As we said, there are a lot of new developments in the case. Dan Simon has that.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT : Tonight, chilling new details emerging about the gunman who opened fire, killing nine of his coworkers at this VTA rail yard, Wednesday.
The shooter was detained by Customs and Border Protection in 2016 after a trip to the Philippines, according to the Department of Home Homeland Security official.
As 'The Wall Street Journal' first reported while the suspect was being held, agents found books about terrorism and fear and manifestos, as well as a black memo book filled with lots of notes about how he hates the VTA.
When asked if he had problems with anybody at work, he stated no, according to a DHS memo obtained by the paper.
A history of anger issues is now becoming more clear. And documents from a 2009 legal filing. The gunman's ex girlfriend said he exhibited major mood swings, a result of bipolar disorder.
A survivor of Wednesday's mass shooting says the gunman had a specific agenda.
KIRK BERTOLET, SHOOTING WITNESS: He walked by other people. He let other people live as he gunned down other people.
LAURIE SMITH, SHERIFF, SANTA CLARA COUNTY CA: Of the people who were injured, none survived.
SIMON : CNN has now learned the shooter had at least three semi automatic handguns with him and fired at least 39 times. The sheriff says he also had potential bomb making materials such as detonation cords in his work locker.
SMITH: Some of our dogs alerted on what was his locker inside were precursor. Things for explosives.
SIMON : Just eight miles away the suspects home is also now being scoured for evidence. New video from a neighbor's home camera shows a man in uniform leaving the house with a bag around 5:40am Wednesday. Less than an hour later, around 6:30am the shooting began at the rail yard. And firefighters arrived to the home billowing smoke.
SMITH: It's my opinion that he had some kind of device in his house to go off simultaneously perhaps, but we don't know that for sure.
SIMON : Official say several rounds of ammunition and notes were found inside the home but nothing yet to determine a motive for the killings.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And Dan Simon joins us now from San Jose. So I understand the sheriff's office released some more details late today.
SIMON: That's right Anderson. And we know that in addition to the three semi automatic handguns the shooter had, he was also equipped with 32 high capacity magazines. Authorities also acknowledging that he was in fact disgruntled at work and in their words that may have contributed to the shooting.
In the meantime, Anderson we are at San Jose City Hall where we are expected to see a vigil in the next hour or so a lot of people expected to come and pay their respects to the victims. Anderson.
KATE BOLDUAN: Dan Simon, appreciate it. Thank you.
As he just reported there are major questions out of the shooters background, his interaction with government officials back in 2016.
Joining me, CNN senior law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsay, former top cop in both Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, and Asha Rangappa, CNN legal and national security analyst and former FBI special agent.
Asha, are you surprised the shooter somehow slipped through the cracks after became known to DHS officials?
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I am but I'm also not, you know, the fact that you got stopped, he obviously raised red flags, they went through it. They wrote it up. So, you know, there was something significant there. On the other hand, I would want to know exactly what happened after that. Was it sent to local law enforcement in San Jose? If it was, did they act on it? Did they notify the employer?
It kind of gets to Andersen the difference in how we treat, you know, threats that are coming, you know, at the international level versus domestically, I can tell you that if this person had been a foreign national that had been stopped by DHS, the process would have triggered, you know, a number of different information sharing, he probably would have been questioned by the FBI, for example. So I think we need to see what the paper trail was with this demo.
KATE BOLDUAN: Chief Ramsey is it wouldn't be unusual for different law enforcement agencies not to share information on a person who this information had been found out. I mean, again, the reporting doesn't definitively say that information about the shooter wasn't shared with local officials. But how good is the sharing of information now?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, normally, information sharing is pretty good. But that doesn't mean that there's times when things just don't go beyond the agency that originally uncovered it. This may be an example of that. I don't know whether or not that information was shared with the sheriff, or whether or not it was shared with BTA. Again, you know, we'll find out more as this thing begins to progress. But we're going to learn more and more about this guy, and clearly, he's an individual that never should have been able to be in possession of a firearm of any kind.
KATE BOLDUAN: And Asha, obviously, you know, many states like California have expanded the so-called Red Flag laws to help get guns out of the hands of known threats like this. Is there more anything that can be done in that front? Or do we -- I mean, do we know enough at this point?
RANGAPPA: Well, Anderson red flag laws are really only as effective as, you know, people being willing to use them. California is actually the more robust and most 2020 it expanded It's red flag laws to allow not just law enforcement or family members, which is often the case but also employers and co-workers and teachers to, you know, if they saw a red flag to petition a court to temporarily, you know, remove firearms from the person's home. But again, they need to see the red flags, and they need to act on it.
And unfortunately, when we're dealing with these people, who are, you know, acting alone, it really has to be when you see something, say something situation, because law enforcement, I think, is heavily reliant on learning about these red flags from the people who are surrounding these troubled individuals.
KATE BOLDUAN: Yes, Chief Ramsey, I mean, from a law enforcement background, how do you view these red flag laws?
RAMSEY: Well, listen, anything will help. There's no question about that. But again, the information that we obtained today from the Wall Street Journal about the customs, I mean, that's five years old, even if they had taken action, they would not have been able to maybe to permanently remove the firearms more than likely. The other thing is, California has got good laws in place at least decent laws better than most, but you can circumvent it, all you got to do is go to a neighboring state and purchase a firearm.
So, I mean, until there's some national legislation and put in place. You know, we're going to be playing this, you know, scenario over and over and over again. I mean, we've got so many guns out there now that even with strong laws, people still can get their hands on guns illegally. But that doesn't mean that something shouldn't be done. Something needs to be done. But under the current Congress, there's nothing going to happen as a result of this.
KATE BOLDUAN: Yes, Charles Ramsay, Asha Rangappa, I appreciate it. Thank you.
: Up next new reporting on what may have persuaded President Biden to order that urgent reexamination of how the COVID pandemic began.
KATE BOLDUAN: Breaking news just in on the mystery surrounding your origins, the COVID-19. It comes from the New York Times and let me read you directly from their article which just posted. President Biden's call for a 90-day sprint to understand the origins the coronavirus pandemic came after intelligence officials told the White House they had a raft of still unexamined evidence, they're required additional computer analysis that might shed light on the mystery according to senior administration officials. According to the Times those officials declined to describe the new evidence.
Joining me for their perspectives, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN political analyst and Washington Post columnist, Josh Rogin, who's author of Chaos Under Heaven, Trump G, And The Battle For The 21st Century.
Josh, what do you make the Times is reporting that the White House still has a lot of unexamined evidence that requires computer analysis.
JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I guess my first reaction Anderson is why didn't they look at that evidence it's been 18 months if they were sitting on it, what was the holdup, you know? From my own reporting, I can tell you that there's not only a bunch of reviewed evidence sitting inside the intelligence community, there's also unreviewed evidence sitting in other agencies in the U.S. government, clearly USAID, the Defense Department, DHS, NIH and other organizations that have worked with organizations that worked with these Wuhan labs. And it's kind of crazy to think that 18 months after the outbreak, that there's still piles of evidence they haven't looked at. And I think that's one of the reasons, but not the only reason that the Biden administration is doubling down on this investigation.
The other reason is because there's increasing pressure, and because from the public, and also, because the Chinese government told the World Health Organization, they're not going to cooperate anymore. So for all of these reasons, it's become obvious that we need to look into all of these theories, including the lab leak theory, and hopefully, that's what they're going to do now.
KATE BOLDUAN: Yes, Sanjay, the New York Times reporting goes on to say that the suggesting that the government may not have exhausted its databases about, among other things, the movement of lab workers in China, and without the cooperation of the Chinese finding out what happened in a scientific lab is difficult.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, it does come down to that, you know, ultimately, if there's not transparency, if there's not access, then all the things that Josh has been talking about, for some time, a lot of people have said would be needed, it would be hard to get to gain access to. There's a few things that wouldn't, you know, be definitive or absolute conclusive, but would be really helpful. We've talked about a bit about this.
But if you look at those lab workers that had been sick enough to actually go to the hospital, their blood samples, their serum samples, do they exist, we've been told different things we've been told that maybe they destroyed, but being able to look at those blood samples, being able to look at the genetic analysis of the coronaviruses in the Institute of Virology and compare them to some of the initial infections, that might be more evidence.
And finally, just a, you know, a deep look at the forensic as sort of forensic evaluation of that lab would be helpful as well. One thing I think Josh has pointed out, Jamie Metzl has pointed out, having protection for whistleblowers to be able to come forward, could also be a way to at least collect more evidence in terms of what happened here.
KATE BOLDUAN: Josh, you were saying that there's also unexamined information in a lot of different government agencies in the U.S. I mean, what sort of information but USAID have or some of these other agencies?
ROGIN: Yes, that's a great question. Because even if the WHO, or the Chinese government doesn't give us any help or access, there's a lot of investigative threads that are still left on open and underdressed here in the United States. Just take USAID for one example, they have this $200 million predictive program, the head of the predict program in China was the Wuhan Institute of Virology, right? They've got a ton of records, they might know some stuff about Wuhan Institute of Virology was up to, they've never really been asked.
You know, Sanjay Gupta broke huge news months ago that Robert Redfield, the former head of the CDC, who has seen all the intelligence, believes it came from the lab based on his expert opinion, the Biden people never talked to him. He's never -- you know, why don't you have a hearing? Let's put this guy in front of a Bible in a congressional committee see what he has to say. There's, it's just crazy to me that there's all of these people and institutions with all of this information that have never been asked, because we went through the sort of politicization of the origin question that we're now trying to unravel. We're trying to take the politics out of it and focus on not just the science but the forensics, as Sanjay said, it's really important.
So yes, there's a lot of things. This intelligence is just one piece of it. Don't get too caught up on that. There's a whole world of information that the Biden administration will hopefully now get to the bottom of whether the Chinese government likes it or not.
KATE BOLDUAN: Sanjay the two prevailing theories on the origins of the virus that is spread from animals to humans, and that one currently gaining traction, which is that it spread from a lab in Wuhan. What would the U.S. actually need to do to be able to prove it one way or the other?
GUPTA: Well, you know, I think it comes back to these same things, and it may be hard to definitively prove this one or the other, ultimately, it may be a preponderance of evidence sort of thing. And, you know, it can be challenging. I mean, you know, 90 days is, is a fair amount of time. But, you know, if you go back and look at SARS, and say, how long did that take? It was a couple of years before even the intermediary hosts, the civet cat, you remember, was really identified and, you know, 15 or so years after that, before the horseshoe bat was identified as the, you know, the origin of the species. So it can take some time to do this.
But going back to those lab workers, were they infected? Do they have antibodies? We know antibodies can sort of be a trace, a remnant of having been infected. What about, you know, people in the areas where they believe these bats originated? I know that Eco Alliance is now going and saying that they want to test the antibodies of people in that area to see where that was their spillover events happening at that point?
Again, this is, as Josh has been beating the drum on this, this is stuff that should have been done if we -- if they were serious about actually being able to trace the origins 18 months in. Some of this hasn't been identified yet.
KATE BOLDUAN: Yes, I'm essentially Josh mentioned your conversation with Dr. Redfield, you've spoken to several former officials who support the lab link theory or at the very least cast skepticism on the outbreak timeline.
GUPTA: Yes, I mean, it was interesting talking to all those folks, none of them said, absolutely not. The lab leak theory is complete rubbish. Stay away from it. They all, you know, sort of were careful. What I thought was interesting. I talked to Robert Kadlec, he was what is known as the ASPR, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness Response. And it was not so much a what people knew in China, but more of a when did they know it that he was really driving at and he was really looking from an intelligence standpoint, at the actions of what was happening China going back earlier than when the world was alerted about the virus, listen, to listen to what he said.
ROBERT KADLEC, ASPR: They recognize that something was going on in early December. So they had about a 30-day head start to when they publicly announced on 31 December, that they had this mysterious pneumonia. And so, they were already buying things on the market, well in advance of where we were. So, they make a lot of that material. But even things that were made here in the United States, we found that the domestic supplies were drying up because of foreign purchases.
GUPTA: So I mean, I hope you can capture what the meaning of that is. But basically, you know, they were buying up lots of PPE and intelligence services here in the United States, were basically saying, well, that's odd, you know, what's going on there. We're not quite sure what to make of it. But it was at least a month earlier than when the rest of the world was notified about this, you know, this mysterious cluster of pneumonia patients.
KATE BOLDUAN: Josh, I mean, that is just from an intelligence standpoint, stunning that they're buying PPE and U.S. intelligence is aware of it and you know, but not sure what to make of it.
ROGIN: Right. The Chinese government cover it up and concealed and continues to conceal to this day crucial information that is costing American lives all over the world. So we might have to upset U.S.- China relations a little to get to the bottom and uncover the truth about 590,000 Americans who died and billions who continue to suffer and that's going to be difficult but we can't not do it because we have to learn what happens when we can prevent the next pandemic and 90 days is not going to do it. Ninety days is just the beginning. It takes as long as it takes.
KATE BOLDUAN: Yes, Josh Rogin -- Rogin, appreciate it. Sanjay as well, thank you.
: Up next family and supporters Ronald Greene, the black man who died after Louisiana State Troopers tased, kicked, punched and dragged him march at the state capitol and the family meets with some key people with ties the case. We'll have a live report update.
KATE BOLDUAN: Family and supporters of Ronald Greene the black man seen on police body cam video being tased kicked and dragged by Louisiana State Troopers two years ago, held a rally and march this afternoon at the state capitol in Baton Rouge. Earlier the day Greene's family met with Louisiana's Democratic governor and a local district attorney. Mr. Greene died in May of 2019 after police chase in his death has been under investigation ever since according to police.
The family say they were told he died in a car accident, but their attorney says the newly released police body cam and dashcam video shows it was murder.
CNN's Ryan Young joins us with more of today's events in Baton Rouge. So, you attended the march earlier? How did it go?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, look, there was a lot of emotion there. Let's not forget, before this video was released, it was also leaked. And that's the reason why we're having this conversation. And one of the reporters were some of this video was leaked to and that really started to expose what happened on that night and marching with family members and talking with them. They said what would you do if you saw your loved one being beat, tased and dragged across the ground? You wouldn't stop fighting, would you? And that is really the call to action that this family member family members have at this point because they say they really want to make sure that justice is served right now. They think two years is too long to wait for any sort of action.
KATE BOLDUAN: What came from the families meetings with state and local officials?
YOUNG: Yes, you know, Anderson, we've been having this conversation back and forth, just in terms of what would happen next, especially with a federal investigation going on, especially with a state investigation. As reporters we have not been able to ask state officials exactly what's going on this investigation because it keeps saying it is still ongoing. The family is hitting roadblock after roadblock. They were not satisfied with what they heard today from state officials.
In fact, listening Lee Merritt talk about sort of what they're hoping for and what they want to see in the coming day.
LEE MERRITT, ATTORNEY FOR RONALD GREENE: It's not unclear why the family traveled to Louisiana today. They can't come to see the man who murdered Ronald Greene in handcuffs. That's the only reason we're here.
YOUNG: The big question here also is Anderson, the officers who were involved in this, some of them are still serving. And there are other people who say who in this community who believe they've been brutalized as well. They want to see some action moving forward. So you can see the state sort of having that conversation privately with his family. But not only do they want a settlement when it comes to like some monetary issues. They've been fighting for two years, but they want to see charges for these officers. And especially this is a tangled web right now, because they believe this was a cover up that's lasted some two years.
KATE BOLDUAN: Yes, the law enforcement is saying they've been invest -- the investigation has been open for two years. It's hard to believe much has been done over those last years, given what we've seen. Ryan Young, appreciate it.
Coming up, with sources telling CNN about possible trouble on the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre with events scheduled for next week. That's when we continue.
KATE BOLDUAN: The Department of Homeland Security tonight is issuing a bulletin warning that events marking the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre next week could be targets for violence. That's according to a source familiar with the warning.
Those events the bulletin warns in stark language quote, probably are targets for some racially or ethnically motivated extremist white supremacists to commit violence. The massacre happened on May 31st and June 1st, 1921 in the Greenwood section of Tulsa. More than 35 black owned businesses then.
Reports The Time say, 36 people were killed. Historians now believe the death toll might have reached 300. President Biden scheduled to visit Tulsa next week to take part in an anniversary ceremony.
That's it for us. The news continues.