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U.S. Senate Republicans Likely to Block January 6 Commission Vote; Capitol Police Officer Dealing with Trauma Month After Riots; Japan Weighs Emergency Measures as Health Experts Meet; U.S. Intel Divided on COVID-19 Origin After Year-Long Inquiry; FBI: Guns Used in Mass Shooting Were Legally Obtained. Authorities Previously Questioned Shooter About Hatred of Job. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 28, 2021 - 04:00   ET



KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: A crucial vote on the January 6th Commission is now in limbo as Republicans tie up the Senate floor overnight. We'll bring you the latest.

Plus, Olympic determination. The organizers of the Tokyo games say they will go ahead, despite a ground swell of critical voices.

And remembering the victims, tributes to the nine people killed in the mass shooting in San Jose.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to all of you, watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

A key U.S. Senate vote that would establish a commission to investigate the January 6th Capitol insurrection appears to be just hours away. The vote was expected to be held Thursday night, but has been delayed until sometime later today. Senate Republicans are expected to block the measure underscoring the deep partisan divide that has emerged since the riot.

Just a few months ago some Republicans were adamant that a 9/11-style commission into the Capitol security was needed, now they argue that it wouldn't bring any new information about the insurrection and could turn into a partisan dispute. The Democrats say American people need to know the truth about what happened. Five people were killed and about 140 police officers were injured during the attack.

For many of the police officers who defended the Capitol that day the memories and emotions are still very raw. Now they're pushing for the January 6th Commission, along with the mother of the late Capitol officer Brian Sicknick who died the next day. CNN's Brian Todd reports from Washington.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the officers who battle that day, or their families, the trauma of January 6th, they say continues to reverberate.

Gladys Sicknick the mother of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died as a result of the Capitol attack, spoke on Capitol Hill today.

GLADYS SICKNICK, MOTHER OF U.S. CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER BRIAN SICKNICK: He just was doing his job and he got caught up in it. It's very sad.

TODD (voice-over): For many of the surviving officers, January 6th doesn't seem like it was nearly five months ago, more like a few hours ago.

MICHAEL FANONE, WASHINGTON, DC METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER: This experience like PTSD is very much a rollercoaster ride. Some days may not just good to go, and then other days or other times within the same day, I'm just broken.

TODD (voice-over): D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone was dragged down the Capitol steps, beaten with the flagpole, kicked and tased.

FANONE: Shortly thereafter, I started to experience some of the, I guess, more psychological injuries.

TODD: U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, often seen with his arm around Brian Sicknick's mother today is dealing with similar trauma.

OFFICER HARRY DUNN, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: You have good days and you have bad days. But just thinking about, it just takes you back to that -- like you say, that hell day.

TODD (voice-over): Since January 6, Dunn has spoken about how he fought pitched battles with rioters, who often called him the "N" word that day, about how he broke down and wept as the day wound down. Dunn recently told CNN constant reminders of January 6 aren't helping.

DUNN: It's a new story every day. It's new article. It's a new news clip released. A new arrest made. It's not going away fast enough.

TODD (voice-over): One senior Capitol Hill police officer told CNN anonymously the department is hemorrhaging officers. A law enforcement source says more than 70 U.S. Capitol police officers have quit since January 6.

TERRANCE GAINER, FORMER U.S. CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF: There's still 40 or 50 two are injured emotionally or physically that day that aren't at full speed. They are just tired of being tired, and maybe tired of being underappreciated.

TODD (voice-over): In a letter sent recently to members of Congress, expressing their frustration with the lack of support for a January 6 Commission, a group of anonymous U.S. Capitol Police officers wrote about their continuing mental anguish.

Quote: It is unconscionable to even think anyone could suggest, we need to move forward and get over it. Fanone recently told CNN he has to see an entire team of doctors.


FANONE: For a time, I was seeing a speech therapist for some of the cognitive issues that I experienced as a result of the traumatic brain injury and other injuries that I sustained on the 6th.

TODD: Former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer tells us he is worried about the officers still on the job who he says are still exhausted physically and emotionally. He says they're not going to be as sharp as they need to be when they need to make quick decisions to guard against attacks.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


BRUNHUBER: The girlfriend of fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick is calling on Senators to move forward with the commission. Sandra Garza joined Sicknick's mother on Capitol Hill Thursday to talk with lawmakers about her long-time boyfriend and push for Republican support.


SANDRA GARZA, GIRLFRIEND OF U.S. CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER BRIAN SICKNICK: It's been excruciating, you know, it is -- it was very hard to deal with the ambiguity of not knowing what happened to Brian. You know, it was very touch and go there for a while and, you know, it was very painful. It was also very hard to know that his last moments on earth were, you know, dealing with what he had to deal with. It was very, very difficult and painful.

And then, you know, to here when his cause of death was released to hear the terrible things that were said by some people in the media and some people online, celebrating his cause of death was very sick. It was very disturbing and very painful for myself and Brian's mother and the rest of his family. So it's been very, very upsetting.

Facts are facts. If they look at the footage that happened, it's very obvious that that was not a peaceful day. Police officers were getting attacked. They were getting beaten, fire extinguishers were thrown at them. They were being attacked by flag poles. Mike and Officer Dunn here -- I should say officer Fanone -- they can basically tell you right now what they experienced and it wasn't a tourist day. It wasn't tourists just passively walking by.


BRUNHUBER: One Democratic lawmaker says the insurrection is a warning sign about where the country could be headed. Congressman Jamie Raskin says political violence could become the norm if the Capitol riot isn't fully investigated. And about the Republican lawmakers who opposed the January 6 Commission, he says they're choosing politics over country. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, they've elevated what they think is in their best political interests over what is clearly in the best interest of the country, which is to determine the truth of those events and the cause of those events. But they are too eager to protect Donald Trump and the evidence of his attempted political coup against the government and against the election and too eager to protect the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers in their insurrection against America. And then they are too eager, I think, to protect the rioters themselves who were seduced by Donald Trump's invitation to come to Washington from the truth. Because those people will defect very quickly once we simply proclaim the truth, which is that the big lie is a lie.


BRUNHUBER: And strong words also came from a man who led a review of Capitol security after the insurrection. Retired U.S. Army General Russel Honore looked into the security failures that made January 6th possible. In his words what really failed that day was the government itself. Listen to this.


LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE (RET), LED SECURITY REVIEW OF CAPITOL RIOT: The government didn't work that day. If government was working it's no way we wouldn't have had response forces there to help the Capitol Police and if it were not for the help of the Metropolitan Police from the District of Columbia, god knows what would have happened at the Capitol that day.

Our government failed. We need to figure out why did it fail. And we need to respect those officers, as you said, that were hurt and the ones killed with a proper investigation as to what happened so we can prevent this from happening again.

Look, when Speaker -- when leader McConnell go home tonight he will get in the black suburban. He has ten Capitol police protect him 24/7 if he wants it. If he wanted to go out to dinner tonight, he will go home, collect himself and go to a fine restaurant, they will take him to dinner if he wants. If he wants to travel to -- out to his home back in Kentucky, they will travel with him and they do. Ten of them. Now, how does he explain to them that nothing happened and the facts don't matter when they protect him 24/7? This is a travesty of our democracy happening right here.


CHURCH: And stay with CNN for the latest on this crucial Senate vote as I mentioned it's now expected to happen sometime today so we will bring you any updates from Capitol Hill as they happen.


Well in the coming hours, the White House is expected to propose a $6 trillion budget for the next fiscal year. And Congressional Republicans are already sounding the alarm about its size and scope. Now this will be the first time Joe Biden lays out his spending plan which calls for an increase of more than $8 trillion over the next decade. It's basically an opening offer to Congress that will kick off the negotiations.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And now we're facing the question, what kind of economy are we going to build for tomorrow? What are we going to do? I believe this is our moment to rebuild an economy from the bottom up and the middle out, not a trickle down economy from the very wealthy.


BRUNHUBER: The Biden administration's American jobs and American families plans are aimed at helping the U.S. recover from the pandemic.

Olympic organizers in Tokyo are planning some changes for the summer games to keep athletes and the public safe from COVID-19. For one thing they will issue specific guidelines for each sporting event.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government is expected to extend the state of emergency for areas struggling with a surge in COVID cases. Japan is averaging about 4,500 infections a day according to Johns Hopkins University.

CNN's Blake Essig is in Tokyo this hour. So Blake, we heard from the Tokyo 2020 president who is holding a press conference. So let's start with that. What did she say?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kim, just this past hour the Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said organizers hear the criticism regarding the current COVID-19 countermeasures laid out in the playbook and they plan to take that feedback and make revisions for the third edition of the playbook set to be released next month.

She also said that in order to deal with the variant from India border control measures will be strengthened for six countries. Now those countries include India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka. Now she says in order to ensure the safety of the Japanese people each of those national Olympic committees have promised that all members participating in the games will be vaccinated and will conduct additional testing prior to their arrival here in Japan.

Now we also heard from an expert panel earlier today hosted by Tokyo 2020, they say in terms of COVID-19 given the circulation of variants risk that the virus will enter Japan is inevitable. Now while they say the impact of 100,000 visitors coming to Japan will be limited, the panel believes it's the movement of those 100,000 people that could cause the spread of infection here in Japan. How Olympic organizers plan to address that concern is still being worked out.

Now, fueled by the U.K. variant COVID-19 cases across Japan remain high, the country continues to see a record number of patients in critical condition and the medical system remains strained. That's despite the fact that Tokyo and several other prefectures have been under a state of emergency since April and there is talk that Prime Minister Suga will extend that state of emergency for an additional three weeks until June 20th, just about a month before the Olympics are set to take place -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right, thanks so much, Blake Essig in Tokyo. Appreciate it.

The U.S. intelligence community has been tasked with finding the origin of COVID-19 over the next 90 days. And now "The New York Times" reports that those same intelligence officials recently informed the White House that they are sitting on data that could help pinpoint the answer but needs more robust computer analysis.

Now opinions on COVID's origin are currently split. Some intelligence analysts think people might have caught the virus from handling infected animals, but other agencies suspect the novel coronavirus began in a lab and then got out. China angrily rejects that view and insists the virus originated and spread organically. CNN's Will Ripley is following developments from Taiwan. Well with all the focus on that lab leak theory Chinese officials unsurprisingly reacting with anger and accusations of their own.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And you're hearing these counterclaims that the trail of evidence might somehow lead to secretive bases and laboratories around the world, including in the U.S. That was one of the things mentioned in -- as I cover my face here -- this editorial in the "China Daily" that was out today where they talked about the lab leak theory and the investigation by the U.S. being mudslinging, a smear campaign, a conspiracy theory. They say it's propelled by prejudice and political need.

Is it? Or is it propelled by the fact that 3.5 million have died from this pandemic? And is it propelled by the fact that the World Health Organization despite sending a team of 17 to Wuhan and the surrounding area in January and February didn't have direct access to a lot of the raw data? Is it propelled by the fact that there has been a lack of transparency from the start from China?


And is it propelled by the fact that China really doesn't have a lot of motivation at this stage or indication that they're going to play ball on trying to get to the bottom of what actually happened. Because, A, embarrassing information would be a huge loss of face if it were true. And there's again, no way of knowing whether it's true or not without the kind of investigation that may even be impossible despite this trove of data that "The New York Times" says investigators in the U.S. will now be sifting through.

Despite these almost 200 pages from the World Health Organization annexed to its report that need to be assessed -- according to CNN's own reporting. Talking about samples from 69 animals, a widespread influenza outbreak in and around Wuhan around the time that COVID was also emerging and information about this possible patient zero who may not have even had any contact with the wildlife market that was believed to be the source of the outbreak. Although more and more experts are now saying that the truth is much more complicated.

But Kim, getting closer to the truth means global cooperation and when you have China talking about secretive U.S. labs and pointing the finger back at the U.S., even China calling it a political virus, you have a lot of questions about whether or not the truth will be actually found. And in a place like here in Taiwan where they have just hit a new daily record for COVID deaths, they had 12 deaths all of last year, they announced 19 new deaths today. It's real here. It's real in India, it's real all over the world. It's real for the families of those 3.5 million people who died. People want answers. But whether they will be able to get them that is the really big question that we don't have the answer to.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, well said. Thanks so much, Will Ripley in Taiwan.

Well disturbing new details about the San Jose shooter who killed nine people. His previous run-in with federal authorities and why police believed he was a disgruntled employee.

Plus growing concerns ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre in the U.S. Warnings the events could come under attack. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: We're learning new details about the gunman who killed nine of his co-workers in San Jose, California, on Wednesday. Federal investigators say the three handguns he used were all obtained legally. While a motive is still unclear. CNN's Josh Campbell has more on what authorities say they discovered when U.S. customs detained the gunman nearly five years ago.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A city in mourning, after Wednesday's mass shooting in San Jose, California.

GLENN HENDRICKS, CHAIRMAN, SANTA CLARA VALLEY TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY: We'd like to ask that you all take a moment of silence for our fallen workers.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Valley Transportation Authority's board chairman Glenn Hendricks, honoring the nine victims today with a moment of silence, and promises of help.

HENDRICKS: We're all grieving together, and we want to do everything we possibly can to support each other.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Investigators are now uncovering more about the 57-year-old man who killed nine of his co-workers Wednesday. The shooter identified by law enforcement as Samuel James Cassidy reportedly fired 39 rounds at the scene and may have targeted specific co-workers. Detectives have located three nine millimeter semiautomatic handguns at the scene, which included 32 individual high capacity handgun magazines loaded with additional ammunition. They also found bomb-making material in Cassidy's employee locker.

SHERIFF LAURIE SMITH, SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: We had our canines there, and they did a search. Some of our dogs alerted on what was his locker inside were precursor things for explosives, ingredients for a device actually. You know, detonation cords, things like that.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): A DHS official told CNN that Customs and Border Protection officials detained Cassidy in 2016 after a trip to the Philippines and found notes about hatred towards his employer, as well as books about terrorism, fear and manifestos.

CNN obtains surveillance footage from a neighbor's house that the neighbor said shows Cassidy leaving home with a duffel bag at 5:40 Wednesday morning. The same neighbor saw also says he saw Cassidy's house go up in flames around the same time the shooting took place.

SMITH: It's my opinion that he had some kind of a device in his house to go off simultaneously.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Officers say they did not exchange gunfire with Cassidy and that he died by suicide. Kirk Bertolet, an employee at the rail yard, witnessed the shooting.

KIRK BERTOLET, WITNESS: I do know that he had a specific agenda and was targeting certain people. He walked by other people, he let other people live as he gunned down other people.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): In court documents and interviews with those who knew the gunman, he was described as a man with anger issues, and who was allegedly abusive.

Cassidy's ex-wife, who was married to him for ten years, spoke to our affiliate and said he resented his work and co-workers. And that he had two sides. When he was in a good mood, he was a great guy. When he was mad, he was mad.

The nine victims who tragically lost their lives ranged in age from 29 to 63, including 36-year-old Taptejdeep Singh who was killed, his family says, while helping his co-workers hide.

BAGGA SINGH, TAPTEJDEEP SINGH'S BROTHER: One lady he put in the control room to hide over here, you know? He can go there too, actually, but he just saved her.

CAMPBELL: And here at that light rail maintenance yard, the site of that mass shooting, the investigation continues. On Thursday investigators moved back the perimeter of this crime scene as they continue to take measurement in an effort to try to reconstruct events. Of course, as forensic examiners condition their work here, we're told that law enforcement officers are pouring over everything they know about the shooter. At this point their working theory is workplace violence but we're told that they're work is far from over.

Josh Campbell, CNN, San Jose, California.


BRUNHUBER: A source tells us the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has a warning about possible racially motivated violence. Events marking the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre may be targeted by white supremacists. A year ago one prosperous district of Tulsa, Oklahoma had dozens of blocks of black-owned businesses.


But on May 31st, 1921, racial tensions with some of their white neighbors led to a massacre killing hundreds of people in that district. The area known as "Black Wall Street" was burned to the ground. Now here's some insight into this new warning from Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI.


ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Department of Homeland Security is now thinking about and treating threats from domestic extremists in the same way that we have thought about and handled threats from foreign terrorists, foreign extremists over the last decade or so and that is, I think, a very positive development. We know that the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI both believe that the threat from domestic right-wing, white supremacist extremists is the most serious terrorist threat that we face in this country today.


BRUNHUBER: Still ahead we're getting word of a new Russian cyberattack. We'll have the details about the alleged hack targeting systems used by a U.S. government agency.

Plus a heartbreaking story. Two Iranian Americans detained for years now while other Americans in Iran have been freed. One family member sits down with us to talk about their ordeal. Stay with us.


BRUNHUBER: And welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Microsoft says Russian hackers have carried out another cyberattack, this one targeting an e-mail system used by the USAID agency. The perpetrators are apparently the same group that carried out the Solar Winds attack late last year.

Let's get right to Matthew Chance live in Moscow. So Matthew, more Russian hacking. What can you tell us about this latest attack?