Return to Transcripts main page
Arrest In Austin, Texas Mass Shooting; Crew And Passengers Subdue Off-Duty Flight Attendant; Trump Accused Of Weaponizing DOJ To Target Democratic Rivals; Houston Hospital Suspends Workers Who Refuse COVID Vaccine; Biden Returns $28 Billion To Military Projects After Trump Routed The Funds To Border Wall Construction; Interview With Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX). Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 12, 2021 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Breaking news out of Austin, Texas. Police have made an arrest after 14 people were injured in a mass shooting. Mayor Steve Adler joins us live in just a minute from now.
Also tonight, a spectacular air show celebrating a spirit of unity as President Biden rub shoulders with world leaders in Britain.
And Republican Senator Ron Johnson has his YouTube account suspended for spreading spurious claims about COVID treatments.
And 28 million bucks, that's all for a trip to space with Jeff Bezos.
I am Pamela brown in Washington, welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world on this Saturday. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. It's great to have you along with us.
And we begin this hour with new bloodshed across this country and breaking news, CNN just confirming an arrest in the shootings of 14 people in Austin, Texas early this morning. The attack happening in the downtown entertainment district, two victims are in critical condition tonight.
Police say that they've identified someone responsible and call it an isolated incident, but nearly all the victims had nothing to do with them and there is no word on the search for the second suspect.
That's just one of four mass shootings in the last 24 hours or so, further proof of America's spiraling gun violence epidemic as the nation now sees 267 mass shootings so far this year alone.
Also in Texas, five people were shot in Dallas, among them a four- year-old girl after two groups got into some sort of a fight on Friday. The child is said to be stable.
And a shooting in Chicago early this morning, killing a 29-year-old woman and nine others hurt. They were standing on the sidewalk when two gunmen showed up. The killers remain on the loose tonight.
And in Savannah, Georgia, an 18-month-old is among the seven wounded in a shooting Friday at an apartment complex. One man was killed and police don't know why that attack happened.
With me tonight, the Mayor of Austin, Texas, Steve Adler. Mayor, thanks so much for coming on. If you would just update us on any additional information on this arrest and the search for the second shooter.
MAYOR STEVE ADLER (D), AUSTIN, TEXAS: Pamela, it is good to be with you. Just a horrific event and it is becoming something that all too often is being presented. You reported it accurately. We have arrested one of the two main suspects. I think they are getting close to positively identifying and being able to move on toward the second.
Fourteen people injured, two still in critical condition. It seems as if the two individuals knew each other, obviously bad blood of some kind. And the details of that relationship is still under investigation.
BROWN: What more can you tell us about the -- what was going on there and the relationship and what we know about these two men?
ADLER: I think I've told you pretty much everything that I can at this time. I just know that this is the 21st mass shooting in Texas since the start of this year. I think we lead the nation now and that's horrible.
BROWN: And on that note, you tweeted about this rise in gun violence locally, and you note that it is part of a disturbing rise in gun violence across the country as we exit the pandemic. Why is this happening in places like Texas where gun laws for law-abiding citizens are less restrictive?
ADLER: You know, I don't think we know the answer to that. But the one thing we know for sure is, this is probably not the result of any local policies. We're seeing this in so many of the cities across the country, there's something else here that's happening.
There's something else that's happening with the rise in violent crime that we're seeing all over the country. But I do know that our Texas Legislature just met and passed a new law that lets anyone carry a gun without any kind of registration or otherwise, and you know, I just do not believe that more guns with more people is the answer to curbing this violence.
BROWN: And, you're right. It is happening across the country with different gun laws on the books. The interim police chief pointed out this afternoon that Austin Police are dealing with staff shortages, making it hard to staff those downtown streets. They've asked for the help from the Texas Department of Public Safety, which is sending State Troopers tonight. Why is there a shortage of officers in your city?
ADLER: Well, you know, we had full shift on last night. It's in our entertainment district. And one of the reasons why I think so many lives were saved is pretty, pretty heroic behavior on the part of our first responders, especially our police force.
A big entertainment area, the EMS people, Fire actually had trouble getting there real quickly because of the crowds, but we had so many officers, extra officers on duty last night. They were able to step in and provide that kind of first aid.
But in our city, you know, I think we're having the same issue with respect to keeping police officers retirements, increasing, I think we're seeing that also around the country.
And in Austin, we put a pause on two of our cadet classes. We had another one that just started a week ago as we come back to that schedule. But what we did, how we did curriculum in our city, how to plot the selection of the cadets, and I think that on going forward basis, our police force is going to be that much stronger, but we have this period of adjustment.
BROWN: Just what we do know though, is that there is a startling rise in gun violence across the country. Mayor Steve Adler, thank you so much for bringing us the latest of what's happening in your city.
ADLER: Pamela, take care. Thank you.
BROWN: And in the shadow of all of that, a memorial is about to get underway in Orlando, Florida for the 49 people murdered in the Pulse Nightclub exactly five years ago.
Natasha Chen is in Orlando right now. Natasha, this was the second deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And Pamela, you can feel the weight of that loss and that trauma here at this interim memorial that's at the site where exactly five years ago, those 49 people were killed.
We see a lot of their faces, their names, their stories on the wall behind us, and this is where the onePULSE Foundation is hosting a memorial event beginning in less than an hour, and that's where the Mayor of Orlando, the Mayor of Orange County, the Deputy Police Chief, as well as the owner of the Pulse Nightclub, now, CEO of onePULSE Foundation is going to speak.
We've also seen some people, some speakers arrive, some survivors from that night arrive, and here is what the owner said to me today, Barbara Poma, about our current situation and seeing really the violence situation not improved at all, in the last five years seeing more gun violence, as you've just been talking about with the Austin Mayor. So, here's her take on where we are today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA POMA, PRESIDENT, ONEPULSE FOUNDATION: The most important thing I think we could start to do is find our way back to the gray and stop realizing you're either for or against each other. If we can go back to that old adage of, it's okay to agree to disagree. That doesn't mean I don't like you, or I can't be friends with you socially or in person. Right? It means that you just -- I can accept you for who you are.
We can have a difference, and that makes for great conversation, right? And so people stopped talking and so, it is either you are with me or you're not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: And you can see all of the messages now written on this panel beneath the Pulse sign. I had just been reading a couple of them. It says "Happy Pride angels and may souls forever rest in peace." "I will be free on your behalf." "Love always wins."
So you can just feel the impact that this had on so many people, not just in this immediate community, but around the country -- Pamela.
BROWN: I remember being on the ground there covering it right after that shooting happened and I know it had left an indelible mark on me and so many others as you said, and it still does these five years later. Thanks so much, Natasha.
A few alarming minutes aboard a Delta flight last night when witnesses say an unruly passengers got on the intercom and threatened to, quote, "take the plane down."
[VIDEO CLIP PLAYS]
BROWN: This is terrifying. One passenger told CNN, the Captain called on quote, "all able-bodied men" to help with the emergency. The passengers and crew were able to subdue the man who -- get this -- was an off-duty flight attendant.
The flight from LA to Atlanta was then diverted to Oklahoma City.
BROWN: Polo Sandoval is following what happened next. So what more have we learned about this -- Polo.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Pam. Can you just imagine, you're on this flight and you hear the captain on the PA system basically pleading with passengers for help to try to gain control of the situation? That's exactly what played out last night during this flight.
And as you mentioned, Delta Air Lines spokesperson confirming that the person responsible or at least believed to be responsible for this altercation is one of their own flight attendants. He was off duty at the time among the passengers aboard that flight which left to LA headed to Atlanta.
A witness aboard the flight tells CNN that about hours before the landing, the off duty Delta employee made his way to the front of the aircraft as you pointed out and started using the plane's PA system, and that's what triggered this in the first place as the crew began to try to take control of that PA system and tried to address this. That's when things escalated and got violent. This is how Ben Curlee remembers that. He actually was on that plane.
He told CNN what he heard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN CURLEE, PASSENGER ON DIVERTED DELTA FLIGHT: My first interaction was when the intercom came on, and apparently, the perpetrator was on the intercom and was telling passengers to return to their seat because oxygen masks were going to be required of them, and that created quite a stir amongst everyone around us, it became very tense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANDOVAL: As you just saw, several of Curlee's fellow passengers sprang into action and they helped restrain this individual as the plane made that emergency landing. We should point out that two flight attendants that were reportedly assaulted, they were not injured, either was anybody else on board that flight.
Delta Air Lines releasing a statement today saying that they are grateful. They wrote, "Thanks to the crew and passengers aboard Delta 1730 who assisted in detaining an unruly passenger as the flight diverted to Oklahoma City. The aircraft landed without incident and the passenger was removed by law enforcement."
Important to point out, it's still unclear exactly what this passenger, this Delta employee's state of mind actually was would have led him to do this, and that is one answer that authorities including the F.B.I. are going to have to answer here, especially since these reports that he claimed that he would, quote, "bring the plane down."
But it's also just the latest among a string of these kinds of cases that we've seen aboard U.S. carriers here and that is certainly concerning, as the F.A.A. has confirmed already about 2,900 of these kinds of similar cases as these airlines try to recover from the pandemic.
BROWN: Very quickly, do we know if this person is still employed by Delta?
SANDOVAL: You know, we asked that. At this point, Delta is saying that it is still too soon and referred us to authorities who are actually handling this investigation. At this point, the airline said they're not prepared to comment exactly on this employee, but they did confirm that he was an off duty employee at the time of that. So, that's suggests that he could still be employed, but that could potentially change especially if charges are filed.
BROWN: All right, Polo Sandoval, thanks so much.
SANDOVAL: Thanks, Pam.
BROWN: And coming up tonight, 178 healthcare workers are suspended for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19. We talk to the hospital CEO. Jeff Bezos auctions off a trip to space for an astronomical $28
And then next hour, a lobster diver claims a humpback whale tried to eat him. Have you heard this story? It is crazy.
But first, YouTube pulls the plug on Republican Senator Ron Johnson after he posted dubious COVID-19 treatment videos.
BROWN: New details tonight about the scope of a controversial Trump era probe that ensnared at least two House Democrats, their staffers and even their families. CNN's Katelyn Polantz has the latest.
Katelyn, this picture seems to be getting muddier the more we learn. There is still so much more to learn. That is the bottom line.
But lay out for us what we do know and what we still need to learn.
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Pam, this week, we have been in a scramble to understand another set of potentially politically charged or politically colored investigations under Attorney General Bill Barr and during the Trump administration.
Now, the one that we have been focusing on these past few days especially is an investigation that swept up lawmaker data that's two House Democrats, Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell. And there are questions now today about lawmakers -- whether these lawmakers were targeted, or whether they were inadvertently had their data collected by the Justice Department in a leak probe.
Now, all of these leaks probe, there are several that we've been talking about over the past few days and the one regarding Congress is particularly questionable, because we don't know if anyone at the top of the Justice Department tonight was even aware that these lawmaker information was being sought out.
So, I want to walk through all of the things we've learned about leak investigations under Trump, maybe not everything, but most of the important things are that in February 2018, excuse me, there was a subpoena sent to Apple. And now that subpoena, we know was very broad, and it took in 73 phone numbers, 36 e-mail accounts, from the inception of the account. So, that's potentially years of data regarding people who worked on Capitol Hill, a minor, and these two lawmakers, Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell.
And on top of that, there was a gag order that was extended three times during the Trump administration, where those people whose data was collected could not be -- they could not be told that their data was being sought in this leak investigation. They were just told recently.
On top of that, there are other leak investigations that we know were being prioritized by the Justice Department during the Trump years. The President had been calling for it, Jeff Sessions was ramping up support for it. Bill Barr was adding resources -- those other things that ended up having some unusual steps to them were court orders that required news organizations or told news organizations that they must turn over journalist data.
POLANTZ: Now, that's unusual. And so, all we're seeing right now are pieces together that are coming out in the Biden years about what was happening in leak investigations.
Now, we don't know if those leak investigations were proper and were properly predicated, and they were started appropriately. What we're looking at now is whether the steps taken in them were too aggressive and were appropriately following policy of the Justice Department.
BROWN: I just want to quickly clarify. So, in the case of Schiff and Swalwell, Apple apparently emailed them to notify them once they were allowed to, once everything expired. What do we know -- what has D.O.J. said about this? Are they saying anything more?
POLANTZ: Well, the Justice Department had directed this week, the Inspector General so that's the independent watchdog that can review this sort of thing to see if the proper steps were taken. They asked them and the Inspector General of the Justice Department is going to do a review to determine whether this was a properly done investigation with the subpoena to Congress or the Members of Congress, and whether the collection of data from the media organizations was also properly done.
And, you know, we're also pushing our sources to tell us about what the people at the very top of the Justice Department knew, and so far, our reporting, our sources are saying that Bill Barr, Attorney General from 2019 to 2020, he doesn't recall. Now, the congressional subpoena was before his time, that Jeff Sessions, who would have been Attorney General in 2018, that he was not involved.
Now, we do know that he was recused from the Russia investigation broadly so that if these were part of the Russia investigation, he would have been walled off from that. And then third, Rod Rosenstein, who would have been the Deputy Attorney General acting in place of Sessions during his recusal that he didn't know about this at the time.
BROWN: Okay, Katelyn Polantz, thanks for bringing us the latest there. We should note, the I.G. investigation was announced only after "The New York Times" first reported on all of this.
Let's bring in CNN senior political analyst and former adviser to four presidents, David Gergen; and Washington bureau chief for "U.S.A. Today," Susan Page. Great to see you both.
Wow, as Katelyn just laid out there, this is just extraordinary, as we learn more details about what happened and we still have so much to learn, David. We don't yet know if lawmakers were actually the target of the probe. Some Republicans like Chuck Grassley are saying, if they were, that's not out of the ordinary. Then you have former F.B.I. Deputy Director Andrew McCabe basically saying no, this is extraordinarily rare this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I have never, ever seen this scope of process, served on Members of Congress or people associated with Congress and congressional committees. It's absolutely unprecedented.
For the F.B.I. and the Department of Justice to target sitting Members of Congress is an incredibly, incredibly aggressive act. It happens exceedingly rarely, it's typically not in leak cases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So what is your view of this case, David?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it is extremely complicated. And for a long, long time, it's been clear, Pamela, that the government when secrets are leaked, national security secrets are leaked that the government has a legitimate reason to go and find who the leaker were and cuff them.
On the other hand, we've also learned over the last 30 or 40 years that it is extremely illegitimate to go on phishing expeditions intended to hurt your opponents. And by using the powers of the Justice Department to investigate people used to be that, you know, when I first came into politics, Presidents were, you know, they could call the Treasury Department and get the tax returns of the people they didn't like, and then they used them.
We had Presidents who were phone tapping people, all those things are gone, it is a much cleaner process now. But as McCabe -- Andrew McCabe just said, this is extraordinary now to have this kind of investigation. It's very suspicious. We do need to get to the bottom of it.
One additional thing that is at stake here is the question of whether or not only the Trump Justice Department is independent or weaponized, but whether the Biden Attorney General is going to be truly independent, and here, at this time, it is very encouraging.
In the last two or three weeks, we've had several times that A.G. Garland is going to work independently of this White House as Attorney General, and that he will do some things that the progressive Democrats don't like. They have already complained about the President, and had been putting pressure on the President to do some things to better the government. But in other cases, he is going to be doing things with Democrats would like.
For example, he is really cracking down on the question of whether these 14 states that have enacted restrictive voting laws, whether those laws actually are unconstitutional, and he's going to investigate that, that's something Democrats ought to applaud and will applaud.
BROWN: And we're still learning more. I mean, look, early days for Merrick Garland, but we still need more information from his Department of Justice on what is going on here. Right?
BROWN: Susan Page, just given the significance of all of this. And, look, these top officials at D.O.J. under the Trump administration are claiming they weren't aware, we don't know about this, but given the credibility issues, given the fact you had the sitting President at the time, publicly and privately saying he wanted D.O.J. to investigate his political adversaries, it just -- it adds a whole new layer to this, right?
SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "U.S.A. TODAY": And Pamela, which is more alarming that the Attorneys General knew that they were going after the records of sitting Members of Congress, or that the Department of Justice was going after these records and the Attorneys General didn't know about them.
I'm not sure that that is reassuring, if it turns out to be the case that the Attorneys General weren't.
Now, of course, Members of Congress can be investigated for criminal conduct, for corruption -- that happens. But there is a respect between the co-equal branches of government for the separation of powers, and that is one reason I think that this raises such alarms: was the Trump Justice Department weaponizing their legal authority to go after critics like Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell? And, of course, to do these very aggressive investigations of the news media, of the reporters who were covering them.
BROWN: Of course, and again, we don't know whether they were the actual targets, although we know they asked Apple for their information. There's still a lot of questions about whether it was targeted to them or someone else, and they were swept up. But it still raises a lot of questions about the powers of D.O.J., these leak investigations and what the President at the time was saying and what D.O.J. did.
As David Gergen said, it's all very suspicious. Right? There's a lot of questions.
I want to switch gears here, David. YouTube just suspended Senator Ron Johnson's account after he shared COVID-19 misinformation. What do you think? Did YouTube make the right call here?
GERGEN: I thought YouTube made the right call. They have a series of standards, thank goodness, we need them for the Big Tech companies, standards about when they will suspend your right to use their accounts. Whether it's Twitter or Facebook or whatever.
And in this case, you know, what the standards are for Facebook is we will not -- we will not put on our pages and we will suspend your use of those pages if you are spreading information which contradicts the World Health Organization's views of what is appropriate healthcare and what medicines are good for you and what medicines are bad for you.
And this case, Ron Johnson was contradicting the World Health Organization and that goes against the standards, the automatic standards of the people who are running these social networks, these social machines and so forth.
So, I thought that Facebook did exactly the right thing. You know, at some point, you have to be -- look, there's been a tendency in the Republican Party, as we all know, to spread a lot of misinformation about whether it is, you know, a whole variety of things, but especially how Trump got elected, but also on the coronavirus, they spread a lot of misinformation.
They can't sit there and put misinformation out and then blame that company for saying we're not post that. You know, it is hypocritical for you to claim that.
BROWN: All right, David Gergen, Susan Page, thank you so much. So much to discuss what's going on here in Washington.
Wow, what a busy weekend. Thanks.
And up next, 178 healthcare workers are suspended for refusing to get vaccinated. We'll talk to the hospital CEO.
BROWN: A battle over a mandatory vaccinations escalates in Houston. Nearly 200 employees with a Houston Methodist Hospital system have been suspended without pay for two weeks and could be fired later this month, all because of their refusal to get a COVID vaccine, a mandate the company announced back in March.
Employees have been protesting this move, some filed suit against the company in late May. Nurse Jennifer Bridges joined me on this story two weeks ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNIFER BRIDGES, PLAINTIFF, REGISTERED NURSE AT HOUSTON METHODIST HOSPITAL: Basically, we just want our share rights. We don't want to be forced into anything to able to keep our job. We'd like to be able to choose for ourselves what goes into our body and also a lot of us just want more proper research. We want it fully FDA approved. We want it to be out there a couple of years to fully know what it could possibly do, because there's no long-term effects that are studied yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: Joining me now Dr. Marc Boom, the President and CEO of the
Houston Methodist Hospital system. Dr. Boom, thanks for coming on. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agrees with your stance by the way. Explain why though you think it's so important for your company to make vaccines mandatory.
DR. MARC BOOM, PRESIDENT & CEO, HOUSTON METHODIST HOSPITAL: Well, you know we're a hospital system and healthcare is a special circumstance where we care for people who are quite vulnerable. So from our perspective, we have a sacred obligation as health care individuals, whether it's physicians, nurses, everybody else who works in a hospital system to keep our patients safe.
And we are in the middle of a pandemic and so how better to keep our patients safe than by ensuring that all of us have done everything possible to prevent an accidental infection of our patients and that's what vaccines are. They're incredibly safe, they are incredibly effective and this brings our institution in line with what we've done for a dozen years with the flu vaccine for the very same reasons.
BROWN: So Houston Methodist, as you will know, is far from alone on this. New York Presbyterian one, of the nation's largest system just announced Friday that all its employees must be vaccinated or provide a valid exemption. Yet vaccine reluctance among healthcare workers is so high reportedly in Texas and elsewhere. Why do you think that is?
BOOM: Well, unfortunately, we live in a society that oftentimes and we've seen this throughout this pandemic has really gotten into many debates over what is ultimately the science and the medicine, and it is what it is rather than something that should be politicized or debated.
And the reality is that we've been living in a society that although it benefited tremendously over the last century from vaccines, going from a life expectancy of 50 to a life expectancy in the mid 70s to late 70s by the end of last century and vaccines were a huge part of that.
We've taken them for granted and we've had a very organized anti- vaccine approach. And unfortunately, that has resonated with a lot of people and has confused a lot of people over time. And so even in health care, we see that. But keep in mind, I mean, in our institution, we have 25,000 plus individuals who've done the right thing. We suspended and potentially will ultimately terminate 178 individuals out of that, so it's a very small fraction.
Yet, when you look at the population at large, it's a much larger fraction than that. So I'm heartened by the fact that our health care employees have done the right thing and I'm so grateful to the 25,000 plus who've done exactly the right thing for our patients.
BROWN: And as you know, the 178 believe they're doing the right thing by not getting this vaccine. One of those is Jennifer Bridges. I spoke to her a couple of weeks ago, here's what she said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIDGES: I still believe everybody should have their right to choose whether they take this or not. And all last year, when I worked with all the COVID patients, we wore the N95 mask and the face shield and it was perfectly acceptable by the CDC and by Methodist. So there's no reason why we still can't do that right now until we have enough research and data where we're comfortable before we actually take it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And that's been a complaint of a lot of people who are vaccine hesitant, a lack of research data long-term. What do you say to her argument?
BOOM: Well, all last year when we use PPE, we didn't have a vaccine in place, we didn't have a vaccine in place that's been used now, given 300 million plus times in the United States. To put that in perspective, we use about 170 million, 175 million flu shots each year. This is a vaccine that has tremendous real world experience as well as. With its very sophisticated studies, we know that it is safe. We know that it is effective.
The issues we see with vaccines sometimes in terms of any safety issues, those signals happen early and we've seen that with the FDA finding a few unusual and rare signals, but nonetheless some signals and those have been addressed. But remember, one in 500 people died of COVID in the United States last year, all of the things that have been seen and it's very few are at best one in hundreds of thousands if not one in millions as complications. These are incredibly, incredibly safe vaccines.
And at a hospital and a healthcare situation where we deal with vulnerable people, think of people with cancer, people with immunological illnesses and others who don't have good protection, and who rely on everyone else for protection. That is our sacred obligation as healthcare workers to do that and to protect them and that's what they've done.
And ultimately, people like Ms. Bridges and others do have a choice. Their choice if they don't want to be vaccinated is not to be employed here and to seek employment elsewhere. And we wish them well, we thank them for everything they've done. But the people who work here are going to do everything they can to keep our patients safe and we're so grateful to all of them.
BROWN: All right. Dr. Marc Boom, thanks so much.
BOOM: Thank you.
BROWN: And coming up on the Saturday, 28 million bucks for a trip to space with Jeff Bezos. We'll be right back.
[18:43:34] BROWN: More now on what some lawmakers are calling a shocking abuse of
power under President Trump as the DOJ is accused of targeting Democratic lawmakers, their staff, even family members during the leak investigation. Now, some Republicans like Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley are pushing back, cautioning that we don't know if the investigation was out of the norm.
Grassley writing, "Investigations into Members of Congress and staff are nothing new, especially for classified leaks. The Justice Department has specific procedures for such sensitive investigations, and the inspector general is already working to determine if they were followed."
With me now former FBI Deputy Director and our Senior Law Enforcement Analyst, Andrew McCabe. You heard the statement there from Sen. Grassley did.
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I did.
BROWN: What is your reaction to that?
MCCABE: Well, it's not exactly accurate. OK. So investigations of members of Congress are not new. They've happened before. they typically happen around issues about public corruption and bribery and things like that. And those cases are targeted at individuals and the legal process that might be served in those cases, very specific, very targeted. It's always very sensitive and brief to the absolute highest levels of both the FBI and the Department of Justice.
So I think the Senator is trying to make this seem as if it's just an ordinary everyday matter and the fact is it's not.
BROWN: The fact is a leak investigation involving a sitting member of Congress, have you ever heard of anything like that?
MCCABE: I, my experience, have not ever seen one. I was involved in one leak investigation about a staff member of a committee that's been ...
BROWN: The case, the Wolfe case, I think, yes.
MCCABE: ... the Wolfe case which has been concluded and it's public information. But other than that, I'm not aware of any targeting of members.
BROWN: So help our viewers watching right now, help us put this into perspective.
BROWN: How extraordinary this is. I mean, the FBI, we should note, the FBI is the one that would investigate, right?
MCCABE: That's right. BROWN: So that's what's important, because you were at the FBI, how
extraordinary is this.
MCCABE: It is exceedingly rare to have an investigation in which you know that you are targeting or you were likely to scoop up the information of members of Congress. Any such investigation would inevitably qualify as what we call a sensitive investigative matter and that designation alone requires very high levels of approval within the FBI and also notifications to the highest level of the Department of Justice.
BROWN: So then what do you make then of what we're hearing from sources and from Bill Barr who's saying he doesn't recall this, Rod Rosenstein is telling people around him. He wasn't aware of this.
BROWN: Jeff Sessions is saying the same thing. What do you make of that?
MCCABE: In the broadest sense, Pam, it's very hard to believe because of those rules and policies that I just mentioned. In this specific case, it's contradicted by other reporting we've heard. So The New York Times reported that several individuals in the department indicated that former Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein was briefed on these matters twice a week.
We also have heard that William Barr, when he came into the Justice Department, reviewed these cases, contradicted the recommendation of the prosecutors and then brought in his own hand-picked prosecutor from New Jersey. So those acts alone are simply inconsistent with these statements now that nobody was ever told anything.
BROWN: So this happened to be a situation and again we don't know, which is a problem ...
BROWN: ... where DOJ was investigating a staffer on a congressional committee and as part of that investigation swept up and snare these city members of Congress. Does that raise new questions about how leak investigation should be handled, whether the justice department should ease up on leak investigations?
MCCABE: Leak investigations are always very sensitive, each one is factually different. They require a high degree of judgment and consideration. That's why the approvals on them are so high. In this case, if they began with investigating, let's say, a staff member and they looked at that staff members' contacts, either email contacts or telephone contacts, you could very logically assume that within those contacts, you are going to scoop up communications with elected representatives and other staff members.
That makes it a sensitive matter. It should have been considered very carefully. They should have attempted to winnow that list of folks they were looking at down as tightly and specifically as they could to limit the amount of incidental collection and it's really hard to think that all of those things happened here.
BROWN: And, of course, this is all against the backdrop of then President Donald Trump saying publicly, he wanted his political opponents to be investigated, calling out Schiff by name.
MCCABE: Specific to Schiff.
BROWN: So this is all against that backdrop. Again, so many questions tonight, thanks for sharing all of your ...
BROWN: ... expertise from your background and so many years with the FBI. Thanks so much, Andy.
MCCABE: Thanks, Pam.
BROWN: Tonight, a Democratic lawmakers putting new pressure on the President and Vice President to visit the southern border soon to help in the migrant crisis.
Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar joins me next.
BROWN: One of President Joe Biden's first actions was halting border wall construction and now after Donald Trump diverted billions of dollars to pay for that wall, Biden is returning more than 2 billion back to military projects. So the Lone Star State will go it alone. Texas plans to start building a border wall barrier and will begin arresting undocumented migrants for trespassing.
Republican Governor Greg Abbott unveiled the aggressive approach after U.S. officials logged more than 180,000 border encounters in May outpacing the 2019 surge. Here to discuss, Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar who represents a border districts. Congressman, thank you for coming on the show.
Your governor says outright that his plan will require more jail capacity. Is that the right approach here, throwing more people behind bars?
REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D-TX): No, that's not the right approach, whether trying to build a fence on behalf of the State of Texas or trying to arrest people. This is again something that the federal government should do. And as you know, I'm one of those that I think we need to do more on behalf of the federal government.
I speak to the men or women in green, the men and women in blue and they're frustrated just like my communities are frustrated because of the large numbers of people coming in and this is just the reality that we're seeing here.
BROWN: So then what do you think about what Biden did with those funds that were allotted for the wall?
CUELLAR: Well, look, the wall doesn't stop any of the unaccompanied kids or the family units. Because if you look at where they put a fence, they usually put a fence not at the riverbank, but they put it about a half a mile, so it doesn't stop any of those people. I am glad, because I sit on the fence approach and Homeland approach, I'm glad the money is going to be going back to our men and women in uniform. I'm glad.
But the way we stopped people is not by building or built a border fence. We got to look at the push factors that happened in those countries. But we got to look at the pull factors. Right now the administration is only looking at the push factors by going to Central America, but we got to look at the pull factors that we see here at the border.
BROWN: Let's talk about those push factors, this week progressive slammed Vice President Harris for telling migrants do not come to America. You defended that message, explain why.
CUELLAR: Well, it's very simple because otherwise then why not invite the whole world to come into the United States? Look, I believe in legal migration. I'm just against illegal migration. What we're seeing is people coming in. They are allowed to stay into the United States.
They have to wait for years before they get a court hearing. If you ask an immigration judge, usually if you have a hundred people for asylum 88 percent are going to be rejected, so why are we letting everybody in, why not find a way to do this at the border, give people their day in court.
The ones that are supposed to come in we say bienvenidos and the other ones, I'm sorry, but you got to be returned back to your country. We can't have chaos at the border just having people coming in.
Look, my parents came in from Mexico. My father became a legal resident and then a naturalized citizen. He waited. He waited in line and I think people need to wait just like my parents and so many people are still waiting right now. Do it the right way.
BROWN: Very quickly, what do you think could be accomplished by a visit from the Vice President to the border, something you have been calling for?
CUELLAR: Well, look, just by being here and listening not having and I say this with all due respect as a stage visit, but listening to our border mayors, to our county judges, to their sheriffs, to the land owners, you got to listen to the people who are here and not just listen to a group of people. Trump would only listen to law enforcement, Democrats just listen to the NGOs. No, we got to have a broad community of voices so we can hear what's happening at the border.
Again, our message at the border is yes to legal migration, no to illegal migration.
BROWN: OK. Congressman Cuellar, thank you so much for coming on the show and offering your view on this.
CUELLAR: Thank you so much.
BROWN: And the winning bid, $28 million. That is how much a so far unnamed space junkie has agreed to pay to be catapulted into space next to billionaire Jeff Bezos. The winner will strap in on July 20th for Blue Origin's first crewed flight. That $28 million ride is scheduled to last just 11 minutes.
And tonight, we're following breaking news out of Austin, Texas. The Mayor just told me that they are closing in on the second suspect in last night's mass shooting. We are live in Austin right after this short break.