Transcript: Mayor John Cooper on “Face the Nation”

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The following is a transcript of an interview with Nashville Mayor John Cooper that aired Sunday, December 27, 2020, on “Face the Nation.”


MARGARET BRENNAN: Mola Lenghi, thank you. We want to go now to the mayor of Nashville, John Cooper. Good morning to you, Mr. Mayor.

MAYOR JOHN COOPER: Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: CBS is reporting that a person of interest in this explosion has been identified. Is there any update yet on the motive behind this bombing or who carried it out?

MAYOR COOPER: Well, there’s no update yet, but I think everybody feels like there is a lot of momentum behind the investigation, and I expect a lot of answers- a lot of questions will be answered relatively soon. We’ve got hundreds of agents on the ground working very hard.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The person of interest, CBS is reporting, is a Nashville area resident named Anthony Quinn Warner. He’s been described as a 63-year-old white man who had an RV similar to the one in the explosion. Do you know if he is the suspect and- and what his status is?

MAYOR COOPER: Well, I- I know what you know, what the authorities are reporting to the public. Again, I just think there’s a lot of momentum in the investigation and it’s so- I think there’s a lot of public interest because it’s so shocking that on Christmas morning, this time of greatest hope, you have a bombing, a deliberate bombing. How can this be? And the public I know is anxious to try to understand it better.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Oh, absolutely. You said that this was not typical of terrorism. You called it an infrastructure attack. What did you mean by that?

MAYOR COOPER: Well, those of us in Nashville realize that on Second Avenue there is a big AT&T facility and the truck was parked adjacent to this large, historic AT&T facility, which happens to be in downtown Nashville, somewhat surprisingly. And to all of us locally, it feels like there has to be some connection with the AT&T facility and the site of the bombing. You know, and that- that’s just- that’s a bit of just local insight in because it’s got to have something to do with the infrastructure.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We know service was knocked out in parts of Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky. This was far reaching. When will service be restored? And- and do you also need help from the president, as the governor has asked?

MAYOR COOPER: Yeah, oh, absolutely. The governor and I have talked about this. The damage on Second Avenue is not dissimilar than what the tornado in- inflicted on Nashville and bigger parts of Nashville rather than just on one street.  And so we- we’re going to need to get this rebuilt. It’s part of our historic identity of Nashville, this kind of late Victorian streetscape that ended up being bombed. And the businesses there, they’ve just- going through COVID they’ve had the worst nine months that you could have as a business. And then now to be affected by a bombing. Of course, we’re going to need help and we may need some help in hardening our infrastructure. Now, the AT&T building itself, I think a lot of it probably survived very well, but you have flooding after these events that gathers in basements. And so some of the problem may have been the result of the cure than from the bombing itself.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And how long before service is restored?

MAYOR COOPER: Well, I know AT&T is working very hard and sent a lot of trucks to Nashville to get this back online. They’ll have to tell you when it will be, but every- everybody’s working hard to solve the problem.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you feel confident that there is no ongoing threat to your city? I mean this seemed to have been- taken law enforcement completely by surprise.

MAYOR COOPER: Right. Well, all- all of us by surprise. Again, Christmas morning. I feel confident in repeating what the authorities- what the investigators said yesterday to Nashville, that they think that the threat is over, that- that Nashville is safe, that there aren’t any other bombs. I think they wouldn’t have said that unless they were very confident that that is true.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You also have an ongoing COVID spike in the state of Tennessee that you’re dealing with and you’re rolling out the COVID vaccine in your city. How is all of this coming together? Is it complicating the response?

MAYOR COOPER: Well, this is our year of first responder. You know, we- we’ve had a lot of brave nurses and doctors all year long. Yesterday, we- we on Christmas Day, six incredibly heroic police officers get added to our roll of honor in Nashville for 2020. COVID, of course, makes everything harder. We are in the middle of a spike. It’s hard to know post-Christmas where that- those numbers are headed to. In Nashville, we’ve dealt with it reasonably well. We’ve had a mask mandate and we’ve had restrictions on gatherings and- that have been going on for some time. It’s part of how our businesses are suffering, our hospitality area, our- the gatherings have been restricted and so the businesses that were bombed are still in the middle of having a COVID recovery. Again, it’s part of needing response by the federal government, both from the bomb- bombing and- and for COVID also.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. And just to be clear, you haven’t yet heard from the White House whether they will grant the request for federal help?

MAYOR COOPER: No- no, I haven’t. The governor and I talked yesterday, and I know our governor has been talking to the White House about this, and we’ve gotten a lot of support from Tennessee’s congressional delegation. And I think when they get back into session, hopefully they’ll be in action on it again. This is so similar in terms of the destruction, though in a limited way, to the tornado that we saw here last March. And again, it’s so unfair to these businesses to be bombed at the end of COVID, that all help that we can get to get them rebuilt and made whole should be a priority.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Mr. Mayor, good luck and good luck to everyone in your city.

MAYOR COOPER: Thank you.

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