Return to Transcripts main page


49 People Killed in New Zealand Mass Shooting; North Korea Threatens to Suspend Nuclear Talks; Trump Signs First Veto to Stop Congress from Blocking his National Emergency; 49 Killed in Mosque Mass Shootings, Suspect ti Appear in Court. Gunman Live-Streamed Terror Attack at Mosques; Trump Speaks After Signing His First Veto. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired March 15, 2019 - 16:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Gloria Borger, you are the best. Thank you very much. Good to have you on.



BALDWIN: Thank you.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me for the last two hours.

Let's send things to Washington. "THE LEAD" starts now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Any moment, we're expecting a new face of hatred to appear in court.

THE LEAD starts right now.

What's being called New Zealand's darkest day being felt around the world and across the United States, after a racist Islamophobic man kills 49 people. This hour, New Zealand's prime minister is expected to speak, as the white supremacist madman faces a judge.

Breaking right now, President Trump speaking as he picks up his veto pen for the first time and ranting against his own party after several Republicans stood up to him in the Senate over his border emergency.

Plus, bad breakup, North Korea making new threats towards the United States, raising fears that a missile launch might be coming. So what happened to President Trump and Kim Jong-un, as the president put it, falling in love?

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we are following two major live events happening at this hour. President Trump just spoke as he issued the first veto of his presidency over his border wall. We will bring that to you as soon as we have that.

But we begin now with the world lead.

It is just after 9:00 a.m. in New Zealand. And any minute, we expect the suspect charged in the New Zealand terrorist attack to appear in court. He's been charged with murder for killing 49 innocent people and seriously wounding 20 others in the country's worst ever mass shooting, a horrific act of hate targeted at Muslims, as the killer opened fire on to mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday prayers, Friday, of course, one of the busiest times for any mosque.

The alleged gunman also took video of the attack, streaming it live on social media and posting an 87-page document filled with ugly and anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rantings and sentiments, listing the white nationalists who have inspired him, outlining his plans for attacks.

CNN chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward now picks up our coverage on this shocking act of hate.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bloodied and shaken, these are among the survivors of terror attacks at two mosques that appear to have been planned for years; 49 people lay dead, as New Zealand's prime minister addressed the gunman directly.

JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: You may have chosen us, but we actually reject and condemn you.

WARD: According to authorities, the suspected terrorist is a 28-year- old white Australian man now in custody and charged with murder.

He allegedly entered the Masjid Al-Noor Mosque in Christchurch around 1:40 p.m. Friday, just as prayers began.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was hearing the shooting, the shooting, the shooting. It went on about six minutes or more.

WARD: The killer used a body camera to live-stream video to Facebook as he fired and reloaded, those in his sights trying to escape and protect each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First time, I went, but one guy was sitting out just beside a wall. And what he did was, he told me, no, no. And then I went back again where I was. And next thing, the guy came and shoot this guy who told me not to get out.

WARD: Forty-one victims are now confirmed dead at the first mosque. At a second mosque, seven more people were gunned down during services and one other died at the hospital.

The dual atrocities have shocked New Zealand, which prides itself on acceptance.

YASMIN ALI, RESIDENT OF CHRISTCHURCH: We're such a small community. We're so kind and loving, so I just don't understand why someone would hurt us like this, in such a way just like an animal.

WARD: The gunman is now in custody and charged with murder, while two others have been arrested on suspicion of possessing firearms. None were previously known to authorities.

ARDERN: These are people who I would describe as having extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand and, in fact, have no place in the world.

WARD: In addition to live-streaming his massacre on social media, the accused killer left behind an 87-page manifesto online. In it, he says he chose Christchurch to show that nowhere in the world is safe, adding many anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and pro-white supremacist sentiments.

He also made clear the attacks were designed well in advance.

ARDERN: It does appear to have been well-planned. Two explosive devices attached to suspects' vehicles have now been found. And they have been disarmed.



WARD: So, Jake, investigate now, of course, want to look at whether there was potentially a network that was facilitating or helping to coordinate this heinous terrorist attack.

But when I have pored over this 87-page manifesto, it becomes very clear and apparent that this terrorist was actually borrowing some of the tactics that we have seen ISIS use, radicalizing online, reaching out to people online, lone wolves, these sorts of terror attacks -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Clarissa Ward, thanks so much.

We do have some breaking news. President Trump just signed the first veto of his presidency. Let's listen in.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... restore our national sovereignty and defend this nation from criminal cartels, human traffickers and drug smugglers, crime of all kinds coming through our southern border and other places.

But this is the place. This is the place we have the biggest problem by far. And I want to also compliment the incredible people at Border Patrol and ICE and law enforcement for the job they have done.

They have apprehended so many thousands and thousands of people, that, if we had the proper protection, we wouldn't even have to apprehend. They wouldn't be coming in.

As president, the protection of the nation is my highest duty. Yesterday, Congress passed dangerous resolution that, if signed into law, would put countless Americans in danger, very grave danger.

The Democrat-sponsored resolution would terminate vital border security operations by revoking the national emergency issued last month. It is definitely a national emergency. Rarely have we had such a national emergency.

Therefore, to defend the safety and security of all of Americans, I will be signing and issuing a formal veto of this reckless resolution. And that's what it was.

And I have to in particular thank the Republicans, strong, wonderful people, the Republican senators that were on our side and on the side of border security and on the side of doing what they have to, to keep our nation safe.

They were very courageous yesterday. And I appreciate that very much. Congress' vote to deny the crisis on the southern border is a vote against reality. It's against reality. It is a tremendous national emergency. It is a tremendous crisis.

Last month, more than 76,000 illegal migrants arrived at our border. We're on track for a million illegal aliens to rush our borders. People hate the word invasion, but that's what it is. It's an invasion of drugs and criminals and people. We have no idea of who they are, but we capture them because border security is so good.

But they're put in a very bad position. And we're bursting at the seams, literally bursting at the seams. What Border Patrol is able to do is incredible.

I also, by the way, want to thank our military, because our military has been very much involved, as you know. And they're putting up walls, in some cases temporary. In some cases, they were supposed to be temporary. They're so good that they're better than the permanent, so we're leaving them.

We have really nowhere left to hold all of the people that we are capturing. And we're at a point where we're just going to have to say, with these horrible decisions that we have been handed by people that aren't living in reality that there's nothing we can do, there's absolutely nothing we can do. We're bursting at the seams. You can only do so much.

And the only option then is to release them. But you can't do that either, because, when you release them, they come into our society, and in many cases, they're stone-cold criminals. And in many cases and in some cases, you have killers coming in and murderers coming in. And we're not going to allow that to happen. Just not going to allow it to happen.

There's been nearly 2000 percent increase in border-related asylum claims over the last decade. Part of the reason is because our country is doing so well economically that people are coming up in droves. The vast majority are rejected, but smuggling organizations making a tremendous amount of money, like they have never made before, are using these people to crash the system. Our immigration system is stretched beyond the breaking point. And,

as I said, nothing much we can do. We can just do our job and do it well, but there's a point at which, if the Democrats would, would get in, we would be able to make a deal.

Literally, in 15 minutes, we could make a deal on changing catch and release, changing the horrible asylum laws that are so unfair, changing visa lottery, chain migration. These laws are just horrendous. I won't explain them, but everybody standing behind me knows exactly what they are.

They're dangerous for our country and they're inspired by Democrats, who have to change. One in three migrant women is sexually assaulted on the journey north.


The border crisis is driving the drug crisis; 70,000 Americans a year are killed by drugs, including meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl. And the 70,000 people is a number that's so low, that it probably shouldn't even be used anymore.

The mass incursion of illegal aliens, deadly drugs, dangerous weapons and criminal gang members across our borders has to end. We're bringing out thousands and thousands a year of MS-13 gang members and other gang members that are just as bad, where they come into our country, they're able to skirt the border, come to areas where we don't have proper wall, where we don't have any wall at all, and they get into the country.

And they do a lot of damage in many cases. But we get them out by the thousands and we bring them back or we incarcerate them.

The national emergency I declared last month was authorized by Congress under the 1976 National Emergencies Act. And there haven't been too many that are a bigger emergency than we have right at our own border.

Consistent with the law and the legislative process designed by our founders, today, I am vetoing this resolution. Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution, and I have the duty to veto it. And I'm very proud to veto it. And I'm very proud, as I said, of a lot of Republican senators that were with me.

And I'm also very proud of the House. The Republicans in the House voted overwhelmingly in favor of a secure border. Since 1976, presidents have declared 59 national emergencies. They often involved protecting foreign citizens in far-off lands.

Yet Congress has not terminated any of them. Every single one of them is still in existence. And yet we don't worry about our land. We worry about other people's land. That's why I say America first, if that's OK, America first.

The only emergency Congress voted to revoke was the one to protect our own country. So, think of that. With all of the national emergencies, this was the one they don't want to do, and this is the one perhaps they should most do.

We're joined today by many brave law enforcement offices, including sheriffs and just people that have been just tremendous, tremendous backers of law and order, which we have to have.

We're also joined by friends of mine, Mary Ann Mendoza, Kent Terry, Laura Wilkerson, Sabine Durden, and Steve Ronnebeck. And I'm going to ask Steve to say a few words.

And I'm going to ask some of the folks behind me to say also a few words as to the importance of what we're doing. There's nothing more important. As I said, I was elected on a very -- by a very, very great group of American people, millions and millions of people, because they want security for our country.

And that's what we're going to have.

I would like to ask Secretary Nielsen to say a few words, and then Attorney General Bill Barr. And then I would like to go to some of the folks behind me. And perhaps you would have something to say. And then we're going to sign something that's going to give us safety at our border.


TAPPER: All right, while the president gives other people in the room the floor, we're going to discuss. And then we're going to go back when the president starts talking again.

First of all, we will discuss New Zealand a little bit later in the show.

But the president, this is his first veto. And it's dramatically after a rare rebuke even from some Republicans in the Senate.

MEHDI HASAN, THE INTERCEPT: Who would have imagined that 12 Republicans would turn against him? I didn't imagine it.

But he's -- you had that statement. He talked a lot about the reality, which is funny, because no president has ever been more disconnected from reality.

We know there's no crisis at the border. He said it himself in the Rose Garden last month: "I don't have to do this."

And yet here he is signing this veto, unnecessary veto, unnecessary national emergency. He talked about the country being literally full at the seams, which is another reminder that he doesn't know the meaning of the word literally.

And, worst of all, he called migrants again invaders. You said we're going to talk about New Zealand. The alleged shooter in New Zealand referred to immigrants as invaders.

For the president to use that language only a few hours later, after 49 Muslims are dead, is disgusting. It's inexcusable. I would say shameful, but he clearly has no shame, to talk about invaders again.

TAPPER: The president depicting the resolution that passed, which is a resolution of disapproval, as if it was going to take away all border security.

That's the picture he painted.


And, in fact, they were happy to give him -- Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, were happy to give him billions of dollars for his wall and for more border security.

[16:15:00] CHAVEZ: Right.

TAPPER: That's the picture he painted.

CHAVEZ: No. And in fact, they were happy to give him, Congress, both Democrats and Republicans were happy to give him billions of dollars for his wall and for more border security. But he didn't get exactly what he wanted. And so, he decided to do this executive order.

And even if there was a wall across all, you know, 1,500 square mile or 1,500 miles of the border, it would have no impact on the real crisis which is a crisis having to do with asylum seekers. Forty-six thousand came last month, that is a crisis. That is something that has --

TAPPER: A humanitarian crisis.

CHAVEZ: It's a humanitarian --

TAPPER: Not a national security crisis.

CHAVEZ: No, it's not national security crisis. But it is something that Congress needs to deal with. And they're probably do need to be fixes in asylum law. It is not just enough to say, "OK. Anybody who manages to get here, step foot on U.S. soil can claim asylum."

If they have a credible fear of harm back home, we probably do need to look at it. But the wall is not going to do any of that.

And he's acting as if these people are criminals, is criminal in and of itself. These are people who are fleeing drug lords and the Narco trafficking that's going on. All of which by the way is being driven by the American appetite for illegal drugs.

TAPPER: And one of the things that is going on with the humanitarian aspect of this which the President seldom talks about has to do with that so many of the people coming as suppose to decades before and people who mainly cross the border were unmarried men, young men, this is a lot of families. And the problem is that you can't lock them up because of that -- the ruling in that court case that says that children can't be separated from their parents, et cetera.

BILL KRISTOL, CONSERVATIVE WRITER: Yes. I mean, it's such about -- the aid (ph) emergency is not justified on the face of the statute, it's not a real emergency. And Congress has every right in the statute to say no, this in an inappropriate use of the emergency act which of majority in both Houses has now said including please write 12 Republican senators could use a few more and maybe we're gradually getting to a few more.

So that's, first of all, just a matter of the President -- the President sign the budget that has whatever 1.35 billion for border security. If he had wished to veto it, he could have. If he had wished, whether -- control both Houses in Congress they could have put in more money, they did. And so then he has this fake emergency proclamation which is not overruled by both Houses in the Congress.

And it said, as Linda says, have working on all kinds of issues in immigration reform or you could get some bipartisanship, I think, in a bunch of areas. He just demagogues in a way to make it harder to actually do something to address the genuine humanitarian crisis, to make sense of the reforms in our legal immigration system, to take care of the DACA kids and all that.

I mean, it's really -- so we pay of high price (ph) demagoguery in addition just whipping up and just. In additional whipping up resentments in a really terrible way against immigrants, legal and illegal, the invaders. I mean it's not unbelievable, people are fleeing whatever you think about it. What right way to process people which is complicated, you can't just let everyone in, they automatically even to call them invaders, really?

TAPPER: Well, and the other things is just the idea that, as it was pointed out, the idea that so, soon after a horrific attack carried out in the name of bigotry, hatred, sinophobia, Islamophobia, the President is using very stark language painting individuals coming from Central America as if they all -- everyone of them is a member of MS-13.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. Look, words matter. The President's word absolutely matter. And I was on a pin (ph) of this first weekend, (INAUDIBLE) by southwest and we were talking about the toxicity of the internet and how this very inflammatory language is spilling out.

And someone notable, maybe we shouldn't just give it any -- paid any attention. But when you let things like this faster, you were weeping out the nastiest and most terrible of things inside people that sometimes galvanizing the act. And so that's why it matters if Donald Trump had calls folks invaders and criminals and try to paint people as the other because people have been galvanized the act by the site of language and it's continuing to happen.

TAPPER: All right, everyone, stick around. This is all, of course, happening at the same time as we're expecting the mosque massacre suspect in court. I want to bring in on the phone from New Zealand, Scott Brown, the former U.S. senator, now the U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand.

Mr. Ambassador, thank you so much for talking with us. Sorry to make you wait there for a few minutes. Four people were originally arrested for this attack. Our understanding is one has been charged, another person has been released. The two others, as far as we know remain in custody. Do you know anything more about their involvement?

SCOTT BROWN, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NEW ZEALAND (via telephone): No. It's obviously a developing story, Jake, to you and your panel and also to your viewers. And they're focusing, obviously on the victims, making sure that the family and friends have all the tools and resources that they need. As you know 49 dead, very high number of battling and being treated for their injuries.

[16:20:00] They're focusing on securing the site, gathering evidence and obviously figuring out what happened and why.

TAPPER: Obviously this is a developing story, so information is still just coming in. None of the people arrested, as far as I can -- as far as I know had been on any security watch lists prior to the attack. And yet we're also learning that the man who wrote the manifesto and carried out the massacre said he had been planning to attack for two years. Is there any indication as of right now that this was an intelligence failure or a law enforcement failure in any way?

BROWN: Yes. I refer to the Prime Minister statement where she said that these people were not on the radar. That's certainly a conversation to do your act or action review to see what was done right and wrong.

So, our focus right now is making sure all of our personnel is safe and secured because your viewers and listeners may not know Christchurch is rocked recently, you know, within the last decade of a massive earthquake. Christchurch is also the base where we send operations to Antarctica. So we have scientist and military and others there.

So we -- our first job and priorities is to make sure they're safe, our citizens are safe. To focus, you know, OK, how come they didn't know? That's really between the New Zealand government and their intelligence and law enforcement personnel.

TAPPER: OK. Fair enough.

Is there any indication of any other threat in New Zealand or anywhere else in the world including the United States, obviously copycat attacks were always a concern?

BROWN: Sure. Certainly they are -- I'm not pretty to any of those types of declarations and determinations. All I can do right now is focus on what we're doing here. And we are offering any and all assistance that the government needs.

As you probably know the President reached out to the Prime Minister. I know the Secretary reached out to the Deputy Prime Minister. There's been communications.

And your viewers and listeners may not know New Zealand is a Five Eyes partner between U.S., Canada, Australia, Great Britain, and obviously New Zealand. And we shared -- have shared and had a relationship close to 200 years. So that free and fair and open floor of information back and forth has been in effect forever. And it's continuing and -- so we're enhancing that relationship. And whatever they need we're here for them.

TAPPER: In addition to Five Eyes intelligence, anything that the U.S. has, what other assistance is being provided by the U.S. government, the Trump administration? And for anybody watching at home or work who wants to help, what can they do?

BROWN: Well, thank you. And that's a great point. I mean I remember Boston, what happened in the Boston bombing, Marathon bombing and the whole Boston strong mentality. Well, I suggest that there is a kiwi (ph) strong mentality here as well.

New Zealand is a beautiful country, 4.6 plus million people. They're in fiercely independent, resilient, hardworking. And while this is certainly been has said back, I am absolutely positive that they will come out of this better and stronger.

I would just ask people to, you know, contact their local Red Cross. I mean, with Gill and I (ph) if I know --OK. Does it need blood? Does it need food? Does it need -- what type of resources? So we're relying on the New Zealand government. And as we find that information, I encourage folks to go to my U.S. Embassy website and we'll be posting certainly things there that folks maybe able to do to help.

TAPPER: Ambassador Scott Brown, thank you so much, we appreciate you calling in.

BROWN: Great. Jake, good day to you and your team. And thank you.

TAPPER: Thank you so much. We're continuing to follow this too, breaking stories including President Trump taking questions from reporters just a few moments ago. Stay with us, we're going to bring that to you.


[16:27:40] TAPPER: And we're back with breaking news. President Trump speaking at the White House after issuing his first veto. Let's listen in.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- we're already in contract to buy -- they make pretty incredible new equipment for drug detection where you can find out what's in the wheel of a car, where it is, where it's in the engine, where it's in the hubcaps. I mean we have some incredible stuff.

Plus, we have -- also, we're getting dogs. More dogs, believe it or not. I still say, is that still true? There's nothing that replaces a good dog. Is that right? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.

TRUMP: Buying this equipment for very expensive. But we haven't been -- it's true. We haven't been able to match the dog.

I've seen out at Secret Service, where they showed me the dogs, certain types of German Shepherd, very specific types of dog. But what they do is they'll run by 15 boxes, all empty except one. And they'll be very, very strongly sealed boxes. And they'll coming running full speed and stop like on a dime. They know the drugs are in that box. It's the most incredible thing.

So, we're spending hundreds of millions of dollars on equipment, but I will say this, it's not as good as the dogs. But, as you know, we're getting you -- so you're going to have the best equipment, but we're getting a lot of dogs for the various entry points also.

So with that, I just want to thank everybody for being here. In particular, I want to thank you folks, because you have been -- and please say hello to all of your friends that have been with us, really, from day one. What you've gone though is unthinkable, and I appreciate.

And you're strong people. You're strong and you're proud. And your kids are, you know, looking down on you right now and they're -- they're very proud of their moms and their dads. You know that, right? They're very proud. Thank you very much.

And, again, to those Republican senators that did what they had to do yesterday, I want to thank them. They're very special friends and very special people. And they want to see borders that are strong, where we don't allow drugs and crime and all of the problems coming into our country.

Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you see, today, white nationalism as a rising threat around the world?

TRUMP: I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have very, very, serious problems.

[16:30:01] I guess, if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that's the case. I don't know enough about it yet.