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49 People Killed in New Zealand Mass Shooting; North Korea Threatens to Suspend Nuclear Talks; Trump Set to Issue First Veto. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired March 15, 2019 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

In Christchurch, New Zealand, today, heartbreak and disbelief after 49 people were killed in the nation's deadliest shooting in modern history, the attack shattering the peace of day prayers at two mosques in the city, an attack that officials say was driven by extremist views.


JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack. From what we know, it does appear to have been well-planned.


BALDWIN: Four people have been arrested, one of them charged in connection to this massacre.

Hospitals there treated dozens who were wounded, young children among them. And for anyone planning to attend a mosque anywhere in New Zealand today, the police commissioner is urging them to stay home and -- quote -- "close your door until you hear from us again."

A survivor who managed to escape safely with his wife and 4-year-old son grew emotional when describing the chaos inside.


MAHMOUD NASSIR, SURVIVOR: We heard the firing. And it was from the main entrance -- main entrance of the building. And then everybody just run toward the back doors just to save themselves.

We saw many injured, bullets in arms and (INAUDIBLE) and everywhere. One woman was -- lied there. She was just lying on the road. And I don't know how many people died.


BALDWIN: Blis Savidge is live in Christchurch. CNN chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward is in London. And, Blis, you're there. I want to begin with you, of course, if you

have any update on any of the survivors at the hospitals, A, but, B, I know that we're an hour away -- you're at the courthouse. We're an hour away from the hearing involving that 28-year-old suspect. Tell me more.

BLIS SAVIDGE, FREELANCE PRODUCER: Yes, so still not a lot of updates on the victims.

There is a fund-raising page where people are giving money to try to help some of the victims and the victims' families. But right now we're outside of the Christchurch District Court, where the suspect, the 28-year-old man charged with murder, is expected to appear in about an hour.

Right now, it's relatively quiet. There's a few reporters out here. There is one or two armed guards around here as well. We don't exactly know if we're going to see the suspect. Some people even say that he might already be inside or coming in, in the back way.

So we don't even know if we're actually going to see him, but -- and today will be his first court appearance, where it will kind of be the formal charge, and he has the option to enter a plea or not. And we're just waiting right now to see what else happens.

BALDWIN: Again, four arrested, one charged. Blis, thank you in Christchurch.

Clarissa, on this 87-page hate-laced manifesto that's been linked to one of the suspects, it says that he chose New Zealand because he wanted to show that nowhere in the world is safe. At least one of the four arrested is an Australian. But could it be possible that this whole plan was crafted elsewhere?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the million-dollar question, Brooke. And that's what investigators will really be wanting to drill down on right now as they pore over the contents of this 87-page tome of hatred, essentially.

It's clear from the language in this that he is speaking very directly often to an online community operating largely on the Dark Web that is very much OK with these kind of memes and tropes that he specifically mentions.

It's also clear that he is being deliberately provocative throughout this manifesto. He is looking to incite a retaliatory attack. He is looking and explicitly calling for others like him to essentially drive a wedge in the very fabric of societies of thriving liberal democracies, where you see culture of multiculturalism being embraced.

So the question is, did somebody help him to do this? Did someone help him to plan this? It appears these attacks took quite a bit of planning. They were certainly well-coordinated. He said in his manifesto that he'd been working on them for two years, but were other people providing some forms of assistance? And perhaps more disturbingly are other people watching what happened today, are they taking notes, and are they preparing to do their own copycat types of attacks, Brooke?

BALDWIN: So as governments, law enforcement work to answer those million-dollar questions, I want to read this quote we saw from a far- right Australian lawmaker, blamed the attacks -- his words -- on "the growing fear within our community, both in Australia and New Zealand, of the increasing Muslim presence."


You know this part of the world. Can you talk to me about how views like that have influenced the region?

WARD: Well, you know, what's shocking, Brooke, is that it's not just this part of the world anymore.

We have been doing a series of stories on the rise of the far right, looking at Islamophobia, looking at anti-Semitism. And we now see it prevalent across a lot of the West, certainly across here in Europe, in the U.S. as well, Australia, now New Zealand as well.

And the common trope that you see here, I think, is that in this political climate, there is no question that people feel emboldened to give air to views that traditionally would be seen as unacceptable, as taboo, as racist, as hateful, as a form of hate speech even.

But because some of that speech and some of that discourse has actually seeped into the mainstream political rhetoric, there is definitely a sense now that, in this environment and in this zeitgeist, that people do for feel freer and more comfortable giving air to these hideous views, Brooke.

BALDWIN: And how it's so quickly and easily filtered out, as you mentioned, the Dark Web, and just on the Internet and how so many people are connected without ever having met one another.

Clarissa Ward, thank you very much.

Wajahat Ali is a contributing op-ed writer for "The New York Times."

So, Wajahat, thank you for being with me.

And I have a set of questions, but really I want to take a quick right turn, because I was just this statement from Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib.

So, if I may, I would love to just -- I'm sure you have something to add to this. It's a statement, three graphs. I just want to read the middle one for you.

She says: "This morning, I tried to hold back tears as I hugged my two brown Muslim boys a little tighter and longer. The painful loss of life based on hate makes me so angry. I am so angry at those who follow the white supremacy agenda in my own country that sends a signal across the world that massacres like this is some kind of call to action."

What say you?


Last night, sitting in America, I got a WhatsApp message from my friend. I will name him, Shaham Demanala (ph). He has two teenage sons. He read what was happening in New Zealand, where 49 individuals were killed when they went to pray at Jummah. That's Friday prayer. That's the equivalent of Sunday mass.

That was their last prayer. And he said, "How will I keep my kids safe?" Just let that sink in. "How will I keep my kids safe?"

And we're in America saying this, because this ideology of supremacy and hate has been globalized and mainstreamed, Brooke. It's white supremacy. And we have seen examples in America where our constitutionally protected houses of worship have become sites of mass violence.

In October, when President Trump was promoting that anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that, by the way, was promoted by white supremacists about George Soros, the Jewish Hungarian billionaire allegedly funding the caravan of rapists and Middle Eastern suspects and criminals who are -- wait for it -- going to invade America -- does that sound familiar?

Late October, what happened? A man said he wanted to punish the invaders, specifically the refugees. He wanted to punish HIAS, which brings in Jewish refugees. He said, "I don't care about the optics," and he walked into a synagogue and killed 11 people.

On a social media site, he re-shared a post that said, "I want to punish the evil, filthy Jews for bringing in the evil, filthy Muslims."

Sikh temples have been attacked by white supremacists. In Quebec two years ago, a shooter who was named by the New Zealand shooter in his manifesto, he cited him, walked in, shot and killed six worshipers in a mosque. He was anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, anti-Muslim. And he was also pro-Trump.

So this affects all of our community. Just imagine, Brooke, you go to a synagogue, a temple, a mosque with your family today. Today's Jummah, Friday prayer. And you think, huh, will I have to protect my son? Will I have protect my daughter.

Why is this ideology mainstream? Why isn't it called out? Why aren't we attacking the number one domestic terror threat in America, according to FBI, white supremacists? Why doesn't Donald Trump call it out? Why does he call Charlottesville folks who said "Jews will not replace us" as very fine people, but when it comes to Muslim suspects, he says, "I want extreme vetting and a Muslim ban"?

I want him to be -- I want him to be strong and not impotent when it comes to white supremacists. I want him to lead from top to bottom. BALDWIN: The manifesto makes a mention of Trump, describing him as a

symbol of white identity. And I just want to get this in.

This is how the White House is responding to that.


QUESTION: The shooter in the New Zealand attack cited the president in his manifesto. And I'm just wondering has any reaction.

MERCEDES SCHLAPP, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: It's outrageous to even make that connection between this deranged individual that committed this evil crime to the president, who has repeatedly condemned bigotry, racism, and has made it very clear that this is a terrorist attack.


BALDWIN: So that's the White House. Go ahead. You say, really?

ALI: Well, first of all, first of all, he hasn't called it a terrorist attack yet.


Secondly, the shooter in his manifesto said Donald Trump is a symbol of white pride, and we share a common purpose.

What is a common purpose that a white supremacist could share with Donald Trump? Also, we know that Daily Stormer, the number one white supremacist Web site in America, sees Donald Trump as an ally. So does David Duke of the KKK. So does Richard Spencer of the alt-right movement.

Why are all these groups, Brooke, and also the shooter, according to his manifesto, seeing Donald Trump as a blunt instrument, as an enabler and as an ally for their poison ideology? A question I have for American viewers on the fence.

BALDWIN: As they sit and think on that, we know the president speaking at the White House in a couple of minutes. He's got this veto. He's asked for cameras in the Oval. He could make other comments.

Wajahat, if he chooses to discuss what's happened in New Zealand, if he takes his language more forcefully, if he labels it a terror attack or he condemns it, will it ring hollow or will it make a difference?

ALI: How can it not ring -- how could it not ring hollow?

This is the same president who says, I think Islam hates us. This is the same president who has retweeted the fake news of Britain First, a right-wing anti-Muslim group. You guys remember that? He just decided to retweet these videos.

This is the same person who said he's seen a video of Muslims celebrating the 9/11 terror attacks that never existed. So, yes, it rings hollow, especially when he's so mute when it comes to domestic terrorism and when it comes to white supremacists.

But there's a double standard.


BALDWIN: What do you want to hear him say?

ALI: I want him to say that this is an act of domestic terrorism, that I apologize and renounce my words and deeds that might have enabled the climate of hate, that I will attack this number one domestic terror threat, just like I attack Muslim suspects, like ISIS and al Qaeda. And I will do my part to be the commander in chief and president of all Americans, not just my base or white nationalists.

BALDWIN: Wajahat Ali, thank you very much.

ALI: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: And, again, we will be listening to the president and see what he does say.

If you would like to help the victims in New Zealand, their families, you can go to our Impact Your World page. We have identified a vetted organization that is helping them, so you can go to

Much more on that terror attack ahead, including what role social media should play in stopping the hate speech that fuels these extremists.

But there's also breaking news at the White House, because moments from now President Trump is expected to issue his first veto in an Oval Office event. We will be listening to see if he has a message for the Republicans who voted to block his emergency declaration just 24 hours ago.

Also today, North Korea threatening to suspend nuclear talks after the failed summit most recently in Hanoi. The former U.S. envoy to North Korea joins me live to discuss where the U.S. should go from here.



BALDWIN: In just couple of minutes, President Trump is expected to sign a veto of a significant resolution that passed in the U.S. Senate.

Twelve Republicans joined Democrats to block the president's emergency declaration done at the U.S.-Mexico border.

CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is with me now.

And so, as this happens just in a couple of minutes, you are hearing he is not going to go about this veto very quietly. What's the White House's plan?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, and that's why you're seeing the president do this in front of the cameras. He wants to make clear that he doesn't have any hesitation about signing this veto.

And he's really relishing it, seems to me, Brooke, after those 12 Republican senators that you just showed there on the screen voted against the president yesterday, rebuking his choice to declare a national emergency over building that wall on the southern border.

But the president doesn't see it as an issue about the Constitution or about the precedent he's going to set. Instead, he says it's all about border security. And he saw that vote yesterday as a loyalty test to him, and he paid close attention, White House officials said, to who was voting with him and who was voting against him.

You can see how many vetoes have happened there by past presidents. But, certainly, the president wanted to make sure that this one was a very public ceremony, where he can make clear that he thinks this is about border security, and he thinks he's making the right decision, as he's tweeted several times about this, saying that he's fully confident in what he's doing, though he did hint yesterday that there's a chance he could be open to what some Republicans on Capitol Hill wanted.

And that's that he could have this national emergency, but they wanted to limit his presidential powers in the future. Whether or not that sticks and is concrete, Brooke, we will just have to see.

BALDWIN: I also wanted to ask you, just based upon the conversation I just had here on TV about the horrific story, the terror attack in New Zealand, and we know that the president was supposed to speak with the prime minister before this event today.

Do about you know if that has happened?

COLLINS: Yes, the president actually just tweeted that he has spoken to the prime minister of New Zealand.

White House officials had said that was going to happen before the signing ceremony. He says there they spoke about the horrific events that have taken place over the past 24 hours. And he said he told the prime minister that the United States stands in solidarity with them and that any assistance that the USA can give, we stand by, ready to help. He says, "We love you, New Zealand."

Now, Brooke, we're going to use this veto signing ceremony in front of the cameras. But White House officials have also said that that's when the president is going to take questions about this. That's the first time we're going to hear about it from him on camera.

So we will see what he says there about how that phone call went.

BALDWIN: We will listen in, in just a couple minutes.

Kaitlan, thank you for that at the White House.

We are seeing the first signs of fallout from President Trump's failed second summit in Vietnam with Kim Jong-un. And now North Korea's vice foreign minister says that North Korea may suspend denuclearization talks. That's according to the state news agency.

What is more is that this minister blamed the breakdown of talks on the U.S. side, saying that the American delegation was being too demanding and too inflexible, and, to quote the North Koreans here, "were too busy with pursuing their own political interests and had no sincere intention to achieve a result."


Both National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who were named-checked by North Korea, they pushed back, saying that is inaccurate, that that's wrong. Pompeo added this today about any future missile tests by North Korea:


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: With respect to what was said last night about Chairman Kim potentially considering ending the moratorium, I can say only this.

In Hanoi on multiple occasions, he spoke directly to the president and made a commitment that he would not resume nuclear testing nor he resume missile testing. So that's Chairman Kim's word. We have every expectation they will live up to that commitment.


BALDWIN: With me now, CNN global affairs analyst Joseph Yun, who serve as the U.S. special representative for North Korea policies.

Ambassador Yun, good to have you back.

And, my goodness, let's just talk about this latest move from North Korea. Is this not something that the U.S. president would do? I mean, do you do you think it's possible that Kim Jong-un actually read "Art of the Deal"?


This is quite Trumpian, I would say, with Kim Jong-un, Choe Son Hui, their vice minister, saying, well, this is up to him. He may go ahead and test nuclear devices or missiles, or he will suspend the talks. And it's up to him.

But remember what she said. Our leader believes he has wonderful relations with President Trump


BALDWIN: Here's the quote, because it's so good, Joe Yun. It's so good. She said the relationship between Trump and Kim Jong-un is still good and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful.

Mysteriously wonderful.

YUN: Mysteriously wonderful. That's exactly right, mysteriously wonderful.

And it is mysterious, but I think what happened fundamentally in Hanoi is, their expectations were so different. North Koreans had very different expectations. And, to some extent, President Trump as well as Pompeo and others led them to believe there was a deal, there was a small deal that could be had. So they went away quite angry.

Now, Brooke, remember they had to take a 65-hour train ride back to Pyongyang. And even Choe Son Hui said that, during the ride, Kim Jong-un was saying, why am I doing this?

So for them, this is a disaster. Kim Jong-un is caught in a bind. He expected some relief in sanctions which will improve the economy, but instead he's got nothing. So, to me, expectations were not met, and, to me, it speaks volumes about two sides not having prepared, rushing into a summit before all the homework were done.

BALDWIN: So if Kim walks away irked and wondering why this has happened, if clearly Trump walked away -- and to give him credit, it was a horrible deal. He shouldn't have taken that deal, so he walks away.

Now you have North Korea as part of this, I don't know, threat, you know, maybe saying they may end the self-imposed moratorium on test of nuclear weapons. How possible is it that Kim does something provocative soon?

YUN: I think it is very possible, Brooke.

And this is -- under normal circumstances, this really is the time that, you know, when I was there, I would have gone out to places like Beijing, South Korea and really -- and Russia -- and really got them to work with North Koreans and tell them, really, we don't want tensions to hike up even further.

We don't want to go back through all the provocations involving, you know?


YUN: But I don't know whether, under this administration, they will do that, because it's become a test. This is an issue, a big issue for President Trump.

BALDWIN: How would he -- the question is how then Trump would react. And, obviously, we don't know, but, you know, how might he react? You think the pendulum might swing all the way back to rocket man?

YUN: Oh, I think that I would say right now North Koreans are preparing a satellite launch, which is the same as a missile launch. If they do that, I think President Trump will not be happy at all, as he has said already, and we're back to where we were in 2017, before all this began.


Joseph Yun, I have a feeling you and I are going to be talking again. Thank you so much. Good to see you, sir.

YUN: I think so. OK.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

We are watching two events, two major events right now, President Trump opening up the Oval Office to cameras any moment now, so he can sign this first veto of his presidency.


And, in New Zealand, the only suspect charged so far in the terror attacks set to have his first court appearance at the top of the hour. We will take you live to New Zealand coming up.


BALDWIN: All right, back to our breaking news.