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New Zealand Mosque Attack; New Zealand Suspect Posted Manifesto; Trump to Sign First Veto; Gates Not Ready for Sentencing. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired March 15, 2019 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: And then we will know, at that point, they're ready to sentence Rick Gates.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Look on the bright side, nothing redacted today.

All right, we'll solve the mystery eventually.

Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. Erica Hill is in for Brianna Keilar. She starts right now. Have a great afternoon.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Erica Hill, in for Brianna Keilar.

Underway right now, we begin with breaking news. The aftermath of the horrific attack on two mosques in New Zealand. At least 49 people are dead, dozens more wounded. A man in his late 20s is in custody, charged with murder.

And a racist manifesto believed to be linked to the attack points to the motive behind the massacre -- hate. The gunman opening fire on worshippers who had gathered for Friday prayers, and he apparently streamed the attack on social media as it unfolded.

CNN Europe editor Nina dos Santos bring us up to speed now on the latest developments.

So, Nina, what more do we know about the suspect who is charged now with murder?


Well, we know that he's 28 years old. And according to Australian media, he is a young man believed to be of white origin who was originally from a sleepy town in New South Wales in Australia. It's believed that he moved to New Zealand only recently and that he had recently become involved in far right groups and had recently begun to espouse far right views.

And that's evident from his social media posts during which he's made multiple posts targeting Muslims, targeting immigrants to both New Zealand and also Australia as well.

We know that he is among three people who are currently in police custody. This 28-year-old man will be the first who will be appearing on charges of murder in a Christchurch courtroom as early as tomorrow morning, New Zealand time. He appears to have been the main perpetrator, alleged perpetrator, behind this attack. An attack that we now know has left 49 people, at least, dead with dozens more injured in hospital. And given the fact that they're suffering from severe firearm injuries, it may well be, authorities have warned, that the death toll could rise from here.


HILL: It is so upsetting, especially when you put it in that context.

There is also this social media part of it, though, that is really disturbing, the fact that part of this attack was apparently streamed live on social media, Nina?

DOS SANTOS: That's right. And this is something that social media companies like FaceBook, the platform upon which it was streamed live to, as these events were unfolding, will have to get to grips with this. They tried to also remove any pictures of these distressing images online. That is a herculean task at this point.

This individual appears to have posted -- live-streamed, by the way, from a camera that was mounted upon a helmet he was wearing on his head, 17 minutes' worth of really distressing footage. You can see during that footage him calmly driving up to the mosque, playing music in his car, surrounded by semi and automatic weaponry that he then uses to unleash this 17-minute-long massacre. You can see him gunning down men, women and children, injured people who are pleading for their lives. So it's really distressing stuff here.

And authorities are urging people not to share this video, not to watch it, because, obviously, it contains such distressing imagery. And also, they're concerned that this is exactly the type of attack that is designed to try and incite hatred and counter attacks on the other side as well. So the main message here coming from authorities in New Zealand and elsewhere around the world is, is that they stand together with the communities that have been affected by these attacks and that far right violence is something that isn't just a problem for New Zealand, it's the first time that it's seen it on this scale, but it's a problem for other countries around the world that they must get together with, also with social media companies, to tackle.


HILL: Yes, those are a lot of the questions people want answered today, that's for sure.

Nino dos Santos with the latest for us.

Nina, thank you.

Authorities are now combing through that hate-filled document which is believed to belong to the attacker. A link to the 87-page manifesto was posted online.

CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider is tracking this part of the story.

So, what more do we know about the content of this manifesto?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Erica, it's really a hate-filled rant spanning 87 pages, and it spells out the gunman's motivations and really details the logistics and the planning behind this attack. So, this is really an explanation that was posted online minutes before this mass shooting. It's filled with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslimism messaging.

Now, the author in this identifies himself as a 28-year-old from Australia who had been thinking about this attack for the past two years and has been plotting this mass shooting specifically in Christchurch, New Zealand, for the past three months. And the word that he uses repeatedly throughout this manifesto is "revenge," saying he wanted revenge against the immigrants that he called invaders of European countries. He also wanted to intimidate immigrants. And he actually says he used guns in this attack to further sew discord and divide right here in the United States when it comes to the Second Amendment.

[13:05:08] You know, there was one mention in this manifesto of President Trump, where the gunman describes President Trump as what he calls a symbol of white identity. Of course, the White House has responded to this attack, saying that the U.S. strongly condemns the attack. And, of course, the president has also tweeted about it this morning, saying that he's sending his warmest sympathy and best wishes to the people of New Zealand, of course, after this horrible massacre.

But, Erica, this is the first mass shooting in New Zealand since 1990. And probably one of the most chilling things that the gunman says in this manifesto is that he chose New Zealand as a way to show what is, in his words, that nowhere in the world is safe. So a very chilling rant that goes on for quite a long time and details his motivations, as well as logistics here.


HILL: Chilling.

Jessica Schneider with the latest for us.

Jessica, thank you.

Leaders from around the world are condemning the massacre in New Zealand and speaking out against hate-fueled violence. President Trump, as Jessica noted, tweeting his warmest sympathy and best wishes to the people of New Zealand. He did not, however, specifically address the violence and what's behind it. A statement from White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders did, reading in part, we stand in solidarity with the people of New Zealand and their government against this vicious act of hate.

Rabai Chaudry is an attorney, advocate and author, Ibrahim Hooper is national communications director for CAIR, the Council on American- Islamic Relations. It's good to have both of you with us today.

Rabia, I have to say, I was looking at your Twitter earlier this morning, and as we have these conversations about what needs to be done and what needs to be said, some of the most important conversations are the ones that are happening in homes around this country. And you tweeted about you and your husband in hush tones, how you were going to have that conversation with your 10-year-old daughter. What did you say?

RABIA CHAUDRY, ATTORNEY AND ADVOCATE: Right. Well, first of all, thanks for having me. It's unfortunate circumstances to be here in.

And, yes, the very first conversation that happened in our home last night was, what do we say when the children wake up? And this morning, as she was eating her breakfast, my 10-year-old, my husband and I were just making silent movements at each other, like should we talk now, should we talk later? And I took him aside and I said, you know what we need to tell her is that this -- you know, people -- some people were hurt because somebody who was angry, you know, decided to hurt some people. It was very far away from here. It was at mosques, and they were Muslims who were hurt, but that the community is rallying around them. Law enforcement and government and neighbors are coming together, and a lot of people love us and want to protect us, and everybody is very upset from this. In other words, I did not want her to feel like this incident is reflective in any way of how the greater society feels about Muslims in their midst.

HILL: Which is such an important part of the conversation, that greater society.

You know, we did learn today, a senior FBI official telling us, that there is an uptick in domestic terror arrests, which does include far right extremists, white nationalists, as we know, white supremacy. We know that mosques are on high alert across the country.

Sort of to Rabia's point though here, Ibrahim, what else do you need? This isn't just about making sure that the Muslim community in this country and around the world feel safe. That is an important part of what's happening today, but what do you need from the broader community in this moment?

IBRAHIM HOOPER, NATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, CAIR: Well, if you read the manifesto of this terrorist, he clearly wants to divide people. He wants to spread hate. He wants to spread division. He wants people to be fighting each other to achieve whatever bizarre ends he's seeking.

So the answer is to come together. The answer is to be unified across racial, across ethnic, across religious lines, express solidarity, get to know one another. People of other faiths should go to a mosque and reach out and try and meet their Muslim neighbors. The Muslims in the local community should reach out, as they have been for many years, to the larger community. You build bonds of mutual understanding. You build bonds of solidarity and friendship. And these attempts to divide us fail, even though we see the violent result. HILL: Do you think those bonds are being built at this point? We talk

so much about -- and because it needs attention, how divisive things have become in this country, Ibrahim.

HOOPER: No. No --

HILL: But do you think those bonds are being built right now?

HOOPER: Unfortunately, we have our nation's top leaders, and I'm talking about President Trump, mainstreaming bigotry and bringing bigotry and division as a source of governance. President Trump governs based on fear and lies. He governs based on the anti-immigrant invasion that he falsely portrays at our southern border and that is reflected in the manifest of this terrorist. So we need our nation's leaders, and particularly Donald Trump, to stop trying to divide us with fear and instead to unify us as past presidents have.

[13:10:13] HILL: We know the president, as we mentioned, did offer his warmest sympathies in his words. The White House did reference this as an act of hate.

I was really struck by the words, though, of New Zealand's prime minister. I just want to play a little bit of what she had to say.


JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: Any of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand. They may even be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not.


HILL: Rabia, those words, "they are us," how important are they?

CHAUDRY: I mean, they're extremely important in terms of showing solidarity to the Muslim community. But, you know, just quickly to Ibrahim's point about what's happening at the top leadership right now, I will say that anti-Muslimism sentiment has been growing in this country since 9/11. It is peaking in more recent years. But it also has something to do with liberal complicity. There's been a lot of silence on the left.

It really took the extreme bigotry of this administration to make liberals and progressives come forward and actually accept what Muslims for years have been saying, that, listen, there is a rise in hate crime, there's a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment, take islamophobia seriously. And I would say that that's the silver lining coming out of the last couple of years as that -- there has suddenly been an awareness that, wait a minute, this is an issue, there is hateful rhetoric, and we have been quietly accepting it for all these years. And that's how we got this far.

HILL: A much needed -- HOOPER: And it's not just Muslims that are targeted. It's the African- American community, the Jewish community, the Seek (ph) community, all minority communities are being targeted, and that creates its own level of solidarity.

HILL: And that is a conversation we need to keep having, to reminding people -- reminding people that this is happening to drown that out.

Rabia Chaudry, Ibrahim Hooper, appreciate you both joining us today. Thank you.

HOOPER: Thank you.

CHAUDRY: Thank you.

HILL: We will have much more on this ahead.

And just a short time from now, President Trump expected to make a photo op out of his very first veto against the Senate's rebuke of his emergency declaration.

Plus, North Korea threatening to end nuclear talks with the U.S. Hear what Kim Jong-un is saying.

And a surprise development in the Mueller investigation today involving one of the former Trump campaign aides who's been cooperating. Why Mueller isn't yet ready for Rick Gates to be sentenced.


[13:17:00] HILL: A short time from now, we will see a first in the Trump presidency, a veto. And it comes one day after 12 Senate Republicans broke ranks to condemn the president's national emergency declaration on border security.

Our Abby Phillip is at the White House.

Abby, as we know, the White House putting a lot of pressure on Republicans on the phone, on Twitter, in person, trying to stem the defections, which didn't work as they wanted. Although in looking at what we're waiting for a short time from now, it would seem that the president, in many ways, is actually relishing the chance to break out this veto pen.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, if President Trump had to use his first veto on anything, I think it would be the number one issue for him in his campaign and in his presidency, which is the border wall and border security. And I think that's how the White House is looking at it at this point. This 3:30 event in the Oval Office is going to be, we've just learned, along with angel moms. These are the parents or mothers of people who -- children who were killed by illegal immigrants. They've been a mainstay of President Trump's events. They're going to be in the Oval Office with the president as well, as well as law enforcement officers. So, the White House is clearly orchestrating this as an event around law enforcement, an event around border security, and they're using this as an opportunity to hammer that point over.

But what we have also been hearing this week is that the White House was trying to avoid a major embarrassment, trying to avoid a narrative that there was a rift between the president and his party on such a crucial issue. And with 12 Republican senators voting with Democrats on this resolution of disapproval in the Senate, it really shows that the disagreement is actually significant. Twelve is more Republican senators than we often see breaking with him on virtually anything else, and it shows a lot of the discomfort in the Republican ranks about what this means for the Constitution and for separation of powers, and also for some of the money that the president's taking, military construction funds that are being pulled out of their states and being used toward the border wall.

So -- but we're not going to hear any of that from President Trump this afternoon. He's going to be hammering home this as an issue of boarder security. And I think he'll also going to be hammering those very same Republicans who broke with him on this -- on this important resolution, Erica.

HILL: I would say there is a very good chance for that.

Abby Phillip, good to see you. Thank you.

HILL: More time with Rick Gates. That is what Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is asking for. In a court filing today, they sought to delay the sentencing of the former Trump campaign official, saying Gates is still cooperating. Gates pleaded guilty last year to charges related to fraud and making false statements. Of course, this comes just days after Gates' former boss, Paul Manafort, was sentenced to an extra three and a half years in prison.

Kara Scannell joins me now from Washington.

Kara, what more can you tell us about this request from the special counsel's office?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Erica, as you said, the special counsel's office says that they want more time with Rick Gates. They're asking for another two months before they come back to the court and give them an update. And what it really tells us, there was a lot of speculation this week with Paul Manafort's sentencing that Rick Gates' cooperation time might be nearing an end. But Robert Mueller's team says in this court filing that, in fact, Rick Gates is continuing to cooperate with several ongoing investigations, plural. So we know that Rick Gates is still something that is still of value to other areas in the Department of Justice.

[13:20:18] And, you know, Rick Gates is someone who was not only Manafort's longtime business partner, but he was the deputy campaign chairman on the campaign, he was involved in Trump's transition, and he was a senior official on the Trump inaugural committee. The U.S. attorney's office in the Southern District of New York is investigating the inaugural committee, and as part of Rick Gates' cooperation deal, he has to cooperate with any federal investigation. So we're seeing here, even though it's not stated quite so explicitly, that Rick Gates' cooperation is necessary, that they're expecting it to continue, and so we'll put this off for another two months before we find out when Rick Gates' cooperation is wrapping up and when he'll be sentenced.


HILL: Kara, thank you.

More on the horrific terror attacks out of New Zealand.

Mosques in the United States on high alert at this hour as we learn more about the white supremacist's manifesto.

Plus, chilling new details about the crash of the Boeing 737 in Ethiopia, including the pilot's last words. And a mysterious development about the plane's speed.


[13:26:00] HILL: New Zealand's prime minister calling it one of her country's darkest days. Forty-nine people slaughtered at two mosques in the city of Christchurch. Twenty people injured as they dodged flying bullets. One suspected gunman in police custody is charged with murder. Authorities say it was all a carefully planned terror attack.

Blis Savidge is in Christchurch, outside of a hospital there.

Blis, what's the latest?

BLIS SAVIDGE, FREELANCE PRODUCER: So we've been here since midnight, and up until now, it's been very, very quiet. But now, you know, the city's starting to wake up. It's about 6:30 in the morning here. New Zealand's waking up and having to come to terms with this terrible tragedy. You see a lot more movement around here. A lot of staff coming into the hospital. Seems to be a lot of very somber, like hollow looks around here. So that's what we're seeing over here.

Soon coming up in the next few hours we're going to have a first court appearance by the 28-year-old man who's been charged with murder. And then, of course, a few press conferences coming up later in the day. And that's kind of where we're expecting to hear a lot more information. It's been pretty quiet overnight, not a lot of new official information coming in. Obviously, the investigation is still very young. But hopefully in the next few hours we're going to have some more details, not just about what happened here, but about the victims and the people who were really affected by this. We can put the spotlight on them.

HILL: And, Blis, give us a sense of how this is playing out in New Zealand. There is -- there is outrage and so much sympathy being sent to New Zealand from around the world, but what is the conversation there in Christchurch at this point?

SAVIDGE: I think the most interesting thing here is seeing it through people who've lived here their whole lives, seeing it through a Kiwis eyes because obviously being an American, you know, unfortunately, we've seen so much of this. Sometimes I think people can be a little bit blinded to it. But when you hear people talking about it here in New Zealand, in Christchurch, they say things like, you know, a mass shooting in Christchurch New Zealand. Those are words that shouldn't even go together. It doesn't make sense. And it's really just unfathomable for a lot of people.

You know, this is a country that not only doesn't have a lot of gun violence, their crime rate in general, their violent crime rate in general is really low. So for something like this to happen is really just, I think, shaken a lot of people.

HILL: A lot -- tough to wrap your head around on so many levels.

Blis Savidge in Christchurch for us.

Blis, thank you.

In a social media post just before the attack, an account which is believed to belong to the suspected gunman, posted a link to an 87- page manifesto, one filled with hate, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslimism ideas, explanations for an attack. The manifesto wasn't signed, we should point out.

J.M. Berger's a fellow at George Washington University's Program on Extremism, also co-author of the book "ISIS: The State of Terror."

And just last month, J.M., you wrote an article for "The Atlantic" talking about the dangerous rise of extremist manifestos and the increase there.

What's remarkable, though, is this is not hate speech that is relegated to dark corners of the Internet and far right extremist blogs. I mean, this is part of -- I just want to read this for you. This was the statement from an Australian senator, part of a statement in response to what happened in New Zealand, who said, the real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand's streets today is the immigration program, which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place. It goes on to say, Muslims may have been the victims today. Usually they're the perpetrators.

How do you begin to combat the hate when it is put out there unabashedly from elected officials in displays like that?

J.M. BERGER, FELLOW, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY'S PROGRAM ON EXTREMISM: Well, it's a real problem. I mean we've seen over the last three to four years a real mainstreaming of anti-immigrant rhetoric in particular. And anti-immigrant rhetoric is focused on immigrants nominally, but it really is an umbrella that holds a lot of other bigotries underneath it, religious, racial, a lot of different white supremacist ideologies will use this language. And when it's in the mainstream like this, it really lifts up the message that they're trying to put out.