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Manhunt Underway After Gunman Opens Fire on Holland Tram; New Zealand PM Promises New Gun Laws in 10 Days; Trump Launches Twitter Attacks Over the Weekend. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired March 18, 2019 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Richard, what do we know at this hour?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Well, the facts are not very well known other than the fact that -- I'm going to get out of the way so you can see. That is the tram where at 10:45 local, about 4:00, 5:00 in the morning your time, again went opened fire. The shooter opened fire on the tram. And it's believed, although the police have not confirmed, that one person has been killed. And we believe that person's body may still be just by the side of the tram.

The gunman, and again police aren't saying whether it's more than one, but it's believed at the moment it was just one, then made his escape. And nearby in several of the town's villages, a manhunt is under way. We believe that -- we believe that one particular area is being focused upon and obviously there's considerable police activity there but other than that, no one knows.

Now nationally, the prime minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, says he's very concerned and he's on his way to find out more information. And the threat level is at five which is the highest for the -- there is on the scale in this part of the Netherlands.

HARLOW: Richard, thank you very much. Please keep us posted on what you hear. I know this is all developing right now. But it is significant of course that they have not ruled out terrorism this hour. We'll keep you posted on that.

Also in the aftermath of the worst act of terrorism ever to inflict New Zealand, the country's prime minister is vowing new and tighter gun laws and fast, quote, "within 10 days" of Friday's attacks on two Christchurch mosques. The prime minister says her government will put forth reforms trying to make that country safer.

She is also announcing a probe of what the government could or should have known about the suspect, including whether those massacres could have been prevented.

This morning more than 30 victims are still in the hospital in Christchurch. Nine of them are still in critical condition and 50 people are dead.

Our Martin Savidge has the latest. What do we know in terms of what we didn't know Friday morning? What

do we know now Monday morning about the investigation and the alleged gunman?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. Yes, the biggest thing that we've seen take place now is how this nation is transferring its grief and its shock and turning it into political action. The seismic change now that is being discussed as far as the gun laws in this country. You've already pointed out that the prime minister has met with her cabinet already today. And she has proposed these changes, and the government as a whole in essence seems to be agreeing. At least in principle.

And within 10 days, it's staggeringly fast amount of time when you look at how the American political agenda moves. In 10 days they expect to have that legislation not only on the books but possibly enacted as well. We don't know the specifics of it, but you can bet it will focus on the assault weapons or assault-style weapons that played so heavily into this attack.

As to the investigation, New Zealand has gathered together the largest investigative force it has ever put together in its history. It's also relying on international partners, including the FBI. The authorities here say they can confirm that the gunman acted alone in the attack. What they cannot say for sure is whether or not that gunman had any assistance leading up to the attack. Logistically or financially.

To that end, there were two raids that Australian authorities carried out in two different areas in Australia. It's believed to be homes related to family members of the gunman. They didn't say what was found but it's clear they're looking for any kind of connection and then lastly, that investigation to figure out is did the police have any warning signs? Did anyone in the public know in advance? Was something missed -- Poppy.

HARLOW: What could have prevented this? It's a huge question.

Martin, as I just said, 30 people still in the hospital, nine in critical. What else can you tell us this morning about the victims?

SAVIDGE: Well, they also have a number of children that had to be transported to a special children's hospital in Auckland. There are nine people that are said to be in intensive care. And the funerals have also begun.

On top of that, though, Poppy, there's no way to try to convey to you how deeply shocked this nation is. Tragically in America, we have seen mass shootings and have grown horribly accustomed. They've never happened here. This is historic. And the grief and the way that it is reverberating through the entire country, I've never seen anything quite like it and it's only just still playing out -- Poppy.

HARLOW: And you have seen a lot, Marty, so that is certainly saying something. Thank you for making the trip, for being there for reporting on the ground. We'll get back to you soon. Back in Washington, President Trump is outraged and making no attempt

to contain it. Here on one screen the president's social media rants from the weekend alone, and we are not even including his re-tweets.

[09:05:08] He is outraged that General Motors closed a big plant in Ohio and claims much better car companies are coming to the U.S. in droves. His particular outrage is now in its third day. The president is also outraged that "Saturday Night Live" makes fun of him and hints that federal regulators might, quote, "look into" what he calls collusion with the Democrats.

He's outraged that the late Republican senator and war hero John McCain passed along a copy of the so-called Steele dossier to the FBI, but in the president's words, far worse than that was McCain's vote against repealing Obamacare. Those attacks prompted an extraordinary hit from Meghan McCain who informed the president, and I quote, "No one will ever love you the way they loved my father."

Well, absent from this long list of presidential grievances, the virulent white nationalism that apparently sparked the New Zealand mosque massacres. Instead the president highlighted his first ever veto of a measure that would have repealed his national emergency on immigration.

And he is also, on top of all of this, demanding that FOX News bring back the host that had apparently suspended after she questioned the loyalty of a Muslim member of Congress. The loyalty of that member of Congress to this country.

On "FOX News Sunday" the president's acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was forced to mount this remarkable defense of his boss.


MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: You've seen the president stand up for religious liberty, individual liberty. The president is not a white supremacist. I'm not sure how many times we have to say that.


HARLOW: Let's talk about this because I think it needs to be said more than once by the president. CNN's senior political analyst John Avlon is here. Political analyst Patrick Healy, politics editor at "The New York Times" also joins us.

Patrick, to you first. Just the litany of grievances that are official statements of the White House, remember, on Twitter from the president, what they include but I think more notably what they do not include. The significance this morning.

PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, no, it was really stunning over the weekend, Poppy, the fact that New Zealand, an ally of the United States is going through something so historically horrific for that country and the prime minister asking world leaders to condemn white supremacy, to condemn terrorism against Islamophobia. And the president, you know, had an entire weekend to show the kind of sort of moral leadership to send a message not just to Americans but worldwide about standing in solidarity with New Zealand but also really calling out the anger and the violence that white supremacy has caused in this country and other countries.

And instead is indulging the grievances once again, Poppy. I mean, he came out of last week very troubled by the fact that he had a number of Republican defections on, you know, his national emergency at the border. And he seemed over and over again this weekend to be trying to send signals to his base that they should still be upset because their president, as he sometimes like to say, was being mocked by "SNL" or had been undermined by John McCain. But it was just -- it was such sort of indulging these sort of personal wounds over and over again when people are really suffering elsewhere in the world.

HARLOW: Think of the wounds of those murdered, those nine in intensive care in New Zealand right now, those children that Marty Savidge just reported on who had to be transferred, you know, airlifted to another hospital, specifically to treat these kids because of these horrific acts of a white nationalist, John Avlon. The president was so quick to constantly call out former President Obama, Hillary Clinton, for not using the terms radical Islamic terrorism.

So he's really the one who said by doing that, words matter.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He did. That was a constant rift throughout the campaign accusing President Obama and Hillary Clinton of being afraid, reluctant to use that phrase, radical Islamist terrorism. And yet here confronted with white supremacist terrorism he's reluctant to use the name like he was reluctant to clearly condemn it in the wake of Charlottesville.

This is a pattern. The president is wrong when he says that this is an isolated incident. Unfortunately this seems to be growing according to ADL. It's now taken a preponderance of the number of extremist murders in the United States over the past decade. So both things can be true. Both things can be called out, but he shows a reluctance to use that term with white supremacists.

HARLOW: But why?

AVLON: That is the big question. This president is willing to criticize almost anything and everybody with the exception of white supremacists, white nationalists and Vladimir Putin. And that's why it's worth asking. This weekend, as Patrick is pointing out, here he, he's tweeting at the TV. Venting a spleen about "SNL" reruns and a dead senator.

[09:10:01] And yet no focus, no sustained focus on the clear condemnation of this terrorist attack against Muslim citizens of New Zealand.

HARLOW: You know what it reminds me of, Patrick Healy, is because, you know, the president was attacking former Senator John McCain, do you remember that moment during the 2008 election when someone in the audience, you know, at a McCain event said something really nasty about President Obama and he stopped and he condemned that. Right, I mean that is the kind of person that Senator McCain was.

HEALY: I think a lot of us remember that moment, Poppy. You know, regardless of party and ideology because it felt like a profile in courage.


HEALY: You know, Senator McCain was in a very tough fight that fall. You know, running against -- running against Senator Obama. And he very explicitly -- it was an elderly or older woman who was quivering, you know, she wasn't -- it seemed like, you know, she was sort of nervous in that moment. McCain could have responded any number of ways. And what he went at was the lie that she, you know, was continuing to propagate about Senator Obama. And he called it out quick.

I think in part because he knew -- Senator McCain understood the way that these lies can just metastasize and can anger and can scare people. The idea that somehow a -- you know, a, quote-unquote, member of the Muslim faith might become president of the United States. That lie that he just went right at and he said, no, President Obama, you know, is a good person. He's an American. He's not a Muslim.

You know, he just sort of went right at it. It's that clarity that president trump in these moments just he does not -- he either doesn't see the role or as you and John were saying, feels some kind of discomfort, particularly around calling out white supremacy which shouldn't be a problem for a president of the United States.

AVLON: There's nothing easier than calling out the KKK and neo-Nazis and yet this president doesn't take that pitch. And so the Republican Party has got to decide if it's still continue to try to call itself the party of Lincoln, whether it's going to follow the example of John McCain or the example of Donald Trump. That's a stark choice.

HARLOW: I hear you, John, but just on that, I mean, if Charlottesville and the both sides language didn't change anything or move the needle at all in terms of polling, does this change anything?

AVLON: It's not about polling. It's about --


AVLON: It's about moral leadership.

HARLOW: Of Americans. I mean, do Americans -- are they numb to it so many now?

AVLON: I think one of the great dangers we're facing is normalization. I think, you know, we're not going to see a new President Trump. He has clearly decided he wants to try to be the president of his base. Not try to be a unifying figure or occupy the Oval Office as what FDR called primarily a place of moral leadership. That's a problem for the presidency, that's a problem for his

presidency. That's a problem for his party but we shouldn't -- we shouldn't expect any miracles here unfortunately. And the White House and its staff should stop pointing to instances where he's read a press release as part of cleanup to say he's clearly denounced hate and bigotry on all sides. He hasn't -- he seems reluctant to denounce terrorism when it comes from white supremacists where he's very focused on rightly calling it out when it comes from Muslims.

HARLOW: Look, he condemned the attack but it is not the same as you note as condemning white nationalism, white supremacy.

AVLON: That's exactly right.

HARLOW: John Avlon, thank you. Patrick Healy, we really appreciate both of your insights this morning.

Also this, switching gear, there is a record-breaking haul for Beto O'Rourke. $6.1 million bucks. That is how much he raised in his first day of campaigning. That tops every other Democratic candidate so far.

And a federal probe into the FAA's approval of the Boeing 737 MAX jet as investigators find, quote, "similarities" between two 737 MAX crashes.

And catastrophic flooding in Nebraska this morning. Look at the pictures. Look at the devastation. Now the state faces even more flooding in the days ahead. We'll take you live there.


[09:15:00] HARLOW: All right, this morning, Beto O'Rourke breaks fund-raising records in the first 24 hours of his presidential bid. MJ Lee is in Mississippi for the CNN town hall tonight with Elizabeth Warren. We'll get to that in a moment, but stunning news for Beto O'Rourke.

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. Beto O'Rourke's campaign releasing their first campaign finance numbers and this is a giant number, $6.1 million raised in just the first 24 hours of his presidential campaign.

His campaign says that these were online contributions that were drawn from all 50 states across the country. And this is the biggest 24- hour haul that we are aware of so far. I'll compare this to Bernie Sanders' campaign first 24-hour numbers, $5.9 million or Kamala Harris'.

Their campaign said that she raised $1.5 million in her first day. There were other candidates that said they raised around $1 million in the first 48 hours of their presidential campaigns. And Beto said -- O'Rourke said in a statement this morning that this is proof that you can run a presidential campaign based on a grassroots small dollar focused strategy. That he says his campaign is not accepting money from PACs, that they

are not going to be taking in money from lobbyists or special interest. And we're seeing, Poppy this morning that a candidate who broke fund-raising records in his Senate race against Ted Cruz, he is now breaking records as a presidential candidate as well.

And I should note he had a very busy couple of days since he announced his campaign on Thursday. He's been busy traveling in Iowa and Wisconsin. And this week, he's going to be very busy as well. He's going to be traveling to states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

So we'll see how much longer he can sort of capitalize on this fresh early boost of energy that he clearly is seeing in the very early stages, Poppy.

[09:20:00] HARLOW: I'm telling you, I said this when he was running for the Senate. When they were having fund-raisers for Beto O'Rourke in my neighborhood in Brooklyn for a Senate race in Texas, I knew something was going on, we'll see if he maintains this. Thanks very much MJ.

And again, the town hall tonight, special town hall with 2020 Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren hosted by our Jake Tapper live from Jackson, Mississippi, 9:00 p.m. Eastern tonight on CNN.

Joining me now, former Democratic Mayor of New Orleans Mitch Landrieu, his book, if you haven't read it yet, "in the shadow of statues, a white southerner confronts history" out on paperback this week. Thank you for being here, it is so -- I mean, I remember reading and watching your speech that led to this book. And I mean, how relevant is it now, right, given the rhetoric -- we're going to get --


HARLOW: Unfortunately so, we'll get to that in a moment. But just off the Beto O'Rourke numbers, you said recently, I think the country is looking for experience. Yes, he's a three-term member of Congress, but his launch had big promises.

As I noted earlier, you know, last week, when he launched some unanswered questions, when he was asked specific questions about how would you handle prescription drugs, et cetera, I don't -- I didn't really see him give some answers. And also some apologies for how he talked about his wife taking care of the kids, for example. Is he the Democrats' best shot?

LANDRIEU: You know, it's interesting because elections and campaigns give you a window into the soul of America, where it is at any one point in time. And that's what elections are supposed to do. So over the next 15 months, this marathon is going to display that.

He got criticized for his opening because he made some missteps, but that's a wow number this morning that you have to look at, that's a big number. And of course, if you want to stay in this game, you have to be able to raise money at some point in time, you're going to have to come out with a platform.

So Elizabeth Warren is producing books and not raising as much, and he's not producing that much and he raised a bucket load. But as the campaign --

HARLOW: Yes --

LANDRIEU: Goes on, all of these candidates are going to have to flush out what their ideas are for the country.

HARLOW: This is him speaking live in Center Line, Michigan. His team is saying someone from every state contributed to this race.

LANDRIEU: Yes, that's impressive.

HARLOW: It's interesting, we'll see --


HARLOW: If he can sustain it. Vice President Joe Biden, a little slip over the weekend, slip of the tongue.

LANDRIEU: It sure was.

HARLOW: I mean, it's clear he's going to run, he made that pretty clear this weekend, but also listen to this moment.



JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have the most progressive record of anybody running for the -- of anybody who would run. I didn't mean --


HARLOW: I mean --


HARLOW: He's been known for some gaffes in the past --

LANDRIEU: Right --

HARLOW: So that aside, let's talk about the claim he made that I think got overshadowed by that slip, that he has the most progressive record.

LANDRIEU: Well, I think he's -- what he's trying to say is over the years, he's faced a lot of these issues and he's been there when it counts. He had Barack Obama's back, he's got experience, this is who I am.

HARLOW: And is he really the most progressive?

LANDRIEU: Well, I think he's going to have to show that it is. I think --

HARLOW: Yes --

LANDRIEU: The world is changing and which progressive -- a couple of years ago is not progressive today. That's what --

HARLOW: Yes --

LANDRIEU: Campaigns are about. So when he gets in it, he's going to have to show up --

HARLOW: You know --

LANDRIEU: And he's going to have to compete with all of these younger folks that are thinking about the future. And he's going to have to convince everybody that he is.

HARLOW: For example, Hickenlooper, you heard Governor Hickenlooper pressed three times on another network by Joe Scarborough.

LANDRIEU: I saw that --

HARLOW: Are you a capitalist?


HARLOW: He would not say that he's a capitalist.

LANDRIEU: Can I say that I'm a capitalist?

HARLOW: Right --


HARLOW: And he made his money as a -- as a --

LANDRIEU: I know --

HARLOW: Business owner, I mean --

LANDRIEU: I know --

HARLOW: That's how he started his career. But I wonder like with Joe Biden being asked -- will be asked that question.

LANDRIEU: Oh, I'm sure that they'll answer that it is. And what's going to happen is, over the next 15 months, the American people are going to test these candidates about which one of them has the best vision for America, and they need to show up because the race is on.

HARLOW: Yes, all right, so let's talk about the horrific attack in New Zealand. White nationalists allegedly carrying out this attack. The manifesto and all of the words used. The president condemned the attack, he did not condemn white nationalism.

And you write in your book, page 63, with Steve Bannon's help, Trump cultivated a base of white nationalists, many of whom are Nazis in or out of the closet as we saw in June 2017 in Charlottesville. That -- it was both sides. That was the language then. This time it's not a direct condemnation of white nationalism. What's your reaction?

LANDRIEU: Well, a couple of things. You know, the president seems to jump real quick on everybody else's head, but he's real slow when it comes to the issue of white nationalism. And he's going to have to explain that to the American public.

I will say this, this is not new in America, it's not new in the world. Hate doesn't know any boundaries unfortunately. It travels like a virus and it travels quickly. And when white supremacy and white nationalism is raring its head, whether it's outside of this country, whether it's in this country.

And let's be clear, in Charleston, in the synagogue, it's happened many times, lots of people have been killed as a result of young people who hate other people just because of their race, their creed, their color. We in America have to put that down.

There's a lot of room for us to argue about what's conservative, what's moderate, what's liberal with progressive. But in America, everybody comes to the table, democracy is equal.

HARLOW: I just wonder if you're hopeful because you write in this book about the memory of being 8 years old.


HARLOW: And you were the victim of death threats from white nationalists because of your father and his --


[09:25:00] HARLOW: Policies as mayor. I mean, has America gotten better or worse --


HARLOW: Since then?

LANDRIEU: Yes, you know, I always go back to my dear friend and my hero John Lewis who always says, you know what? I'm an example of how things have gotten better. He took a whooping at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge and he would say that his life has not been lived in vain.

But you've got to show up, and you have to push back. So when it comes, you have to confront it, you have to bring it into the light, you have to deal with it and we as a country have to reject it so that we can actually talk about the things that make America strong.

HARLOW: Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib; freshman congresswoman from Michigan was on "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper this week, and then I think he asked her such an important question. And it was about the response to Ilhan Omar's comments that many see as anti- Semitic.

Here's what she said about the way she responded then, and how she feels now about the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Here she is.

LANDRIEU: I'd love to see it.


REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: The fact that now there's not only one, but now three Muslim-Americans serving in Congress, that our mere presence is going to be able to possibly break down any of these kinds of racialized, you know, opinions. These -- this kind of Islamophobia that I do feel like it's still very present on both sides of the aisle.


HARLOW: She has said that more than once. Islamophobia is present, she thinks in the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.

LANDRIEU: Well, I think that President Trump's rhetoric and Americans' writ large have been told that you have to judge people based on religion, and that Muslims are terrorists, Mexicans are rapists, African-Americans are criminals. That kind of a language where we judge each other not on individual behavior, but the fact that we belong to certain groups is something that we have to push back as a nation.

HARLOW: She's saying it's happening in the Democratic Party.

LANDRIEU: Well, it's happening --

HARLOW: Against Ilhan Omar, does she have a point?

LANDRIEU: I think that in some instances, she does. The congressman's comments about -- were in some ways anti-Semitic and she should have been called out from it, she should have apologized. So whether it's a Muslim criticizing somebody from being Jewish or a Jew who criticizes somebody for being Muslim, we need to learn how to judge people based on their behavior and not their participation in a religion or a class.

And when we see that, we have to root that out. It is deeply embedded in us to treat other people based on the way they look, the way they act and groups they belong to. We have to fight against that. And whether it's white supremacy, anti Muslim or anti-Jew, we really got to call that out for what it is.

HARLOW: Look, and you detailed it in this book again in the "Shadow of --

LANDRIEU: We're susceptible to it --

HARLOW: Statutes." Thank you.

LANDRIEU: You're welcome --

HARLOW: You know, Landrieu, thanks for having you --

LANDRIEU: Thanks for having me --

HARLOW: As always --

LANDRIEU: Nice to see you.

HARLOW: All right, coming up next for us, a new report this morning that Boeing and the FAA have been subpoenaed over those two Max 737 crashes five months apart. The connection federal prosecutors are looking into, ahead.