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CUOMO PRIME TIME
O'Rourke: Trump "Should Not Come To El Paso"; Trump: "Hate Has No Place In America"; El Paso Survivor Calls CBP Officer His "Guardian Angel". Aired 9-10p ET
Aired August 5, 2019 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST, CUOMO PRIME TIME: He was thoughtful and deliberate, and he's a hater. He's a White Nationalist and he should be treated like the terrorist he is under law and prosecution.
That's an important message because the President made it sound today like, you know, this was mental health. We have to - this has nothing to do with mental health. It has to do with law and our policy. AC, thank you very much--
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Thank you, yes.
CUOMO: --for bringing us these amazing stories. We have to connect with the people who are here tonight. That is the focus of PRIME TIME. You know me. I am Chris Cuomo. And we are good to have you with us here in El Paso.
The hard news is the reality gets worse. 22 dead now here, dozens more hurt. We were at the hospital today. People are struggling.
They've done amazing work here in El Paso, the first responders, the citizens in that moment of crisis, and now the community coming out, and saying, "This is who we are. If you want to define us, don't define us as us by them. Don't I - define us as legal or illegal. Come out and see our community and see what El Paso strong is all about."
So tonight, we're going to talk about what the problem is, and how to solve it, because every one of these tragedies is an opportunity. And every time we move on from one to the next, it's an opportunity missed.
So, we have Beto O'Rourke. As you know, he's an El Paso native, and he's also a 2020 candidate. He says connect the dots to what is happening, and they will lead directly to this President. So, how would he then connect our divided country? It is a worthy discussion.
You got to talk about hate. You also have to talk about access to weapons. And while most Republicans won't do it, because they don't see any advantage in it, and the silence is deafening, we did get one, willing to go in front of a camera, not just to take on the fight, but to have ideas to move past the fight, Left, Right and Reasonable. The GOP Congressman, Adam Kinzinger, he sees common ground. We'll figure out where.
And if I could give you one story tonight to connect to what happened inside that Walmart, and show the amazing resilience of human beings, we've got it for you tonight.
We're going to take you inside an ICU, we don't usually get access to that, but these were special circumstances. You're going to meet a man who did everything, I pray to God I would be able to do in a moment like that, I don't know if I could do what he did, and you're going to meet a woman who saved his life.
There's so much to see in here. There's so much to think about. Let's do it all together. What do you say? Let's get after it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Beto O'Rourke is tired of the media asking him whether he thinks the President is racist.
He believes everything is as obvious as the circumstances that surround us. The answer, of course, for him is yes, and he's urging the President not to come to El Paso, as planned, on Wednesday.
Let's bring in the 2020 contender to get his reaction to what we heard from President Trump today, who did finally condemn White supremacy, kind of.
It is good to have you here. I know this is home for you, and I know that's how they feel about you. They are happy to have you here. What do you want this community to know about what this situation says about them?
BETO O'ROURKE (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This - this is the strongest, most courageous, and to use the word that you just used, resilient community you'll find in America, maybe in the world.
The courage with which people have met the most grievous wounds, and the fact that they've lost family members, the fact that multiple family members were - were shot at, and some killed, in this attack, and - and meeting this moment with kindness and love and generosity, a bi-national community, Ciudad Juarez in El Paso, Texas, 3 million coming together, unlike any other place on the earth right now, not only did we bear the brunt of this hatred and this racism and this attack, but we might also be the best example for this very divided country at this moment, so could not be more proud of El Paso than I am right now.
CUOMO: Remind me to show you what this woman, Alma (ph) made for me today when she saw us here. Rose will give it to me, you just remind me at the end of the interview.
But first, so you say we have to be better, we have to see the bonds of love, and those that connect us, but you don't think the President should come here. Why?
O'ROURKE: I was just talking to somebody, listening to a woman who came up, and said hello to me, and she said, "Why is he coming here when he hates us?"
She's reflecting the fact that he described Mexican immigrants, this is a town of Mexican immigrants, as rapists and criminals, repeatedly has warned of an invasion, trying to make us afraid of those who do not look like the majority of this country.
He's described human beings as an infestation, which you or I might describe cockroaches or termites, but - but not human beings.
And you only get kids in cages, you only separate them from their parents, you only lose the lives of seven children in our custody in this last year, when they're at their most desperate and vulnerable.
You only have an attack like this when you have a President who gives people permission to act on this hatred, and this racism, and this intolerance. And so, we must connect those dots.
And if we fail to do that, we are then complicit in the violence that we will continue to see across America.
CUOMO: I - I take the cogency of the argument, here winds up being the challenge is that the easy fix here is to call people who do what this man did, terrorism, under the law, give our prosecutors and investigators the resources like they have against ISIS and al-Qaeda, root out where they meet and talk and plan and punish them the same way.
How do you think you're going to get that done if you keep it very "They're over here, and we're over here," even on this issue?
[21:05:00] O'ROURKE: I think you connect everyone, and everything that's happened over the course of this administration, not just a rise in hate crimes, every single one of the last three years, but the mosque in Victoria, Texas, burned to the ground on the day that President Trump signed his Executive Order, seeking to ban Muslim travel, or The Tree of Life Synagogue shooting where the killer talked about the caravans that the President was warning us about, trying to make us afraid about the U.S. Service Members that he deployed here to this community, one of the safest places in the United States of America.
That kind of fear that he ginned up, that hatred, was an invitation to violence, and it did not just affect El Paso, or Pittsburgh, or Gilroy, or Victoria. It is happening all over this country. That's how we bring everyone in, Republican, Democrat, Independent, rural community, big city alike, all Americans first before anything else.
CUOMO: Respond to what the President said today in what was his effort to unify and move past the "Us-versus-them". Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The shooter in El Paso posted a manifesto online, consumed by racist hate. In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and White supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Now, I've heard the critique, "Oh, he didn't write that. He's a" - fair enough. But he said the words, and he did say White supremacy is hate, and should be treated as domestic terror.
O'ROURKE: Yes. Important for you then to say that this is the same man who called White nationalists and Klansmen and neo-Nazis very fine people, who asked for more immigrants who look like those in Sweden and Norway that the Whitest places on the planet while describing immigrants from Haiti as full of AIDS or countries in Africa as shithole nations.
This is the most racist President we've had since perhaps Andrew Johnson in - in another age and another century, and - and he is responsible for the hatred and the violence that we're seeing right now.
You cannot leave that just to me to say that it's - it's got to be you and - and those who are helping this country understand what is happening in our name to connect those dots of these actions that can seem unconnected or disparate or random or just strange that they're not - they're all of a pattern.
And they all follow what this President has said from that maiden speech when he ran for the highest Office in the land, describing the people of this community as rapists and criminals, talking about people as though they are animals or subhuman.
This necessarily results - you saw that manifesto, the words that he was using were many of the same words that the President has been using.
We cannot allow him to get off scot-free just became - just because he gave a speech here today. We cannot let him get off with - without any complicity or justice or accountability given what he has done, and made possible here. There has to be - there has to be justice at the end of the day.
CUOMO: There will be an election. And in the meantime, between now and then and maybe after, how do you make these people safer?
How do you get to someplace that the majority of the country already is, which is all hate should be treated the same way, all gun sales should be checked the same way, how do you get these simple things done if both sides are standing behind walls of righteous indignation?
O'ROURKE: I don't know about both sides on this one. As I travel the country--
CUOMO: No, I don't mean it as an equivalency.
CUOMO: I'm saying that you are opposed to what he is about. And he has his supporters around him who feel that they must defend him to keep their access to ballot.
O'ROURKE: Yes. I don't know.
As - as I listen - as I listen to people in this country, they know that we are owed something far better than this. This - this division, this hatred, this intolerance, this racism, does not reflect El Paso, Texas, does not reflect the United States of America.
This community, you see an average of 18 murders a year, one of the safest places in - in America. Today, it took someone from outside of this community, who was willing to drive hundreds of miles to bring this kind of hatred here.
We have to show that that is the exception, not the rule, but that will become the new normal if we allow it to be, if we don't stand up, if you're not counted on this.
And as important as it is for me and for you to say this, for those Republican Members of Congress who are silent on this matter, or who talk about White nationalist terrorism, but then do not link it to a President, who has invited it, and made it possible in this country, and in my hometown, in this community, they are then part of the problem.
And it's their constituents, you mentioned elections earlier, who must hold them accountable. And - and I hear that loud and clear here in El Paso. I feel that from the rest of the country right now.
CUOMO: Well here's what you got motivating you. So, this is what I wanted to show Beto.
So, this woman, Alma, she goes by Scosche (ph), it's a long story to the nickname, but she took this rock, which is from El Paso, which is over there, she says these aren't about walls. This is about what makes us up. It's the foundation of us. She painted the Virgin Mother on it. She did it herself this morning.
[21:10:00] CUOMO: And said I give you this because I want you to hold it close to your heart because it's heavy like our hearts are heavy, but it also shows that we believe in something better.
CUOMO: That, to me, is El Paso.
O'ROURKE: Pure El Paso, beautiful, yes.
And we are so glad that you're here transmitting the story of this community. This shooting, these murders, this terrorism will not define us.
The way in which we overcome this, our strength, our ability to come together, not despite but I would say because of our differences that's - that's what makes us so special. I think that's what makes us the example that the rest of the country needs right now. This - this is very much El Paso.
CUOMO: People have been great here. They want leadership. They want better. We'll see what happens, Beto. Thank you for giving a voice to the frustrations.
CUOMO: Appreciate it. Beto O'Rourke is here. You can hold the rock, but you can't have it. It means too much to me.
The message is important. Obviously, the both sides are going to have their arguments on this, but there's only one truth.
The truth is that this is hate, and hate has to be extinguished, and it has to be done with our words and with our deeds. And if you fall short of that on any level, then you have fallen short of the standard and the oath that you take as a public servant.
So, what we saw this weekend was the worst. But in the worst of these situations, without exception, but maybe never like I've seen here in El Paso, we see the best in human behavior.
I'm going to introduce you to a man named Christopher Grant, and a woman named Donna Sifford. They now have a bond they never thought they would have.
Grant was in that Walmart, shopping with his mother, shots rang out, and he did something that I could only pray I would have the strength to do. He went at the gunman, and you will not believe what happened next.
His story, what happened at the ICU at the University Medical Center of El Paso, and then a special visitor shows up.
First, here is Christopher Grant's story about how he survived inside that Walmart.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER GRANT, EL PASO SHOOTING SURVIVOR, ATTEMPTED TO STOP THE EL PASO SHOOTER: I - no.
CUOMO: You did something really extraordinary.
GRANT: No. I don't - I don't believe that. I think any man that's a man would have done that.
CUOMO: So, you heard gunshots.
GRANT: I heard gunshots.
CUOMO: And you knew that's what it was.
GRANT: And I knew what it was. So, I ran towards my mother to try to shield her. And I'm like "Mom," because my mom, she's a gun-wielding grandma. She carries this - she carries a Snub nose Smith & Wesson .38 special with a built-in scope in it, everywhere she goes.
CUOMO: Not that day.
GRANT: An hour before we went to Walmart, she decides, "Oh, we're just going to Walmart. I'm going to put it in my room." So, when I went to her, no gun, and I was like "Oh my God, you got to be kidding me."
And then, so I was like, and then she took off, and it was just chaos, and then, so I just I saw him standing in the parking lot, and I saw him popping people off. I was inside the produce department, which is right by the front door, and I saw him popping people off, and I was like, you know, this is crazy.
So, and to deter him, I started just chunking bottles. I just started throwing bottle, random bottles at him. And I'm not a baseball player. So, one went this way, and one went that way, and then one went right towards him.
And then that's when he saw me, and just started, and I ducked, and started - I was behind the chips. And so, I ducked, and he just boo- boo-boo-boo-boo-boo, started firing off rounds at me, and I was like "Oh my God, this guy's shooting at me."
And then so when I got hit, it was like - it was like somebody put a hand grenade in your back, and pulled the pin, that's basically what it felt like - felt like.
And then, so I was like "Oh, my God, I got to get up. I got to get up. Get up, Get up. Get up." And then, so he walked to the bank, which was right by the restrooms, and just randomly started - I mean people were praying in Spanish, "Por favor, no, no, por favor, no."
And he was just they were on the ground, and he still just shot them in the head. I mean they were praying in Spanish. I mean I'm from El Paso, and I know Spanish, and they were praying, "Please, please don't shoot me." And he had no remorse for their lives at all.
CUOMO: Could you see his face? Could you see his eyes?
GRANT: Yes. He was a tall guy, brown hair, khaki pants. He had - I'm an avid shooter. So, he had shooting glasses on. And I could just tell he was prepared. And I saw this and I was like - excuse me.
And I said, "Look, do something." And I was telling people I said I was like we got to - and it was just so random because in this town not everybody knows English, and there's nothing wrong with that.
But everybody's like "Get down, get down," and there was people walking around, either in all--
CUOMO: Hold on a second.
GRANT: --or just didn't understand--
CUOMO: How are you feeling right now? You all right?
GRANT: If I throw up on you, that means I like you.
CUOMO: All right, I'll take it. But I just want to make sure you feel all right.
GRANT: But - yes, I'm fine.
CUOMO: You're OK?
[21:15:00] GRANT: I'm fine. I just get nauseous.
And when I ran through the Walmart, I kind of just mingled around through the paint department, and then I finally found the auto department. And so, I ran through the auto department door, and there was Donna, my Guardian Angel, and she's a federal agent.
GRANT: And I said there's a shooter inside, Code Brown. My dad was in the military, and so that means there's a shooter inside, so she's like "Get down. Get down."
And she went to work, and did her job, and patched me up, and took me to shelter, and covered me, and just did all these things that, you know, she was paid to do.
That was her job. You know, she didn't - she said and - and she said the same thing my mom said. "I'm going to Walmart. I don't need my firearm." And so, she didn't have her gun with her.
She'll be a friend for life because she - I honestly, honestly think she saved my life. I really do. Because she was there for me, she never - she never left my side. And she called everybody, and before you know it, she threw me in the back of a random pickup truck, who happened to be a police officer, and she said, "Get this guy to the ambulance."
And - and she was like my Guardian Angel. I'll never - I'll forever be indebted to her because I honestly think she saved my life. I don't mean to be a sissy and cry, I'm sorry. But from the time--
CUOMO: There's nothing weak about crying after what you've been through.
GRANT: --the time--
CUOMO: Just so you can feel.
GRANT: I'm just - I'm just sorry. But from the time I got out of the ambulance to the time I got in here, it was like, wow, these people know what the hell they're doing.
CUOMO: So, what do you make of all this, what you just lived through--
GRANT: You know what?
CUOMO: --and what you did in that moment and why-- GRANT: I--
CUOMO: --somebody was there to do this to you?
GRANT: I believe in God. I'm a firm believer in God. But I don't think I deserve to live like those - some of those children deserved to die, I really don't.
GRANT: Because it's not fair. It's not fair.
I mean one - one little girl saw her parents get killed right in front of her. I mean why would you kill an innocent child. Why would you do that? What in your sick mind would say, "Hey, I'm going to go kill a couple innocent children today?"
GRANT: I mean but how much hate do you have to have in your heart to do that? And then to come to find out from what I heard earlier that "Oh, he had a vendetta against Mexicans."
Mexicans are some of the most big-hearted people in your entire life. If you've ever spent any time in this town, anybody here would help you that they didn't - you didn't even know them.
I mean this is such a great, great, great city. It's a beautiful city. And the people here are the most genuine, kind-hearted people you have ever seen in your entire life.
CUOMO: Are you able to appreciate at all that you did something amazing?
GRANT: No. I'm not.
CUOMO: You saw this man--
CUOMO: --firing at people, and you threw things at him, to get his attention, and knowing that he was then going to fire at you.
GRANT: I think - well I think--
CUOMO: You could have just run away.
GRANT: --a lot of men would have done that.
CUOMO: But what does it say about you that you did it?
GRANT: It says that my father raised me that way. My father raised me to help people. He was in the Air Force, and he was a great man. If I could be half the man that my dad was, then I'd be a great man too, but I'm not. I just--
CUOMO: I got to disagree with you, pal.
GRANT: --I just want to be half the man he is, that's all.
CUOMO: I can't believe that anybody--
GRANT: Well you can disagree. I mean--
CUOMO: --who loves you wouldn't be proud.
GRANT: --I just--
CUOMO: What you did, Chris, I'm telling you.
GRANT: --I don't think that people - I can't believe people just - I mean we're man, man, you know, that's what men do, right?
CUOMO: That's what some men do.
GRANT: They help people.
CUOMO: You signify what we are at our best in the worst moment, and there's so many who owe you the debt of gratitude--
GRANT: Oh I won't--
CUOMO: --debt of gratitude.
GRANT: --I won't accept it because I just I did what any good man would have done, that's all. I mean that's it. I can't take credit for anything because 21 people - 22 people died.
You know, if I would - if I could trade my life for that little girl's life that I saw killed, I would do in a second. I would do in a second because she had her whole life ahead of her. She was there buying - she had school supplies.
I'm 50 years old. My life is almost over. So, I would have traded my life for that life any day of the week, any day of the week. And I should hope that in our society that people are here to protect each other, man.
CUOMO: That's what you were there for. That's what you did.
GRANT: I mean we're all here to protect each other. We're all here to save each other. And - and to - to just be decent people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[21:20:00] CUOMO: It is so easy to fall in love with Christopher Grant that he has such sweetness and love in his heart after what he lived through. But what you really need to connect to is what was forced on him here.
Why should this man have to think to himself "I wish I had been killed, so these kids didn't have to be?" Why does this have to happen? Why do we have to demand from our fellow citizens these moments of heroism?
And in the face of all of them, just one basic question, is there anything that we could do that would make this less likely? And we'd know the answer is yes.
And I'm not talking about some heavy conversation about all the vagaries of gun law. I'm saying treat these people like what they are. They're terrorists. And I know they're White, but so what?
If they act in violence out of a sense of political agenda, they are a terrorist as much as any ISIS fighter you have ever wanted to see die in your life. They are the same animal, but not under our law.
So, Chris Grant has to be in a Walmart with his mother, and become a superhero, and take the kind of wounds that have tubes coming all out of his body, and yet his heart is filled with the sweetness that this bastard who did this never felt a day in his young life.
But then, there's more to this story because sometimes good things do happen to the people who deserve it. And he was in bad shape. The word they used in the medical field is exsanguinating, he's bleeding out.
And of all ironies, there's an off-duty CBP agent, Custom and Border Protection - Protection. She's there. She saves him. She thought she'd never see him again. He wants to thank the woman who saved his life, and that will happen with all of us, next.
[21:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: So, Christopher Grant is with his mother shopping in a Walmart, and he becomes a casualty in the latest mass shooting in our country, perpetrated by a White nationalist, because that's what we allow to continue.
And in a stroke of fate, as he's bleeding out, and running for his life, he meets who he calls his Guardian Angel, a Customs and Border Patrol Officer, Customs and Border Protection, sorry, Officer who's off-duty.
Her name is Donna Sifford. She was going to shop as well. And she wound up meeting someone whose life she saved. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: That's your Guardian Angel.
GRANT: There she is.
DONNA SIFFORD, EL PASO SHOOTING HERO, TORNILLO PORT DIRECTOR, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: There she is.
GRANT: Miss America.
SIFFORD: Hey, thank you.
GRANT: How are you? SIFFORD: I just, yes.
GRANT: This is my Guardian Angel, Donna.
SIFFORD: Hi. Hello.
CUOMO: Boy, has he been talking you up.
SIFFORD: Yes. Yes, it was - it was a hell of an event.
GRANT: You were an - you're an amazing, amazing person. You know that?
SIFFORD: Thank you.
GRANT: You did your job and you did your job very well. And there was no hesitation. You knew exactly what to do. And I honestly think that you saved my life. I do.
SIFFORD: I'm just - I'm happy I was there for you.
GRANT: I do. I really do think that because if you weren't there, I would have - who knows what would have happened? I mean you did everything that you were trained to do and you called--
SIFFORD: Thank you.
GRANT: She called my mom. I mean she did everything. It was just absolutely amazing.
CUOMO: What did you think when he came running up to you and told you what was going on?
SIFFORD: You know, I mean we heard the gunshots happening. We were trying to get as many people as we could out.
And then, we were able to get an - an old lady out. She didn't know what was going on. We put her behind a tree. We went back inside. We found Chris. We were able to get him outside. There were two Walmart employees that were absolutely--
SIFFORD: Yes, phenomenal. They - they grabbed as many first-aid kits, paper towels.
You know, everybody applied paper towels to him, just to try to stop the bleeding. We actually ducked down between two vehicles on - on the northeast side of Walmart. Told him to - to be quiet because we didn't know if the--
GRANT: Oh, she was bossy.
CUOMO: That's no easy task with you, by the way.
CUOMO: That's the biggest risk to the situation.
GRANT: I listened to everything she told.
CUOMO: It was you probably talking the whole time.
GRANT: Everything she said, I did.
GRANT: And that saved my life.
SIFFORD: Yes. And then it was just - it was we were trying to keep him calm. He tried to fade out a couple times. We just told "Chris, stay with us."
That's when we called his mother. We were able to get the phone number. And - and we called his mom, and - and his mom was actually hiding in - in a container in the back of the store.
And so, at that point, we knew we couldn't get out. There was another gunshot victim a little bit south of us. We ran over there. It--
CUOMO: Did you know where the shooter was?
SIFFORD: No. At that point, we didn't know where the shooter was. We ran over there. Apparently, his driver's side window was shot out. He was clearly shot in the abdomen. There was a female there putting pressure on that.
They moved him around to the passenger side, and they just drove the vehicle out to the nearest hospital. I yelled at one of the police officers that was there that we needed an ambulance. The ambulance was going to be too far away. It wasn't clear, so he couldn't come in.
An off-duty El Paso police officer in - in jean shorts and a - and a bulletproof vest came running. He said what do we need? We said we need an ambulance. He was fading. He was losing a lot of blood.
Out of nowhere, he shows up with a gray truck. They put a blanket down. He throw Chris in the back of the truck. He takes off. And I stayed on the scene.
CUOMO: Are you thinking about what you're dealing with or were you just in go-mode?
SIFFORD: We were just in go-mode. I mean I - I just did exactly what - what CBP taught me to do.
CUOMO: What do you think of the idea of someone who is just a hater, White nationalist, whatever label you want to put on, coming to this place, trying to find people who are Brown, who represent something he hates, and doing this in your town? SIFFORD: A coward, just an absolute hateful coward. I mean to come in and shoot children and innocent people, there's no other word for this man.
CUOMO: It's like the complete polar opposite of what you're about every day because anybody who's been with CBP, you guys, it's a humanitarian obligation, first, you know, you're dealing with trying to help people on a regular basis.
And now, here you are in a moment of crisis with somebody who basically wants to kill the same people you help.
[21:30:00] SIFFORD: Well these are our neighbors. I mean we live in these communities. And - and later we found that I live down the street from Chris.
GRANT: She's in my same neighborhood.
SIFFORD: And - and so, yes, I mean there are - they're our family, they're our friends.
SIFFORD: I mean this is our neighborhood and--
GRANT: This is a great city. I mean it is a great American city. It is. And I don't think that this is going to deter it from bring that. I think it's going to make it stronger.
CUOMO: I think you're right. I think you guys are both proof of it. Did you--
GRANT: This person's amazing right here.
CUOMO: Were you worried that when you saw Chris take off in the pickup truck that you might not see him again?
SIFFORD: I was worried about that. I knew I had his mother's phone number in my phone. I was able to make that call.
And then - because they apparently had saved my number, they reached out to me later that day, and - and made sure that I knew what hospital he was in, and so made it over this morning, and actually saw him, and made sure that he was doing well.
CUOMO: What did it mean to you to know that he had made it?
CUOMO: He was OK?
SIFFORD: I was so ecstatic that he had - he made it. I mean we - we bonded out there. And I - I just happy to see that--
GRANT: I'm happy to see you all.
SIFFORD: --that he's doing well.
GRANT: You know, I'll ever forever be indebted to you because you honestly saved my life, I think you did.
SIFFORD: Yes. I mean we're going to be friends forever.
CUOMO: It is a pleasure to meet you both. And it is beautiful how you came together in one of the worst moments, and brought out the best in who we are.
SIFFORD: Thank you.
GRANT: She's an amazing person. I mean I'll give her a kiss right now but she'd probably shoot me. So, I think I'll--
CUOMO: Don't take the chance.
CUOMO: You're banged up enough as it is.
CUOMO: Thank you so much, Officer.
SIFFORD: Thank you.
CUOMO: I appreciate it.
SIFFORD: Thank you.
CUOMO: They're actually agents.
GRANT: I love you so much. We're going to be friends forever.
SIFFORD: Forever, man.
GRANT: I promise you.
GRANT: I promise you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: You know, sometimes laughter can be the best med - medicine, especially in a time of crisis like this. But I'll tell you, when hate picked El Paso, it picked the wrong place.
This is a place of people like Christopher Grant and Donna Sifford who come together with a new bond. Scosche Alma (ph), the lady who takes a rock like this, and paints it just because she wants people to know that there are people of beauty and faith here.
So, what do we do about it? Republicans, silent, but not all, we have Adam Kinzinger. He's one of the new generation of Republicans in Congress. He doesn't just want to talk. He wants to act. And we need to listen to him, next.
[21:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: So, what's obvious? We know that guys like this murderer should be treated as terrorists, but they're not under the law.
We know that reasonable controls on access to weapons make sense to most of this country, but our Congress won't work on it. So, what are we going to do, because it takes both sides?
And I welcome Republican Congressman from Illinois, Adam Kinzinger, back to PRIME TIME.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TEXT: ONE ON ONE.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Congressman, I have to say, we've been trying your party all day long, for days, the silence is deafening. I respect you coming on, not just to deal with it, but with ideas for it, so thank you, Congressman. First--
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Yes.
CUOMO: --the idea of treating White nationalism or any type of political extremism in this country that turns to violence as terrorism under the law, is it as obvious as I think it is?
KINZINGER: Yes. I think it is. I think it should be.
You know, obviously, you're going to look at differences when it comes to, for instance, if you're fighting ISIS, you can bomb an ISIS camp because they aren't U.S. citizens. You have issues when you deal with the Constitution. But this is absolutely terrorism.
As much as I hate ISIS, I hate White nationalism and any political violence like that because it doesn't do anything to advance our country, and frankly, leads to really a hate - a destruction of life, not just in shooting but in - inside people.
I mean can you imagine sitting around being torn up by something you can't control, not necessarily that you have to go to violence, but even if you don't go to violence, allowing that to just destroy your life, it's sad, and it's got to be destroyed.
CUOMO: And we're giving these guys cover right now. Because they don't fall under the terrorism laws, they don't get investigated the same way. Materials support, the places that they talk, the places that they
plan, and any organizing that's going on is largely out of you, and out of reach. So, that's something that should be done. We're waiting for somebody to propose it - it hasn't happened.
The other piece is access to weapons. You wrote an op-ed today that people should read for themselves. What's your solution?
KINZINGER: So, it's a number of things. And I want to say this. I'm not doing this, and I didn't write this op-ed for politics. I don't know if this is a good political move for me or not. I don't really care.
But I'm as burdened as everybody else is at what's going on, and I'm looking at this fight, and saying, both sides, every time there's something like this, entrenched into their corners, and we don't find solutions that I think are agreeable, and can actually mitigate the problem.
So, first off, I think gun purchases need to be raised - the age needs to be raised to 21. Right now, to buy a handgun in this country, you have to be 21, and the initial thought was well we're exempting under basically long guns because that's things like hunting gear and shooting, you know, shotguns.
But I think that now obviously is defining things like purchasing an AR, which are in many of these mass shootings is actually used, so I think raising that age to 21, still allowing people in the military to carry their service weapon or cops that are under the age of 21.
The next thing is we do need universal background checks, and doing it in a way that it's not cumbersome, when there's a private transfer. If I'm going to buy a weapon from my father, for instance, which I've done before, that doesn't have to be cumbersome.
And I think looking at the heart that exists to, and the recognition that there is real evil, why are people feeling both this draw to evil, the draw to violence, why are they feeling totally isolated in this country?
That's not a government solution. But that's a solution for people that either go to church or involved in social circles, why are people feeling isolated? Take hold of these issues, and I think we can begin to see some real difference, especially when it comes to the 21 age in the area of school shootings.
CUOMO: Well look, I - I think this is unusual talk coming from your side. And to be honest, you voted against background checks in the past. What changed?
[21:40:00] KINZINGER: So, it's a couple things. Number one, if you look at H.R.8, there's little things in there about, for instance, a rancher can't loan his gun to a farmhand to protect his livestock.
But also, when I've kind of thought I - I spent this weekend after this, processing it, and really going through what can we do, not what can we argue about, what can we actually do.
And I came to the realization that I think universal background checks does need to be done. I think that that age needs to be raised to 21.
CUOMO: What do you say to Senator McConnell? I know you're in the House.
KINZINGER: Things like a 100 round clip--
CUOMO: I know you're in the House. A 100 round clip is another good issue to put on the table.
Senator McConnell is looking at you, and he's going to turn around, and walk away. Now, I know you're in the House, and he's in the Senate, but he's blocking these bills on the floor. So, what do you say to him?
KINZINGER: Well all I can say to him is my opinion. And, you know, the - the - the, I guess, epiphany that I came to in terms of, are these going to stop all shootings? No.
But if they can help, if they can stop even one shooting from happening, and not infringe on the Second Amendment rights, we ought to do it. If there's things in this bill that was passed out of the House that can be tweaked and adjusted for more support, great.
But I think if it came back to me, even in its current form, though there are some things I don't like, I would probably vote for it.
CUOMO: Congressman, we got Left and Right. We got to have reasonable. And brother, I always invite you on this show. Whether we're agreeing or not whether I'm testing, and you like it or not, I respect you taking the chance.
I respect you thinking about this to try to provide some solutions to your constituents because we just can't keep having our hearts broken as a society anymore. Somebody's got to help us. That's why we elect leaders.
So Congressman Adam Kinzinger, thank you for doing your job. Thank you for thinking about what matters beyond politics.
KINZINGER: You bet. God bless you, the families in this country.
CUOMO: Thank you, Congressman.
Thoughts and prayers, you know, I've dismissed them in the past. But they have their place, and we'll talk about that in the closing. This is bigger than politics, as Congressman Kinzinger just said. It's bigger than culture. It's about who we are at our core and what we tell ourselves in times like this.
I have - my personal priest is here, Father Edward Beck. You know him from CNN. He's going to take us to what people are doing here to grieve together, and the power in that will amaze you, next.
[21:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: All right, we're back in our coverage here of what's going on in El Paso, and we're keeping our voices down because this is where the memorial is for the people who were lost, and their families are coming here, and this community has come.
Reyes (ph), show everybody who's here. Look at the faces of this community. They've come here to show support for those who were lost, and also to show the strength that remains in this community, and it is all borne of tremendous pain that never needed to happen.
This wasn't about El Paso attacking its own. It was about a hateful person coming from far away to make a point here. And now, they're making a point back. There are families here praying for their lost loved ones, and it's a time for perspective.
And the person who I've always turned to, and I know you do in the CNN audience is Father Edward Beck, and you've helped me over the years try to understand the grace in these senseless situations.
And now, here we are at the pinnacle of it. There are people praying to their family behind us. And they were taken not because of mental health, not because of some crime. Because of a man who came here to show that he wants to kill who lives here. What do we do with that?
FATHER EDWARD BECK, CNN RELIGION COMMENTATOR: Hate and vitriol, what do you do with it? You know, but these crosses that have been constructed for these victims, the cross is a symbol of suffering, yes.
But what Christianity holds on to is that it's also a symbol of hope and possibility and resurrection, and that's what those praying here, holding on to that we're better than this, that that's one person who caused all of this destruction, but he does not compare with all of this, and all of this compassion, and all of this mercy that we're seeing here, and sadness.
I mean the cross is tough, and this kind of tragedy is tough. But Christians believe that it's not the final word, and we have to resist it. We have to resist the hatred, the vitriol, the racism, the xenophobia.
CUOMO: These White nationalists say they're Christian.
BECK: That is a contradiction in terms. You can't put nationalist and Christian together. Jesus was definitely not a nationalist. The very essence of Jesus is crossing borders, going to the Samaritan woman, going to the stranger.
I mean how can you put Christian and nationalism together? Nationalism says "My country is better than yours. My race is better than yours." That flies on the face of everything Christianity teaches.
CUOMO: So, how are we supposed to come together because the - the logical salve here is we are all one against the hate? But that's not the reality right now. I mean these people know it. You know, you - you can't look them in the face, and see their hearts
on their sleeve, and - and lie to them, and say everything's going to be OK because what this guy was saying is what's playing out in our government in real time. Who's us? Who's them? Who gets included? Who gets excluded?
Now, this guy took it to an irrational extreme in the name of hate, but that is the fight. So, where is the spirituality in this country right now? Where is the core that we need to fall back on?
BECK: Well, first of all, I think Pope Francis has said "We do not build walls. Christians build bridges." You can't call yourself a Christian if you build walls.
The bishop here of this diocese, El Paso, crossed that bridge into Mexico, and brought migrants back, and walked migrants who had to return back. And he said "This is what Christ would do."
So, in the face of one man's hatred and vitriol, we have to focus on the love dimension. You know, after the resurrection of Christ, Paul writes to the Galatians, there is no longer man or woman, Greek or Jew, slave nor free, all are one in Christ Jesus.
So, all of those divisions we cut - try to create with our racism and our xenophobia, Paul says that's can't exist with Christ.
BECK: The resurrected Christ is all the one.
CUOMO: Bishop Seitz is the El Paso Bishop.
[21:50:00] CUOMO: I spoke with him about it today. He was trying to make that point that this community will turn to itself because somebody turned on it, and that there is such a strong fabric that transcends ethnicity here that, you know - and I do not believe that bad things happen for any kind of good reason.
BECK: I don't either.
CUOMO: The bad things just happen for bad reason like this.
BECK: I don't either.
CUOMO: But this guy picked the wrong place to make this point because the people that you see here, the woman who saw me this morning, and painted a rock with the Virgin Mother, to give it to me, to give me a source of strength, when she was mourning for friends that she lost in Walmart, it's an extraordinary place--
BECK: That was Our Lady of Guadalupe?
BECK: Again, an Indian peasant that Mary appears to--
BECK: --talk about crossing all of the lines.
CUOMO: So, what is the hope that you give to people when they come to you and say they don't want us here? There is - there's no we, there's us, and there's them. And yes, the President said today that we have to come together, but he's been talking this talk as much as anybody. What's your message?
BECK: The hope is I think we know that we are better than that that that's a minority of people. And that when we come together we know that the reality of this - of these people kneeling here, and what they believe is truer and stronger than that.
So, I think what we say is we, as religious people, as people of faith resist it. We say no to it. We say no to the xenophobia, no to the racism, no to the exclusion, no to the homophobia. I mean that's what we're about. That's what Christ was about. So, you can't take Christ out of Christian. He said love your enemies.
BECK: And they said - that's the text he said. Love your enemies. Do good to those who persecute you. Now that's a hard message, and it doesn't mean you just give a pass to everybody. But it means that you certainly welcome those who are different from you, who are the stranger.
CUOMO: I'm just hoping that our leaders see the names on these crosses and remember, Reyes, remind them of these, Jordan and Andre Anchondo, a mother and father who died with their babies in their arms, she literally fell on top of her child to protect him. They both were killed by this man. They have two other kids, and now their family has to figure out how to take care of them.
We have to be able to do better than this. If you call yourself a Christian, if you call yourself a leader, it's not about Left and Right. It's about finding reasonable ways to make us safer. And remember, what the source of your faith is supposed to be, and live it in your service.
Father, thank you for giving me solace. I'm sorry. It's always in these hard times, but that's when we turn to faith, so thank you very, very much.
BECK: Thank you.
CUOMO: When we come back, the argument about thoughts and prayers, the argument of what we can do. The frustration should be this, not that this is impossible, but there is something that could be done after this that is easy that would protect us from what happened here.
Will our leaders do their job? Next.
[21:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: You know, I didn't even realize the power of what this woman from El Paso gave me, you know, Our Lady of Guadalupe, the idea of the mother of the most powerful mercy being visited on a peasant is such a metaphor for power having an obligation to reach out to those who need it most.
So thoughts and prayers, yes, amen to that. Pray that the people in this country see their common cause in opposing hate, and that our leaders think hard enough about what really matters to do something to keep us safe.
Here's the easy part. A White nationalist coward who kills people to motivate a political cause is no different than an ISIS coward doing the same thing. They are both terrorists, and you know it.
But only the self-declared Muslim guy is covered by terrorism laws here. You change that. You punish these haters for their planning and associations, just as we do al-Qaeda. Give law enforcement the same tools to root them out, and show it matters to us here, as part of our fabric.
Two reasons, they are killing and hurting us most at home, these White hate guys, not al-Qaeda, not ISIS. They are anathema to what this country stands for. Who can be against that?
How can anyone see political advantage in arguing White nationalists are better than Muslim extremists, let alone this whack whataboutism that we need to talk about lefty extremism as well or we're not being fair.
All extremism from any corner that turns to violence as political expression is terrorism. But remember this. It's not a both sides issue. The stats are clear.
The Anti-Defamation League says Right-wing extremists killed more people last year than in any year since 1995, the Oklahoma City bombings.
Over the past decade, three-quarters of extremist-related fatalities have been associated with domestic Right-wing extremists, compared to about a quarter attributed to Islamic extremists. We care so much about one.
The President could only give them lip service today. And yet, we are being killed by our own, by Americans, not migrants, not an other, our own. And there's an easy fix. Treat it under law. Treat it with the resources that terrorism gets.
Yet our President talks more about mental illness as a problem in the face of 22 dead from someone who by all accounts is completely sane. Today, President Trump maybe did read a speech off a teleprompter, but it hit many of the right notes. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and White supremacy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: You can't just read it. You got to own it. Your voice, his voice, the voice that made light of a situation like this three months ago, these words matter too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: But how do you stop these people? You can't. There's not--
(AUDIENCE MEMBER SHOUTS "SHOOT THEM")
TRUMP: That's only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement.
(CROWD CHEERING AND LAUGHTER)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Now, you don't laugh at that. You don't - you don't play it off. Things like this, you don't play off.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This is an invasion.
People hate the word invasion but that's what it is.
This is an invasion, and nobody is even questioning that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: We tell you not to use the word invasion because it's not just inaccurate. It treats people like a pestilence. And you wind up having someone like this bastard who killed these people in here use the same language.
And then he want to say just he owns it because he never heard it anywhere else, right? He never felt empowered by any sorts of power, right? So, when this President says we have to speak in one voice, he's right.