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Trump Focuses on Battling Mental Health, Violent Video Games Over New Gun Control Measures; Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) Discusses El Paso & Dayton Shootings, Trump's Remarks on Shootings; Death Toll Rises to 21 in El Paso Mass Shooting; Lawmakers Under Growing Pressure to Address Gun Violence. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired August 5, 2019 - 11:30   ET



[11:32:26] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is exactly what is not supposed to be happening in America. Everyday life, going to Walmart, going out for an evening, turning into a crime scene in an instant. Lives shattered again through gun violence, again.

In Dayton, Ohio, the gunman was brought down within 30 seconds of his first shot, 30 seconds. And he was still able to kill nine people. And 27 others were injured. Thirty seconds.

Here's what President Trump said about the mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso, Texas just last hour.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Open wounds cannot heal if we are divided. We must seek real bipartisan solutions. We have to do that in a bipartisan manner that will truly make America safer and better for all.

I am open and ready to listen and discuss all ideas that will actually work and make a very big difference. Republicans and Democrats have proven that we can join together in a bipartisan fashion to address this plague.


BOLDUAN: Here with me now is Democratic presidential candidate, the Democratic congressman from Ohio, Tim Ryan.

Congressman, thank you for being here. I want to get your take --

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): Thank you.

BOLDUAN: -- on what you make of the president's remarks that you heard from him this morning talking about the shooting.

RYAN: That may be the most disingenuous thing he's said. He has two bills that are sitting at the Senate, one on background checks, one on closing the Charleston loophole that would immediately go into effect if the Senate would pass it. He said he was going to veto both of those bills.

And I just think that is a slap in the face to the victims, not just over the last 36 hours, but all victims of gun violence in the past however many years we've been trying to deal with this.

And he's injecting immigration into this? That's a joke. That is disgusting. He's going to tie one of the most polarizing issues in the country today, that, quite frankly, he has made polarizing. Since going back to Barack Obama's birth certificate, this president has been playing the race card and the immigration card. And now he wants to tie the toxic debate to some simple gun reform provisions that have 80 percent of the support of the American people.

This is not leadership. This is not leadership. He couldn't even get the town right. He said Toledo. He was talking about Toledo, Ohio.


[11:35:03] BOLDUAN: I was going to ask you about that, Congressman. I didn't know what to make of it when he -- for our viewers, let me play the moment so you know what I'm talking about. This is at the very end of the president's remarks this morning. Listen to this.


TRUMP: May God bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo and may God protect them.


BOLDUAN: I don't actually know what to make of that. What do you?

RYAN: It's heartbreaking, because he's showing diminished capacity, mental capacity to be able to lead. That's what I see when I hear that.

You could grab anybody on the streets of the United States and they would know Dayton and El Paso after the last 36 hours. And to have the president of the United States, it just shows the level of disengagement. It's indicative of what else he said during that press conference, how disconnected he is from what's happening in the country today.

I think he has a diminished mental capacity to be able to deal with the big problems that we have in the United States today. And it's right on the heels of being so disconnected with his speech, bringing in immigration and the other things that we've already talked about. It's a slap in the face to the people here in Dayton.

BOLDUAN: The strangest bit about it -- well, a strange thing is that he did not mention -- he mentioned on Twitter the need for more background checks -- stricter background checks and possibly linking it to immigration reform. He made no mention of that, though, in his speech.

In his speech, he talked about red flag laws, toughening mental health laws, taking on violent video games and social media, developing tools to detect mass shooters before they strike, and making sure the death penalty is in place for murder as a hate crime. No mention of the immigration reform tie in or anything like that.

Of what the president listed out -- you say it's disingenuous, do you see any bipartisan opening in what he listed out this morning?

RYAN: Sure. I think the red flag law is a great place to start.

He mentioned background checks. There's a bill, universal background checks sitting at the Senate. He should tell Mitch McConnell, get back in session, pass these bills that the Democrats have sent over to you. Let's not make this a partisan issue. It has support of 80 percent of the American people. The Charleston loophole, too, extending the check to 10 days so we can

ensure that people who are getting their hands on these weapons are clear and vetted properly and we have the time to appropriately do that.

But the problem is, Kate, he gave a very similar speech after the Parkland shooting in Florida, how many months back. So he's got no credibility on this issue.

He's got to -- look, let me give him this advice. If he wants to rebuild trust with the American people, call the Senate back into session in Washington, D.C., tell Mitch McConnell to pass the two bills that we sent over to him, and begin rebuilding the trust with the American people.

But he has said he's going to veto both of those bills. They've got 240 votes in the House. They're supported by 80 percent of the American people. Let's move on those and let's not have a polarizing discussion.

BOLDUAN: Do you have any indication that the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, is looking to call you all back in order to put more pressure on the Senate majority leader to do the same?

RYAN: I don't know. There was a call happening soon that I'll be jumping on. I'm not sure. The reality is that there are two bills already sitting at the Senate. So for the House to come back and do anything else that's not going to go anywhere in the Senate isn't going to prove anything.

Mitch McConnell should call the Senate back, pass these two bills, and I would guarantee you Nancy Pelosi will say we can do more, too, and we will come back. I guarantee she would say that because I know her well. She would say, if we're going to get things back, we'll all come back and cancel the August work period and let's keep this going. I know she would do that.

But the key is the bottleneck in Kentucky. And the gentleman from Kentucky needs to -- as I've said many times, he needs to get off his (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and get to work. And that's the only way we're going to get this stuff done. I cannot tell you the level of frustration in this community. People that grabbed me yesterday after the vigil, Republicans. I can't even count how many Republicans grabbed me yesterday saying, Congressman, please get something done. This is going on too long.

BOLDUAN: Do you see something getting done in -- on the state level?

One thing that we heard from the police chief of Dayton in the press conference just now is the fire power and magazine capacity that this shooter had on him was fundamentally problematic, to have that on the streets of any place in America. He's talking about Dayton, Ohio. There are lots of calls yesterday of do something.

[11:40:08] And you were on that stage when Governor DeWine was talking and folks started shouting, "Do something." Short of the federal government doing something, what about Ohio?

RYAN: I'm encouraging the governor to do something. He needs to as well. And I think he would find bipartisan support here in Ohio. I think the Republicans are going too far on this. It's hitting home now all across the country.

And, look, when you talk about the magazine, the high-powered magazines, where this kid had how many different opportunities, if someone didn't shoot him down, how many people would have died. Those are simple steps that we should be able to take in the states if we can't get it done in Washington, D.C.

I know Governor Kasich tried to do it here in Ohio and it didn't get much support from the Republicans because of the power of the National Rifle Association.

So I hope Governor DeWine takes the leadership role. He's from southwest Ohio. His lieutenant government is from southwest Ohio, from the Dayton area. So they have a vested interest.

I heard people from the Dayton business community say last night when I was having conversations that something needs to get done. So I think there could be bipartisan support on this, again, for the things that 70 percent or 80 percent of people in Ohio and people across the country support.

We've got to heal, Kate. We've got to come together around some of these issues. It can't be polarizing all the time. And the president and governor DeWine need to show some leadership on this stuff.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thank you for being here. Really appreciate your time.

RYAN: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Quick programming note. CNN exclusive happening tonight. Former vice president is going to be joining Anderson Cooper for a conversation. That is 8:00 Eastern.

We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:46:33] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Back now live from El Paso, Texas, the scene of the first of two terror attacks by two heavily armed white men in two separate cities over the weekend.

El Paso police just tweeted that the death toll, the number of people who were killed here, has climbed now to 21. Add that to the nine killed in Ohio, and there's a total of 30 innocent people killed in a span of just 13 hours, more than 50 others injured.

Now, the suspect here in El Paso is cooperating with police, we're told. They say he is showing no remorse or regret for allegedly killing those 21 people.

He's believed to have posted this racist anti-immigrant manifesto -- some are calling it. It's a four-page screed online minutes -- before the shooting.

Let's bring in Josh Campbell, CNN law enforcement analyst.

Josh, we listened to what the president said this morning and he said that he wants the Justice Department to take a large role in preventing this in the future. Reconcile that with the law.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it's hard to reconcile right now because there's this divide between this ability to have law enforcement officers to protect the public from threats and those who can continue to be parts of these radical groups and do so with impunity.

The one thing that was missing from the president's statement was a declaration that domestic terrorism would be a crime that the federal government could prosecute.

I'll give you an example. Right now, people in the United States, if you're a white supremacist or you're part of these hate groups, the federal government cannot prosecute you for that reason. There has to be some other charge, a weapon, use of a bomb, a hate crime or something like that.

Compare that to international terrorism. When I was an FBI agent, I could prosecute someone for merely associating with al Qaeda or ISIS. That's how you not only deter them but that's how to get the threats off the street. We're not seeing that on the domestic terrorism front.

This crime scene behind us in the Walmart, if this shooter, or people of his ilk, those like him, if they knew possibly that this was a crime that could have been deterred, that associating with these types of groups or ideologies, if that would have sent you to jail, that might have caused people to rethink what they're doing.

We don't have those parameters in place, so this violence continues. BLACKWELL: Today, we learned that the message board to which the

alleged shooter posted that four-page screed has been taken down. The Cloud Player, the site that hosted it, dropped it.

Now that we know the FBI is launching this nationwide search for potential threats, is that necessarily a good idea? Is that good news for investigators, that the place they post this information is now gone?

CAMPBELL: Two sides to this coin. So obviously, you want to remove the platforms that allow this hate to continue to fester where people plan and plot. Basically, it's a reinforcing process.

I've seen some of these messages. They continue to reinforce each other until the hate builds and you see these people actually acting with violence. Something happens that causes them to do that. If you remove that outlet, they don't have that community.

Some of those people are in these enclosed environments and this is their ability to associate with others. You get rid of that, you remove that.

But to your point, if you're an investigator and you need those investigative tools to dig into and see the traffic and to pull up these investigative threads, if that's not there. you're operating in the blind. It's a big challenge.

BLACKWELL: Mexican authorities have suggested that maybe they will prosecute the alleged shooter here because he targeted, according to this manifesto, as it's called, immigrants, Mexican citizens. Seven of the, we're told, were killed here. What would be the cooperation between the FBI, federal authorities, and federal Mexican authorities?

[11:50:15] CAMPBELL: The FBI works very closely with Mexican authorities. I think this is largely symbolic and perhaps their ability to send a deterrent symbol themselves. This is Texas. He's been charged on capital murder charges. I presume he will be charged here and will face the death penalty.

BLACKWELL: No death penalty in Mexico, so a question of where you'd want to prosecute it.

Josh Campbell, always good to have you.


BLACKWELL: Kate, let's go back to you.

BOLDUAN: Victor, thank you so much.

We'll return to Victor throughout the hour. Thank you so much for being there on the ground.

So as folks are searching for answers, chief among them, of course, is what would drive someone to commit such atrocities as we saw over the weekend. We are also learning more about the lives that were taken, the people

that should get the most of our focus right now. Let's remember them.

Starting in Dayton, Lois Oglesby, who, according to the "Washington Post," was a mother of two, including a newborn. Saeed Saleh, Derrick Fudge, Logan Turner, Thomas McNichols, a father of four young children, ages 2 to 8 years old. Beatrice Warren-Curtis, Monica Brickhouse, Nicholas Cumer, who was working on a master's degree in exercise physiology from St. Francis University, and Megan Betts, the gunman's sister. We won't forget those names.

In El Paso, so many families torn apart by the mass shooting there as well. So many names to even begin to remember.

Jordan and Andre Anchondo, parents of three young children. You see one right there, including a 2-month-old son, Paul, who they died protecting in that Walmart.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From what we understand, Baby Paul has recovered from the crime scene with his mother on top of him. And we got word that Andre had jumped in front of his wife to protect his wife and son throughout the whole circumstance. So very devastating.


BOLDUAN: Unbelievable.

Leo Campos and Maribel Hernandez. They dropped their dog off at a groomer before heading to Walmart to do some shopping. It could have been anyone.

Also killed 86-year-old Angie Eaglislee (ph). Arturo Benavides, an Army veteran who was in the checkout line when she was shot.

And then there's seven of the now 21 people killed in El Paso, they were Mexican citizens. They're identified as Sara Esther Regalado, Adolfo Hernandez, Jorge Calvillo (ph) Garcia, Elsa Mendoza de la Mora, Gloria Irma Marquez, Maria Eugenia Regarreta (ph) Rothe and Ivan Filiberto Manzano. Please remember those names today.


BOLDUAN: It's become a familiar and haunting question at every mass shooting. Will this time be different? That question the country is now asking, once again, following two horrific tragedies this weekend.

And this morning, a growing list of lawmakers and 2020 Democratic candidates are pleading with and demanding, quite frankly, that Congress take action. Listen.


[11:55:10] SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mitch McConnell should call the Senate back in today and we should pass these measures.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I agree with Senator Schumer, our leader in the Senate, that we need to bring everyone back and that Senator McConnell should call the Senate back to pass the House gun safety bill that has passed the House of Representatives.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The overwhelming majority of the American people, gun owners and non-gun owners, want common-sense gun safety legislation. So what I have asked Mitch McConnell, Republican leader of the Senate, bring us back to Washington. End the recess right now and let us sit down and work on the kind of legislation that we need.


BOLDUAN: Here with me now is Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, a grassroots organization that was founded in the days in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre.

Shannon, thank you for being here.

You were just with me here in May. We were sitting right over there talking about moms can get it done and demanding action and talking about the roots of your organization and what progress you think is being made.

Now we have 30 people killed, two shootings across two cities in the span of 13 hours and so many people injured. The president speaking out about it this morning, tweeting about it this morning.

When the question continues to be every time is this time different, how do you answer that question this time? What do you think?

SHANNON WATTS, FOUNDER, MOMS DEMAND ACTION: Look, every horrific shooting tragedy in this country makes Americans realize that this is a public health crisis and they have to act. Makes them get off the sidelines.

Our organization tripled in size after the horrific tragedy in Parkland, Florida. After Sandy Hook, we started our organization. So every time something like this happens, America does act. I don't believe we're numb. There isn't a parent in this country who isn't afraid that their child will be next.

BOLDUAN: I remember you telling me that everyone you speak with, from your view, that everyone is waiting for this like cathartic movement to happen in Congress, and that you are still optimistic that change is coming.

Where do you find your optimism here, when you see what happened this weekend, you hear the president's remarks, you hear the anger from left -- and we're not really hearing much from right to be honest because they have not really coming on, Republican lawmakers are pretty much refusing to come on CNN to discuss. But where do you find -- where do you find -- where do you find the optimism? WATTS: First of all, we are now larger than the NRA. We have

hundreds of thousands of volunteers like me, six million supporters. In the midterm elections, we outspent and outmaneuvered the NRA. We flipped seven state legislatures and we elected 1,000 gun-sense candidates to Congress.

We go into 2020 elections with the NRA weaker than they have ever been. We're stronger than we've ever been. But we do need the Senate to come back right now to pass background checks and red-flag laws that we know save lives in the states. They need to do their jobs.

And anyone listening to me --


BOLDUAN: And that's where you've told me you find optimism.


BOLDUAN: Is in the states.



BOLDUAN: Even put Congress aside. You have seen real action there. There's pressure on Ohio to do something.

WATTS: There is. Ohio and Texas need to act. Ohio will go back into legislative session in September.

But Senators, if you text the word "checks" to 64433, we will patch you in and you can call your Senator and say that you demand action.

BOLDUAN: Let's focus on Dayton for a second. The shooter was brought down in 30 seconds from the first time he shot to when they took him down. In that amount of time, the police chief just said that he had the possibility, the maximum potential of 250 rounds in his -- on him. In 30 seconds, he was able to kill nine people.

Where are you in your fight on something like that?

WATTS: Well, I mean, obviously, you know, the police were outgunned and outmanned. When someone who has easy access to an arsenal and ammunition, including semiautomatic rifles and tactical gear, a good guy with a gun will not stop them. Only a good lawmaker that will pass legislation will stop them.

BOLDUAN: Shannon, do you look to the White House for leadership at this point? Do you take note of what the president said this morning on what he would like to see done? There was no mention in his remarks about any kind of gun safety measure other than he talked about red-flag laws, toughening mental health laws, taking on violent video games.

WATTS: First of all, those are NRA talking points. We know this isn't about video games, movies, mental illness. This is about easy access to gun. If the president is serious, he will pick up the phone and call Senator Mitch McConnell right now and he will demand the Senate come back and pass background checks, red-flag laws, and also the legislation that's already passed the House. These laws are working in the states. We need them at the federal level.

BOLDUAN: Even today, in the darkest of the dark times, you still find optimism?

[12:00:05] WATTS: This is going to change. It will take a couple of elections. But I promise you, if every American uses their voice and their votes, this will end.