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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Joe Biden Speaks Out on Mass Shootings; Fallout Continues Following Mass Shootings. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired August 5, 2019 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Law enforcement is struggling to keep up with and regulate these dark online communities.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Minutes before the chaos and terror unleashed on families shopping at Walmart in El Paso, the accused gunman may have spelled out why he waged war on innocents, a hate-filled manifesto railing against immigrants, calling it the Hispanic invasion.
The post Also praises ideas set forth in another manifesto written by the person identifying himself as the Christchurch New Zealand shooter, who massacred 51 people as they prayed in two mosques in March.
And months later, police believe another suspect posted an open letter minutes before shooting up a California synagogue, all of them posting in the same place, 8chan, a public Web site that is a racist's virtual paradise.
KEEGAN HANKES, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: I think 8chan is among one of the more influential sites that plays a role in radicalizing young men when it comes to far right extremism.
SIDNER: It is one of many open forums that host hatred; 4chan, Gab and the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer are favorites of white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
JOANNA MENDELSON, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: What we have now are attacks that are not only designed to kill, but they're designed to be replicated online, to spread their poison across the Internet and to inspire others.
SIDNER: These Web sites and forums use companies that provide infrastructure for the sites to run smoothly online. Cloudflare, run by chief executive Matthew Prince, serviced the Daily Stormer, until 2017, when he faced pressure to drop it after the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Last night, Cloudflare dropped 8chan, calling the site lawless and that it caused multiple tragic deaths. And another service provider, Voxility, also dropped 8chan.
8chan has not responded to CNN's inquiries. One of the administrators of 8chan has said on Twitter that "We will be moving to another service ASAP. Please excuse any downtime."
For their part, law enforcement is grappling with how to keep up with these forums. In July, the FBI put out request for bids for social media monitoring companies, so investigators can mitigate multifaceted threats. But if the sites are shut down, it could make it harder for law enforcement to monitor.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: The FBI can't complete troll through Web sites. There has to be a predicated investigation. But even if they could, they would be hampered by the fact that there is so much garbage out there on these sites. Also, rarely do these shooters telegraph in advance the carnage that they're about to cause.
SIDNER: In a congressional hearing on domestic terrorism this year, Homeland Security officials were asked about how to deal with these sites. Their response? An uncomfortable silence.
REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-AL): Do you have any recommendations for what can be done to address the viral hate speech and incitement to violence found on fringe sites like 8chan and Gab? And that's for any of you.
You don't have any suggestions for us? That's scary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: That is scary.
And a lot of people are talking about what to do next. We do have to mention, obviously, in this country, Jake, that hate speech has been by the Supreme Court protected as free speech. What is not protected is inciting people to violence.
And that line is easily blurred on places like 8chan. What has to be talked about, if you talk to law enforcement, is a multifaceted approach to dealing with this. But, certainly, the problem of white supremacy and violence isn't going away anytime soon -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Sara Sidner covering hate groups for us, thank you so much.
My panel of law enforcement experts joins me now.
And, Juliette Kayyem, let me start with you.
The president today said -- quote -- "We must shine a light on the dark recesses of the Internet and stop mass murderers before they start."
What does that actually look like in practice? How do you police the Internet?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY ASSISTANT SECRETARY: So there is a couple ways that we can be better at policing it.
But I just want to make clear, because I think people have a misconception of what radicalization is, it is not an on/off switch. It's not like if we get 8chan off of a platform, everyone is going to love each other and it's going to be kumbaya.
The networks and the social media are a reflection of the sort of bad ideologies that are out there. So I begin with creating a criminal liability for being a domestic terrorist. So I think we begin with a federal statute that makes domestic terrorism a crime.
And then the platforms, the way people interact, the potential collusion or other criminal activity that's going on actually is unlawful.
And I think, unless you have that predicate of criminality, whatever's happening is going to be absolutely -- it's going to be almost impossible to regulate, because it's all perfectly legal.
So I think we need to begin with the criminal laws, and then let the social media platforms follow suit, much like we do with child pornography. It is unlawful and, therefore, it seems like the social media platforms are able to get that stuff off pretty easily.
TAPPER: Josh Campbell, let me go to you. You used to work at the FBI.
The former deputy director of the FBI was on my show "STATE OF THE UNION" yesterday, and he said something very similar to Juliette, which is that the FBI needs more tools. They have -- if it's international terrorism, if it's ISIS-inspired, they have a whole bunch of more tools at the ready than they do if it is a white supremacist.
Now, there are going to be libertarians and people concerned with civil liberties that think, you know what, this is just law and justice types trying to do a power grab. Americans have the right of free association and free speech, no matter how heinous it is.
How do you get around that?
CAMPBELL: Yes, let me get to the libertarian piece in a second and talk about what you first mentioned about this distinction between what can be done under international terrorism laws and this domestic terrorism issue.
I will give you an example. I was in the FBI conducting terrorism investigations. If someone was associated with a group like ISIS or al Qaeda, that was a federal crime, and I could bring to bear a host of resources from the U.S. government to mitigate threats, to send people to jail for providing material support to those groups.
That is not the same when we're talking about white supremacists, which gets to Juliette's point earlier about these laws. And this is something that organizations like the FBI Agents Association have been calling for, giving them these tools.
And think about what criminal law is in the United States. It's an outward manifestation of what we are willing to accept and what we reject as a society. So that is the starting point, to say, look, we don't even accept this hate speech that might lead to violence. We have to push these people back into the dark recesses of their corners.
And the way you do that is through the criminal law. Real quick, as you mentioned the libertarian angle, it's a valid argument. Who is going to police this kind of speech?
But what it comes down to is this scene behind me right here at Walmart, where a shooter came here, a white supremacist, and went from being radicalized to conducting violence.
The conversation that we have to have, because if we just say that we can't police this, then we're nowhere. We have to move the ball forward. And that starts with the discussion on criminal law.
TAPPER: Lupe, let me bring you in. You're the former county sheriff of Dallas.
LUPE VALDEZ, FORMER DALLAS COUNTY, TEXAS, SHERIFF: Sure.
TAPPER: So the El Paso shooting hits especially close to home.
Do you think if sites such as 8chan were monitored more closely at a federal level, that local governments would be able to keep better tabs on these individuals making threats of violence?
VALDEZ: Look, we have got to have warning signs. The red flag laws are a dead giveaway to us.
No person who cannot settle their disagreements through other than violence should ever have a weapon. So, therefore, we should be able to see ahead aggressive behaviors, mental health aggressive behaviors, areas where it's obvious that their behavior is not normal as to what everybody else's behavior is.
We need to have those warning signs, so we can look ahead and try to stop this violence. What we have done hasn't worked. So why don't we try something else now, such as red flag laws, criminal background laws, all of these gun show laws, all of these things that may make a difference?
Some people are saying they may not. But what we have tried so far hasn't worked. So why don't we try something else?
TAPPER: Lupe, Josh, Juliette, thank you so much for your time, for your expertise. We appreciate it.
Coming up, it's one of the things President Trump did not talk about in his speech. And it's an area where Americans surpass any other country in the world.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: We have some breaking news for you.
Former Vice President Joe Biden just sat down with CNN's Anderson Cooper. The 2020 presidential candidate talked about this weekend's horrific mass shootings.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: That may be behind the rhetoric, you're saying, an effort basically to stoke white supremacists or white nationalists to at least give them a dog whistle?
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it is -- they do have a dog whistle. They do have a dog whistle.
So look, this is a president who has said things no other president has said since Andrew Jackson. Nobody said anything like the things he's saying.
And the idea that it doesn't contribute to or legitimate or make it more rational for people to think that we, in fact, can now speak out, we can speak out and be more straightforward, and we can make this an issue, we have been through this before.
We have been through this before in the '20s with the Ku Klux Klan and 50,000 people walking down Pennsylvania Avenue in pointed hats and their robes because they, in fact, decided they didn't want any Catholics coming into the country.
We went through it after the Civil War in terms of the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacy.
This is about separating people into good and bad in his mind. It is about making -- it's about an access to power. It is a trait used by charlatans all over the world, divide people, divide them, pit them against one another.
COOPER: If that is the case, it is a very dangerous game, then, that he's playing.
BIDEN: Oh, no, no, no, there is no question it is a dangerous game. There is no question that his rhetoric has contributed to, at a minimum, at a minimum, of dumbing down the way in which we as a society talk about one another, the way we have always been.
Look, we have always brought the country together. We have never -- we, the people, we hold these truths self-evident.
He flies in the face of all the basic things that we have never met the standard. We've never abandoned it before. He looks like he just flat abandoned the theory that we are one people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And you can watch the rest of Anderson's interview with the former vice president tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.
What some lawmakers are blaming for the mass shootings that is causing division, plus the proposals being floated, we're going to discuss it with our panel of experts next.
Stay with us.
[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We're back with our "POLITICS LEAD." Former Vice President Joe Biden just spoke with CNN's Anderson Cooper about the two mass shootings that this country experienced in the last 13 hours. Let's talk about this. It was interesting, he was critical of President Trump but in a way that I thought was much more restrained than what we heard over the weekend from the other Democratic presidential candidates.
Beto O'Rourke and Bernie Sanders saying that he's a white nationalist, President Trump, and what we heard from Joe Biden just there and there's a whole interview so who knows maybe he went farther was he thinks at a minimum Donald Trump has dumbed down the way we talk about each other. Is that it is that enough red meat for the Democratic base right now?
[16:50:00] STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE (D), FORMER MAYOR, BALTIMORE: I don't think the Democratic base needs red meat. We want solutions. I think he took a page out of his best friend Barack's book when he was talking about what -- he failed to name Trump but really made the point about policy.
We have to get beyond the name-calling. We have to get beyond the back-and-forth and figure out how we're going to move our country forward, and I think that's what Biden was doing. He could have very easily gone low and you know, started name-calling but where would we be. We wouldn't be talking about the policy so he -- that he believes will make our country safer.
TAPPER: Do you agree? I saw a lot of conservative criticizing Beto O'Rourke for saying that Donald Trump is a white supremacist and Bernie Sanders agreed with that. What did you think?
ALEXANDRA ROJAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JUSTICE DEMOCRATS: Well, I think Beto was being extremely courageous in the moment that demands us to be. I mean this is pretty historic. You do have the President of the United States intentionally weaponizing racism to divide and conquer America and horde greed and mass wealth for himself, and like we have to be willing to name that.
So I think you know with Barack and Biden, they're going to continue to sort of maybe not explicitly name names and I think that's fair but at the same time it's not just about unity, it's also about you know, painting a vision for the future and like bringing people together around a positive vision. And I think Beto and Biden are about trying to balance both those things.
ALFONZO AGUILAR, PRESIDENT, LATINO PARTNERSHIP FOR CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLES: Look I think Biden was -- his comments were the comments of a statesman. And I think it's happening on the Republican side, it's happening the Democratic side or both are using language that just promotes confrontation.
Yes, I've been critical of the president but we've heard also Democrats make some very troubling comments that are divisive. I mean when President Obama was a candidate and talked about Republicans holding on through the bibles, that was offensive to Christians.
Recently Kamala Harris on a nomination hearing of a Catholic judicial nominee denouncing for being a member of the Knights of Columbus. That's pretty radical.
ROJAS: I guess the difference is right now there's 22 people that are -- that are dead from gun violence and this is recurring. We were just talking in the break.
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: At the same time our president laugh --
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Our president laugh when people in this audience suggested that they shoot Mexicans. That's the problem.
AGUILAR: No, I agree.
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: This wasn't -- this wasn't years ago.
AGUILAR: But it'd be very wrong to say it's only Donald Trump. And it seems that --
ROJAS: No, I agree that Trump is --
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: I think it's very wrong to not acknowledge that it is Donald Trump.
AGUILAR: But I'm acknowledging that --
ROJAS: Trump is a symptom of many problems but his rhetoric has directly led to the deaths of these people. And I think not just Donald Trump, you're right, it's career politicians in Washington D.C.
RAWLINGS-BLAKE: It's the NRA as well.
ROJAS: It's the NRA, it's multibillion-dollar lobbying operations that are literally paying to halt progress on this --
AGUILAR: The left and right.
TAPPER: You just said that the rhetoric led -- directly led to the deaths. You think -- I mean that's an opinion. You believe that Donald Trump's rhetoric directly led to these --
ROJAS: From the -- every single time he's been on the campaign trail, even before he wanted to office, he says Mexicans are rapists. This is a president that has been accused of you know, obstructing justice, has been accused of rape before becoming president and now.
There are a number of different things that this president has done and especially you know, racial rhetoric is --
TAPPER: I am interested in what you think, Bill. How much responsibility do you think President Trump has for the climate in which there are these horrific acts of violence? And we should note the major acts of violence that have happened when -- with all the talk of both sides and everything, the horrific acts of violence have been from the far right-wing, the tree of life synagogue shooting, what happened in El Paso.
BILL KRISTON, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Look, he's president. I think a recklessly demagogic, and divisive, and at times hate the inducing president -- figure who's president is different from random governors, and congressmen, and people pundits saying irresponsible things.
There's a climate out there. There are million institutional problems and other cultural problems. Yes, I think Trump has a distinctive responsibility for what's happening.
TAPPER: I think we could all agree it all needs to be -- the temperature needs to be brought down. Thanks one and all. I appreciate it. Next, we're going to remember some of the victims of this weekend's tragedy. Stay with us, please.
TAPPER: Today we're learning more about the 31 men, and women, parents, and children killed in two horrific mass shootings over the weekend. Here are just a few of their stories. 24-year-old Jordan Anchondo and her husband Andre, they were killed in the El Paso shooting.
According to their family, Jordan died shielding her two-month-old son Paul from the gunfire. Jordan and Andre also leave behind a five- year-old and a two-year-old. There's a verified GoFundMe pin to the top of my twitter feed if you want to help their family.
Also killed in El Paso is 60-year-old Arturo Benavides. His niece Luna tells CNN that he was a veteran and a bus driver. He loved to tell stories about his time in the army. Then there is 25-year-old Nicholas Cumer. He was killed in Dayton. Nicholas was one week away from finishing up an internship at a non-profit for cancer patients. He was about to graduate with his master's degree.
27 other innocent lives were lost in these two tragedies. Our hearts are with their families and their friends today in the cities of Dayton and El Paso. May their memories be a blessing. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. I'll see you tomorrow.