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DOJ Considers Pushing For New Law To Make Mass Shootings A Capital Offense; Dow Tanks Over Growing Concerns Of U.S.-China Trade War; 2020 Democratic Candidates: Trump The One Encouraging Culture Of Hate In U.S. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 5, 2019 - 14:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:30:00] EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke, there's a lot of pressure for the administration to do something. Obviously, there's a lot of outcry not only from Democrats who want to tackle gun legislation but also from Republicans who are trying to figure out other ways to tackle the situation.

One of the ideas that's being studied at the Justice Department is to specifically make mass shooting a capital crime under federal law.

The irony of the situation is that if these shooters in El Paso or in Dayton had used explosives to kill the same number of people, there would be the use of weapons of mass destruction as a way for the federal prosecutors to go after them. In the case of the El Paso shooter, he is still alive.

But, obviously, this is a federal law situation. The federal law often plays second fiddle to the state because the states have homicide statutes they can use to bring charges against these shooters.

So, again, these are ideas being discussed at the Justice Department. There's also this red flag law idea that the president -- that Senator Lindsey Graham has brought up.

All these ideas are being discussed over the weekend as Bill Barr, the attorney general, was working with people at the Justice Department, the FBI, and talking to the president about how to tackle this, as you said, this epidemic of mass shootings in this country.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Evan Perez, thank you very much.

As you say, you know, really it's a lot of the states making these decisions, but if it was an explosive device, we would have a different conversation in this country.

Evan, thank you very much.

Chris, to you in Texas.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST; All right, Brooke, thank you very much.

I want to bring in an expert for us on the FBI.

But I want to tee this up for you before I bring you in, Josh.

The idea of making this death penalty eligible sounds strong, OK? However, that assumes it would be a deterrent in these situations.

What happens with most mass shooters? It's like suicide by cop, right? You have to think about that.

What do we know about hate crimes? They are on the way up, especially in this administration. In 2017, the numbers right here, you had 13. And 2018, had you 17. Now in 2019, just this one event at Walmart blows that record away.

Right-wing extremism, white nationalists have been number one and number two. The difference between them and extreme Islamism, is they are here. They are us. They're killing us from inside. OK?

Now, Josh Campbell, it's good to have you here. You worked on the FBI side.

First, is my confusion justified? I get the death penalty part. That's strong. How do you punish it? Is that a deterrent?

And why not deal with the obvious, which is this guy is a terrorist from motivating through violence a political end. These white nationalists are terrorists when they act in furtherance of their agenda. Are they not?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No, you're right. There are two things here. First, I think what we're seeing with this new death penalty reporting is it's essentially a little window dressing.

Think about it. The shooter in California, the shooter in Dayton, Ohio, they were killed in the act of conducting a mass attack. The death penalty would not have deterred them from going to act because they died in the shooting. This person talked about possibly dying in the act as well.

So this may seem like they're doing something and it may be appealing to those who look at the president and say, well, he's acting tough, he wants to kill these people, but that doesn't deter them.

To your point, you were talking about the terrorism angle. I worked a lot of cases inside the FBI where you had these Islamic extremists associated with al Qaeda and ISIS. Being associated with these groups was a federal crime. That was enough to get you sent behind bars to jail.

CUOMO: Just association. Because the idea is you can't punish thoughts. What is the line when it comes to terror?

CAMPBELL: The material support to terrorism, that's often a charge we would go after. It's being a part of that group. The FBI can open an investigation. That's the predication.

That's not the same here. It is not against the law to be associated with a white supremacist. It's not against the law to provide material support to a white supremacist. That is the issue.

There's this divide between what the president was saying today about wanting to get tough and the reality of what law enforcement is faced with. The one thing missing was a directive to the Department of Justice, to Republicans and Democrats in Congress to work on legislation that would make domestic terrorism a federal crime. Until then, this is just window dressing.

CUOMO: And include these guys as terrorists.

So let's think here in real time. What would the resistance be? Why isn't he attacking white nationalism and all radical extremism in this country the way he does ISIS?

He'll talk about how Islam hates us all day long. He'll talk about ISIS is pernicious and has to be rooted out and we have to have the resources, find where they talk, find where they meet, find who motivates them and take them all on. Not here.

CAMPBELL: This is largely due to the political issue. Look at the last rally where you had people chanting "send them back." I think there's a "there" there that we know about as far as what type of population this appeals to.

The problem is, when you talk about white supremacists and the president trying to get tough, again, there's no meat on the bone as far as doing about what he's saying. It's a bunch of lip service.

[14:35:02] The white supremacists we know will continue. And we know it's festering online. We know these people continue to talk to each other. We're not seeing the White House administration step up and say it's a problem we need to combat.

Until then, again, you have a population out there, by the way, to include the FBI Agents Association, this group that represents the FBI, some 13,000 agents, who are begging for new tools, begging for legislation to make domestic terrorism a federal crime.

They want to do the job. They want to protect the country. We hear from them all the time. But there's still the roadblock.

One thing that critics of this law will say, is that who is going to police free speech, right? If this falls under white supremacy --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Yes. That's the issue of --

(CROSSTALK)

CAMPBELL: It's a legitimate issue. But again, when you have white supremacists, this guy behind us at this crime scene, who came here and killed people, and we know he is a white supremacist, there's more you can do to stop that in advance. And you have to have those laws to do it.

CUOMO: Josh, thank you very much.

Let's expand this a little bit to the theoretical of what's going on within this world of extremism.

We have Brian Levin, an author of a report on extremism, and we'll tap his mind right now.

Brian, you have me?

BRIAN LEVIN, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF HATE & EXTREMISM, CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, SAN BERNARDINO: Yes, thank you. Let me just say co-author, because there's a wonderful team, including Lisa Nakashima, who did a beautiful job on this report.

CUOMO: Great. It's good to have more people involved.

Brian, here's the point. Do you believe there's any question whether white nationalists like this murderer here should qualify as terrorist organizations?

LEVIN: Well, terrorist organization? I don't think he was in a terrorist organization.

CUOMO: Yes, not white nationalism as a thing, but when you find individual groups that are motivating violence to the point of purpose of a political agenda?

LEVIN: Oh, absolutely. Look, and we call balls and strikes. I have no dog in this fight. When I testified before Congress in 2015, right before terror struck our community, I said violence and jihadists are the most ascendant threat.

However, what we're seeing now is there's been a switch and we're seeing now white supremacists be the number-one most ascendant threat going on here in the United States. That's a terrible thing.

And there has to be a directive from the top down. We have to have bureaucratic change. We have to have legislative change. And we have to have training and coordination. We need to have all these things.

And under other administrations, we had a much more vigorous -- we had a much more vigorous working group setup in every federal U.S. attorney's district.

Bottom line is, when I testified in 2015, it was a complete shift. Violent jihadists represented the biggest threat. And a lot of what they were doing to radicalize were people on the Internet. And President Obama, in some instances, was rightly accused of playing a little catch-up.

But now, we have to recognized that the most prominent in a rising -- in a rising pool of extremists are white supremacists. This is a national security issue beyond a political one.

CUOMO: So, Brian, the idea of what we're hearing that's percolating inside the DOJ to make all mass shootings capital crimes, is that the right way to go and, if so, is it enough?

LEVIN: Look, these guys will probably be put to death anyway.

That being said, I do think it's a good idea, because when President Kennedy was shot, for instance, killing a president was not a federal offense.

And guess what we're also seeing? And this is a terrible thing. This is going to get out of hand bad if we don't do something soon, like now. And here's what I mean. We're not only seeing an increase in these white supremacist attacks. We're seeing the fifth consecutive annual increase in hate crimes in America's largest cities. And 47 percent of those cities, including Los Angeles, where I am now, are at decades high.

And what else are we seeing? We're starting to see things getting more violent. Indeed, these kinds of weapons we saw in El Paso are the number-one choice of these kinds of offenders.

And just bear with me for one second. We were seeing a decrease in extremist homicides in the last few years and there was an increase in white supremacists. Now the white supremacists alone in 2019 -- listen to this -- alone, in 2019, white supremacists have killed more than all the extremists in all of last year.

So we need some training. We need some coordination. And we need more than the death penalty.

But one other thing that I think is important -- and I want to give the president a little bit of credit here. I think he hit a single. And what I mean is it was about time that we mentioned white supremacy and domestic terrorism in the same breath and he's got to lead in that bully pulpit.

What we found, when divisive statements are made by leaders, it correlates to fluctuations in hate crime.

President Bush spoke six days after 9/11 about tolerance with respect to Muslims. Hate crimes dropped by two-thirds the next day and two- thirds the next year.

[14:40:00] San Bernardino terrorist attack affected our community while President Trump was a candidate. Hate crimes spiked over 300 percent from that terrorist attack when he did his Muslim ban proposal, which was aired nationally. Hate crimes went up another 23 percent to over 400 percent more than the daily average for the first 11 months. And December 2015 was the worst month for anti-Muslim hate crimes going back to the first anniversary of 9/11.

Moreover, Charlottesville, the month he said good people on both side, what did we see? We saw Charlottesville, August 2017 tied as the worst month --

CUOMO: Right.

LEVIN: -- for a hate crime in this decade. CUOMO: Well, we know the threat. The question is, how will we

respond.

Brian Levin, thank you very much to you and your team that put together the report. Unfortunately, I'll be leaning on you a lot, it seems, in the not too distant future to get our hands around the situation and deal with the threat as one.

Thank you very much.

LEVIN: Thank you.

CUOMO: We're following what's happening here, what's happening in Dayton. There's other breaking news as well.

The Dow has tanked today, down more than 858 points right now. Why? Well, they're afraid. That's what traders do, right? They trade on information. Fear is going to tank the market. Trade war being escalated with China is what they were worried about. How real is their concern, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:45:56] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We'll get you back to the story, the reason why I'm here in Dayton, Ohio. But we need to talk economy. The Dow is down over growing concerns about the U.S. trade war with China. Taking a peek, wow, down nearly a thousand points ahead of the closing bell in about an hour and 15 minutes.

CNN Business Correspondent, Alison Kosik, is on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Alison, what is behind this drop?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, we've got about an hour and a quarter to go before the closing bell but I tell you what it's turning out to be an ugly day with those loses accelerating. The Dow down 870 points.

If you had any doubt that the U.S. and China are in the middle of a trade war, I would say doubt no more.

The latest salvo coming from China retaliating against the U.S.by devaluing its currency, the Yuan. And there's a lot of worry there could be a global currency war next.

While China isn't saying this move was deliberate, it is sparking speculation this is intentional to fight back in the trade war after President Trump announced a fresh 10 percent tariff on China last week, set to take effect on September 1st on the remaining $300 billion of Chinese goods. So that move, by the way, was against the advice from many White House advisers. So a weaker yuan will wind up making Chinese goods cheaper, more

competitive to trade with other countries. And a weaker currency essentially helps Chinese manufacturers offset the costs of these higher tariffs in this trade war.

So the sell-off you see happening is because of concern that an already protracted trade battle is getting even longer, especially when the expectation was we would see a solution to this.

Now, Brooke, it looks like we won't see a solution, not at the end of summer like Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin promised. And we may not see a solution to the trade way this year. That could directly impact corporate America -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Rough for all the business, small and large. Watching the market so carefully and, of course, Trump's every move and threat with China.

Alison, thank you very much.

Still ahead, the gunman in El Paso was one of three shooting suspects this year who posted hate-filled rants to the Web site, 8chan. The founder of the site is now calling for it to be taken down. We'll do a deep dive on how these online hate sites really create and foster a vicious cycle of violence.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:52:47] BALDWIN: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin. And this is special live coverage in Dayton, Ohio.

On the political front, Democrats are calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to get lawmakers to come back from vacation, to call members of Congress back from their summer recess to vote on a background check bill that already passed in the House several months ago.

President Trump did not back any gun control measures in his speech to the nation today. In fact, he mentioned the word "gun" one time.

The 2020 presidential candidates say he is actually the one encouraging a culture of hate in this country. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETO O'ROURKE, (D), FORMER CONGRESSMAN & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's pretty obvious to me and anyone who's listened to the president and will look at the facts that his anti-immigrant rhetoric, not just the things that I cited, but calling asylum seekers animals or an infestation.

Now, you might describe a cockroach or termites as an infestation, something less than human. You might hear someone in the Third Reich describe a given people, based on their characteristics, as an infestation or subhuman. But that's what the president of the United States is doing right now. PETER BUTTIGIEG, (D), SOUTH BEND MAYOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We

have a president who made his career politically on demonizing Mexicans. And now we're seeing reports that the shooter yesterday had his goal as killing as many Mexicans as possible. You don't have to use a lot of imagination to connect the dots here.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): All of the evidence out there suggests that we have a president who is a racist, who is a xenophobe, who appeals and is trying to appeal to white nationalism.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): We have a president of the United States who uses the microphone, which is probably one of the most powerful tools in the hands of the president of the United States, and uses that microphone in a way that is about sowing hate and division in our country.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): He's not only egging on white supremacy and white nationalism but is one himself.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): I believe that the president is fostering, fostering hate in this country.

JULIAN CASTRO, (D), FORMER HOUSING SECRETARY & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The manifesto that apparently this shooter wrote that says that Hispanics are taking over the state of Texas and changing the country, this echoes the kind of language that our president encourages.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Donald Trump is responsible for this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:55:12] BALDWIN: And this morning, when the president of the United States mistakenly sent his prayers for the people of Toledo -- we're actually in Dayton, Ohio -- Ohio Congressman and 2020 candidate, Tim Ryan, simply tweeted out, "F me." He joins us live in a couple of minutes to talk about what can be done to stop the gun violence epidemic. Do not miss this. The Congressman is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:00:03] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: You are watching special coverage here. I'm Brooke Baldwin, live in Dayton, Ohio, where, this weekend, people here experienced something that has become all too common in this country, a mass shooting.