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Trump Focuses on Battling Mental Illness; Cooperation of El Paso Suspect; Update on Dayton Mass Shooting; Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is Interviewed about the Two Mass Shootings. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired August 5, 2019 - 12:00   ET


[12:00:00] SHANNON WATTS, FOUNDER, MOMS DEMAND ACTION: We need them at a federal level.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And even today, in the darkest of dark times you still find optimism.

WATTS: This is going to change. Is going to take a couple of election cycles, But I promise you, if every American uses their voice and their votes, this will end.

BOLDUAN: Thank you for being here. I really appreciate your perspective on this, especially on a day like today.

WATTS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

All right, so when something happens like this, so horrific, it is understandable to feel helpless. I mean it all the time when I say it, I feel helpless. That's -- I talked to Shannon about her optimism and where she finds it because I feel helpless as well. But if you are looking for ways to help, CNN has been pulling together resources on groups that are on the ground trying to help the families and the victims. You can go to for more information on that.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BOLDUAN: Hello, everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan in New York. We are following -- continuing to follow two uniquely American tragedies today. Two mass shootings that have claimed at least 30 lives inside 13 hours.

This morning, the president denouncing white supremacist hate in a way that we have not heard him do before. He called it an evil contagion.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Victor Blackwell in El Paso, Texas, where one of those gunman terrorized the people at a Walmart. Denial and desperation felt across this city today. Denial at what happened -- actually happened and families are reckoning this morning with the sudden voids in their lives. The desperation for a solution to stop this gun violence. We will be keeping you updated throughout the afternoon.

BOLDUAN: But let's begin -- Victor, we'll get right back to you. thank you so much.

But let's begin this hour with a man the nation normally looks to and the person the nation normally looks to in times of crisis, the president of the United States. President Trump finally addressing the nation following a weekend marked by murder. Thirty souls gone between El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In one voice our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart and devours the soul. We have asked the FBI to identify all further resources they need to investigate and disrupt hate crimes and domestic terrorism. Whatever they need.


BOLDUAN: That denunciation does answer one question going in, would the president condemn and speak out against white supremacy. The El Paso shooter, minutes before starting his rampage, posted a four-page document online. And the language, it is unabashedly white supremacist. It also, as you can just see from some of the language, mirrors some of what the president's words that he uses in some of his statements, like calling Hispanic migrants an invasion.

The president's words this morning do what he has all too often failed to do, call out the evil by name. The president also labeled the El Paso shooter a domestic terrorism. And if you were looking for bold action, taking a bold stance on guns, the president did not offer that up today. The weapons, the president suggests, aren't the real problem.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Pamela Brown, she's joining me now from the White House once again.

Pamela, what are you hearing from there now?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, noticeably absent from the president's statement this morning here at the White House was any mention of more background checks. I'm told some administration officials didn't want President Trump to tweet this morning linking immigration reform to background checks after the shooting in Texas that targeted immigrants. And mere hours after that tweet, the president made no mention of background checks at all. It's something he has supported in the past but then backed away after pressure from the NRA. Just this year, the White House said it would veto a House bill authorizing more background checks for firearm purchases.

And we should note, officials say both shooters in Ohio and Texas legally purchased their firearms used in the shootings.

But today, Kate, the president clearly wanted to keep the focus on mental health, not gun reform. He used the words "evil" and "hate" as the reasons for the back-to-back shootings, and stayed away from linking them to gun violence. He condemned white supremacy and racism, putting the blame on social media and violent video games, and he made no acknowledgement of his own rhetoric and whether it's fanning the flames.


BOLDUAN: Pamela, thank you so much.

Much more to come we'll see from the White House.

But right now let's get back to Victor Blackwell in El Paso for us.


BLACKWELL: Well, Kate, thank you.

Sad news. This update now. We've learned that from this weekend's mass shooting here in El Paso, the number of those killed has increased to 21. The police department tweeted just a minute -- a few minutes ago that a victim passed early this morning at the hospital. It's been now 48 hours since a white supremacist started shooting at shoppers at the Walmart here.

[12:05:04] Authorities still have not identified all of the people who were killed. We do know, of course, that the gunman is in custody.

Let's bring in now CNN's Rosa Flores, who has been following the latest on this investigation.

And, first, what do we know about the degree of cooperation between this suspect and police?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, we -- from what we understand, he's cooperating with authorities. Of course he is sitting in a jail cell right now facing capital murder charges. And he's going to be there without bond. He was not provided bond.

Now, those charges could grow because the U.S. attorney's office of the western district of Texas is treating this like domestic terrorism and says that they're working with federal authorities to possibly include hate crime and also firearm charges. And those carry the death penalty.

And one key factor, Victor, is that we have all heard about this manifesto and now authorities say that there is a possible link between that manifesto, those four pages of racist rants, and this suspect. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHIEF GREG ALLEN, EL PASO, TEXAS, POLICE: From the manifesto that we first saw, we have to attribute that manifesto directly to him based on that information in that manifesto. That's where that came from. And so we're going down that road that's beginning to look more solidly like that is the case.


FLORES: Now, in that manifesto, CNN has learned that he speaks, the suspect, speaks very ill about immigrants, very ill about the Hispanic community, blaming immigrants for taking American jobs.

Now, here's the irony, Victor, because when you look at the LinkedIn profile of the suspect, he says that he really has no will to do anything more and, in essence --

BLACKWELL: No motivation.

FLORES: No motivation to look for a job.


FLORES: And from court documents that we just received actually, it shows that he was not holding a job. So some of that irony -- irony there. But we can't ignore the scene that is right behind us and --

BLACKWELL: Yes. And you were at the reunification center where people are wondering, when can they get their cars from this site.

FLORES: And -- and what I've been hearing from people at the reunification center is that they've been told that it's unclear when they will be able to retrieve their cars because this is still a crime scene.

And we can see the perimeter.


FLORES: And that's why we're standing where we are, Victor, because you can see the DPS vehicles behind us and we see every now and then officers that are walking in and out of that Walmart.

BLACKWELL: It certainly is a massive crime scene. And you can understand, I mean you've been inside a Walmart supercenter, you know how large they are, that they have to process all of the evidence there and in the parking lot as well.

Rosa Flores, thank you so much for the latest on the investigation.

Kate, of course, we will talk about the victims here. Now at 21 who were killed. More than two dozen injured. That's coming up this morning as well.

Let's turn back to you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much, Victor, really appreciate it. Let's turn now to the mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, where nine people

were killed there. Police are saying -- they said in the press conference this morning, it is still too soon to speculate on the shooter's motive there.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is in Dayton just steps away from where the massacre happened.

Hi there, Polo.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, good afternoon to you.

That shooting happened right there, right behind me, where it really has become a makeshift memorial, very similar to what we've seen across the country during previous shootings. Police officers, investigators here in the last few moments releasing an update now saying they now have a clearer picture of what at least happened that day.

It was a very chaotic scene right behind me here where at least -- we now know, at least 14 people were wounded and are still recovering. That's a new number here that was released. It was obviously very chaotic initially and they believe that there was at least 27 people or so who were injured. But now, after speaking to folks at hospitals, now police saying that 14 people were shot and survived. But then, of course, there are those nine dead. And it gives us a better understanding of just how much firepower that this individual, this sick individual had available to him.

We heard a little while ago the police chief really driving the point home. It's not just concerning for the people here, Kate, but also for the police chief.


CHIEF RICHARD BIEHL, DAYTON POLICE: I can confirm that if all the magazines that we recovered from the suspect were completely full, and we have not had a chance to examine that, we just know we have magazines with bullets in them, but if all of those were completely at full capacity, including the loose rounds found on the ground near him, as well as in a backpack that he carried, he would have had a maximum of 250 rounds in his possession at the time.


SANDOVAL: The police chief also adding that it was, in his own words, fundamentally problematic not to regulate the weaponry that was available in this kind of civilian environment.

[12:10:08] And when you look behind me, it is really the ideal civilian environment. This is an extremely popular district in downtown Dayton. It's extremely busy during the day. You can only imagine what it was like late Saturday night with many bars and the restaurants here. So, again, what you're hearing not just from the people here, they are concerned, the availability (INAUDIBLE) firepower that's available to him, but also even the police chief himself says it's just -- it was just too much.

BOLDUAN: Polo, thanks so much.

Joining me right now, because I have a lot of questions on exactly what Polo was talking about right there, is David Katz, he's a law enforcement and firearms and homeland security expert, and Jonathan Wackrow, a friend of the show, he's been here many times with me in this exact situation, a law enforcement analyst.

Guys, thank you so much for being here.



BOLDUAN: Jonathan, can we -- I just want to start where like we -- where I started the hour, which is happening all throughout the hour, which is, what has happened and the prescription that the president is now offering, as everyone is looking for an answer of, how does this happen again, how do we make it stop. You hear from the president the country needs to -- red-flag laws, stricter mental health laws. They need to take on violent video games. They need to impose the death penalty on those who commit murder deemed a hate crime. Does this add up to stopping these massacres from happening?

WACKROW: Well, what the president was doing today was just throwing things up against the wall to see what sticks and see what resonates in the news cycle.

There is a little bit of truth in what he's saying, but it needs to be done systematically. He did not pose or submit a plan to, you know, work through this systematically.

We see time and time again -- we've sat at this desk where we look backwards and we say, well, that was a red flag. We should have seen that.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Right.

WACKROW: Ohio's a great example. I mean we know that this individual had behavioral problems in the past. He had confrontation with law enforcement. He had a kill list that was known. He had a rape list that was known. These things have come out. So that's a behavioral issue that needed to be resolved a long time ago. What happened was he continued along that behavioral continuum to the point that he transcended into physical harm.

Same thing with, you know, this online rhetoric that we saw in El Paso. Again, we need to get ahead of that. So I think that hopefully is what the president was talking about. But it's -- the question comes, who's the steward of that?


WACKROW: What's the governance over that? Who's going to provide that oversight in terms of, you know, mental health care. It's -- you know, law enforcement, the community, it's a shared fate. And you've heard me say this time and time again --


WACKROW: That we all need to come together and develop a very systematic plan that has components of it.

Gun control is also part of that. The police chief was right, these weapons, the capacity should not have been in -- for civilian use. So all of this stuff has to come together. There's not one solution that will solve through this.


David, on that point, and I just want to pick up there, you're a weapons expert. I lean on you all the time asking about -- I mean I grew up around shotguns. I grew up around firepower. But I don't understand some of this stuff that I'm -- what we're looking at.

When you're talking about what we're seeing in Dayton, this magazine with a hundred round capacity and what you heard from the police chief and that he -- how he put it was, it's fundamentally problematic, but he also said that he modified the firearm to shoot -- to shoot like a rifle I think is how he said it.

Is there any reason for this to be on the street?

KATZ: It is an error to focus on magazine capacity and the weapon.

BOLDUAN: Why? Tell me.

KATZ: Because I can do the exact same amount of damage, period, with a pump shotgun. In -- in the Virginia Tech shooting was a good -- the Virginia Tech massacre was a good example. The shooter used two handguns and killed 32 people. With -- with most --

BOLDUAN: But in 30 seconds, can you -- I don't --

KATZ: I could -- yes, absolutely. Yes.

BOLDUAN: In 30 seconds you can pull that off?

KATZ: Yes.

BOLDUAN: You can kill -- you can pop out nine --

KATZ: Yes. These are -- these are -- these are semiautomatic pistols. You can get rounds off at a very, very high rate. The -- where we're lacking -- because, look, there is passionate points of view. I'm obviously on a different side than you are --


KATZ: About the gun control issue.

What we all agree on is that these people shouldn't have access to them. Where we're lacking in law enforcement is the ability to say, wait a

second, in high school this guy had a kill list. Do we think that there's no mechanism by which this person, for the rest of his life, absent some judicial review, can ever get a hold of a firearm? That's the problem. These people are always telling us, we're the ones. We are going -- we're ticking time bombs. We're going to explode.

The guy in El Paso was like that. The guy in -- the guy in the -- in Parkland. Go down the list. It's almost 100 percent consistency where they -- we know ahead of time they're going to do it but we are powerless.

BOLDUAN: OK, well then here -- that gets to the -- the raw -- let's take it in broad -- in a more broader sense.

I still don't know why you have to have that kind of a magazine on the street in Dayton, Ohio. I'm just going to say that straight up. And I -- you know I'm -- you know, I'm a hunter. You know I'm a -- I just don't understand why those -- anyway.

The president said today we need to develop tools to detect mass shooters before they strike. Does the federal government have that capacity right now?

KATZ: Absolutely they do.

Look, we have social media. We have -- we have all sorts of technology to mine -- to mine -- to see what people are saying.

[12:15:03] BOLDUAN: So the president -- so what the president says is -- is --

KATZ: Yes, it's true. What -- but here's the problem.


KATZ: Let's -- let's say -- let's say the police department and the FBI had access to the shooter's manifesto. It's -- it's not (INAUDIBLE) a manifesto. It's a -- it's the rantings of a racist monster. But that being said, even if the police look at that, what are they going to do? What charge are they going to bring? Are they going to say, well, now, you know, you're somehow going to be brought up on bad speech or racism speech charges? That's the problem. We don't -- there's no -- the criminal justice system relies on you committing a crime that can be prosecuted. These aren't crimes. We have to find some way to bridge that gap between this kind of behavior and the ultimate -- the expression of that, which is mass violence.

BOLDUAN: You also bring up an important point. You think it is -- you think that people should make sure to not call either of these people, or especially the guy in El Paso, a lone wolf.

WACKROW: No, absolutely. You know, we -- we -- they were a solo attacker, but this individual was part of a hate group. He was radicalized online. So the government does have an ability to monitor and try to find out pre-attack behavior online. But think about the amount of data that they would have to monitor on an hourly or every minute.

This is a big data problem. You know, to say, like, oh, we can -- we need to monitor social media. That has no veracity in that statement. There's no capacity to do that today. That's something that is, you know, sort of futuristic. That's going to be bringing together the technology firms to understand, hey, how do we do that?

This isn't like searching my Twitter account for key words. You're thinking about a massive big data and analytics problem that needs to be addressed. I think that we're getting closer with AI technology that may be able to assist law enforcement but we're not there yet.

So absent of that ability and the social domain, again, I go back to, it's a comprehensive approach.

KATZ: We do -- we do have some -- we do have some ability to mine that data. I mean, for goodness sake, if I go online looking for hiking boots, the next day, all my accounts, I'm getting offers for hiking boots all over the place.

BOLDUAN: IT's it just as simple as that?

KATZ: It's the application that is applied to a specific task to find out what people are saying, where they're saying it and how virulent it is.

But, even so, even if you get to that point, the question is, now what. The person can spew the most vile, racist, hateful rhetoric, but until they say, and tomorrow I'm going to take a weapon and go do the following, their -- it's not actionable. So that's the problem. Where do we -- how do we make sure -- is there -- is there a no-gun list that we can come up with for psychotic people? Sure there is, but there's got to be some steps taken.

BOLDUAN: All right.

WACKROW: And I get what you're saying there is that there's a difference between, you know, hate speech and a hate crime. Hate speech is protected for the most part, and that's the challenge for law enforcement. You know, how do you -- how do you, as you're going out to data mine things on social media, how do you bifurcate the two? One's an action, one's words. And I think that also the challenge with social media today is the anonymous nature of it.


WACKROW: I can get on making attribution back to who's making those threats is also difficult and a challenging aspect that law enforcement is going to have to undertake.

BOLDUAN: We're talking about it from the law enforcement perspective on what to do --


BOLDUAN: And what to do with hate in general in the country. WACKROW: Right.

BOLDUAN: And, again, we have the other kind of dovetailed side of this, which is, how do you get to the root cause of hate in this country? Is it part -- a very important part of the conversation as well. Thanks, guys, I really appreciate your being here as always.

WACKROW: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us, hospital officials at Del Sol Medical Center, they are expected to be giving an update. There's a live picture in El Paso, Texas. When that update begins, when they come to speak to microphones, we will take you there to El Paso for an update at that medical center.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


[12:23:28] BOLDUAN: Welcome back, everyone.

As you see there on the screen, we're awaiting another press conference. Any moment now hospital officials at the Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso, they are expected to be giving us an update from there. And we're going to bring you that update and hopefully it will come with some good news as soon as it happens.

But, first, joining me on the phone right now is Democratic presidential candidate, the Democratic senator from New Jersey, Cory Booker.

Senator, can you hear me?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via telephone): I hear you well, thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for coming and jumping on the phone. I really appreciate it.

Speaking yesterday with Jake Tapper, you said very clearly that Donald Trump is, especially when it comes to El Paso, Donald Trump is responsible because he's stoking fear and hatred and bigotry. That was yesterday and I wonder what then you thought of what the president prescribed and what he said to the nation just a couple hours ago?

BOOKER: You know, the president, in his remarks, were weak -- was weak and he was wrong. There can be no equivocation in a time like this where we have serious crisis in the country. And for the president to imply that video games and mental illness was the reason why a white supremacist with a gun did what he did, mental illness didn't kill the people of Dayton. A man wielding a high-caliber, high-capacity rifle did. This president is not putting forth the truth of the matter.

We have, right now, a national crisis. There can be no equivocation about it. People are too easily getting their hands on guns, very serious weapons and doing serious harm. He has put forth no plan whatsoever. Even the most common-sense ideas that the majority of NRA members agree with, he's refusing to step up and take responsibility for that change.

[12:25:03] But what makes matters worse, and deepens his responsibility, is the fact that he is using the very words, "infestation," "invasion," "send her back," "send them back," that is adding and stoking and creating ground that nurtures this kind of hatred and violence.

And so this, to me, is a presidential failure. A failure to take responsibility. A failure to lead. A failure to address a nation in crisis with real solutions that will help to keep Americans safe. It's unacceptable. It is a failure of leadership.

BOLDUAN: Senator, another thing that the president said in his remarks today, I'll read it to you, he said, in one voice our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. That has been something -- hearing that from President Trump has been something that I know a lot of folks have been waiting for and looking for, not just in the past 24 hours, but for a very long time. Do you welcome that acknowledgment?

BOOKER: No. Look, you know, reconciliation, the kind of healing that we need, starts first with someone standing up and saying, I've been wrong. I've made mistakes. What I've said before has been unacceptable. So you can't speak out of one side of your mouth about the need for us to come together as a country but consistently do things that divide this nation and pit us against each other, that fuel racial bigotry and hatred.

If he wants to show that he's changed, then this is about reconciliation. Speak to how you have contributed to the hate and the division and the bigotry and the racism, how you have said things that make people with violent instincts and violent intentions all the more likely to do the kind of heinous things. This is unacceptable. There is no repentance in this. There is no contrition in this. And there is no reconciliation from this president, who owes the American people, someone who can't even condemn Nazis, who owes the American people so much more than he's giving. We are seeing a catastrophic failure in presidential leadership right now. There can be no equivocation about that whatsoever.

KEILAR: Senator, do you think after every mass shooting this question is asked, but this is a uniquely horrific situation of what has transpired in a 13-hour span. Do you think something is, quote/unquote, different this time after this mass shooting?

BOOKER: Look, we need a more courageous empathy in this country and have us, as a nation, not just witness something happening far from maybe where we live without understanding that these are horrors that can visit upon any of us at any time now anywhere.

The way we've dealt with this situation now is by having our children learning in school about reading, writing and arithmetic and having to learn now about shelter in place and how to deal with active shooter drills. That kind of capitulation is unacceptable. We have to have a more courageous empathy in this country that calls us to act and do the common-sense things for what is a uniquely American problem.

Other nations have violent video games and violent movies. Other nations have challenges with mental health and mental illness, but they do not have this kind of carnage happening in their country. We are unique in the sense that we can so easily, someone who's intending to kill their girlfriend or to shoot up a community or do horrific -- a white supremacist acts of terror, can so easily get weapons in this country. These are uniquely American problems. But I believe in us as a country that we can solve them with our American will.

But to not have a president -- to have a governor of a state in which this happened say this is not the time to talk about solutions. All of this, to me, is showing again an abject failure of leadership. And I, for one, have had enough. We do not need thoughts and prayers. My faith teach me -- teaches me that faith without works is dead and the death we're seeing right now as a result of people of good conscience and good faith not demanding from their leaders the necessary changes that must happen. And I've had enough. I'm going to call out Donald Trump and any other leader who is failing in their obligation, governance are formed first and foremost for the defense of their people and the nation, and we are seeing too many people dying at rates that have never before been seen in humanity in a nation like we're seeing here.

BOLDUAN: The question is now before the Senate. The question is before the House. But especially before the Senate right now and the president and the governors of these states especially. And we'll see what happens and where this conversation goes in these days and how this conversation doesn't fall by the wayside like we see happen time and time again.

[12:30:00] BOOKER: But I want to just end with this. That's not enough. We -- change does not come from Washington, it comes to Washington. We didn't get women's rights.