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Joe Biden Shares His Message of Hope After El Paso and Dayton Shootings; U.S. Stocks Set to Rise After China Stabilizes its Currency; Interview with State Representative Joe Moody (D-TX) on Trump's Planned Visit. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired August 6, 2019 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:00] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: The shooting now stands at 22. Two more died yesterday. They're parents, they're grandparents, they're brothers and sisters now gone. And if you think the pain has dulled it all, I spoke to a resident this morning who talked about the culture of fear and hate, and the fear it strikes in their hearts today.

This is a community reeling and it's a community that the president will now visit tomorrow, an arrival that threatens to divide a city still trying to pull itself together. El Paso's Democratic Party has sent an open letter asking the president to cancel his visit. The trip is being planned as the conversation begins over actions to take to prevent shootings like these, and yet again those conversations racked bipartisanship.

Today we'll take a closer look at those ideas and the ones that came before them. We're going to ask the question, we're going to show you evidence of which gun laws have worked, have made a difference, which haven't as well. We want to try to change the conversation, look forward.

Right now, it's a conversation that is of course taking place in Dayton, Ohio, the scene of the second mass shooting this past weekend. The president will also visit that crime scene tomorrow as people there continue to mourn the deaths of nine people.

The district where it happened reopens today and while police continue to search for a motive behind the massacre, we're learning disturbing new details about what the gunman shared online prior to the shooting.

Joining me now is CNN's Drew Griffon. He is in Dayton with more on the shooter and his online writings.

Drew, what are we learning this morning?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: And really the emerging story here, Jim, is the mental health warnings, years of them, that have been apparently missed or ignored. First to his Twitter account which is very left-leaning. He's retweeting support for groups like Antifa and violence against police. He's also supporting the more progressive you might say candidates in the Democratic Party.

This according to a Twitter account that has now been removed from Twitter that CNN has confirmed is the shooter's account. But we go back to high school where fellow students tell us that this shooter was removed from school by police because of a kill list and a rape list that he had in school at the time. He was able to come back to school and appeared normal after apparently some kind of a counseling or treatment.

But then just recently a girlfriend has come forward in saying just in recent months she was dating this shooter who she says had suicidal thoughts and fascinations with mass murder. All of this taking place while people knew this shooter had guns, was training with guns, had a fascination for guns. So, it's all pointing to the story that we've heard so many times before, Jim, that there was some sort of mental health problems in this person's head that people just kind of ignored -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes. How often is that the case where you see those red flags, prior red flags that were ignored? So as you've been looking at this, are there any police records, school records that would confirm that authorities had knowledge about his apparent mental health issues prior to this attack?

GRIFFIN: Well, from the time that he was an adult the only arrest records we could find are a couple of traffic tickets and one DUI arrest when he was a 21-year-old. But going back to high school, we know the police pulled him off a school bus in high school and arrested him. That was all based on the kill list he was obtained. We also heard he relentlessly bullied one child. A mother said that she called and went to the school and demanded something to be done because of the bullying that her son had endured.

We have asked those records from the local police department. They said they're expunged and under seal. We are now fighting with the school board to release what they know, and they are saying that that request is under a pending legal review -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Drew Griffin on the story. Thanks very much.

The president's upcoming visits to Dayton and here in El Paso are already generating controversy and some real public opposition.

My next guest, Joe Moody, he's a Democrat who represents El Paso in the Texas statehouse.

Joe, you have said, as other Democratic lawmakers here have said, that now is not the time for the president to visit. Why is that?

JOE MOODY (D), TEXAS STATE HOUSE: Our community is healing. There is a large segment of this community including myself that find the hateful rhetoric that the president has used about immigrants throughout the last several years, that we find that that's -- you know, that really makes him complicit in the violent acts that took place here, and that's hard for us to work through. And, you know, I think at a later time if he wants to come here and be repentant and talk about real tangible change, there's probably a time and place for that but it's just not right now.

[09:05:07] SCIUTTO: I spoke -- I know that your voice is not solitary. I spoke to residents today and yesterday who said the same thing. A woman this morning told me that people, in her words, are going to go nuts tomorrow because they see the divisive rhetoric coming from the top. Do you expect protests, public protests to the president's visit?

MOODY: I can't see how that that doesn't happen. What I hope, though -- I know what I want to do to represent my community and that's to show love and pride in our community. I'm not ashamed that we're a community of immigrants. That's what makes us great. And so I want the pride to show through tomorrow, you know, if he does end upcoming, you know, and I hope that other people will do the same thing.

SCIUTTO: You know, the president and others have portrayed border areas like this as sort of a frontier between two hostile countries. In my experience here what I have learned and seen is just how integrated these communities are. I met a woman today whose husband lives on the other side of the border. I met a man yesterday who married on this side of the border and they're going back frequently there, relatives on both sides. They do business on both sides. That's the nature of this community, is it not? Not one that wants a giant wall, for instance, between the two of them.

MOODY: That's who we are. In fact, days before this happened you saw an artist went out to one of the border walls and put a seesaw.


MOODY: Between them so that you could see how interconnected these communities are. It's just -- you know, it's heartbreaking when someone calls this a war zone or uses words like infestation or invasion.

SCIUTTO: Invasion.

MOODY: That's harmful. It's hurtful and it's hateful. And it leads to things like we saw in El Paso and I just hope that people understand that words matter and make a difference. And hopefully we can think about that going forward.

SCIUTTO: Let's talk about making a difference because Americans watching today, they've seen so many shootings like this. I've covered so many shootings like this. After each one we all ask the question, will this one be different, will change come? And based on the comments from the president, based on comments from GOP lawmakers I've spoken to, measures that have broad support even among Republicans, universal background checks, banning high capacity magazines, they appear to be dead in the water.

As someone who's part of a community who just suffered a bloody crime here in the Walmart, what's your reaction to that? MOODY: I hope that -- in Texas we've faced it several times. In

Dallas we saw a shooter gun down police. In Sutherland Springs, in a church, in Santa Fe, in a school.


MOODY: Each time we've taken small steps forward to address those singular incidents. We need to start thinking about this in a broader way. You know, I have carried the extremist protective border law in Texas. You can't even get it heard in committee. You know, that -- that's a shame. And hopefully what this will do is open up the conversation so that -- you know, these things aren't happening in a vacuum, they're singular incidents. This is a pervasive problem that we have to address.

SCIUTTO: Just look at the weapons that are out.

Joe Moody, listen, we wish you the best. We're rooting for your community here. We see how it's reeling and please let us know how we can help.

MOODY: Thank you. Appreciate it.

SCIUTTO: Appreciate your time today.

Well, caught up in this debate about how to stop gun violence are more than two dozen families now mourning the loss of their loved ones. This is personal for them. They're going to be suffering through this for years.

Jordan Anchondo and her husband Andre, they're among the 22 people who were murdered here in El Paso. They were inside the Walmart with their 2-month-old baby son doing what many parents do this time of year, buying supplies for the school year. It's a time of hope, a new beginning. As the gunfire erupted Jordan shielded her baby with her body. Andre jumped in front of his wife.


MISTI JAMROWSKI, MOTHER OF JORDAN ANCHONDO: We pray a lot, and we have a lot of family and friends. The church is broken. Our lives are broken. You go to call her and you forget that she's not there, and you just keep on going because there's kids that need us.


SCIUTTO: In that one family there are now three orphans. In addition to the 2-month-old baby boy the Anchondos leave behind a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old as well. One family suffering -- one among many families.

Still to come Joe Biden speaking to Anderson Cooper in the wake of these shootings. His reaction to the violence, his emotional personal response as well.

And how should this country address the growing issue of domestic terrorism.

[09:10:01] Is law enforcement equipped to handle the threat? We will discuss coming up.

We are also keeping a close eye on the markets today as the trade war between the U.S. and China heats up. The Trump administration labeling China a currency manipulator. That news sent the markets plunging. More falls expected today. Stay with us.


SCIUTTO: Welcome back here to El Paso. Dozens of families now face a future that two gunmen shattered over the weekend with these horrible crimes. Imagine their situation. It's a sudden loss that most of us hope never to experience. But too many American families have now. And truly, only those who have gone through that loss can understand what it means, what it feels like, the costs emotional and otherwise.

Joe Biden is one of those people. He lost his first wife and daughter in a car accident nearly 50 years ago. Later he lost his son to cancer just three years ago.

[09:15:00] Listen now to what he said about dealing with that pain and how it makes him understand the pain these communities are going through.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: You've experienced losses that no parent should ever experience, growing in El Paso from here will likely be talking to family members whose child or sister or brother or mother or father has been killed. As someone who has been through that and lived through that and lived with that every day, what would you -- what do you say to the people who are grieving right now?

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You understand it, you lost your brother, you understand. It's -- it really -- it really takes a part of your soul. I mean, it is -- and what I tell people is that it's going to take a long time. But the person you lost is still with you, still part of you.

And that I -- when it happened to me, when I got a phone call when I was in Washington after I was elected before I got sworn in, that my -- poor, they put a first responder on the phone -- God love her and said you've got to come home, there's been an accident, what happened to Chuck, they said -- I said they're dead, your wife and daughter are dead and your son's -- and I remember thinking to myself, my God, what I mean -- I didn't -- I just remember being so angry, angry at everything.

And I shouldn't say, but angry with God, just angry. And I remember -- and people would come up to me and say -- meaning well, after I understand. And you feel like saying, you have no idea, you have no idea, you know they mean well. But the people who in fact have been through it, you know they understand, and it gives you solace that they made it. They just -- you just want to know, can I make it through? And I had

an older gentleman, 35 years my senior, a former elected official in the state of New Jersey called me, former governor and he said, I understand, and I almost said don't, and he said, you know, I was walking home from lunch, I was the Attorney General and my wife came -- a woman who helped us once came running across the mall, saying, she's dead, she's dead, your wife just died.

And I said -- and I realized he did know. And he said you know what I did? And my advice helped me any way. Is two things, one, he said get a piece of graph paper and mark every single day how you felt from 1 to 10 that day. Because you know when you lost your brother, when a thought would come to you after a while, you'd be down and just as down as the moment it happened.

And he said, don't look at it for six months. Mark it on the graph paper, 1 to 10. The downs would be just as far down, but you know, you're going to make it when they get further and further and further and further apart, still get down.

COOPER: It never goes away.

BIDEN: But it never goes away, but that's when you know you can make it. That's when you know you can embrace the family members that are left. That's when you know that you can make a contribution. Just like when I lost my son, Beau, I remember him saying to me -- you know, I wrote a book about it, unfortunately.

It was hard and I thought it was going to be able -- I wanted people to know what he was like.

COOPER: Yes --

BIDEN: And he looked at me when he -- we'd go home on Fridays to have dinner with him, he lived about a mile from us, and he asked his wife to take the kids upstairs, and my wife had gone home to change, before she came back, we got right off the train and he said, dad, look at me, dad, he said, I'm going to be OK no matter what happens.

He knew he only had months to go, and he said but promise me, dad, promise me you'll be OK. And I said Beau, I'll be a OK. And I know people make fun of them, we have a thing in our family, he said, dad, promise me, he said Biden, give me your word as a Biden you'll be OK because that's a sacred thing we do.

And I said, I will, Beau, but I knew what he meant. He meant dad, don't do what you want to do, you want to turn inward, you want to just wall yourself off, you don't want to be part of it all. He just wanted me to make sure that the things that I had made in my life, my whole life, I didn't walk away from.

He knew I'd take care of the kids. He knew I would be there for the family, but it's the thing -- the other thing I would strongly urge people and they can't do it now, they just can't even think through the fog right now. But eventually, what will take you through is purpose. [09:20:00] Find a purpose, something that matters particularly if

there's something connected to the loss you just had. And so, I'm being too personal -- I get up in the morning and I think to myself every morning, is he proud of me? Am I doing what he wants?

And I'm sure that it's the same way with you and a whole lot of other people. And -- but at the moment, there will come a time when you think of the person you lost, and it takes a long while, where you get a smile before you get a tear. And that's when you know you're going to make it.

And so many people have gone through what I've been through without the help I had. Think of all the heroes out there walking those streets today, they get up every single morning and they put one foot in front of the other and they move, they move.

COOPER: My mom used to say the same, it's from a Scottish philosopher and the saying is, "be kind because everybody you meet is fighting a great battle."

BIDEN: Exactly right --

COOPER: I think that's a very important thing.

BIDEN: You know, and you know, Kirk Ricardo(ph) also said, "things cease best in the dark", but sometimes it's really dark, but there is hope. And think about what it means for those family members you have left, they need you. They need you.

And look, folks, that's why I think that it matters the stories of these people. For the public to understand that this is not just a statistic, this is -- this is -- this is who we are, who they are. I mean, it's a -- and it really is about, you know, sort of reweaving that social fabric that holds a society together, honesty, decency, hope, leaving nobody behind, giving hate no safe harbor.

We don't always -- that's who we are, that's who we are, and it's the thing that holds us together. And I don't see much of it coming from the far right and the "Breitbarts" of the world and this administration. It's the uniqueness of America.

COOPER: Mr. Vice President, thank you very much.

BIDEN: Sorry, I didn't mean to get so personal.


BIDEN: I mean, it's a --

COOPER: I appreciate it.

BIDEN: Well --

COOPER: It helps --

BIDEN: Well, you know, I mean, it's just amazing how it's -- and everybody knows who Donald Trump is. We've got to let them know who we are. Even his supporters know who he is. They know losers about the basic fundamental character traits. I mean, it's -- and I think -- thinks sometimes he thinks that when we talk about this thing, that we talk about other people like we're being suckers, you know, like, you know, take care of yourself.

COOPER: Yes --

BIDEN: I mean, I don't know. I don't -- maybe we have to let them know that, you know, we choose hope or fear, you know. You know, you don't -- maybe most importantly truth over lies. It's -- but we've got to make sure that not because I'm running, we've got to make sure that the American people understand whoever you're trying to lead, that you mean what you say or some authenticity to it, and it matters, and you know as well as I do, it really matters.


SCIUTTO: The former vice president there striking a hopeful note. And I'll tell you, even here amidst the pain in El Paso, I've heard similar hope here. A woman told me this morning, it will get better. It's remarkable to hear that even just days after the suffering that they've seen here in El Paso.

So, let's get bigger picture for a moment. Domestic terrorism, the numbers show across the board, it is on the rise, often driven by white supremacy. Who is to blame? We're going to be digging deeper this morning and talk about solutions, what will make a difference?

And we are moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street. Stocks there should open higher, this after China's Central Bank says that it wants to strengthen its currency against the United States. It comes just hours after the Trump administration decided to call China currency a manipulator.

This has economic consequences. We're following all the news.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And welcome back, I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. We're going to get back to Jim in El Paso in just a moment. But first, stocks bouncing back after the worst day of trading in 2019. This morning, China stabilizing its currency just hours after the U.S. called the nation a currency manipulator. CNN's Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange with the very latest on the trade war tensions, Alison.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And there you have it, the opening bell, get ready for stocks.