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Stocks Rise after China Stabilizes its Currency; Debate on Combating White Supremacy; Remembering Author Toni Morrison; Trump to Visit El Paso and Dayton. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired August 6, 2019 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Currency manipulator.

CNN's Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange with the very latest on the trade war tensions.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And there you have it, the opening bell. Get ready for stocks to rebound after having their worst day of 2019. Investors are getting some relief after China's Central Bank indicated that it wants its currency, the yuan, to trade higher against the dollar. That it doesn't want to see the yuan continue to call.

But this follows after China allowed its currency to depreciate yesterday in the middle of rising trade tensions. That sent stocks into a tailspin. We saw the Dow drop 900 points or more. It was a jaw- dropper.

Well, now, stocks are really trying to find their footing and find some stability despite the fact that there's really no end in sight for the trade war. The thing, the escalation that caused that sell-off yesterday. Goldman Sachs, we learned, has told its clients that it expects the trade war to last all the way until the presidential election next year, 2020.


BROWN: Alison, thank you for bringing us the latest there.

I want to go back to Jim on the ground in El Paso, Texas.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Pamela, thanks so much.

Well, the bloodshed here in El Paso, yet another sickening reminder of the worst of America, domestic terrorism at the hands of white supremacists. The biggest questions today, who is to blame for this? What can be done to stop it?

With me now a Wajahat Ali, he's a CNN contributor, and Brian Levin, he is director of the Center for the study of hate and extremism. Brian and Wajahat, it's good to have you on this morning.

And, Brian, I want to begin with you.

The statistics are clear here, whether from the Department of Justice, the Anti-Defamation League or others, this kind of violence is on the rise. Let's just shows some statistics here from the ADL. Acts of domestic terrorism increasing. The vast majority of those acts of domestic terrorism driven by white supremacists, 39 out of 50 of those murders in 2018. Right wing extremists killed more people in 2018 than in any year since 1995.

You study this kind of violence. Why is this on the rise?

BRIAN LEVIN, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF HATE AND EXTREMISM: Great question. And just let me tell you, it is on the rise. We have brand new data even newer than that. And if anyone wants it, Prof (ph) 11, you can find it.

Listen to this, Jim, I think one of the reasons is we're politically polarizing and we're entrenched in that polarization. But also, hate crimes are going up. We just had a study, it's just out, even newer than all that data you just posted. Listen to this, of the 30 major American cities, hate crimes have risen now for five consecutive years into 2018 and we're seeing an increase into 2019.

What else? White supremacist killings, listen to this, only three in 2016, went up to 13 the next year, 17 in 2018. This year alone -- listen to this, everyone, this is chilling -- we now have more white supremacist extremist homicides, according to our Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. We now have more of those this year than all the extremist homicides put together from last year.

And I think part of this problem is that there's an international trend towards white nationalism and what we have are these folks who are radicalized on the Internet and what they want to do, unlike hate mongers from before who would get together with friends in their local communities, what they're doing now is a vertical integration where they're looking at past postings and past violence saying, I'm going to go out and do the same and inscribe a new act of violence in this book of hate.


LEVIN: But, guess what? They're now memorializing it. And that's a problem.

Just in closing, when I used to study skin heads back about 25, 30 years ago, in the beginning, they'd say we do something called propaganda of the deed. The violence will encourage fellow travelers. Now it's propaganda of the deed 2.0, where they actually commit their violence, then memorialize it in some way with the Internet and reference back to prior killers and racist screeds.

SCIUTTO: What's interesting to me, Wajahat Ali, having covered terrorism for years, including domestic terrorism, is that the radicalization of white supremacists often online follows the same pattern that you've seen with Islamism terrorism. What is different, though, is that the laws in this country, particularly following 9/11, make it far easier for law enforcement to stop terrorism, Islamism international terrorism before it happens than domestic terrorism.

I want to play a sound bite from Pete Buttigieg this morning and then get your reaction. Have a listen.


MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right now, when it comes to international terrorism, the majority of arrests happen before there's an attack. There's a prevention mentality. When it comes to domestic terrorism, the reverse is true. Unfortunately, most of the actions happen after it's too late, after an attack has taken place. It's why we need to fund the Countering Violence Extremism Program that has been slashed almost to zero under this administration.


[09:35:11] SCIUTTO: So, Wajahat, in your view, what needs to be done to stop this kind of violence before it happens?

WAJAHAT ALI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, so the DNA of violent extremists is very much the same. ISIS is the flipside of a white supremacist, right? I call it white ISIS, lonely, angry men disassociated from society who become radicalized online. They find a community and ideology, unfortunately of hate and violence, that gives them meaning. They think they're the heroes of this global narrative. It's us versus them. No middle ground. And they have to use violence to preserve their identity and their culture.

Sound familiar? Yes, it sounds like ISIS or white supremacists.


ALI: The problem is, is we actually confront Muslim extremists, right? We name it. We call it. President Trump is very tough when there's a Muslim suspect.

However, we do not name the number one domestic terror threat in America, white supremacist terrorism.

So, number one, you've got to name it to confront it. Number two, you need top down action from the president. May he confront this threat the way he confronts undocumented immigrants or Mexican judges, then we'd be safe. You need actually law enforcement to be armed to go after them with the type of vigor that they go after Muslim extremists.

The problem is, we do not have any legislation domestically that actually targets domestic terrorists. Now, this is the difference of opinion. Some people say we have enough laws in the book, they just have to be enforced. Other people say we need federal legislation to actually go after domestic terrorism. But what you also need, Jim, is us in the media. Look, the problem is

the following. When it's a Muslim suspect, seven times as much media coverage. When it's a white suspect, four times as much media coverage. And then finally, social media platforms have a huge role to play. If you de-platform propagandas of hate, they lose their teeth and power. So it's a collective strategy. All of us need to come together, like the Avengers, to take on Thanos, which is white supremacy.

SCIUTTO: And confront it directly and not cut resources for this, as the Trump administration has done, but expand them.

Wajahat Ali, Brian Levin, we appreciate you joining the conversation this morning.

Well, there are growing calls here in El Paso for President Trump not to visit the scene of this horrible crime. Some say he may cause a distraction, he may inflame divisions here. But the chairman of the Republican Party here, he welcomes him. He's going to join me right after this.


[09:41:53] BROWN: And we have breaking news this morning.

CNN has confirmed that Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning novelist Toni Morrison has died at the age of 88 according to her publisher.

CNN's Stephanie Elam has more on her storied life and career.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Toni Morrison, one of the worlds most celebrated writers --

TONI MORRISON: You know, the point of writing is to take what's common and estrange it, make it new again, and to take what's strange and familiarize it.

ELAM: Born Chloe Anthony (ph) Wofford in 1931, Morrison had an interest in story telling at a very young age. Her father often told her African-American folktales, something she would later weave into her work.

Morrison attended both Howard and Cornel universities. She began teaching at the height of the civil rights movement. It was then Chloe became known as Toni Morrison. Toni, a nickname, and Morrison, the last name of her ex-husband.

During her time teaching, she began sharing stories with a campus writing group. One of those stories became her first book, "The Bluest Eye." Released in 1970, the novel was praised for its in-depth look at race and American beauty standards, but criticized for its explicit nature.

Morrison became more widely known in 1977 with "Song of Solomon." The book was a feature election for the Book of the Month Club, the first written by an African-American in nearly 40 years.

Morrison became known for characters who challenged views on race and gender.

MORRISON: I don't describe any of my characters, I mean a little bit, you know, it's tall, short, man, woman, but nobody knows what they look like. And the reason is deliberate, because I want you to do that.

ELAM: No novel had greater impact than "Beloved." Loosely based on a true story of a runaway slave, the book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. A decade later, Oprah Winfrey took the story to the silver screen, but the film tanked at the box office.

Morrison's prolific storytelling was acknowledged internationally. In 1993, she became the first black woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature. The same year, she nearly lost it all in a fire on Christmas Day. Only a portion of her manuscripts survived.

But tragedy struck again Christmas of 2010. Her son Slade died of pancreatic cancer. The death weighed heavily on Morrison and she didn't write a sentence for months.

Toni Morrison left an indelible mark on literature, spanning over five decades. While presenting her with the presidential Medal of Freedom, President Obama said this.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Toni Morrison's prose brings us that kind of moral and emotional intensity that few writers ever attempt.


[09:45:02] BROWN: And Morrison died last night in New York. She was 88 years old.

We'll be right back.


SCIUTTO: Welcome back.

We're live in El Paso, Texas, just yards from a crime scene where 22 people lost their lives, two dozen more were injured.

President Trump plans on visiting El Paso, as well as Dayton, Ohio, in the wake of these two deadly mass shootings in the span of a dozen hours. But some Texas state Democrats say that his visit now may be a distraction when the focus needs to be on healing.

[09:50:05] All of this comes as Congress considers new measures on gun legislation, but will they go anywhere? We've been here so many times before.

Here with me to discuss is the chairman of the El Paso County Republican Party. He is Adolpho Telles. Mr. Telles, we appreciate you taking the time this morning.


SCIUTTO: So, as you know, Democratic lawmakers here are asking the president not to come now. This is a time of healing. It's a divisive time.

I spoke to a woman this morning, a resident of El Paso, who said, in her words, she thinks people will go nuts here because they say that some of this divisive talk comes from the top, comes from the president himself. You support the president's visit. Why is this a good time?

TELLES: I support the -- I do support the president's visit. I think it's outstanding that he's going to be here. I think what -- what occurred was horrific. It was terrible. And I think that the president being here, coming from the top, clearly is going to help with people healing.

And this is a time of healing. It needs to be calm. It will not be disastrous. What I see as disastrous is the local politicians and Escobar and O'Rourke and Moody that are making this a political event for their benefit. That's disastrous.

SCIUTTO: Well, let's be frank here, though, because --

TELLES: But what -- what we -- what we need to do, though, is, we need to give the community time to heal and leave politics out of it.

SCIUTTO: As you know, let's be fair, the president has often said nasty things about Mexico, people coming across the border. During my time here, what I've learned is how integrated El Paso is with Juarez across the border.

TELLES: That's true.

SCIUTTO: People move back and forth all the time. Families are on both sides of the border. As you know, the president has used the word "invasion" repeatedly to describe people coming from the south. He has laughed when people at his rallies talked about shooting people coming across the border with, it appears, a perception that this is politically beneficial to him.

From your perspective, a man of El Paso who loves this town, has the president's rhetoric been helpful or hurtful to this problem?

TELLES: You know, it's -- I am -- I like this town. It's a great town. I chose to come back to this town after living in Chile and after living in Mexico City. We chose to come back over here. And I like this tow. I have family here. I'm not from here originally, but we got to like it tremendously.

The rhetoric that we talk about is picked out in pieces. He has called it an invasion -- SCIUTTO: Repeatedly.

TELLES: But he's talking about people that are here illegally. Those are the ones. He was smart enough to figure out that we have a border problem and called it a crisis, which it was. And it took our local politicians, and not just local but national, it took them a year, two years before they recognized, we do have an issue.

SCIUTTO: Are you concerned when the shooter who came here -- the shooter at this Walmart was not from El Paso.

TELLES: Right.

SCIUTTO: He came here specifically --

TELLES: Right.

SCIUTTO: To shoot Mexicans. And in his manifesto, he repeated words used by the president. Aren't the president's words powerful?

TELLES: All words with powerful no matter where they come from. His manifesto is powerful. The fact that he came here says a lot. That is not El Paso.

We take care of each other and it has been, I believe in the press all over the place, you know, the demand -- the request for water was overwhelming. The request for blood --


TELLES: They had to send people away.

SCIUTTO: The lines were long.

TELLES: That is --

SCIUTTO: We saw that.

TELLES: That is El Paso. We take care of each other.

When I found out about this, I was emotional and I was upset because this is El Paso. And I don't care who you are, I don't care what political party you belong to, and we are a minority in this -- in this county. It doesn't matter to me. I'm concerned about the people that were hurt and I want to help them.

SCIUTTO: I feel -- and I feel it and I've met -- I've met people like you in both parties. I stood next to Dee Margo, the mayor of El Paso. He -- there were tears in his eyes describing meeting this two month old who lost both of his parents in the shooting.

I'm just asking simply, has the president's rhetoric helped or hurt the division, because I hear from a lot of people in El Paso that, in their view, is has hurt, it has made them feel more, not less divided. What's your view? TELLES: I think the president's points are good points. The words he

used are not always, in my mind, what should be appropriate. But, again, we all communicate differently. When he started running for president, he got rid of PC, political correctness. That was good and that was bad because some of it has gone extreme, some of it has allowed people to open up and say what they really feel. Before, if you would have criticized our previous president, immediately you were a racist, but that was never addressed like today.

So I don't think change is -- I don't think what's changed is as significant as we make it believe, it's just because we've got a white Anglo Saxon male saying things versus a black male saying things that we had in the past. The same thing occurred when --

SCIUTTO: But you are saying here that you wish the president's words would bring people together more as opposed to highlight the divisions?

TELLES: I'm saying I would present things differently. And, yes, I think it's (INAUDIBLE). The president's responsibility to represent the country as a whole, and I think his goal has been to identify what he needs to be doing -- identify what needs to be done and he's doing it. That doesn't mean his rhetoric, in my mind, is always what it should be. I would change it, but that's my opinion.

[09:55:17] SCIUTTO: Adolpho Telles, we appreciate it and we also empathize with what your community is going through. And please keep in touch with us just so we know how we can help.

TELLES: Thank you and we appreciate you being here.

SCIUTTO: Best of luck.

Adolpho Telles, he's with the Republican Party here in El Paso.

Right now lawmakers in Washington, they're on a summer break. Do they need to come back and address gun violence? Will it be different this time? Will anything happen? I'm going to speak to one of the top Democrats in the House to ask how they aim to change the political dynamic.