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America Searches for Answers to Gun Violence; El Paso Suspect Posted Racist Rant Before Attack; Myanmar Denies Its Military Raped Rohingya Females. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired August 6, 2019 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Is this the moment when Americans have had enough. Two mass shootings 13 hours apart, dozens killed. And now amid the grief and sorrow, growing anger at Washington's failure to pass the gun reform. North Korea carries out its fourth missile test in less than two weeks, and with nuclear negotiations stalled Pyongyang wants and may seek a new route forward.
And the U.S. President escalates his trade war with China officially declaring Beijing a currency manipulator and with -- there become serious implications for a slowing world economy. Hello, welcome to viewers joining us from all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause, this is CNN NEWSROOM.
El Paso, Texas is morning its dead as it joins a long list of American cities forever scarred by an epidemic of mass shootings. There's the familiar sight in our vigils and memorials. Here they mourn the loss of 22 lives allegedly shot dead by a white supremacist the authorities are treating as a domestic terrorist who and he remains in custody, and according to police has shown no remorse.
The U.S. President is scheduled to travel to El Paso on Wednesday, but El Paso is not the only U.S. city reeling for a weekend of violence. In Dayton, Ohio, a lone gunman shot and killed nine people. And the motive in the Ohio attack remains unclear.
In the past few hours, details have emerged which indicate the shooter may have backed a far-left ideology. In what appears to be his Twitter account, he retweeted extreme anti-police posts and support for the violent protest group Antifa.
Police were on the scene within a minute of the first shots being fired and they shot dead the gunman. And now new surveillance video shows how quickly it all played out. At the top of the screen is the shooter. He's wearing body armor and he's just about to open fire.
The next moment there is chaos. Police recovered as many as 41 shell casings from the government's weapon and now warning what you're about to see the next video is disturbing. The gunman seen here just before he is shot dead by police. Authorities say the shooter used a high- capacity 100-round magazine. And his Dayton's police chief talking about that kind of firepower on Monday. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD BIEHL, CHIEF, DAYTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: He is problematic. He's fundamentally problematic. They have that level of weaponry and a civilian environment unregulated. It's problematic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: CNN's Drew Griffin has more now on the shooting in Dayton and he reports the attacker murdered his own sister.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: His mother's social media shows a smiling family, a brother and a sister, but Connor Betts killed that sister and was gunned down by police as he fired on a crowd in Dayton. This surveillance video shows police shooting and killing Betts who was wearing a mask and bulletproof vest just 30 seconds after the first shot was fired. But that 30 seconds was still enough time to kill nine people and injured dozens.
Sources tell CNN a search of the gunman's home showed writings revealing an interest in killing people and it's not the first time. The shooter had a history of violent thinking. He was removed from Bellbrook High School after administrators found a notebook with two columns according to former students, a kill list to boys, a rape list to girls. Spencer Brickler says he was told he and his sister were on that list.
SPENCER BRICKLER, FORMER HIGH SCHOOL CLASSMATE OF THE SHOOTER: I saw him get pulled off the bus after school one day and apparently he had made a kill list and I happened to be on it. I don't know why. I look up and there's two police officers standing on the bus asking him to get off the bus and go with them.
GRIFFIN: David Partridge was another former high school classmate of the gunman. He says when a friend told him about the kill list and disturbing text messages about hurting people, they both went to the police.
DAVID PARTRIDGE FORMER HIGH SCHOOL CLASSMATE: This guy could go to the school. He could kill people. He could hurt my family. He could hurt you.
GRIFFIN: So you were concerned he was a school shooter back then.
PARTRIDGE: Absolutely. She contacted the police along with her parents. I got off the phone with her. I contacted the police along with my father. They took her cell phone, they photographed it for text messages. They actually never returned her cell phone to her.
GRIFFIN: But how that turned into the terrible events of Saturday night is still being investigated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were shots fired. There's people hurt. There's somebody hurt. GRIFFIN: The gunman drove to the area with his sister and a friend
who was also shot and is now hospitalized. Dayton Police are still unclear on what the sister or friend knew in advance if anything.
BIEHL: We have no information at this time to suggest that they are aware of the weapons or when they were introduced into this environment.
[01:05:01] GRIFFIN: So far the shooters family has not talked, police are outside their home. Officially, police say they have no motive. The writings found do not appear political or have any bias. What police do say is Connor Betts was armed for mass murder.
BIEHL: If all the magazines that were recovered from the suspect were completely full, he would have had a maximum of 250 rounds in his possession at the time.
GRIFFIN: A planned massacre that ended in his death 30 seconds after it began.
As an adult, we could only find minor traffic infractions, one DUI when he was 21. As for those records from high school and the event with this kill list, the Sugar Creek Police Department told us those records have been expunged under seal, meaning we won't get them. The school district told us our request to see those records are under legal review. Drew Griffin, CNN Dayton.
VAUSE: Donald Trump on Monday condemned racism, bigotry, and white supremacy but not surprisingly made no attempt to acknowledge his own rhetoric which even former White House staffers and Republicans in Congress have called racist or racially divisive.
On Twitter, the president suggested improved background checks may be part of the solution, but he was silent on gun laws during his spoken remarks later in the day. Instead, he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger not the gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: To Los Angeles now, to Matt Littman, Democratic Strategist and also President of 97%, a non-profit group working on gun reform. Matt, good to see you. We'll get to the focus of 97%, on smart technology and guns in a moment and how they can reduce the death toll from gun violence.
But right now, let's talk about you know, there seems to be two very different conversations taking place in this country right now. Republicans want to talk about video games and mental illness, Democrats and supporters of gun reform are focusing on access to firearms, background checks, the type of firearms which available, magazines, that kind of stuff. In terms of just research and data, from what you know and from what
you've done, what are the main factors here behind this epidemic of gun violence that this country is seeing?
MATT LITTMAN, PRESIDENT, 97%: So first let me just say, when you talk about Republicans and Democrats, Republican leaders talk about video games. Republicans, 80 percent believe in universal background checks. 97 percent of Americans believe in universal background checks. Most gun owners believe in universal background checks.
So one thing that we know is that they're -- nothing is a -- there is no blanket solution on the gun issue. There are about 400 million guns floating around in the United States. That doesn't mean that everyone in the United States owns a gun. About one out of every four people own a gun but those people own a lot of guns, right.
And so what we have is it's too easy to get a gun in the United States, it's way too easy to get these assault rifles in the United States, and we don't have universal background checks. The laws vary from state to state.
So for example in California where there's a shooting just last week, the person bought a gun in Nevada and then used it in California. You can go from state to state very easily with guns that aren't allowed from one state to the other.
So we need to close these loopholes so we could have background checks and prevent the sale of these assault rifles.
VAUSE: You're talking about a lot of guns, one study suggests that half of the world civilian-owned firearms are in the United States. Anyway, look, he's a little more from President Trump speaking from the White House on Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The shooter in El Paso posted a manifesto online consumed by racist hate. 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The president spoke just shy about nine minutes according to my account. It seemed like an out-of-body experience for him, as if he was saying the words but unaware of their meaning, very different to a much more energized Donald Trump at a campaign rally back in October. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They have a word. It sort of became old-fashioned. It's called a nationalist. And I say really, we're not supposed to use that word. You know what I am, I'm a nationalist, OK. I'm a nationalist. (END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So as one opinion writer in Washington Post noted, you can't be the mourner in chief or healer in chief when you spent your entire political career stoking the hate and championing the white supremacy you now decry.
If Donald Trump truly wanted to put the white supremacist genie back in the bottle at this point, could he or is it now beyond even his control?
LITTMAN: Well, that's a great question, John. And the answer is he can't really do it because people wouldn't believe it. The white supremacists who followed Trump and look at him as their avatar would think that he's only saying that just to say it to appease the media and the left.
They believe he's on their side and they believe that for a long time, and he showed in a lot of ways that he's on their side. It's not to say that he wants people in the United States to get shot. I don't think that he wants people in the United States to get shot but he wants their political support. That much is very clear.
So when he talked in the -- in the -- what you showed his statement before where it looks like a hostage video, he is not saying that I am condemning white supremacy, he's saying we need to condemn white supremacy. As a speechwriter, that also gets to -- my attention is definitely on the fact that he's not using I at all. That's a way of him not taking any responsibility.
[01:10:28] VAUSE: And you know, it's not like the mass shooting in El Paso came as a huge surprise. Listen to the FBI Director Christopher Wray. He's speaking first in April and then just last month. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: The danger I think of white supremacists violent extremism or any other kind of violent extremism is of course significant. We assess that it's a persistent, pervasive threat.
I will say that a majority of the domestic terrorism cases that we've investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And the shooter in Dayton, Ohio appears to support far-left anti-police views at least in his Twitter account, anyway if it's his. And on Monday, the American Psychological Association warned for combination of easy access to assault weapons and hateful rhetoric is toxic.
And at that same time, you have a president holding a campaign rally with chants of "send her back" in reference to a Democratic congresswoman born in Somalia. This -- is this almost a perfect storm which is only just getting started?
LITTMAN: Yes. So you have easy access to guns, guns that can kill a lot of people very fast, and at the same time you have this white supremacist movement in the United States. So if you're really angry, and you have a gun, you could use it. And there's not a lot that could be done to stop you.
The person in Dayton shot a lot of people in a minute. I mean, the police were right on top of them, and still, nine people were killed in that shooting. So the easy access to guns, and then you have people like Donald Trump saying that you know, it's video games. There's no evidence at all that video games have anything to do with people getting angry enough to shoot people, none at all.
If that were the case then in South Korea and Japan you'd see a lot of people where they play video games all the time, you'd see a lot of that. Why -- the reason why people who play video games don't shoot peoples because they're playing video games.
VAUSE: Yes, there were video games around the world, absolutely. So I don't mean to jump you off, but I'm getting a little short on time. Because your group 97% has spent you know, quite some time talking with gun owners, and about the type of gun reform they want. Listen the former vice president and presidential candidate Joe Biden talking to CNN just a few hours ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: There are gun owners out there who say, well, by an administration means they're going to come for my guns.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES: Bingo. You're right if you have an assault weapon. The fact of the matter is they should be illegal, period. Look, the Second Amendment doesn't say you can't restrict the kinds of weapons people can own.
You can't buy a bazooka, you can't have a flamethrower. The guys who make these arguments are the people who say the tree of liberty is water with the blood of patriots. We need the protection against the government.
We need an F15 for that. You need something well beyond whether or not you're going to have an assault weapon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: You know, there's a lot of people who would agree with the vice president that but is that what gun owners are telling you? Is it kind of reforms they've want?
LITTMAN: Well, first of all, as you know, I used to work for Joe Biden so I respect him very much. Well, gun owners also recognize that there's a big problem. What gun owners believe -- and this is all very often the case is that they're talked down to which is true, very often that is true. But that 99 percent of gun owners are very responsible. That's also true. But they recognize that we need gun reforms in this country. What they don't want is to be mandated and be told what to do. All things that are fairly reasonable but the problem is that we have two sides talking past each other, John. We have the mostly the Democrats and a lot of reasonable Republicans who believe in gun reform but we have a Congress, the Republicans in Congress who won't act on those reforms.
We -- what we really need is -- we know where the Democrats are in this, what we need is the gun owners in these purple states and in red states to push their elected officials towards more gun reform.
VAUSE: Yes. It's one of those issues that so many people look at this from around the world and just don't understand this country's love of firearms and weapons, but it is in the Constitution. It's a right, not a privilege, and that is ownership of firearms. Matt, good to see you. It's been a while.
LITTMAN: Thanks, John.
VAUSE: What appears to be another test of ballistic missiles by North Korea, according to a U.S. official Pyongyang fired two unidentified projectiles of its east coast on Tuesday, the fourth launch in 12 days. And apparently, a way for the North Koreans to express their displeasure with joint South Korea-U.S. military drills which Pyongyang says violates some diplomatic agreements and would block progress in denuclearization talks.
CNN's Ivan Watson live again this hour for us from Hong Kong. so Ivan, you know, there's obviously this clear message from the North Koreans. They want a bit of attention here. These talks with nuclear talks with the U.S. are pretty much going nowhere. And they're also issuing a very stark warning now. Pyong saying -- Pyongyang is saying that they may seek it a new road.
[01:15:09] IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the displeasure coming from Pyongyang is very, very clear. Starting with the short-range ballistic missile launches, North Korea had put a halt on ballistic missile launches as the diplomacy began face-to-face between Kim Jong-un and President Trump near the start of his administration.
And that self-imposed moratorium was broken in early May with a series of short-range ballistic missile launches. And that has stepped up dramatically over the course of the last two weeks with launches of short-range ballistic missiles on July 25th, on July 31st, on August 2nd, on August 6th this morning.
This is North Korea clearly indicating that it is unhappy with the way things are going. And they timed this morning's short-range ballistic missile launches with a statement coming out of their state news agency quoting a foreign ministry official saying that North Korea was angry at what are expected to be another round of U.S.-South Korea and joint military exercises, an annual event, and that they're also angry with the delivery of new weapon systems to South Korea singling out, for example, F-35A stealth fighters that are being delivered to South Korea and saying that this is against the spirit of diplomacy that both the South Korean president and President Trump have embarked on with Pyongyang.
What is remarkable is that while South Korea has expressed real concern about these short-range ballistic missile launches and scrambled meetings of its National Security Council, the Trump administration has doubled over, done somersaults basically downplaying them with President Trump himself saying hey these could be in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions but they don't bother me, I have a lot of trust in the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. John?
VAUSE: Ivan, we appreciate it. Senior International Correspondent Ivan Watson live for us this hour in Hong Kong. With that, we'll take a short break. When we come back, the U.S. trade war goes beyond the tit for tat and ramps up significantly. And now investors around the world are worried. Details in a moment.
VAUSE: The trade wall between the United States and China escalated dramatically on Monday and global investors are now saying they got worried. China announced it would stop buying U.S. agricultural products and allowed its currency Yuan to weaken against the dollar.
In response, the Trump administration designated China a currency manipulator. Wall Street had its worst day of the year. The Dow fell almost 800 points, the S&P 500 closed down nearly three percent, Nasdaq 3.5 percent.
Let's look at the Asian market so because they are also in negative territory. the Nikkei down by more than half a percent, Hong Kong down by 0.85 of a percent and Shanghai pulling back some of the losses from earlier of the day, they're just down by almost two percent.
Well, last week, President Donald Trump stunned investors by announcing plans to impose a ten percent tariff on $300 billion worth of imports from China that starts September 1st. Ryan Patel joins us out from Colorado. He's a global business executive and Senior Fellow at Claremont Graduate University. OK, thank you being with us.
[01:20:54] RYAN PATEL, SENIOR FELLOW AT CLAREMONT GRADUATE UNIVERSITY: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
VAUSE: OK, up until this point, the dispute between China in the U.S., it kind of felt like pretend fights, lots of bluster and threats. But you know, Donald Trump would come at the last moment and save the day. He's got this great relationship with Xi Jinping. And now it seems like it's going you know, close to becoming a real fight with real-world consequences. You know, we saw that with Dow falling here over 700 points.
PATEL: Yes, real fight, this is it. I mean when you get to the point where we're messing with currencies, it's going to get -- this is no longer checkers, this is really chess now. And when you are trying to affect what tariffs -- you know, what he did last week was kind of I think in pre-emptive to what China was going to do devaluing their currency.
This has been the -- I guess I hate to use the pun with a smoking gun from two years ago that China could always do this and be able to be competitive behind it.
VAUSE: Yes, you know, Professor, before we get into why the U.S. made this move, could you explain you know, the easiest way possible why a weaker currency can help an economy especially one like China which is so reliant on exports?
PATEL: So China's exports for example going to the U.S., because of the weaker currency of the Chinese currency, it will be cheaper for consumers to buy it here in the U.S. So what does that mean? That means more people will buy that good from China versus the U.S. local product which then leads to China's companies being more profitable, could be increasing jobs.
I'm trying to keep it simple but that, in essence, would help you know, Chinese economy up more and be able still stay competitive.
VAUSE: Because the price still remains as it is, and everything -- all trade is done in U.S .dollars and that price remains stable. But it's when you take that U.S. dollars and you send it back to China, if the currency is weaker, you know, it's a win for whoever sold it because they convert the U.S. dollars back into remnant be.
PATEL: Exactly, yes. And you know, there is a downside of this too. I mean, in essence, you know, China is really doing this in a way that really negates the tariffs right, by devaluing the currency. It kind of doesn't really -- it kind of negates it too.
VAUSE: Well, actually, here's China hawk and White House economic adviser Peter Navarro speaking to CNN last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR OF TRADE POLICY, WHITE HOUSE: I'm telling you, Erin, flat out that you will not see significant consumer price hikes from a ten percent tariff on the these remaining $300 billion. The Chinese basically are handling this by lowering their prices and lowering their currency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So in other words, they knew this was coming but it raises the question of why do the currency manipulator tag?
PATEL: Because he wanted justification. What I have wrong with Peter Navarro's statement, yes, he did say flat out that this ten percent tariff isn't a big deal. I agree, it's 0.14 percent of GDP. But what about addressing everything else before that? What about addressing perspectives behind how this is actually affecting both the U.S. and Chinese economy?
He specifically stuck to that mark and he wanted to create a message or this bad guy perspective that well, China is doing this wrong thing. This is what -- you know, we're the good guys. There's no good guys in trade wars, I'm sorry. This is both countries being able to meet to get to deal. And there's no -- he's trying to paint a picture and I don't think -- majority of investors and consumers are really tired of this. They just want you to get a deal done. We don't want to take sides. Just get it done.
VAUSE: And on Monday, the U.S. President tweeted this. China dropped the price of their currency to an almost historic lower. It's called currency manipulation. Are you listening Federal Reserve? This is a major violation which will greatly weaken China over time.
A couple things here, general consensus seems to me that China actually stopped direct currency manipulation years ago. Right now the Yuan is not at a historic low, maybe a decade low. And number three is Axios reports. In order to be a currency manipulator, a country needs to spend two percent of GDP on currency manipulation over a 12-month period.
China is not doing this. If anything, China was keeping the Yuan artificially strong and Donald Trump ratcheted up the trade war on Thursday. Did Trump get anything right on Monday?
PATEL: No, he actually didn't. I mean, the devaluation of the Chinese currency a couple years ago was really minor and small. I mean, in the long term, the Chinese doesn't really want to devalue the currency.
I mean, it's pretty clear, especially during the strong dollar during the trade war, they were holding that. They didn't want to do this. But with what happened last week with President Trump doing that message with the ten percent tariff, and really China having no other weapons at this point to go to except for this, I mean you felt -- Wall Street felt the pain on Monday.
People are going after negative yields on bonds. I know you're going to go after that gold chain, gold prices that are going up since high of 2013. I mean, they're causing a ruckus by just releasing this fact that the devaluation of the currency is happening. It is -- it's amazing what's going to happen next.
[01:25:34] VAUSE: If I sell my gold chain, what will I wear to the clubs on Friday, Ryan? But you know, maybe with --
PATEL: I don't know but I think you'll get more gold chains later down the road.
VAUSE: OK, good to see you. We'll talk soon I'm sure. Thank you, Ryan. Let's go to Sherisse Pham standing by live in Hong Kong for more on this. OK, leave the gold chain out of it. So after allowing the Yuan slide on Monday, the People's Bank on Tuesday said the daily reference rate, the midpoint of trading at a stronger-than-expected point. So did they blink or was the Monday slide a warning of what could be? So what's going on?
SHERISSE PHAM, CNN REPORTER: Was it a blink? I'm sure the Trump administration would like to spin it as a blink. But I was talking to a lot of very smart and very wonky people this morning, and a lot of them were telling me look, China has, as Ryan was just talking about in that segment there, China has for the last few years actually been pretty much propping up the Yuan trying to keep it a little bit higher, trying to prevent it from weakening against the dollar and sort of crossing this psychological barrier of seven.
And the reason why seven is such an important number is because the last time the Chinese Yuan was that weak was in 2008, and that with the financial crisis. So nobody wants to go back to those dark times, right.
But it is not in China's interest anymore to hold the seven-line when trade talks are completely breaking down, when there seems to be no trade deal in sight, when President Donald Trump is slapping more tariffs on the rest of Chinese exports to the United States.
So China's central bank knew that weakening the Yuan on Monday and again on Tuesday would be a little bit of an irritant to the U.S. side. And for them, really for them there was no need for them to hold that line anymore. At least that's what analysts are saying.
And so the PBOC has been trying to very, very gently introduce a little bit more volatility into the market. Now that we've broken through this psychological barrier of 7.00 Yuan to $1.00, maybe it will be a little bit less of a threat going forward.
Of course, that's not what we're seeing in the markets today. Investors are clearly incredibly rattled not only by breaking 7:00 on Monday but also from Trump's designation on Tuesday.
VAUSE: Very quickly, to explain how China's currency float works, because there's not a full-on free float, it's kind of like a dirty float or a manage float.
PHAM: Dirty float, yes, I like that. That's an interesting description. Yes, it's not -- it's not the same as how the U.S. manages its currency but we are seeing some more moves out of China's central bank that they're trying to be a little bit more transparent about their monetary policies. So the Chinese Yuan is allowed to trade as well in some overseas markets, and the PBOC also sets its daily fixing rate.
What does that all mean? It means that investors and markets and the business community and the global community have a little bit more of a window into the signals that China is sending on which way the currency -- or what kind of policies they're going to introduce and which way that could move China's currency.
And you know 10, 15 years ago, yes, experts were saying China was absolutely a currency manipulator. These days it doesn't seem to meet the requirement. So a lot of people are going to be seeing this move from the Trump administration as mostly a political move and it's not going to have a huge economic impact -- economic penalties for China going forward.
VAUSE: I remember when I was in China, it almost hit 8.00 Yuan to the dollar. They were good days when I was being paid at U.S. dollars living in Beijing.
PHAM: Back in those good-old-days.
VAUSE: Oh, good old days.
PHAM: Think of all the gold chains you could have bought then, John.
VAUSE: Thank you. Bye, bye. Bye, Sherisse. Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you very much. OK, we'll take a short break here. A lot more to get to when we come back. A lot more of the mass shootings over the weekend. We'll speak to the father of a journalist who was gunned down live on television. He has spent the last four years campaigning for tougher gun laws across this company.
[01:31:58] VAUSE: Hello everybody. I'm John Vause. Welcome back.
We have an update now on the top news this hour.
North Korea has fired two unidentified projectiles over its east coast apparently in protest of U.S.-South Korean military drills, the fourth launch in less than two weeks. Pyongyang says the drills violate diplomatic agreements and may block progress in denuclearization talks.
Two more people have died in hospitals after Saturday's mass shooting in El Paso, Texas bringing the death toll in that attack to 22. Nine others were killed by another gunman in Dayton, Ohio that happened hours later. In a speech Monday, President Trump blamed hate and racism for the attacks but not guns.
Painting (ph) over America's long struggle with the Second Amendment and gun safety has been one consistent yet seemingly contradicting facts. There is overwhelming support for more restrictive gun laws but the U.S. Congress refuses to act. No matter how high the death toll, no matter how young the victims, no matter how horrific.
Twenty elementary school children gunned down in Sandy Hook -- nothing. And it was after 17 high school students and staff were shot dead in Parkland Florida. And when 58 people were murdered in Las Vegas, the deadliest mass shooting this country has ever seen the response is congressional gridlock.
Even when the violence plays out live on breakfast television like it did on August of 2015 and a disgruntled former employee shoots and kills two of his former colleagues, both sides retreat to their ideological corners and nothing happens,
The reporter was Alison Parker, and her father Andy is with us from Virginia. In the years since his daughter's senseless murder, he has been a vocal advocate for gun reform and is author of "For Alison: the Murder of a Young Journalist and a Father's Fight for Gun Safety". Andy -- thank you for being with us.
I can't imagine how difficult this weekend must have been for you. Not just because of the memories of what happened to Alison but also because this is just all -- this all could've been prevented. This did not have to happen.
ANDY PARKER, FATHER OF ALISON PARKER: Yes, John.
And it doesn't. And it just -- it makes me angry. Every time I hear about one of these things which unfortunately these incidents happen almost now on a daily basis. It just infuriates me.
But I, you know, want to sound hopeful and I think that the tide has turned and in your lead up to our interview you mentioned that the overwhelming majority of Americans want sensible gun legislation. In fact 97 percent of the population wants sensible gun control and you can't get 97 percent of the American public to agree that Mother's Day is a good thing but they can on this. So it is going to happen.
VAUSE: It usually takes just one mass shooting at other countries for, you know, the government to address gun safety after, you know, in Australia, the recent mosque shootings in New Zealand. You know, there have been more mass shootings in the U.S. in 2019 than there have been days.
And as you say everyone wants, you know, some kind of basic changes here and these basic changes, background checks for example, would make a huge difference.
[01:34:55] PARKER: It would. Background checks save lives. It's been proven. Eliminating the assault weapons from the streets of this country and purchase is going to make a difference.
But, you know, the reality -- the sad reality is that I think the American people are recognizing is that it shouldn't be a partisan issue but it is. And the Republicans in this country are the party of the NRA and as long as they control Congress or at least one chamber of Congress and you have a terrorist trader for a president you are not going to get any legislation done.
So as I have said in my book, if you can't change their minds, which you can't, you change their seats. And that is coming in Virginia in the fall of this year. And it is going to be coming in 2020 in the elections because we saw what happened in Virginia two years ago, the gun issue was the number two issue. It was probably the number three issue in the midterms so there is a groundswell.
And unfortunately the other side, the Republican Party they just don't get it. But they're going to be in the minority soon.
VAUSE: It's interesting you bring this up because on Sunday in Dayton, Ohio there was a vigil. And listen to the crowd as the Republican governor started to speak. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: Do something. Do something. Do something.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: "Do something". You know, "do something". And, you know, the governor told reporters afterwards that he is open to discussion on reform. He's the state's leader. Shouldn't he be the one leading any discussion?
PARKER: Of course. And you saw what Donald Trump the other day -- first he said well, we need background checks. Then he immediately, as he always has done, in the wake of Parkland he did the same thing -- he backs off of that statement because the NRA controls him.
They spent $30 million getting him elected and so these guys are in the pockets of the NRA. They are going to thwart any kind of legislation despite the will of the American public. You know, these people -- I think the American public after this weekend, after the culmination of all that has transpired over the last four years since Alison's death, you know, they've had enough.
They are afraid to go to Walmart for Christ's seek. They're afraid to go to a movie. People are afraid and they're not going to tolerate this.
VAUSE: You know, Democrats running for the white House in 2020 election like Cory Booker have been very critical of Donald Trump's slow response to the weekend's mass shooting. Here's what Booker said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: His failings take event he most common sense gun measures like someone on the terrorist no-fly list shouldn't be able to walk, go to the Internet or walk into a gun show to a casual seller and buy these weapons. This is time for action, decisive action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And again those measures which Booker details are all low hanging fruit. There is 90 percent support for universal background checks.
Are we at the point right now though where especially for Republicans -- but for lawmakers of both parties to do nothing is no longer an option. There will be a price to be paid if they sit back and offer thoughts and prayers and nothing else?
PARKER: There is going to be a reckoning for these guys but I don't think they get it. You know even after in 2017 in Virginia, Democrats picked up 15 seats in the house of delegates.
And we just saw the governor call a special session in the wake of the Virginia Beach massacre which seems like a hundred years ago that just happened. And Republicans voted to adjourn without any votes on anything.
So there is going to be a price to be paid, you know. Ultimately these guys are going to pay the price. It is coming in Virginia this fall. It's going to come for the Republicans in Congress in 2020. And let's hope, and I think it will come for Donald Trump in 2020 as well.
VAUSE: Because one of the sort of results of the 2018 midterms is sort of things just slide under the radar. A lot of gun reform measures actually got through in a lot of states in the midterms.
But I want to move on to this small group of extremists in this country who not only oppose gun reform but actively vilify people like you who are going out and working for those tougher laws. You know, they call you an Alison crisis actor. They claim the shooting never happened.
And here's some people who comment who posted online. "This is pre- planned obvious deceit. They literally planned this with the gun and everything. They sat around thinking how do we go to the next level to get the gullible public behind gun control.
You know, the parents from Sandy Hook, they were subject to similar vile, baseless accusations. It's a small number of people but they seem to, you know, have a very loud message.
Do you get the sense on where this stuff is coming from? How anyone could possibly believe this?
PARKER: Well, unfortunately there is a small minority that does. And that is my other fight, you know. I fought the NRA for four years.
[01:39:59] And I've also been fighting Google for three years to remove the video of Alison's murder, to remove the hoax-related content. I testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee three weeks ago.
I'm holding a press conference at the National Press Club tomorrow in D.C. and you know, along those very lines Google enables this kind of stuff. These people that claim I'm a crisis actor and that the whole thing was made up. They feel like well this is an act that's perpetrated to take away our guns.
I mean that's the -- I hear that dog whistle all the time, you know. You're coming to take away our guns. You don't want to have law- abiding citizens to have guns. And it is just nonsense. You can say it over and over again but these people just -- they just don't believe it.
And Google enables them. So we are going after Google. Hopefully there is a consensus in Congress to pass legislation to restrict targeted harassment and videos of murder.
VAUSE: It's about time that, you know, the laws of 2019, you know actually caught up to 2019 -- to the technology that we have.
VAUSE: And it's kind of crazy, which people don't understand around the world, but they are certainly convinced of these conspiracy theories that this is all just a big hoax.
Andy -- thank you so much for being with us. And again sorry for your loss of Alison. I'm sure she's very close to your thoughts today.
PARKER. She was. Thank you -- John.
VAUSE: Well, police have linked the far right message board 8chan to the El Paso shootings. Now, the site's founder says it's got to go. He's been talking to CNN about it. We'll will have that interview when we come back.
VAUSE: El Paso police say the man accused of killing 22 people at a Walmart has shown no remorse. Just minutes before the attack, the alleged shooter is believed to have posted a racist message on 8chan, an Internet forum which has become home to white nationalists and the far right.
Now the man who created the site says he wants it shut down. Fred Brennan who had a change of heart and cut ties with 8chanin 2016, talked to CNN's Erin Burnett and pointed the blame at the site's moderators.
FREDRICK BRENNAN, FOUNDER, 8CHAN: I've changed my mind because of the way that they're administering the site. That's the main reason that I've changed my mind. If they continue to operate is as they are operating it, it is going, to cause like effects way beyond 8chan on the Internet, on U.S. law even because they're so callous and they don't seem to care at all.
[01:44:57] You know even if Cloudfare Matthew Prince called them lawless, and that is pretty much true, they just seem to not really care about these shootings. They don't even want to do the bare minimum.
And, you know, a lot of people have criticized me for changing this, but if 8chan were to go down, there would be a new -- there would be a new equilibrium that would set itself up.
So there's nothing to really worry about for its users. And I'm just glad that Cloudfare shut that down because now they have to they need to do it pay market rate for doing the things that they're doing.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: I mean you have said on Twitter "8chan is full of incitements to violence, literal mass murderers are using it but they don't seem to care."
BRENNAN: Yes. That's right.
BURNETT: How can this be? Yes -- go ahead.
(CROSSTALKING) BRENNAN: As early as yesterday, you know the sit has been going on and of now that Cloudflare shut them down. But even as early as yesterday, a full 24 hours after the shootings, they still had on the front page the words "embrace infamy".
It's like -- it's kind of like they are laughing about this and they don't really seem to care what's going on. You know, if those words, if you were a victim of the shooting, or the family of the victims or even just a normal person, you know, out in the world you would find that extremely heartless and cold.
And I'm pretty sure that (INAUDIBLE) if the network not even wanting to work with them. And that's not the only thing, you know. They could have done so much to prevent both the shooting being -- the manifesto being uploaded there and Cloudflare taking them down if they had just set up a few simple rules with the users. But they decided not to do that.
I realized that the current administrators of 8chan don't care that this is happening. They just -- they feel like because of the Supreme Court cases or whatever, or you know, whatever their reasoning is that they don't have to do anything. But it's going to affect the world at large and other communities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Still to come here Rohingya women tell their stories of survival in Myanmar after enduring atrocities at the hands of the country's armed forces. Details in a moment.
VAUSE: Myanmar is officially on the record denying that military systematically raped hundreds of Rohingya women and girls during its ethnic cleansing of Rakhine State in 2017. In a much belated (ph) submission to the U.N. the government of Aung San Suu Kyi denied allegations that women and girls had been tied to trees or held down by soldiers and then pack-raped, claiming there is no evidence to support these wild claims.
That is a lie. There is a mountain of evidence documented by U.N. investigators. Groups like Human Rights Watch and journalists as well. The Associated Press documented the stories of 21 women all interviewed separately at different locations in refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh.
The women are only identified by a letter unlike the case of R, 13 years old when she was dragged from her home by Myanmar soldiers and tied to a tree
They ripped off her earrings and bracelets and stripped off her clothes. Then the first man began to rape her. The pain was excruciating. All ten men forced themselves on her before she passed out.
22 year old F was sleep in bed with her husband when the soldiers stormed into the bedroom. They forced her head scarf down his throat, threw her on the floor where she was raped. And when her husband managed to scream for help he was shot. His throat was slashed.
After the assault the men dumped F's naked body outside her home to her on fire. Neighbors rescued her. A few months later, she realized she was pregnant.
It was early morning around breakfast when the military arrived in K's village where many including her husband and three oldest children fled. K was nine months pregnant and had two toddlers to protect.
The men barged in. They ripped off her clothes and tied down her hands and legs with rope. When she resisted they choked her. And then they began to rape her. She was too terrified to move.
[01:50:04] One man held a knife to her eyeball, one a gun to her chest. Another forced himself inside her and then they switched places. All three men raped her.
That is just a snapshot of three stories, all 21 accounts reported by the AP, a horrific and difficult to read and share remarkably similar details.
Two years on since those attacks, the trauma has not ended. Many women have given birth to children conceived by rape have been living with the cultural shame and they are no longer considered worthy of marriage. And all of that makes the denial from Myanmar's government even more absurd.
Maye-E Wong is an AP photojournalist who has reported extensively on the rape of Rohingya women. She's here in Atlanta for a meeting of American Asian Journalism Association and we're lucky you're here to tell us more about this story because it seems to have gone sort of under the radar.
So we have one (INAUDIBLE) stories out there which is horrific and should be reported but hasn't received the attention. So I want you to hear a little bit more from Myanmar's submission to the U.N. It was earlier this year, denying that any of this had in fact happened.
Here's part of it.
They say there were a total of six alleged rape cases against security forces. Happened 23rd of February 2017, and 30 and 31st in March of 2017.
They go on to say, "There have been no evidence and sufficient grounds to convict anyone."
You know, this is just is asinine to think that, you know, women who are part of a persecuted minority in the first place would then go to the police and report that the military had raped them. I mean this is ridiculous.
MAYE-E WONG, PHOTOJOURNALIST, ASSOCIATED PRESS: No. Well, first of all you have to understand that I mean any country, in any culture, rape is shameful right. but it is more so for these Rohingya women of Muslim faith a lot of them tell us that, you know, when they get raped, their husbands blame them for being raped. They say things like why didn't you run away, you know. Why did you allow yourself to get raped.
And I think to top it off they tell them that they were raped by nonbelievers. So that was an added shame that they have to live with. And it is just a pity that the Burmese officials and the government are denying that. We actually reached out to one of the high ranking officials to get a comment before you ran this story. And over a telephone interview he actually said I don't think that anyone would want to rape Rohingya --
VAUSE: Would want to rape?
WONG: -- yes, Rohingya women, have you even seen their appearances? Do you know what they look like? You have to be attractive to be raped.
And so there was a kind of response that we get --
VAUSE: I mean that's just being absurd on so many different levels. And so that's the other (INAUDIBLE), to be treated as subhuman.
And I think -- I think that's what they pretty much see the Rohingya people. they don't regard them as fellow human beings because when you hear about the atrocities and the torture and the treatment that they got it's really almost unbelievable that somebody could do something like that to another person.
VAUSE: They're not human beings.
They're actually -- there's not one shred of evidence which Myanmar has to refute any of these claims, is there.
WONG: No. I think it's very hard for journalists because we are not allowed to report in the Rakhine State, right. But I think what me and my colleague Kristen Gelineau who actually wrote the stories, (INAUDIBLE), we set out to Cox's Bazar to try --
VAUSE: In Bangladesh, yes.
WONG: -- in Bangladesh to try to interview as many women as we could. And there was a sickening sameness to the details and the extent of the stories and these women didn't know each other. They were independent of each other. They came from a swath of villages in the Rakhine state but there were so many similarities in the details and descriptions of what happened.
VAUSE: Details that only victims would be able to remember and recall, right. WONG: Right. And not just that, we even like -- we were very
methodical about our questioning, our interview and at the same time very respectful and cognizant of not re-traumatizing them but they would give us details about the military uniforms and the badges and patches that they recognized and everyone came back with almost the same descriptions.
VAUSE: You've been documenting these cases for a while now so two years on, after these rapes occurred it seems all of these women now who are living with a life of -- the details, they vary but essentially it's trauma and chains (ph).
VAUSE: How do they cope with that?
WONG: They have no choice right. What was interesting is ten months later me and Kristen went back to Cox's Bazar, which is the refugee camps, to try to look for the women that we found were pregnant when we interviewed them before.
[01:54:57] And it was really depressing because like I mentioned before there is a sense of shame. And to be raped by a non believer and carry a nonbeliever's child was a sense of stigma for them. And they would pretty much be disowned by the community.
So a lot of these women -- we met two women who gave up their babies and their complexion was different and their features were very Burmese so -- they were different.
VAUSE: Actually part of the report -- actually you touched on this, now you got the -- sort of how they dealt with the pregnancy. Some ended their pregnancies early by taking cheap abortion pills available throughout the camp.
VAUSE: Others gave birth to unloved babies. Some agonized over whether to give them away. One woman so worried about her neighbor discovering her pregnancy, she suffered silently through labor in her shelter, stuffing a scarf in her mouth to swallow her screams.
And again this is a small snapshot. This is just what -- 21 women -- or a fraction of the 21 women who (INAUDIBLE) --, ou have to assume that there are dozens and dozens and dozens of other stories just like this which have gone reported.
WONG: Yes. It is so widespread. I mean when we interview representatives from MSF --
VAUSE: Doctors without Borders.
WONG: -- doctors without borders, in the early months already they already had like over 113 cases of rape that they had seen and they've taken care of. I mean a lot of these women come begging for like abortion pills, some try to self-abort. Some women tried to bind their stomachs with the scarf. It's just a shame.
VAUSE: Rape as a weapon of war -- it's not uncommon. It's happened many, many times before. We saw it play in Bosnia for example. But you know, it has incredibly terrifying impacts not just on women and on girls, but on men, on the entire community.
It always seems and maybe if you explain why this happened why is it that we often see rape, systematic rape being carried out by the military in cases where there is also ongoing genocide like what the U.N. says has happened in Myanmar.
WONG: Well, I think there are two main things here. One is definitely a scare tactic, right. These people have no voice. They are already friendless and stateless. Who's going to believe them? What proof --
VAUSE: And who is going to care?
WONG: Yes. who's going to care, right. And what do the men do?
I mean the women are traumatized, of course, they are hurt. The men, they just don't talk about it. So there is already silence, yes. And there's -- and it's also about power and control, it really is, you know.
It's very sickening and depressing but it is just a scare tactic really.
VAUSE: And it's one which clearly has happened despite these ridiculous denials from Myanmar's government.
Maye-E -- thank you. It's great to have you here. We appreciate it.
And you do great work. So thank you.
WONG: Thank you for shining a light on this story. Again, I think it's important.
VAUSE: Absolutely. Thank you.
WONG: Thank you.
VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.
Please stay with us. Rosemary Church takes over at the top of the hour.
You're watching CNN.
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