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INSIDE POLITICS

Dayton Shooter Motive Remains a Mystery; Remembering Dayton Victim Nicholas Cumer; Latino Community Reacts to El Paso Attack; Texas State Representative Talks About El Paso Attack; Mayor of Dayton, Ohio's Press Conference. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired August 6, 2019 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00] ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Calling it a currency manipulator. It's exhausting and no end in sight.

Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely.

Alison, thank you so much for that. We're keeping a close eye.

And hello once again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us for another hour. I'm Kate Bolduan. My colleague, Erica Hill, is joining me from El Paso, Texas, all throughout the hour.

We have new details for you about this weekend's massacre in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. We also have new reporting from Capitol Hill on the one person who will decide if Congress will take any action or not in the aftermath.

First, though, let's get back to El Paso. Erica's been standing by.

Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, hi, Kate. Good morning.

And we're tracking all of the latest developments here when it comes to the investigation in the wake of this tragedy.

We're also speaking with members of the community. They are preparing for a visit from the president tomorrow. And there are, as you know, Kate, a lot of reaction, very vocal reaction. We'll be bring that to you as well this hour.

BOLDUAN: All right, thank you, Erica. We'll get right back to you.

The White House says that President Trump will also be visiting Dayton, Ohio, tomorrow as that city grieves after the weekend shooting rampage that left nine people dead, 27 people injured.

There's new information coming out almost hourly about how the attack played out. Social media postings that police are looking into and a history of threats that the governor called a very clear problem today. CNN has obtained exclusive new video of the first moments when the

shooter opened fire. It's from a surveillance camera capturing the gunman as he comes out of an alleyway really. The video is grainy, but that makes it no easier to watch. You can see that dark figure of the gunman moving between the two umbrellas and you can also see just how packed and busy the area was at that time of night. Nine people killed in under 30 seconds.

The shooter's motive, still not clear. The police chief very specifically saying that they are still investigating, but also saying they have not seen an indication that race is a motive.

One thing is clear, there were warning signs in Dayton dating back to high school for this gunman. Here's what his ex-girlfriend says now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADELIA JOHNSON, GUNMAN'S FORMER GIRLFRIEND: This isn't about race. This isn't about religion. It's none of those things. This is a man who was in pain and didn't get the help that he needed. People go every day being perfectly fine with having mental illness, me included. And he just -- he got the short end of the stick. No support system.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: CNN's Polo Sandoval is joining us from Dayton with much more on this.

Polo, what are you hearing?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, first off, you'll see the cluster of cameras and journalists behind me. Basically they're waiting right now to hear from Dayton's mayor, who's expected to speak any moment just outside of that bar where the shooting happened just about 48 hours ago here.

What we do know at this point is that there was this Twitter account that potentially could shed more light on who the shooter was, or at least give us more insight on him. It did include several extreme left-wing posts, as well as some anti-police and pro-Antifa messages that were on there. However, it's very important to point out here that police have recovered some other writings and at this point they are prepared to say that they have found nothing that would suggest that this was racially or politically motivated, as we heard from the police chief yesterday, is that they, in his own words, they are just not close enough for establishing a motive. To try to establish an answer to that question of why that shooter would take that weapon and walk down this street behind me early Sunday morning, opening fire, killing nine people, including his own sister.

I can also tell you that the people here are certainly still mourning, but they're also really frustrated. We witnessed just about two days ago here, during a candlelight vigil, where some of the supporters here, some of the mourners interrupted Ohio governor yesterday, Mike DeWine, asking for him to do something. And now we understand that he really does seem to agree with that kind of statement, just recently introducing multiple measures that would potentially be considered here gun reform, and that includes the implementation of background checks, for example. So there would certainly be some support from the community here in Dayton, Ohio, where they are preparing to potentially see President Trump here very soon as we wait to hear from Dayton's mayor any moment now.

BOLDUAN: Yes, so it does seem like, at this moment, there could be real movement in Ohio. It all depends on what the governor can do with the state legislature there. That's definitely something to be watching now.

Polo, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

So we are learning more about the nine lives taken too soon in Dayton, including 25-year-old Nicholas Cumer. A friend writing this in his hometown paper, "The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette." He said -- he wrote this. He was the weirdest, coolest guy. He looked like Adam Levine. Every girl adored him, and every guy wanted to be him. The kid made everyone happy.

[12:05:04] Joining me right now is someone else who knew Nicholas Cumer, Karen Wonders. She's the founder and director of the Maple Tree Cancer Alliance, where Nicholas was working.

Karen, thank you so much for being here during this very difficult time.

KAREN WONDERS, HIRED DAYTON VICTIM NICHOLAS CUMER: Yes, thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: How did you hear that Nicholas was one of the victims, one of those killed?

WONDERS: Well, I was actually out of town over the weekend speaking at a retreat, and I woke up, you know, and I checked my phone, as I always do, and saw a news alert about a mass shooting in Dayton. And, you know, the first thing I did was I checked in on the people that I cared about. And one of the people I sent a text to was my team at Maple Tree Cancer Alliance. And I just sent them a simple text that said, hey, heard about the shooting last night, is everyone OK? And to be perfectly honest, I never, in a million years, expected that three of them would have been involved in the shooting. But quickly after sending that text, I got a phone call from one of my trainers who told me. And I just -- I couldn't even process what she was saying. It just -- it felt like -- it felt like the world just kind of stopped suddenly while we were on the phone.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And, I mean, everything that I've heard about Nicholas is just -- it makes it even more difficult to think about that he -- that he was killed in such a horrific way and such a cruel way.

He was an intern at your cancer center working with patients. You actually just -- I was reading, had just offered him a full-time job. What did you see in him that made you want to hire him full time? WONDERS: You know, I think it's so important with our organization,

we're doing exercise training for people who are in the middle of cancer treatment. And really what we're looking for whatever we hire people is that they're compassionate and that they're caring and that they're brave enough to stand with someone and to encourage them when they're in the darkest time of their life.

And when you talk about the characteristics that Nick had, he embodied all of them. So much so that we're getting ready to open up a new office here pretty soon. And when we were looking at the people to hire, he was number one on our list. He was the first person that unanimously our leadership team wanted to offer this position to.

BOLDUAN: Is there something about Nick, as you call him -- is there something about Nick, a story that kind of comes to your mind in these moments that you want to share?

WONDERS: Yes. You know, we all got together Sunday night just to kind of talk through everything. And one of the things that stuck out to so many of us was just that he always made eye contact with people. And I think that that's not something you can teach, especially a 25-year- old. You know, younger guy, you know, just coming out of school. And when he worked with his patients, he would always look them in the eye. And for that hour, he was with them. He made them feel like they were the most important thing to him.

And, you know, that just speaks volumes, I think, of the person that Nick was and how he just really was so serving of other people and wanting to encourage and wanting to provide hope and really just wanting to care for others in his life.

BOLDUAN: Such a loss. Tragedies like this, of course, there's no other way to say it, there's just ripple effects of sadness that happen with a death like -- that the -- like a -- with a death like that of Nick. I mean said another way, I guess, in a more positive way, the huge impact that a life like that -- a light like that has on other people.

I mean how are you dealing with the fact that Nicholas is not going to be coming back to work?

WONDERS: Yes, as the executive director at Maple Tree, I definitely feel the weight of this. You know, Nick was here on an internship working at an organization that I started, and I feel like a lot of times I can talk about, well, this is my dream and this is my vision for our organization. And he was here and he was making that a reality. And he was very vocal about the fact that he wanted this to be his career. He wanted his career to be at Maple Tree. And I just feel like there's a huge hole right now, not only in my heart, but in our organization as a whole. We're just -- we're taking this very hard.

BOLDUAN: Yes, well, Karen, thank you for coming on. And thank you for sharing your story. And thank you for the work that you do. Thank you so much for that.

And Nick's family, we can only imagine the pain that they're going through right now and we lift them up right now. Thank you.

WONDERS: Thank you. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

All right, let's turn back to El Paso right now and let's get back to Erica Hill. She's on the ground for us.

Erica.

[12:10:02] HILL: Kate, thank you.

We are learning more today from police about the alleged gunman. They're saying he purchased his weapon legally near his hometown of Allen, Texas. That's about a 10 to 11-hour drive from where we are here in El Paso.

And as for why this Walmart behind me? Well, the suspect, according to police, said he got lost in a neighborhood and he found this store because he was hungry.

I want to bring in now Rosa Flores, who has more on the investigation.

And it's interesting that that's what police say he's telling them because I know you've had this conversation, as have I, with people who frequent this Walmart, including a woman who lives up the street. She said to me, we think this was on purpose because this is what we call the Mexican Walmart. She said, I don't say that in a derogatory way. She said, I'm of Mexican decent too. She said, but people come here all the time, specifically coming over the border.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. People from both this community and from Juarez come here all the time. And we can -- we haven't been able to get close to that Walmart, but I can tell you, I'm from a border town, and as a kid, I remember going to the equivalent of the Mexican Walmart here --

HILL: Right.

FLORES: And looking at the license plates, because as a curious kid, I wanted to know where the people were from. And you could see this mixture of both Mexican state license plates and also Texas license plates. So the same thing happening here in this community, like most border communities, you have individuals who have family members on both sides of the border.

But, like you said, we are learning more from authorities about the gunman, about this investigation. But they're very tight-lipped -- can be very tight-lipped about some details. We do know from court documents, for example, that he has lived with his grandparents for the past two years, that he has been unemployed for five months, that he has no income. And, of course, authorities linking him to that four-page manifesto and the U.S. attorney's office saying that they are investigating this as domestic terrorism and following up with federal authorities for possible hate crime and firearms charges. So I think a lot of developments will come in the coming days and

weeks. And we haven't heard the last definitely from authorities. And we're going to be asking a lot of questions.

HILL: Yes, absolutely.

You've also been talking to -- you've been talking to members of the community about so much, but specifically in the last 24 hours about the president's impending visit. And there is a lot of strong reaction to that plan for the president to come here.

FLORES: You know, there are mixed emotions. People from this community don't want the president to be here and then there's people in this community who believe that it's his duty as commander in chief to be here with the people of El Paso.

Now, from talking to some individuals, they say that they just can't reconcile the president's words, his policies when it comes to immigration and his presence here because this attack was anti-Latino, anti-immigrant, because of that four-page manifesto that is filled with racist comments. And so they're having trouble welcoming President Trump here because, like we were saying, this is a border community. Just a few miles down the road, there are hundreds of Central Americans who are waiting to seek asylum when normally, when you seek asylum in the United States, you're allowed to enter. You don't stay in the harm that you're trying to escape. And so people have very raw emotions. And here's what some of them had to say. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OSCAR SALAZAR, EL PASO RESIDENT: Just a little nervous about how the public is going to react to him coming back after saying so many negative things about, you know, Mexican people and stuff like that. It's kind of heartbreaking, but that's the world that we live in today, so --

KARLA CUBURU, EL PASO RESIDENT: I'm hoping for the best. I would hate for any more violent acts to happen with his visit, but I do appreciate that he is coming down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FLORES: Now, in this memorial behind us, Erica, there is one thing that really symbolizes, I think, this community. There are two flags behind us, a Mexican flag and a U.S. flag, and they're sewn together. And, you know, they ripple with the wind.

HILL: Yes.

FLORES: It's a true symbol of this community and what people here have told us, we are not going to be divided by this hate. We are not going to be divided by what happened in the Walmart that you see behind us. So it's just such a symbol of what we're seeing.

HILL: We should point out too, the mayor saying yesterday in response to the announcement of the president's visit, it should not be a political visit. But to your point this is a community that does not have an international border.

Rosa, thank you.

And still to come, we're actually going to speak with the chairwoman of the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus here in Texas to talk about the impact of this horrific attack that was targeting specifically the Latino community.

[12:14:46] BOLDUAN: And later, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, he holds the keys to any action in the Senate on any -- any -- on really any measure. With that reality, does Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who's also running for president, does she see any movement on gun measures happening? She's our guest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HILL: Welcome back.

The White House has announced President Trump is planning to visit El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, this week. He'll be here in El Paso tomorrow. A number of local residents telling CNN, though, they don't want him to come.

Joining me now is Texas State Representative Mary Gonzalez. She represents El Paso County at the state capitol. We should point out, you're also the vice chairwoman of the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus.

[12:20:04] On the question of the president, we've heard mixed reaction from folks. We know the mayor of El Paso said this shouldn't be seen as a political visit. Do you think the president should come here tomorrow?

REP. MARY GONZALEZ (D), TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: As a state representative, my first thought in this situation is a center healing of my community. And so what I think is that what we hear from the majority of the people here in the community is that it will interrupt their healing.

El Paso is the most welcoming and loving community in literally the entire country. And I think maybe under different circumstances, there would be a different reaction. But right now all we want to take care about -- take care of is the families who were traumatized, the community that is still healing. And we don't really -- a lot of people don't really necessarily believe that his visit will really support those efforts.

HILL: I was speaking yesterday with Manuel Oliver. His son, Joaquin, was killed in the Parkland shooting. He would have been 19 on Sunday. And he was in town to paint a mural here. One of the things he told me is the activism that he and his wife have engaged in since losing their son, they were reluctant to speak specifically about different communities and specifically the Latino community he said because we wanted the country to understand this was a problem that affects all Americans. But he said that has changed for him now in the wake of what happened behind us.

What does the conversation need to be about the Latino community and what's being the target that they have become in this country today?

GONZALEZ: I mean, I think that's part of the larger narrative. What I have seen in this community alone for the last year is a year ago we had thousands of Latino children in tents just 20 miles away in the (INAUDIBLE) tent city. A month and a half ago we had the Clint Detention Center crisis where 700 kids were in a detention center and where children have been dying across the border just for being Latino immigrants.

HILL: And that's your district.

GONZALEZ: Yes, and that's my district.

HILL: Yes.

GONZALES: And now we're here. This community, my community, has been at the forefront of this crisis and where Latino issues and Latino identity is forefront and center. It is no accident that when a guy decided that he wanted to kill Latino people, that he picked El Paso. That he got in his car, drove nine hours and came here. And so I think that we can't have this conversation without talking about race and identity in this country.

HILL: It's a conversation we want to continue to have.

I'm going to have to stop you there for a moment because the mayor is speaking, Mayor Nan Whaley, in Dayton, Ohio. And we do want to listen into what she's saying right now.

MAYOR NAN WHALEY, DAYTON, OHIO: The perfect answer of legislation that's going to solve every single gun problem down the road. But we need to start working and moving toward that direction. And I think Governor DeWine has done that.

I definitely think the actions of -- of, you know, both him, Senator Brown, Senator Portman, Congressman Turner coming to Dayton on Sunday, seeing this site and then witnessing the love and grief and outpouring and the anger and our community has had an effect on him.

QUESTION: What about --

QUESTION: Can you say if this incident is politically motivated?

WHALEY: What incident? The incident of Trump coming? What -- you know?

QUESTION: The man who did the shooting.

WHALEY: Oh. No, I mean, I -- I have really no new news on the investigation today, so --

QUESTION: Mayor, do you think that the president can unite -- help unite (INAUDIBLE) tomorrow? WHALEY: Everyone has it in their power to be a force to bring people

together and everybody has it in their power to bring a force to bring people apart. That's up to the president of the United States.

QUESTION: Mayor, one of the things about --

QUESTION: Mayor, would you talk about banning assault weapons. What do you think about (INAUDIBLE)?

WHALEY: Look, I'm in favor of a ban on assault weapons. I've always been in favor of that, even before this. I think that, you know, this gun is a problematic issue. If -- you know, the issue is, if he didn't have a gun like that, we wouldn't see so much fast death that happened in 30 seconds that occurred. And I shared that with the president when he talked -- when he called me Sunday evening.

QUESTION: Mayor, do you believe that the president will help bring this community together tomorrow?

WHALEY: Look, I have no sense of what's in President Trump's mind at all, right? I can only hope that as president of the United States, that he's coming here because he wants to add value to our community and he recognizes that that's what our community needs. That's all I can hope.

QUESTION: Have they reached out for a meeting with you, mayor, the president?

WHALEY: Yes, they have.

QUESTION: And is that going to happen?

WHALEY: Yes.

QUESTION: And, mayor --

QUESTION: Do you (INAUDIBLE) about the schedule and what he's going to be doing in this area (ph)?

WHALEY: I do not have information on his schedule.

QUESTION: And, mayor, after his remarks wrapped up yesterday, what was the first thing that went through your mind?

WHALEY: OK, what were -- I'm sorry, his remarks yesterday, can you give me a little more.

QUESTION: Yes. You know, when -- when he addressed the nation about the shootings, when also he addressed the people of --

WHALEY: Oh. Of Toledo? Yes, look, I'm disappointed with his remarks. I mean I think they fell really short. He mentioned like gun issues one time. I think, you know, watching the president over the past few years on the issue of guns, he's been -- I don't know if he knows what he believes, frankly.

QUESTION: When he did misspeak and say Toledo instead of Dayton, what was your immediate reaction?

WHALEY: My immediate reaction is like, people from the coast never understand Ohio and they think all Ohio cities are the same. And it's an exhausting issue that we have all the time. And that if, you know, we had people from power centers really invest and pay attention to our communities, we'd all be better off.

QUESTION: Hey, Nan --

[12:25:03] QUESTION: The governor's plan for early intervention seems like it was very applicable here.

WHALEY: Right, I think definitely, you know, the governor's trying to make steps that are -- have affected here. He has been very clear. He called me last night about this. We had a discussion about it. You know, he said, look, I don't know if these things would have changed Dayton, but I think Dayton happening has changed his movement on some of these things.

I should also say, I think the governor was working on these for a few months. He said that to me. So this isn't something that, you know, he got together -- maybe it sped up that process, but I think he's been working on this for a bit.

QUESTION: You have all these teachers in town right now. And so early intervention seems like it's very applicable today and for Sunday morning.

WHALEY: Right, with the Dayton Public School Convocation and right as we go back to school and, you know, having those assets. And let's also be clear, like, the mental health issue that we're talking about to increase mental health capacity in this -- in this state has been an issue since the great recession. So, you know, having just that done, I don't think it has per say as much to -- I'm sorry, to do with the gun issue. It does have a little bit. But just, people, we need mental health access overall. We see that with the opioid epidemic. We see that every day in our communities. We see that with people that have survived this. You know, we need more mental health access.

QUESTION: Is enough being done at the federal level to address gun violence?

WHALEY: Absolutely not. I mean, look, I think, you know, the federal -- you know, what do you see in D.C.? You see a lot of nothing happening on a lot of stuff. And gun -- guns -- commonsense gun reform is definitely an example where nothing's happened. So, yes, we want something to happen there too.

QUESTION: Is there an update on the investigation?

WHALEY: No, we don't have much of an update today. So that's why I just came here really quickly to talk to you all.

QUESTION: Are you going to express these views to the president when you see him tomorrow?

WHALEY: Absolutely.

QUESTION: You are?

WHALEY: Absolutely.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

WHALEY: Look, I mean, if I'm telling you, I'm going to tell him. I'm -- he probably will hear it from you all better than he hears it from me, but, yes.

QUESTION: What are you going to tell him?

WHALEY: Like how unhelpful he's been on this. I mean yesterday his comments weren't very helpful to the issue around guns.

QUESTION: Do you believe he's coming too soon?

WHALEY: Look, he's the president of the United States. He does his calendar. I do mine.

QUESTION: Mayor, your reactions to the comments by (INAUDIBLE).

WHALEY: Oh, they're really just heartbreaking. I mean I think here you have a woman that lives 40 minutes from here. And for her to spew such hate in a community that -- our community's about inclusivity. Our community is about diversity. Our community is about bringing people together. And to say that on the heels of these deaths, I think she just represents like what is so disgusting about American politics today.

And I commend the Ohio Republican Party for calling for her resignation. I commend the profile in courage, the Warren County Commissioner Shannon Jones, who always speaks truth to power, and I'm glad, you know, I hope -- I hope she resigns, because that kind of hate does not -- and there's a lot of interesting stuff in the Ohio Statehouse, but definitely that does not belong there.

QUESTION: Have you had a chance to meet with any of the victims yet?

WHALEY: No, the victims have their victim advocates and so I have -- they have not asked to reach out. And we give them their space. And we'll continue to do that. I do plan on visiting the hospitals this afternoon.

QUESTION Mayor --

QUESTION: Mayor, going back to Governor DeWine's address this morning, talking about mental health. Here in Dayton you had all those tornados, now this. How important do you think that's going to be at the start of the school year now?

WHALEY: I think mental health is a really, really big issue. I think guns are a big issue too. I want us to be careful to not just put them together as one. They are connected. But we have a mental health issue that affects gun violence and we do have an issue with guns. So, you know, the straw purchase part that he talks about, the

background checks, are really, really important. And to just -- if you just do mental health and don't do gun work on common sense gun legislation, we will not be successful in this fight.

QUESTION: And early identification of kids though social media and things of that nature?

WHALEY: So, yes, we're pleased -- I mean I'm pleased with these flag laws and I'm glad that Ohio's going to -- you know, hopefully Ohio will be one as well.

QUESTION: Have you been briefed yet on this alleged ex-girlfriend's essay about some of those red flags? And what are your concerns (INAUDIBLE)?

WHALEY: No, I have not been. You know, I let the police do their investigation. And I think it's important to give them space. And then when it's time, they'll brief us. But I know that they're doing everything as quickly as they can.

QUESTION: Mayor, have you heard any more about what happened with the high school investigation into the hit list and --

WHALEY: No, I don't have any updates on the investigation this morning -- this afternoon.

Are you guys good?

QUESTION: Yes. Thank you.

WHALEY: Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you, mayor.

QUESTION: Should we expect an update --

[12:29:47] BOLDUAN: You're hearing right there from Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, kind of updating reporters and saying some really interesting things. Asked about the president's visit to Dayton. She says she will be meeting with President Trump, but chose her words very carefully saying that I have no sense what is in the president -- what is in Donald Trump's mind, but I hope that he is coming here to add value to our community and then saying that she was disappointed with the president's remarks yesterday.