Return to Transcripts main page


Trump to Visit El Paso and Dayton After Mass Shootings; Biden: White Supremacists Winning Battle for Soul of America; Survivor Says He Threw Bottles at El Paso Gunman to Distract Him; Dayton Shooter's Twitter Feed Shows Extreme Leftist Views. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired August 6, 2019 - 06:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.

[05:58:37] SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is responsible for the hatred and the violence that we're seeing.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot allow him to get off scot free.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think I deserve to live.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it's not fair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mitch McConnell won't let these bills come up for a vote. It's time for him to get it done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they can stop even one shooting from happening, we ought to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was grabbing him to my bed till someone can pull me off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So he died in your arms. What did you say to him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just kept saying, "I love you. Get up."


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, August 6. It's 6 a.m. here in New York. Alisyn is off. My friend Chris Cuomo joins me live this morning from El Paso, Texas.

And we learned overnight that President Trump is preparing to visit El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, this week, two cities burying their dead after mass shootings.

And particularly in the case of El Paso, cities trying to move past divisions that the president has stoked for years. The White House is not releasing the president's travel plans. The mayor of El Paso says he will meet with President Trump tomorrow, but some in the city are asking the president to cancel the visit. They say the racist, divisive language that the president uses is having very real consequences, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I'll tell you, we had hundreds of people last night, J.B., coming up to us after the show, expressing exactly those kinds of concerns, no one louder than presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke.

He tweeted, "This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday's tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso. We do not need more division. We need to heal. He has no place here."

So we spoke at length with O'Rourke on Monday. The former Texas congressman says the president's speech on Monday denouncing racism, calling for unity, rings entirely too hollow.


BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the same man who called white nationalists and Klansman and neo-Nazis, "very fine people." Who asked for more immigrants who looked like those in Sweden and Norway, the whitest places on the planet, while describing immigrants from Haiti as "full of AIDS" or countries in Africa, (EXPLETIVE DELETED) hole nations.

This is the most racist president we've had since perhaps Andrew Johnson, in -- in another age, in another century. And he is responsible for the hatred and the violence that we're seeing right now.

You cannot leave that just to me to say that. It's got to be you and those who are helping this country understand what is happening in our name, to connect those dots of these actions that can seem unconnected or disparate or random or just strange, that they're not. They're all of a pattern.

And they all follow what this president has said from that maiden speech when he ran for the highest office in the land, describing the people of this community as rapists and criminals, talking about people as though they are animals or subhuman. You saw that manifesto. The words that he was using were many of the same words that the president has been using. We cannot allow him to get off scot-free just -- just because he gave a speech here today.


BERMAN: That's Beto O'Rourke. And now for the first time, Chris, we're also hearing from former Vice President Joe Biden, his first interview since these shootings over the weekend. He says the president's anti-immigrant, anti-minority rhetoric has

emboldened white supremacists. The former vice president spoke to Anderson Cooper overnight and said he would move to crack down on assault weapons if elected but, unlike Beto O'Rourke, Biden stopped short of directly calling the president a white nationalist.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The white supremacists are winning the battle. This is -- this is domestic terrorism.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You talked about, though, Charlottesville being a defining moment. Do you see this as -- as another defining moment?

BIDEN: Absolutely. But you know, it's a continuation. I mean, this is -- this is a president who continues to speak in ways that just are completely contrary to everything who we are. I mean, referring to immigrants as, you know, Mexicans as rapists and talking about, you know, the rats in Baltimore. I mean, the way he talks about people.

COOPER: Do you -- do you blame the president in part for what happened in El Paso?

BIDEN: I don't -- what I do is his rhetoric contributes to this notion that -- it almost legitimates people coming out from under the rocks. I mean, this -- this is white nationalism. This is -- this is -- this is terrorism of a different sort. But it's still terrorism.

COOPER: Beto O'Rourke has said that he believes the president is a white nationalist. Do you?

BIDEN: Well, let me put it this way: Whether he is or not, he sure is using the language of and contributing to the kinds of things that they say.

Clearly, his actions have done nothing to do anything other than encourage this kind of behavior.


BERMAN: We're going to hear much more from this interview -- and it was really revealing, Chris -- next hour with former Vice President Biden. He talks about grief, something he knows about dealing with all too well, Chris, and sharing that grief and those feelings, I think, with the people of El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, this morning.

CUOMO: Yes. And here the pain is very raw, very real, J.B., and people are asking, what will change?

Now, the numbers only tell part of the story. We now have 22 people who lost their lives, murdered by this hateful man here. Two died from their injuries just yesterday.

But the entire city is wounded. They united to honor those who they lost. Survivors began sharing their stories. We met this man named Christopher Grant. He went shopping with his mother. He hears shots, gets her to safety, runs towards them, actually distracts the gunman, gets his attention to draw his fire away from people that he was watching this guy execute. Struggles, he's bleeding out. He needs a guardian angel: a CBP agent. We were there to witness their reunion in the ICU in what is now an unbreakable bond.


CUOMO: So you heard gunshots and you knew that's what it was?

CHRISTOPHER GRANT, SURVIVOR: I heard that. And I knew what it was, so I ran towards my mother to try to shield her. And I'm like, "Mom," because my mom, she's a gun-wielding grandma. She carries a -- she carries a snub-nosed Smith & Wesson, .38 special with a built-in scope in it everywhere she goes.

CUOMO: Not that day.

[06:05:05] GRANT: An hour before we went to Wal-Mart, she decides, "Oh, we're just going to Wal-Mart. I'm going to put it in my room."

I was inside the produce department, which is right by the front door, and I saw him popping people off, and I was like, you know, this is crazy. So and -- to deter him, I started just chucking bottles. I started throwing bottles, random bottles at him. And I'm not a baseball player, so one went this way, and one went that way. And then one went right towards him, and then that's what he saw me, and just started -- and I ducked and start -- I was behind the chips, and so I ducked. And he just, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, started firing off rounds at me. And I was like, "Oh, my God, this guy is shooting at me.

So when I got hit, it was like -- it was like somebody put a hand grenade in your back and pulled the pin. That's basically what it felt like.

And then so I was like, "Oh, my God. I've got to get up. I've got to get up. Get up, get up."

And then so he walked to the bank, which was right by the restrooms, and just randomly started -- I mean, people were praying in Spanish, "Por favor, no. No! Por favor, no!" And he was just -- they were on the ground, and he still just shot them in the head. He had no remorse for their lives at all.

And when I ran through the Wal-Mart, I kind of mingled around through the paint department, and then I finally found the auto department. And so I ran through the auto department door, and there was Donna, my guardian angel, and she's a federal agent.


GRANT: And I said, "There's a shooter inside, a code brown." My dad was in the military, and so that means there's a shooter inside.

So she's like, "Get down, get down." And she went to work, and did her job, and patched me up, and took me to shelter and covered me, and just did all these things that, you know, she was paid to do. That was her job, you know. She said -- and she said the same thing my mom said, "I'm going to Wal-Mart. I don't need my firearm," and so she didn't have her gun with her.

She'll be a friend for life, because she -- I honestly, honestly think she saved my life. I really do, because she was there for me. She never -- she never left my side. And she called everybody. And before you know it, she threw me in the back of a random pickup truck who happened to be a police officer. And she said, "Get this guy to the ambulance."

COOPER: You signify what we are at our best, in the worst moment, and there's so many who owe you the debt of gratitude.

GRANT: I won't accept it because I just -- I did what any good man would have done. That's all.

There she is --


GRANT (singing): -- Miss America.

How are you?


GRANT: This is my guardian angel, Donna.


CUOMO: Boy, has he been talking you up.

SIFFORD: Yes. Yes, it was a -- it was a hell of an event.

GRANT: You are -- you are an amazing, amazing person. You know that?

SIFFORD: Thank you.

GRANT: You did your job, and you did your job very well, and there was no hesitation. You knew exactly what to do, and I honestly think that you saved my life. I do.

SIFFORD: I'm just so happy I was there for you.

CUOMO: What did you think when he came running up to you and told you what was going on?

SIFFORD: You know, I mean, we heard the gunshots happening. We were trying to get as many people as we could out. We found Chris. We were able to get him outside. There were two Wal-Mart employees that were absolutely --

GRANT: Phenomenal. SIFFORD: Yes, phenomenal. They -- we grabbed as many first-aid kits, paper towels. You know, everybody applied paper towels to him just to try to stop to bleeding. We actually ducked down between two vehicles on the -- on the northeast side of Wal-Mart. Told him to be quiet, because we didn't know if the shooter --

GRANT: She was bossy.

CUOMO: That's no easy task with you, by the way.


CUOMO: That's the biggest risk to the situation was you probably talking the whole time.

GRANT: Everything she said I did, and it saved my life.

CUOMO: Are you thinking about what you're dealing with, or were you just in go mode?

SIFFORD: We were just in go mode. I mean, I just did exactly what -- what CBP taught me to do.

CUOMO: What do you think of the idea of someone who is just a hater, white nationalist, whatever label you want to put on him, come into this place, trying to find people who are brown, who represent something he hates, and doing this in your town?

SIFFORD: A coward, just an absolute hateful coward. I mean, to come in and shoot children and innocent people, there's no other word for this man. They're our family. They're our friends. I mean, this is our neighborhood.

CUOMO: What did it mean to you to know that he had made it? He was OK?

SIFFORD: I was so ecstatic that he had -- he made it. I mean, we bonded out there, and I'm just happy to see that he's doing well.

[06:10:05] GRANT: I'm happy to see you all. I'll ever -- forever be indebted to you, because you honestly saved my life, I think.

SIFFORD: Yes. We're going to be friends forever.

GRANT: Forever.


CUOMO: Just an extraordinary story. You know, you've got to remember, J.B., we're in the ICU. Christopher Grant, they say he's going to be OK. But you know, he took two hits, one obviously around his kidney. He was all hooked up with tubes, other one in his arm.

And then you come here this morning, and this officer comes up to me, in uniform, and he says, "Hey, I heard you met this guy in the hospital, African-American male." I said, "Yes, I did. Christopher Grant. Why do you ask?"

And he goes, "I'm the guy who put him in the truck." That officer that he talked about being there, who was also off-duty with his girls going to a movie, he came up, wants to go see him in the hospital.

This is a really really tight community. They've been wounded by this, but I think this hater picked the wrong place. El Paso is totally an example of what this country is at her best.

BERMAN: Look, there are two things that jumped out to me in that really moving interview, at times searing interview. First of all when Christopher Grant is describing what's going on inside the Wal- Mart, with people saying, "Por favor, no, don't shoot me." That just -- that just cuts you. That just hurts.

And then the other thing he said, though, Chris is that when he was down, when he was down after being shot, after feeling like a hand grenade went off in his back, he says, "I know I got to get up. I got to get up."

And that, to me, is El Paso this morning. That to me is Donna, who helped him up. That, to me, is the officer who came up to you this morning and said he wants to go visit Chris in the ICU.

CUOMO: It's also a reminder that this man was not mentally ill. He wasn't deranged. He wasn't not in his right mind. He was looking. He was listening, and he was acting. This was a hateful white nationalist who, by any definition, is a terrorist.

BERMAN: That's right. Donna said it best: also a coward.

All right, Chris. We're going to come back to you in just a moment.

We do have new developments this morning in the shooting in Dayton, Ohio. We're learning new details about the gunman there through his high school classmates and also through social media.

CNN's Polo Sandoval live in Dayton. Polo, tell us what you've learned.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, that Twitter account was suspended by Twitter on Sunday evening, really just after that shooting; but when you look at that, it seems to be that it likely belonged to the actual suspect himself.

This account contained extreme left-wing posts. It was anti-police, pro-Antifa, retweets that included, as well, in the bio line, it actually had the phrase -- I'm quoting this -- "I'm going to hell, and I'm not coming back."

This new information is coming as we continue to hear from some of the gunman's former high-school mates who say that they were told by school officials nearly a decade ago that they were on a -- not only a hate but also a rape list. And also, though, law enforcement sources saying that they did look at

the shooter's home, and they recovered what are being described as writings. However, they're saying that, based on those writings, at this point in time, it does not seem that this -- that the atrocity that happened here was either politically or racially motivated. At least not for now, as investigators continue to proceed with all leads here.

And we also heard yesterday, Don [SIC] -- John, from Dayton's police chief, who essentially said, "Look, these are all little pieces of evidence that they are still considering here."

And as the chief put it right now, it would be a mistake to assume that any specific little bit of evidence, especially if it's from about ten years ago, would be directly related to what happened here.

So again, that investigation still continues as this community heals. In fact, there's a gun show that was scheduled for this weekend that has been cancelled. The organizer of it, John, saying this community needs time to heal.

BERMAN: Indeed, certainly does. All right, Polo. We'll come back to you on the ground there in Dayton soon to get the new developments.

Also, back on the ground in El Paso.

In the meantime, we have heard from big names in the Democratic Party following the shootings in Dayton, and El Paso, but now, the biggest name in the party, the national Democrat with the highest profile, he is speaking out with very carefully chosen words, next.


[06:18:45] BERMAN: All right. We are learning this morning that President Trump is getting ready to visit El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, two communities rocked by gun violence, and in the case of El Paso, a community targeted by hate. We know that there are some in both cities who don't welcome the visits from the president at all.

Joining us now is Wajahat Ali, a CNN contributor and contributing op- ed writer for "The New York Times"; Maysoon Zayid, writer and producer; and Raul Reyes, attorney and CNN Opinion writer.

And Raul, I want to start with you. You were in El Paso for a family reunion --


BERMAN: -- this weekend when this happened, and you have written that the president's words over years have essentially created an open season on Hispanics.

So my question to you is how should the president's visit to El Paso, which we think comes tomorrow, be received?

REYES: Right. How will it be received? BERMAN: How should it be received is how I'm asking it.

REYES: That is a tough one, because honestly, my view is that the best thing that this president could do at this point is to stay home and let people and allow them the respect to just -- to grieve and to continue to figure out how the city moves forward.

And you know, President Trump was there in El Paso before. He did a big rally there, and it was actually a problem for the city then. I think he still -- he still owes the city something like $470,000 in security-related expenses.

[06:20:06] But beyond that, his visit to the city will put a tremendous strain, just on the resources required to ensure that his visit is safe and orderly. And right now in El Paso, with the shooting going on, with the -- with so many of the local resources being deployed to handle the migrants who are literally being dumped at bus stations and nonprofit shelters, the city services are greatly strained.

The president's visit is not really going to do anyone potentially anything positive, other than the president himself, who might get in a photo op or some type of show of compassion or empathy, if he's capable of that. But I don't really see anything positive coming out of it for the city, honestly.

BERMAN: Wajahat, I know you have been talking and thinking a lot about the president's words yesterday and the best way to interpret his statement from the White House.

I want to read you something that Michael Gerson, who was a speech writer for George W. Bush, what Michael Gerson writes this morning: "Never in my political lifetime has an American president had less moral standing to address a national threat. Nearly every phrase of President Trump's telefied [SIC] -- televised response to the El Paso and Dayton shootings could be matched with some discrediting contrast in his own voice."

Now, I suspect you share some of those sentiments. So my question to you is what now, what should, could the president do. What would you like to see him do?

WAJAHAT ALI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I agree with Raul, I think instead of going to El Paso, he could probably go to his own golf resort. That's where he was on Sunday as the nation mourned two massacres, this pathetic, insignificant man that we call president.

And the second thing he would do is maybe learn the name of the city that was affected and maybe not land his Air Force One plane in Toledo. I hope he actually lands in Dayton.

And what I'd like for him to do is have some ownership over his role of stoking fear and hate and racism, especially against immigrants and Hispanics.

This is the same man -- let's not forget -- who started his campaign saying that Mexicans bring rapists and criminals. He is the man who doubled down on one talking point. There is an invasion of immigrants and rapists and criminals coming from Latin America. This is the same man who, in the past three weeks -- I didn't say the past three years -- I said the past three weeks -- has told four congresswomen of color to go back to their own country. Three of them were born and raised in this country. And the same man who said that Baltimore is a place that is crime and rodent-infested city where no human being would live.

So if honestly, if you're asking me this honest question, I want Donald Trump to go to El Paso, to go Dayton, not Toledo, and say, "I am sorry. I apologize for being a cheerleader for hate and for racism. I have some moment of self-reflection. I will listen to you. I will stop demonizing my fellow Americans who don't wear a MAGA hat. I will stop demonizing black and brown Americans. And I will work with you, and I will go after white supremacist terrorism that I have enabled with my rhetoric. And I will treat that crime, and I will be as tough on that crime as I am on immigrants. If I'm even just half as tough on white supremacist terrorists as I am, say, on an undocumented immigrant, this country would be safer. I'm sorry. I owe you that much, America."

BERMAN: Maysoon, you were here -- I think it was two weeks ago, and it says something that I can't remember exactly what the predicate was.


BERMAN: But you were responding to a provocation from the president and his language, and you told us that you were scared.


BERMAN: That you were scared to be here. Now this morning, after these shootings, after we heard what the president said, after the calls for healing, are you still scared this morning?

ZAYID: I'm absolutely still scared, because we've seen a manifestation of exactly what I was worried about. Words matter, and from years before he even started running, not just when he rode down that escalator, Trump has been using inciteful, dangerous language.

When I was here the last time, we were talking about the targets he put on Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib and the rest of the congresswomen. A week later, he put a target on Elijah Cummings. And he has had a target on the Latino community from day one. We saw what happened as a result of this.

And this idea that he's going to go down there and unify in some way is ludicrous. He lit the tiki torches. He can't roast go marshmallows on the ashes now. This is not completely his fault, but he is definitely inciting violence.

When I talked about being terrified, when I talked about the fact that we are bullied and dehumanized every single day with this racist rhetoric, people thought I was being hyperbolic. There are 22 people dead because a racist heard the president of the United States dehumanizing Latinos, saying they were invading this country, and he took it into his own hands to protect it, to follow the marching orders given to him by Donald Trump.

So for Trump to go there and throw paper towels over the graves of these people, after like what Wajahat said. He went to his club, and he frolicked at a wedding. He profited as those people still lay on the Wal-Mart floor, their families not knowing if they were gone forever. Why? Why would he go down there and just add to the pain and the misery?

[06:25:20] REYES: And John, you know, think about this. We heard the president give these remarks yesterday in something of an apology for what happened over the weekend, right?

BERMAN: Well, he didn't apologize. He didn't apologize, but --

REYES: His version.

BERMAN: His words were he criticized white supremacists. but he didn't apologize.

REYES: But you know what two words he did not use? He did not utter the word "Latino" or the word "Hispanic." And this was a massacre that targeted Latinos and Hispanic in a city that is 80 percent Latino. So to me, that says everything about the regard he has for our community.

And Maysoon, what she is saying, that applies to so many Latinos in this country, where I hear from so many people who just say that they are astonished that it is 2019, and we are -- we still find our place as Americans in this nation being an issue, being debated, being questioned at every turn, and that -- that is shocking to people.

That's shocking to my parents' generation, you know, who truly believed in the American dreams. It's shocking to all the Latinos who served in the military, and the fact that it is far from over. It's a huge question mark around the country we are going to be.

ZAYID: We are both saying that, like, no one can tell the difference between me and Raul. We're both targeted in the exact same way, simply for our skin color. Nobody cares what way you voted. Nobody knows if you're a conservative Latino, when they're gunning down brown people. It's not safe for anyone who looks like us right now.

BERMAN: And again, I remember the words we heard that were spoken inside that Wal-Mart, as the shooting was going on: "Por favor, no."

All right, friends, I do wish we had more time. But thank you for being with us this morning.

You get to the -- what is the huge contradiction, and we'll go back to Chris Cuomo in El Paso, which is that the country wants a president who can help heal. The country needs a president who can come and help heal. It is the job, Chris. CUOMO: Look, this has been our big fear. What happens if the talk

starts to lead to a dynamic of violent acts and bad acts? Then what? So now we're taking this on as a society.

We have another candidate who's running for president describing how gun violence hit home for him.


GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was the youngest schoolyard shooting in our country's history. Now, if a 10- year-old shot and killed an 11-year-old, it probably wouldn't even make national news.


CUOMO: Now, look, obviously, it doesn't have anything to do with what's happening here, but the tragedy that colored the life of Montana Governor Steve Bullock deserves some pursuit now that we're trying to get motivations of the men who want to lead us. Alisyn has that interview next.