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Trump To Face Skeptics, Protests Today In Dayton And El Paso; Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH) Calls For Background Checks On All Gun Sales; Dow Down 350+ Amid China Trade War Fears. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired August 7, 2019 - 10:00   ET

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


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JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A good morning to you this Wednesday. I'm Jim Sciutto in Dayton, Ohio. Poppy Harlow is off today.

Why are we in Dayton? Well, just a few yards behind me here, nine people lost their lives in the early morning hours of Sunday morning, another mass shooting in America. Minutes away from President Trump's arrival here in Dayton, he's going to meet with first responders. He'll meet with victims' families. Then he's going to fly later to El Paso, Texas.

Together, 31 people were killed in these two American communities over the weekend, just 12 hours apart. Now, the president plays the important role or will attempt to of consoler in chief.

But many in these communities, we've been speaking to them these last few days, they're skeptical. They're questioning if he can pull it off given past rhetoric towards immigrants, divisive rhetoric. They're concerned he will add to those divisions, not heal them.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will make his strongest comments yet on President Trump and white nationalism. A line from Biden's planned speech in Iowa today goes like this.

We're living through a rare moment in this nation's history where our president isn't up to that moment, where our president lacks the moral authority to lead or our president has more in common with George Wallace than George Washington. Of course, George Wallace a racist politician in the '60s and '70s in this country, that kind of criticism has the president pushing back.

Here is what he said moments ago on leaving the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: My critics are political people. They're trying to make points. In many cases, they're running for president and they're very low in the polls, a couple of them in particular very low in the polls.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Well, fact check there, of course, one thing uniting the Democratic presidents for candidates, including those very high in the polls, including the former vice president is criticism of this president's handling of these divisions.

Joining me now is Kaitlan Collins. So the president enters difficult territory here, both here in Dayton and in El Paso. I've been speaking to people in both communities. They don't believe -- many don't believe he's up to the task. How does the president manage that?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And that's the question. And I've been reporting on the president since day one when he took office. He has a habit of when something like this happens, where he does want to match the occasion, he does want to come off as this comforter in chief. But that's something his critics and even some of his own allies and aides have said is something he's fallen short of time and time again today in times like these.

He's going to try to do that today. He's expressed that privately behind the scenes, building up to these trips. The question is whether or not what the president says today matches what he says a week from now or a month from now.

SCIUTTO: Or in a Tweet tomorrow morning.

COLLINS: Or in a Tweet, as you've seen, where the president made those scripted remarks from the teleprompter as he addressed the nation a few days ago, condemning white supremacy and bigotry, talking about what to do in the aftermath of this shooting. And then just again on the south lawn of the White House, where he expressed the support for background checks.

Now, privately, we've heard the president has been talking about that since Saturday. The question is whether or not that's something he stands by after he speaks to some of his Republican allies who come from districts where maybe there's a lot of support for not to have expanded background checks or when he speaks with his friends at the NRA, who endorsed him in the last election, who the president has been close with, had them at the White House.

And we've seen this in the past after the Parkland shooting, where the president hosted some of the victims, first responders at the White House, came out in support of more restrictive gun measures, only to later back off of those stances.

That's what we'll be watching in light of this. But, of course, also the politics of this visit where you saw the president talking there. He's spoke with the Mayor of Dayton. He said she was nice during the phone call and then came out and criticized him afterward.

She said she also thought those remarks fell way short of what the president should be saying, saying he didn't talk about guns enough. They're going to be meeting with the president gets here to Dayton. So whether or not that turns into anything when they're meeting in person is another question.

But White House officials are dismissing that, just saying it's just politics and that the president, if he didn't come, would also be criticized.

SCIUTTO: Central to the president's calculation on any decision, whether it'd be background checks or red flags, it's going to be his own political fortunes as well with 2020 coming. He's a base politics politician. If he (INAUDIBLE) from the NRA, that's going nowhere, and that's certainly been the track record. It's difficult to imagine him continuing that support.

Kaitlan Collins, great to have you covering the White House.

As President Trump prepares to pay tribute to the victims in Dayton and El Paso, he is telling El Paso native and presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke to shut up on Twitter.

Late last night, Trump Tweeted that the outspoken former Texas Congressman from El Paso should, quote, respect the victims and law enforcement and be quiet, exclamation point.

O'Rourke himself responded by saying, quote, 22 people in my hometown are dead after an act of terror inspired by your racism.

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El Paso will not be quiet and neither will I.

CNN Correspondent Rosa Flores she is live in El Paso this morning just yards away from that other mass crime scene at the Walmart there.

Rosa, as you know, President Trump is expected to face protests during his visits there today. You've been speaking to people. What are they telling you about this visit?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, there are mixed emotions, Jim. I just talked to a gentleman. His name is Ralph Gallego (ph), 75 years of age, a Vietnam veteran. And his eyes were bloodshot. He was very emotional about President Trump's visit. He said that he is tired of all of the massacres that are happening in this country and that he's been in a war zone and that something can be done to stop those here in the U.S., and that President Trump can stay in the White House today and do something about it by doing something about gun control.

I also talked to another woman, also an El Paso native. Her name is Marlene Berroteran (ph), and she has very mixed emotions about the president's visit. Take a listen.

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MARLENE BERROTERAN, EL PASO, TEXAS RESIDENT: Very hard for me because, you know, he's a great businessman, you know, he's shrewd, everything, whatever you want to call him, he's excellent at that. But what comes out of his mouth has -- I'm sorry, has created all of this.

You know, I've never -- in all the years that I've been alive, never seen a president do something like this to us ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FLORES: You know, Jim, what I keep on hearing is that people here in El Paso can't do anything about President Trump's visit. He's going to be visiting today, but I keep on hearing over and over is that people hope that he brings a message of hope and that he brings some compassion and some love here to El Paso. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Rosa Flores on the ground there in El Paso.

For more on what needs to be done now to make a difference in the wake of these tragedies, what will be different, will anything be different? We know you are impatient for news of that at home. Let's bring in Ohio Congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Tim Ryan. Congressman, we appreciate you taking the time this morning.

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Congressman, you're, of course, from Ohio. This was an act of violence on the streets of an Ohio community here. The president is on his way here. Do you believe that's a mistake?

RYAN: I do. I think he's incapable of showing the level of emotion that is going to be needed to try to heal the country. If there was any doubt about that, all you have to do is look at his Tweet. The mature, adult response is, look, I understand why Congressman O'Rourke is upset, and I'm going to try to do better and we got to heal this country and I hope I can meet with him when I get to El Paso and we can put this behind us.

But instead, he torches the joint, throws jet fuel on the fires, not the least bit remorseful, is incapable of self-reflection, has zero self-awareness, and that is not a good quality in a leader. And so that speech he gave the other day about unity went right out the window minutes later.

SCIUTTO: I spent time in El Paso, now I'm here in Dayton. One commonality is folks are frustrated by the lack of change, the lack of real action in the wake of shootings like this.

It was notable yesterday when your colleague across the aisle, Congressman Mike Turner, who represents Dayton, he came out in support of a ban on weapons of war, far ahead of virtually all of his Republican colleagues here. I wonder -- you've been in Congress a long time.

You've seen a lot of halting efforts, efforts that go nowhere to make a change. Do you see this moment as being different in any way? Do you see Republicans joining Democrats in taking real action this time?

RYAN: I'm going to do everything in my power to make that possible. I'm very proud of Mike Turner. I'm proud of what Mike DeWine put out yesterday as governor with a comprehensive list of proposals, including background checks, including increased penalties for illegal firearm sales. This is the kind of leadership that we need. I'm glad it's coming from Ohio. I'm sorry it took Dayton.

But I will tell you this, Jim. Tomorrow, I am leading a caravan in my official capacity as a Congressman, working with Moms Demand Action, to stop -- starting Youngstown and go to Akron, in Columbus, in Dayton, and Cincinnati and pick people up along the way.

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And we're going to Louisville, Kentucky. And we're going to make sure Mitch McConnell knows that there are two pieces of legislation sitting on his desk that he needs to bring up for a vote to actually get some action.

And this is not a Democratic or Republican thing. This is an American thing. This is every good-hearted American who is ready to say enough is enough. And we're going to bring a contingent from Ohio down to let Senator McConnell know that we're very, very serious about what's happening here.

SCIUTTO: Senator McConnell says he won't move until the president tells him to, in effect. We have heard from our reporters on the Hill that Republicans privately, of course, not publicly, but many Republicans privately say that if the president gets behind measures, whether it'd be red flag laws, bans on high-capacity magazines, universal background checks, if the president does, then there is the possibility of movement.

Have you heard anything from this president to indicate to you that he will get behind substantial measures, or do you think he will do what he did after Parkland, for instance, which is make a public statement and then back off?

RYAN: Yes. I mean, he's going to show up, he's going to go to these events today in Texas and Ohio, and then he's going to slow walk this thing. And Mitch McConnell is going to do what he's done every damn time. He just follows the president.

And what he's got to recognize is he is in a co-equal branch of government. These Republican Senators need to go off and grab the Constitution , dust it off, and read Article 1, which creates the Congress. Article 2 creates the presidency. The first article of the Constitution says we are Governed by the people. And Mitch McConnell better understand that. And we're going to apply as much pressure as humanly possible.

Jim, I can't tell you how sick we are about this. This is happening in too many communities. It's happening in Dayton and El Paso and all of this other stuff, and we're sitting around here waiting for Mitch McConnell to get his marching orders from Donald Trump, who's causing white nationalists to go shooting people of color in the United States?

I mean, give me a break. Come on, Mitch McConnell. I mean, where are your guts? You're supposed to be from Kentucky. Everybody I know from Kentucky got guts, okay? So get your cooyons (ph), okay, grab them and do something, because the American people are fed up with you, we're fed up with you stonewalling everything, people are dying on the streets just a couple hours from your house. And you're sitting there doing nothing.

Call the Senate back into session. Get people moving. You can maybe move some Republicans on this because of the tragedies. And you're going to do nothing and we're going to be sitting here again a few weeks, a few months from now holding parents in our arms that are crying saying, why did this happen again in the United States? Enough, Mitch McConnell. Get off your ass and get something done.

We're fed up, Jim. I'm telling you, you don't have to spend much time. You're there right now. I think I know where your camera is. I can't see your shot. But right behind you, there's bullet holes in a bar. And we walked through right behind you. We walked through though the other day and the bouncer gave us a tour. And there were people stacked up in the back of that bar that that kid walked up to.

If he'd have got in there, if those cops weren't standing close by to shoot him, if he'd have got in there, we would have lost hundreds of people. And Mitch McConnell is doing nothing. This is unacceptable, Trump is a dereliction of duty, completely and he's going to try to distract us. And I'm here to say Ohioans aren't forgetting. We're going to see Mitch McConnell tomorrow. And we're inviting every surrounding state to get a caravan and meet us in Louisville, Kentucky, tomorrow night. Details to follow.

SCIUTTO: Listen, I hear your emotion. I hear your frustration. I know you're not alone because I've heard it from folks here in Dayton. I've heard it in El Paso. And, sadly, I've heard it in a dozen other places where I've covered shootings like this before.

The question is, can that move the immovable objects of the Senate Majority Leader, of Republicans who are concerned about getting primaried because they don't have a perfect score from the NRA? I mean, it's the fundamental question. Is this time different? Do you see anything different this time that's going to make a real change?

RYAN: I think there's an accumulation of emotion. I know there is with me. I get moved from tears to outrage. And I think that there are moderate Republicans, sensible independents in places like Tennessee, in places like Ohio, in places like Indiana. Maybe we can get -- and West Virginia. Maybe we can get a few Republicans that will put their country and these families before their own political interests.

Go read Profiles in Courage. Do whatever you have to do. I was in Congress with a lot of members, Jim, who lost their seats over voting for the Affordable Care Act. And you know what, whether you like the Affordable Care Act or not, they voted and they knew they were probably going to lose their seat.

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But they did it anyway.

And what I'm saying is, isn't it worth it? Like what are you going to tell your kids? Yes, I was in Congress. I could have gotten -- You know, I got an extra term out of it because I didn't do anything on gun control. Bull shit. Do something. Like what are we here for? This is a citizens' legislature. Why are you in Congress? Why are you in Congress? You have the opportunity to actually save lives.

And if you lose your seat, you're going to go make a million dollars in the private sector anyway. So what do you care? Go make a million dollars, go be with your kids, go buy a beach house. But do something before you leave, like pass comprehensive background checks and close the Charleston loophole and let's try to get these weapons of war off the street.

You could walk out of the United States Senate with your head held high that you actually accomplished something as opposed to pad your pension.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Listen, you're issuing a challenge to sitting lawmakers. We heard the former Republican Governor of Ohio, John Kasich, just a short time ago on our air issue the same challenge. Will lawmakers on the Hill take up that challenge? We've seen them fail before. We're going to be watching.

Congressman Tim Ryan, we appreciate you joining the broadcast this morning.

RYAN: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Coming up this hour, we're going to see what Republicans say about what needs to be done in the wake of these tragedies. Ohio State Senator Peggy Lehner joins me live next. We'll be asking her those questions.

Plus, President Trump lands here in Dayton just a few minutes from now. Some are welcoming his visit here. Others are not certain that a trip to Dayton now will help the community heal. They got nine funerals to put on here.

And Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker, he's in Charleston, South Carolina today. He's taking on President Trump directly, saying in his words, you reap what you sow.

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SCIUTTO: The message here in Dayton, Ohio, where nine people were killed just across the street from us here in the early mornings of Sunday is clear, do something. Those words interrupting Ohio Governor Mike DeWine earlier this week at a vigil.

Yesterday, the Republican governor announced, perhaps in reaction, he's taking action, calling on lawmakers in this state to pass a law to require background checks for all firearm sales, also proposing what's known as a red flag law.

Joining me now is Peggy Lehner. She is a Republican State Senator from Ohio. Thanks so much for taking the time this morning.

STATE SEN. PEGGY LEHNER (R-OH): Thanks, Jim, for having me.

SCIUTTO: Listen, I know your community is reeling from this. I see it in the faces, I hear it in the words of folks I've met here but also in El Paso in days before. The president is coming here. You're aware that some people aren't welcoming him. They say his rhetoric has hurt, not helped, the issue in the past. What do you say to those people?

LEHNER: Well, you know, I don't think it's the time to debate the sincerity of the president. Frankly, I'm worried that in the middle of this crisis, where we have the first opportunity we've had in a long time to pass significant gun legislation, that the conversation shift to whether or not Trump is a racist. Frankly --

SCIUTTO: Why is that relevant though when words --

LEHNER: I'm not saying it's not relevant. I think though that I hear it drowning out the other debate about gun action, on gun safety now.

SCIUTTO: What to do now, okay.

LEHNER: We need to do it now. And people are so polarized.

If we end up putting all the anti-Trump people on one side and all the pro-Trump people on another side, we're not going to debate the issue on its merits. We're going to debate it on its politics, and that concerns me.

SCIUTTO: Do you see this as -- you know, it's a question we've asked so many times, I can't even count. Is this time different? Will there be action now because we've been here before. Do you sense -- I mean, it was a significant moment to have a Republican governor of Ohio say, okay, universal background checks, red flag laws.

LEHNER: Awesome.

SCIUTTO: Do you believe that there is the political muscle among Republicans as well to get this done now?

LEHNER: I hope there is. And we have to keep in mind that what the governor did yesterday is a set of proposals, 17 proposals. We have to make those actual laws. And that's going to be a heavy lift, honestly.

SCIUTTO: Absolutely.

LEHNER: You know, there has been very little action on gun safety legislation in the Ohio legislature up to now. Will this change it? I'd like to think so. I think every time something like this happens, we hope and pray that this is the turning point, and somehow the next week we're right back in a different city doing the same thing. SCIUTTO: You know, on that issue, the president could make an immediate difference. Republicans on Capitol Hill say privately, listen, we can get behind some of this stuff, including universal background checks, if the president leads. In the past, after Parkland, the president said he might then backed off. What do you say to the president as he comes here?

LEHNER: Well, my prayer for this visit is that he comes here and he's moved by what he sees. I don't know if he's coming down here or not, but you can't walk these streets without going -- we have to do something. This is where that chant is coming from.

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So, absolutely, if he leaves and goes back to Washington and says to Mitch McConnell, have the hearings now, get this passed, it'll happen. So it is in his hands, I think, to a great degree, at least from the background checks in Washington.

Now, what happens at the state level, it's going to take the leadership of people like Governor DeWine, thank god for Mike DeWine, leadership of people like Congressman Turner, who has come out, he saw it, it was moved. And --

SCIUTTO: Let's see if we have that leadership, and leadership like your own. Well, if you're listening at home, Mr. President and other Republicans, you heard it, a challenge issued here by a Republican lawmaker whose community was affected by this kind of violence.

Peggy Lehner, we appreciate you taking the time this morning. Let's keep up the conversation.

LEHNER: Right, thanks. I appreciate it.

SCIUTTO: All right, take care of yourself.

Now, let's go to Wall Street, because it is another rough day for stocks there, down, well, nearly 400 points. It was down a bit more earlier.

CNN Business Correspondent Alison Kosik, she is at the New York Stock Exchange.

Alison, we've seen this in the last several days, a bit of a rebound yesterday. Is this about concerns about an expanding trade war with China?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly what this is about, Jim. We are seeing stocks tumble because of new signs of anxiety that the trade war could literally cause a recession. Because now that the reality has set in that there's no end in sight for this trade war, it's set off a chain of events. We're seeing bond yields collapse and gold prices are soaring.

So what's happening here is investors are rushing to buy gold and government bonds because they're considered safer investments than stocks. We're looking at gold prices. They're at their highest level in more than six years. U.S. Treasury bonds, which move opposite to prices, they actually plummeted to levels that we haven't seen since just before President Trump was elected in 2016.

This is sparked by also central bankers around the world have slashed interest rates to try to offset the effects from the lingering trade war. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Alison Kosik, we know you're going to stay on top of that. There it is, down more than 400 points, jittery markets, to say the least.

Still this hour, presidential hopeful Senator Cory Booker, he is in Charleston, South Carolina, speaking out on gun violence and the rise of white nationalism in this country. He's at a church that was the scene of an horrific act of racial hatred. It matters there. We're going to listen to him. That's coming up.

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