Return to Transcripts main page


Grandmother Struggles to Cope after Daughter Killed in Dayton; Friend: Dayton Gunman Frequented Local Shooting Range; Biden Says Trump fanning "The Flames of White Supremacy". Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 7, 2019 - 14:30   ET



[14:30:00] LASANDRA JAMES, MOTHER OF DAYTON SHOOTING VICTIM LOIS OGELSBY: Her boyfriend called and said, Mom, Lois FaceTimed him. He said she said she was grazed by a bullet and she said, come and get me. He said, no, you need to go to a hospital. She said, no, I need to get to my kids. And then that was it.

RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: So she was able to facetime?

JAMES: She FaceTimed him.

KAYE: Her boyfriend? After she had been shot?

JAMES: Yes. She thought she was grazed. She said I have been grazed by a bullet.

KAYE (voice-over): Lasandra and her daughter's boyfriend rushed to the scene, but Lois' injuries were more severe than she thought. She died before they arrived.

JAMES: I couldn't get to where she was. He got to her. He could see her laying there with the cover on her. And he was angry because he wanted her off the ground.

KAYE (on camera): She was in the street?


KAYE (voice-over): Lois was just 27. This recent video shows Lois getting her baby girl to smile for the first time.


JAMES: I actually talked to the young lady who heard her say her last words. It was, "Somebody get my kids." And she said they weren't there three minutes. They didn't have any drinks.

KAYE (on camera): Before it happened?

JAMES: They didn't even get inside the bar. They were outside.

KAYE: I am so sorry.

(voice-over): Lasandra says her daughter was a loving mom who loved not only her own children, but all children.

JAMES: This is Lois.

KAYE: Lois worked at a daycare center and had dreams of becoming a pediatric nurse.

JAMES: My daughter was beautiful inside and out, and the love that she showed for kids, the compassion that she had for children, it was just amazing.

KAYE: During Lois' first pregnancy years ago she had been carrying twins. When only one survived, she explained to her daughter, Hannah, that her twin sister had gone to heaven. Now this.

(on camera): So does Hannah now understand what's happened to her mom? Does she think she's gone to the same place?

JAMES: Yes, but she says she wants her to come down. She knows she is in heaven, but she wants her to come down. It's like every phone that rang, from the people that were here, she kept asking, is that my mom? Somebody call my mommy. She wanted someone to call mommy.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Gut wrenching. Gut wrenching. To come down to see her, to want to pick her up.

How is the 7-year-old doing?

KAYE: She is confused. She wants her mom to come back. She also understands that her mom has gone to heaven she says. She is wondering who is going to raise her and her baby sister.

Her mom, Lasandra, the grandmother, says she is going to help raise her two granddaughters. She only wants to love them as much as their mother did. She is worried about being able to do that.

What's interesting, Brooke, in the story, we mentioned it, they were down here two minutes. They got here at 1:03 a.m. And that shooting happened at 1:05 a.m. And Lois didn't realize how seriously she had been injured, which is remarkable. She was talking to her two girlfriends here with her. They noticed blood at her head and then she lost consciousness.

BOLDUAN: It's so important to are here and to tell the stories, you know, tell the stories of those who lost their lives, the families as well.

The other piece of this is the investigation, is who this person was who would do such a thing and looking into his background. You have learned a little bit more?

KAYE: Yes, we are continuing to learn a little bit more about him. CNN has spoken to a friend of his. They were friends for 10 years. He talked a little bit how they used to go to a local shooting range, called the Shoot Point Blank Range. He had been using weapons there for years.

He had three or four weapons, this friend tells CNN, including an A.R.-15 pistol. They went to the shooting range, played basketball, listened to music, they drank, they smoked pot. This friend said he never imagined his friend could become violent, that something like this would ever happen. There was no sign.

We hear that so often. We heard red flags from others, his ex- girlfriends. This friend saying no red flags at all. The shooting range has no comment.

BOLDUAN: We heard from the FBI special agent in charge just yesterday saying because of things they found, writings, police are going through digital footprints, the FBI is looking into his him and his past.

Randi Kaye, thank you very much. Thank you.

Our special coverage both here in Dayton and with John Berman in El Paso continues.

[14:35:11] President Trump facing protests here and in Texas while, as we mentioned a moment ago, the former Vice President Joe Biden is about to call him out for, quote/unquote, "fanning the flames of white supremacy."


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. This is CNN special live coverage. John Berman here, live in El Paso, Texas.

[14:40:06] Behind me, you can see people are gathered demonstrating against what they call white violence and white supremacy and the White House.

And the other side of the screen, you can see former Vice President Joe Biden. He is in Burlington, Iowa.

What this is, is equivalent to a set piece in soccer. This is a planned Teleprompter speech where he is going to take on what he calls the president's message of white supremacy.

Let's listen to the former vice president.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- of the president matters. They can move markets. They can send our brave women and men to war. They can bring peace. They can calm a nation in turmoil. They can console and confront and comfort those who have faced tragedy. They can inspire us to reach the moon. They can encourage us to appeal to our better angels, to our better nature.

But they can also unleash the deepest, darkest forces in this nation. That's what I believe Donald Trump has chosen to do.

When he said, after Charlottesville, there were, and I quote, "very fine people on both sides," I said then it gave license and safe harbor to white supremacists and Neo-Nazis and to the Ku Klux Klan.

These words not only stunned America, but they stunned the world. In doing so, he assigned a moral equivalence, a moral equivalence between those spewing hate and those with the courage to stand against it.

I said at the time, we're in a battle for the soul of this nation. I said it again when I announced my candidacy. And I say it here today. We are in a battle for the soul of this nation. That's why primarily I'm running for president.


BIDEN: Charlottesville was no isolated incident. When Trump announced he was running for president, he called Mexicans rapists. Days before the midterm, he fomented fears of a caravan heading to the United States, creating a hysteria when he said, look, look what's marching up, this is an invasion. An invasion. He asserted that immigrants would, quote, "carve you up with a knife."

More recently, he called American -- a major American city a disgusting rat-infected rodent mess. No human being, he said, would choose to live as though the vibrant diverse community around Baltimore somehow was less than human.

At a rally in Florida, when he asked the crowd, "How do we stop these people," meaning immigrants. Someone yelled back, "Shoot them." And he smiled.

In North Carolina, he basked in the chants of "send her back" echoing across the stadium.

How far is it from Trump saying this is an invasion to the shooter in El Paso declaring, quote, "This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas?" How far apart are those comments?

How far is it from white supremacists and Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Trump's very fine people chanting, "You will replace us," to the shooter at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh saying, "We're committing genocide, Jews are committing genocide on his people."

I don't think it's that far at all. It's both clear language and in code. This president has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation.

His low energy, vacant-eyed mouthing of the words written for him condemning white supremacist this week, I don't think fool anyone at home or abroad. His energetic embrace, the energetic embrace e of this president by the darkest hearts and most hate-filled minds in this country say it all.

[14:45:03] When the white nationalist, Richard Spencer, celebrated Trump's election by declaring, "Hail Trump," at an alt-right conference where the Nazi salute was being used.

In Charlottesville, David Duke, the former leader of the KKK, said this is why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he is going to take back the country.

After Trump tweeted his "go back" screed, a leading Neo-Nazi Web site said, this is the kind of nationalism we elected him for.

He knows it. He saw it.

And on 8chan, a haven for radicalism on the Internet, where a declaration of hate linked to El Paso's shooter was posted, one commentator wrote that Trump is helping normalize the most extreme radical sentiments because his perceived authority carries so much weight.

We have a problem with this rising tide of supremacy, white supremacy in America, and we have a president who encourages and emboldens it.

The statistics are clear. Extremism is on the rise in America.

The Southern Poverty Law Center finds that, of the 1,020 hate groups operating in the United States in 2018 -- that's how many there are -- they pointed out that white nationalist groups have surged by over 50 percent.

In 2017, an active shooter with ties to the white extremism claimed 135 victims and 70 killed.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, all but one of the 50 extremist-linked murders counted in 2018 had direct links to white supremacists.

His own FBI director recently testified to Congress that extreme white right-wing groups, white nationalists, posed the greatest threat to racially-motivated domestic terrorism.

And what has Trump done? He has poured fuel on the fire. He's re- tweeted postings from extremists and white nationalists.

He is cutting funding, in some cases completely eliminating funding initiated by Barack, by the president and I, in our administration, to counter violent extremism at home.

Trump readily, eagerly attacks Islamic terrorism, but can barely bring himself to use the words "white supremacy." And even when he says it, he doesn't appear to believe it. He seems more concerned about losing their votes than beating back this hateful ideology.

He says guns are not the problem in mass shootings. The issue is mental health. It's a dodge. Hatred isn't a mental health issue.

I can tell you, as the guy, along with Senator Dianne Feinstein, who got the assault weapons ban and the high-capacity magazines banned in this country for 10 years, if elected president, we will do it again. We will do it again.


BIDEN: One-hundred rounds in Dayton, 30-round clips in El Paso. They will be banned. And when we do it, we'll put in place a buy-back program to get as many of these military-style weapons of war as possible off the street.

And we need, we need a domestic terrorism law. We can do without infringing on anyone's free speech, without tampering with anybody's liberties. Quite simply, we have to make the same commitment as a nation to root out domestic terrorism as we have in stopping international terrorism.

I wish I could say that this all began with Donald Trump and will end with him, but it didn't and I won't. American history is not a fairy tale.

[14:50:03] The battle for the soul of the nation has been a constant push and pull for 243 years between the American ideal that says we're all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart.

The same document that promised to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity also allowed for slavery. And the so- called three-fifths compromise that discounted the very humanity of black people in America at the time.

The honest truth is both elements are a part of the American character. At our best, the American ideal wins out, but it's never a route. It's always a fight, and it's a battle that is never fully finished.

Go back to the beginning. Thomas Jefferson wrote what many believed to be the most important document, civil document in human history. And he was a slave holder. We have never lived up to our American ideals. Jefferson himself didn't. But what he wrote has pulled us towards justice for more than two centuries, and it still does. It remains this nation's north star.

Take a look at the Klan, Ku Klux Klan. After the Civil War, we saw a rise in the Klan. It was beaten down only to rise up again in the '20s. In fact, in August of 1925, 30,000 fully-clad Klansmen in their robes and pointed hats marched down Pennsylvania Avenue, the streets of Washington. Imagine. Imagine that today.

And then the Klan was once again beaten back as it was after the Civil War. How? The courts. The press. Yes, presidents stood against them.

And that is the point. Our institutions often end perfectly, stood against hate at moments when we've been most tested. American presidents have stepped up in the past. George H.W. Bush renouncing his membership in the NRA. President Clinton, after Oklahoma City. George W. Bush going to a mosque after 9/11. President Obama after Charleston. Presidents who led, who opposed, chose to fight for what the best of American character is about.

There's deafening silence now. Sadly, we don't have that today. Our president has aligned himself with the darkest forces in this nation. It makes winning a battle for the soul of our nation that much tougher, harder.

Trump doesn't understand what Franklin D. Roosevelt did. Roosevelt said the presidency is, quote, "preeminently a place of moral leadership."

He doesn't see what JFK did when he said, "Only the president represents the national interests."

He is blind to what Lyndon Baines Johnson said of the office when he said, quote, "Nothing makes a man come to grips more directly with his conscience than the presidency."

Trump offers no moral leadership. Seems to have no interest in unifying this nation. There's no evidence that the presidency has awakened his conscience in the least.

Indeed, we have a president with a toxic tongue, who has publicly and unapologetically embraced the political strategy of hate, racism, and division.

So it's up to us, as it was in the '20s. It's up to us.

We're living through a rare moment in this nation's history where our president isn't up to the moment. Where our president lacks the moral authority to lead. Where our president has more in common with George Wallace than he does with George Washington.

You know --


[14:55:10] BIDEN: We are almost 330 million Americans. We have to do what our president can't. Stand together. Stand against hate. Stand up for what is best, in our nation's best, when we're the best.

In this nation, we believe when we're at our best. We believe in honesty, decency, treating everyone with respect. Giving everyone a fair shot. Leaving nobody behind. Giving hate no safe harbor. Demonizing no one. Not the poor, the powerless, the immigrant, or the other. Leading by the power of our example, not by the example of our power.

That's allowed us to stand as a beacon to the world. Being part of something bigger than ourselves. It's a code. It's a uniquely American code. It's who we are.

But Donald Trump doesn't get it. What this president doesn't understand is that, like every other nation on earth, we're unable to define what constitutes American by religion, by ethnicity, or by tribe. We can't do it.

America's an idea. An idea stronger than any army. Bigger than any ocean. More powerful than any dictator or tyrant. It gives hope to the most desperate people on earth.

It is not only our values that are under assault. Our democracy is, as well. A free press, an independent judiciary, a legislature that is a co-equal branch of government.

These are the guardrails --


BIDEN: These are the guardrails of our democracy. They are written into our Constitution.

And if you have noticed, for the last two-plus years, they have been under attack. Phrases like, "fake news," "enemy of the people." They're not joke. They are insidious. They are corrosive.

Just look around the world. The worst despots are using Trump's language to justify their own abuses of power.

Trump is trying to weaken our institutions, the press, the courts, the Congress, precisely because they are the only checks on his power.

That's what this is all about. The abuse of power.

If there's one thing I can't stand, and I know you can't, is the abuse of power, whether it's a boss taking advantage of his or her workers, or a man who raises his hand to a woman or a child, or a president who is running roughshod over everything this country believes and stands for.


BIDEN: No matter how old or young you are, you have never seen anything like this in your lifetime.

We are being reminded every day that there's nothing guaranteed about democracy. Not even here in America. We have to constantly earn it. We have to protect it. We have to fight for it.

I believe America, as Lincoln named us, the last best hope on earth. We have to remember why. It's not because we are the biggest economy, the strongest military in the history of the world. It's not because we have the most innovative entrepreneurs and greatest research universities. That's all true, but it's not why we're America.

The reason is, is what we believe. The most powerful idea in the history of the world I think beats in the heart of the people of this country. It beats in all of us, no matter your race, your ethnicity. No matter your gender identity, your sexual orientation. No matter your faith. It beats in the hearts of the rich and poor alike.

It unites America, whether your ancestors were native to these shores or brought here forcibly or enslaved, or they were immigrations generations back, like my family from Ireland, or those coming today looking to build a better life for their families.

[15:00:07] The American creed that we're all created equal was written long ago -