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Rep. Al Green, D-TX, Interviewed Regarding Trump El Paso Visit; Trump Will Soon Arrive In El Paso to Protests; Heather Heyer's Mother Says She Grieves with Families in El Paso; Trump Meets Dayton Victims; Funeral Home in El Paso Offers Free Services to Victim's Families. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired August 7, 2019 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The Hispanic invasion of Texas. I want to show you some live pictures not far from where I'm standing about 5 miles down the road. Crowds have been growing as President Trump's arrival gets closer and protests are planned. I will tell you the atmosphere in general is much more charged than we have seen it to date. I have heard a lot of shouting over the last 20, 30 minutes.
Joining me is Democratic Congressman Al Green, who is in Houston. Congressman, you said in your words that 22 deaths are too late for President Trump to denounce white nationalism and that he needs to do more. What do you want him to say today, and what do you want him to do practically in the future?
REP. AL GREEN (D-TX): Well, thank you for having me on. And I regret that the circumstances are such as they are. My sympathies are with the people of El Paso and the people of Ohio as well. Thank you, Mr. Berman.
The President can do more. He could declare a national emergency. He can then take up the issue of buybacks for these guns, weapons of mass destruction, as it were, when it comes to long guns. He can look for funds to fund this war against white nationalist terrorism. The President can do much more than he's doing.
The President has engaged in distraction by talking about mental health issues. I think mental health issues are important, but I also know this. If it is someone who is labeled an Islamic terrorist, the President doesn't talk about the mental health of the person. The President talks about what we have to do to deal with the terrorism. And the President out to focus on the terrorism as it relates to this white supremacy.
BERMAN: Mental health is not an either/or when it comes to violence. It can be a both. You can deal with both at the same time. And Republican Congressman Mike Turner, who represents Dayton, and who has an "A" rating from the NRA, a Republican, now says he supports a ban on assault weapons, now says he supports a ban on high-capacity magazines, talks about the red flag laws. Your thoughts on this shift from Congressman Turner?
GREEN: I appreciate anyone who decides that he or she will support the issues that you just called to our attention. We do have to ban these assault weapons. They are taking lives in and across the breadth and length of this country. So we should do this. But I don't think that this is enough, to be quite candid with you, Mr. Berman. The Vice President was on just before I had this opportunity to come on, and he made the case.
He said that the President disrespects the judiciary. He disrespects the legislative branch of government. He disrespects the press. He made the case, if you will, for impeachment. This President must be impeached. To defeat him at the polls will do history a disservice, would do our anything nation a disservice, and would not allow us to do what they did in 1868 when Andrew Johnson, who was the bigot of his time, was impeached by the radical Republicans.
There ought to be radical Democrats and Republicans who are willing to rise to the occasion and say to this President, you are unfit, unworthy, and you must be removed from office. We will not wait until the next election because we don't know how much carnage you will have caused to occur in the interim. We cannot wait. We ought to act as soon as we can to get him out of office. He has long since served his time and he should be removed from office.
BERMAN: Congressman, are you willing to work with the President that you have said for a long time you want to see impeached. Are you willing to work with him on measures to end gun violence?
GREEN: I will work with anyone on measures to end gun violence. And in working with him I will not back off my position that he should be impeached. If he is willing to work with me knowing that I will continue to work to impeach him, I will do it.
BERMAN: And the House Judiciary Committee, which would be the area that deals which impeachment would also be the committee dealing largely with measures battling gun violence. Would you like to see them prioritize impeachment over gun violence?
GREEN: I would like to see them prioritize impeachment over all other issues in this sense, that impeachment is at the root of this. The solution to the cause of the problem, which is the bigotry and the hatred that this President is imposing. I think impeachment is something that will work to provide this country the relief that it needs. The President believes that white makes right. He believes this. And we have to challenge him and take him on.
[15:35:00] I don't think that we have to wait on the Judiciary Committee, if I may say this, the Judiciary Committee does not have to take this up. It can be taken straight to the floor. Whenever I brought impeachment, it has been approved by the presiding officer. The President was just one vote away from being removed from office the last time.
Democrats have got to take -- we cannot blame Republicans for inactions. We control the agenda. There are 435 members of Congress. 235 are Democrats. It would only take 218 to remove this President from office.
BERMAN: Congressman, let me focus on what the people around me are focused on, which is gun violence and the pain here in El Paso and the shootings. When it comes to anti-gun violence laws, the Democrats, you won't get everything you want. That's just politics. So what would you be willing to accept? Would you be willing to strike a deal on red flag laws first before anything else? Because that is something that Republicans in the Senate have expressed a willingness to work on.
GREEN: I believe that when you can't get all that you need, you do work to get what you can. So I'll work to get what I can, but that's not the relief that we need and we cannot allow what the Vice President said to just be talking points, Mr. Berman. We need to move to impeach this President. Talking about these other things is important.
We ought to take them up. But we cannot allow ourselves to be distracted to the extent that we don't do what they did in 1868. We need the spirit of 1868 in this Congress so that we can impeach this President and show the world that we don't condone the level of bigotry that he is perpetrating on society.
BERMAN: Congressman, I think you made your position very clear. We will only note with Andrew Johnson the Senate didn't convict. And you have a Senate much more heavily weighted against conviction this time, at least right now. That's the reality, Congressman Al Green from Houston, thank you.
GREEN: That is the reality. Mr. Berman, if I may say this.
BERMAN: Very quickly.
GREEN: Andrew Johnson was not convicted by the Senate. But he didn't get re-elected.
BERMAN: That's correct.
GREEN: He was impeached and impeachment in and of itself is an indelible stain that ought to be placed on this President. We can't let him walk the earth without that stain. Mr. Berman, he has caused harm to society. We need to do something about it, Mr. Berman.
BERMAN: Congressman Green, again, as I said, you made your position very clear to us and I think to your fellow caucus members on impeachment. We appreciate you being with us. President Trump will touchdown here in El Paso just a short time from now. The protesters are gathering. We will bring you his arrival live.
Plus, the mother who lost her daughter to a white supremacist hate in Charlottesville, speaks live to CNN, her message for the country now. You are going to want to hear this. That's next.
[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: in his address to the nation earlier this week, President Trump called on Americans to condemn racism and white supremacy, but his 2020 Presidential challengers say that wasn't enough. Most candidates want the President to condemn his own divisive and racist rhetoric, and today former Vice President Joe Biden spoke in Iowa, said the President has chosen to unleash, quote, the deepest darkest forces in our country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: He mentioned Charlottesville. Joining me now Susan Bro, she is the mother of Heather Heyer who was killed by a white supremacist during those protests in Charlottesville two years ago, Sunday. She is also the President and chairman of the Heather Heyer Foundation. Susan, thank you so much for being with me.
SUSAN BRO, MOTHER OF HEATHER HEYER KILLED IN CHARLOTTESVILLE PROTESTS: Thank you. It's an honor to be invited.
BALDWIN: You lost your daughter two years ago. Hate in this country has not at all gone away. So I'm just curious from your perch, what do you think when you watch tragedies like the one in Dayton, the one in El Paso unfold?
BRO: Well, we've never solved the hate problem that has always existed in our country. We started out with genocide. We went right into slavery. It's a pattern that has plagued our history from the beginning of our country. We've never dealt with the hate. We simply push it aside, put people in reservations, send them other places and hope that that solves the problem.
But instead we've had a problem that's festered in our country ever since the inception. Now, about every 50 years, at least for the last 100 years, it seems to exacerbate.
[15:45:00] But that still doesn't take away personal responsibility for many of us, any of us who participate in words of hate, any of us who demean other people, any of us who are responsible for putting out those words that encourage others to hate are responsible when people act on those words. We can't put --
BALDWIN: Let me jump in on that point, if I may. On the words, you know, we listened to this blistering attack of the President on behalf of Joe Biden, right. So Biden is directly connecting the President's words to violent actions of hate-filled groups. Do you agree with Joe Biden, or, Susan, do you think that is a step too far?
BRO: In all honesty, I didn't hear everything Biden said. So I would hate to conjecture one way or another about what Joe Biden said. But I will say --
BALDWIN: Biden -- can I just jump in? I know there is a bit of a delay. Biden as I said connected the words, the rhetoric from the President to what has happened in this country, including in the synagogue in Pittsburgh, including what happened to your daughter in Charlottesville. One of the biggest lines was he said that, you know, President Donald Trump has more in common with George Wallace than George Washington. So I just wanted to get your perspective on that and if --
BALDWIN: Exactly, if you would agree.
BRO: I would say he is probably not wrong. Cautiously reminding people that I can neither support nor endorse any candidate, nor attack any candidate, as a head of a 501(c)(3). I would say that when you are in a position of power, your level of power magnifies the level of power that your words have. So the higher up in office you are, the more responsibility you have to watch what you say.
BALDWIN: So do you think that President Trump is at all responsible for this violence?
BRO: He did not pull any triggers. Of the guns. I don't know. I think I have answered as much as I can answer about that. I am not going to accuse the President one way or another, but it does seem to me that if you are in a position of power, you have a responsibility to watch your mouth.
BALDWIN: I hear you. Relaying what we just heard from Joe Biden, I just wanted to ask you about that. I want to ask you about Fox's Tucker Carlson because last night on television he said something pretty dangerous that's getting a lot of attention today. He said that white supremacy, and I'm quoting him, is a hoax and obviously the world knows how your daughter was killed, where your daughter was killed. What is your response to that?
BRO: Mr. Carlson lives in a studio, I suppose. His world revolves around a studio. Maybe he would like to visit some of the places where people have been injured by white supremacy before making such a statement. There are always people who want to cry hoax. It's both a comfort to them to think that the world is not as bad as it appears to be.
It's also a way of distancing themselves from any of the responsibility for dealing with those evils in the world. I would say he probably is well aware in his heart that that is not true, but it's easier to say it than it is to do something about it.
BALDWIN: Two years ago, Susan, you lost your daughter. So I have two last questions for you. One, how can all Americans honor her?
BRO: I often refer to a motto that Heather adopted before she died. She put it on her Facebook page. She did not write it. The writer is unknown. But the phrase it is or the statement is, if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention. And I tell people to be outraged, but in a way that can drives you to positive action. Turn that outrage into energy to motivate you to get involved, to get
up out of your seat, stop wringing your hands and going, gee, somebody should do something about and step up to the plate. And once you step up then continue on with that and step out into direct action. We call that #step up step out. You can't sit idly by and hope the world will solve the problems for you. It's time for everyone to join in.
BALDWIN: What do you miss most about her? Last question, quickly.
BRO: Her laugh.
BALDWIN: Susan Bro, thank you so much.
BRO: Thank you.
[15:50:00] BALDWIN: Honor to speak with you. We wait for the President to arrive in El Paso. We will be joined by a funeral homeowner offering free services to families of the victims there, stand by.
BERMAN: I'm John Berman live in El Paso. This is CNN special live coverage and for nearly two dozen El Paso area families, the shock and grief are inescapable but there is also the practical matter of, they're being forced to consider now funerals for the loved ones they lost on Saturday. One El Paso funeral home is stepping up by offering free services.
Jorge Ortiz is the general manager at Perches Funeral Home here in El Paso and joins me now. Jorge, thank you so much for being with us. And thank you so much for what you're doing. How many families are you dealing with right now?
JORGE ORTIZ, FUNERAL HOME DIRECTOR, OFFERING FREE SERVICES TO FAMILIES: As of now, we're dealing with nine families of the victims.
BERMAN: And one of the things I find so incredibly representative of this area and I said El Paso area families, is some of the arrangements you're handling will be to lay people to rest in Mexico?
ORTIZ: Exactly. Mr. Salvador Perches has six funeral homes in El Paso, Texas, but he also owns funeral homes in Ciudad Juarez. So three of the victims we are going to be transferring them -- transferring them to Ciudad Juarez for their final service.
BERMAN: To show how this is all one big community and there is no here and there, there is just us.
ORTIZ: We are united, exactly.
BERMAN: Why has your funeral home decided to do this?
ORTIZ: Well, it is an act of humanity and love. Like I say, we're uniting as a community and this is the way we want to show our community and our families that we care. BERMAN: You deal with grief every day as part of your job. This is a
level of grief that's beyond comprehension. How does that affect the arrangements?
[15:55:00] ORTIZ: How would that affect us as personally, well --
BERMAN: Just dealing with the families.
ORTIZ: Dealing with the family, yes. Well, it is sad because we are Hispanic, we are Mexicans and so it is our community and it really touches our hearts just to -- it makes us part of it. They are hurting so it makes us feel for these families and what they are going through.
BERMAN: It used to clear there are a lot of people who have tried to make donations to help out but you are going to cover this, 100 percent, no matter what.
ORTIZ: We are covering this 100 percent. Like I said, f the family decides to transfer the remains to Ciudad Juarez, he does own cemeteries in Ciudad Juarez so he is donating cemetery and the services completely.
BERMAN: It makes a big difference to the families that just want any help they could get right now. You have given them so much. Mr. Ortiz.
ORTIZ: You're welcome.
BERMAN: I really appreciate it. Brooke, I am going to go back to you in Dayton.
BALDWIN: All right, Berman. Thank you so much.
We've talked at length about the politics of tragedies like the one there in El Paso or the one here in Dayton, what should be done and who should be blamed, what needs to change? But what do you say to the victims' families, what do you say to the communities who feel their safety is shattered?
Tony Miltenberger is the pastor of the Restoration Church. He spoke at a concert to raise money for the victims here in Dayton just a couple of days ago. Thank you for swinging by our CNN camera down here, it is a pleasure to meet you. Before we get into what people can do to help, you are a Dayton boy.
REV. TONY MILTENBERGER, PASTOR, RESTORATION CHURCH: Right.
BALDWIN: Born and raised. You know you were saying to me a second ago that your heart breaks with everyone here and I'm sure your phone has been ringing because people look to you for guidance. What are the questions you're getting and what are you telling people?
MILTENBERGER: The most common question is now what? Or how do we move on, or exist in a world where tragedy like this happens? And unfortunately there is no great answer. And so my number one thing is to find people to talk to, whether that be other pastors or leaders, friends. Isolation is not the answer to dealing with the emotion and the pain from moments like these. So my encouragement to them is to get out and be in the community and understand that we're better together.
BALDWIN: As a leader in the faith community and especially just speaking to people of faith, when people say I want to help, they don't know how, what do you say?
MILTENBERGER: My number one kind of charge after all of this is, we've got to get people involved in intentionally pouring in the next generation. In the church we call it disciple making but it is mentorship and it's really walking alongside someone. One of the things that we talk about in our church comes from Kara Powell, who is a social researcher.
She says there should be five adults for every one student. And I just imagine a world where all of our students are surrounded by people who love and care for them and maybe we can prevent someone from slipping into a dark place before it ever happens.
BALDWIN: So you're saying so that if people could be surrounded, they are not isolated --
MILTENBERGER: Yes. Like what would happen if adults in every church community or every part of the community found a student who is on the fringes and brought them back in. Just loved them and just cared for them and walked with them and heard them and heard their cries. How do we create a structure that promotes that?
BALDWIN: How are you helping the victims, the victim's families?
MILTENBERGER: Well, for us, a lot of what I'm doing now is dealing with people who are down here, people who knew various members and the key is to talk with them and to be there for them and to just have an open door. And in Centerville at Stubbs Park on Sunday night like you mentioned. We were raising funds for those victims' families and we'll continue to find ways to engage.
The truth is we're in it for the long haul and right now there's a lot of people doing a lot of things. The church, hopefully all of the churches in the community, will be committed to a long-term kind of healing.
BALDWIN: You have kids?
MILTENBERGER: I have three.
BALDWIN: How old are they?
MILTENBERGER: Thirteen, nine and seven.
BALDWIN: So how do you explain to your children what happened in their town? MILTENBERGER: Well, I think whatever, different language for
different ages, but the reality is that evil exists in a world and now we're fortunate that we believe in a god that is bigger than evil. And so we pray, we pray for everyone involved, the first responders, the victims, the shooter, the shooter's family and all of those people.
We pray for them every night. And we understand that we don't live in a perfect world. But we live in a world that is full of grace and we serve a god that's full of redemption.
BALDWIN: Tony, thank you very much. Pleasure to meet you and to have you on. And that is it for me here in Dayton. On behalf of myself and of course my colleague John Berman in El Paso, thank you so much for being with us for the last three hours. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.