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President Trump Damned if He Do, Damned if he Don't; Vladimir Putin's Stamp on Russian History; Ninety-Five People Hurt in Kabul's Bombing; Internet, the Place for Evil Minds. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired August 7, 2019 - 03:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Two cities wait for President Trump after the devastating mass shootings that have left the people of El Paso and Dayton shaken.

And 20 years of Vladimir Putin, we'll look at how the president has changed Russia's role in the world.

Plus, how gunmen get radicalized. We'll check out the online forums that have been called a lion's den of hate.

Hello and a very good morning, a very warm welcome to our viewers right around the world. It is 8 a.m. here in London. I'm Isa Soares. And you are watching CNN Newsroom.

Now in the coming hours, Donald Trump is said to continue a tragic but very American tradition. The U.S. president is visiting the scene of a mass shooting. Now what's different this time he'll actually be sitting two, Dayton, Ohio and El Paso in Texas.

Now massacres in both cities have left at least 31 people dead over the weekend. In El Paso 22 people were killed. The suspect is a white supremacist and it's believed he posted a manifesto railing against immigrants, as well as Latinos.

That case is being treated as domestic terrorism but the FBI still trying to piece together a motive in Dayton. Video like the one you are seeing now might offered some clues. Take a look at this. I's exclusive footage of the gunman at the bar he would attack roughly two hours later.

He is with his sister and a second companion and he is not wearing the body armor or mask he wore during the massacre. About an hour later he speaks to bar staff before leaving alone.

Now his sister and companion leave around 45 minutes after that, the attack begins moments later. The gunman kills his sister and eight others before police shoot him dead.

Well for more on the Dayton case here's CNN's Brynn Gingras.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These grainy images show the moment a gunman emerges from a dark alley, a dark figure seen in this exclusive surveillance video, hunched over a high-powered gun taken from the crowded patio of a Dayton restaurant as the shooting rampage began.

Another camera shows the chaos amid the hail of bullets, one man jumping to the ground to shield his girlfriend from gunfire, as investigators search for a motive.


TODD WICKERHAM, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, FBI: We have uncovered evidence throughout the course of our investigation that the shooter was exploring violent ideologies.

And based upon this evidence, we are initiating an FBI investigation side by side with the Dayton police homicide investigation to make sure we get to the bottom and we explore everything and we try to understand the best we can why this horrific attack happened.


GINGRAS: Red flags are emerging around the deceased gunman Connor Betts. A former girlfriend says she saw signs of trouble firsthand.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a man who was in pain and didn't get the help that he needed.


GINGRAS: Betts was also a member of a misogynistic heavy metal band known for songs about sexual violence.


CHRIS SHAW, COMMISSIONER, DAYTON, OHIO: It sounds like there were some missed opportunities but it speaks to the lack of mental health services in our communities. It is problematic.


GINGRAS: Until a motive becomes clear state officials are under pressure to act. Governor Mike DeWine proposing a new law that would allow courts to temporarily take guns away from people who could act out.


GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): We have to empower people to get help from family or loved ones who may be a danger to themselves or a danger to other.


GINGRAS: The governor did not propose any gun restrictions that would limit high powered weapons like the one Betts use to cause so much destruction.


DION GREEN, DERRICK FUDGE'S SON: I just kept saying I love you get up.

GINGRAS: On what should have been a night of fun, Dion Green didn't realize his father had been hit until he held him in his arms as he took his last breath.

GREEN: As soon as I get closer, I went to him, I grab him and get behind his head and I see the blood just coming from both sides of his head and I just lost it and then I just grabbed onto my dad until somebody pulled me off.

GINGRAS: He then encountered an injured woman nearby he would later come to believe was the gunman's sister.

GREEN: She is like, can you call the police, I've been shot. So, I'm calling the police, I'm trying to attend to my dad, I'm trying to check on her and it turned out to be his sister.


GINGRAS: And investigators say they have three questions that they are trying to answer at this point, what ideology was influencing Connor Betts, what sort of particular videos or information influenced him to actually carry out this attack?

Number two, was there anyone who had any clues or any signs as to knowing this was going to happen, and number three, the big question of course, is why, they want to know the motive, what is the whole picture reason as to why Connor Betts may have carried out this attack, again, killing nine people here in Dayton Ohio.

[03:05:01] Brynn Gingras, CNN, in Dayton, Ohio.

SOARES: Well, President Donald Trump will visit Dayton and El Paso in the coming hours. His aide said he'll express condolence as well as offering support. But his anti-immigrant rhetoric in recent attacks in lawmakers of color have critics saying he should actually stay away.

Our Jim Acosta has all the details for you.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: With the president staying out of sight his aides are responding to leaders in the shell- shocked cities of El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio who question whether Mr. Trump should just remain at the White House.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's your reaction to lawmakers in Dayton and El Paso who said President Trump is not welcome because of his rhetoric?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. The president is the president of all the people.


ACOSTA: Dayton's mayor is encouraging her residence to speak out against the president.


MAYOR NAN WHALEY (D-OH): Look, I know that, you know, he has made this bed and he's got to lie in it, you know. He hasn't, you know, his rhetoric has been painful for many in our community and I think people should stand up and say they are not happy if they're not happy that he's coming.


ACOSTA: While former El Paso Congressman, a Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke is telling Mr. Trump don't come.


FMR. REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the most racist president we've had since, perhaps Andrew Johnson in another age in another century, and he is responsible for hatred and the violence that we are seeing right now.


ACOSTA: The president was glued to supportive segments on Fox News tweeting, "I am the least racist person." But the president is facing plenty of new questions about the connections between his slurs against migrants in the El Paso gunman's manifesto, adopting Mr. Trump's use of the term "invasion."



This is an invasion.

We have a country that is being invaded.


ACOSTA: Something he is campaigned in as well on Facebook as noted by the New York Times. The White House is rejecting any notion the president is to blame for the violence.


HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: It's not the politician's fault when someone acts out their evil intention. You have to blame the people here who pull the trigger.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA: The president jumped into the debate on Twitter asking "Did George Bush ever condemn President Obama after the Sandy Hook School shooting?"

That was in response to a statement tweeted out by former President Barack Obama who said "We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred."

The Department of Homeland Security is calling for more funding to guard against white supremacist violence.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it now our top domestic terrorist threat?

KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I think that's the information we have from the FBI over the last two years that a number of their investigations are racially motivated and within that category the majority are white supremacist, extremists motivated.


ACOSTA: Democrats are calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring lawmakers back to Washington to vote on new gun control measures, after protesters gathered outside his home this week.


SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know what he is waiting for and I don't know what Republicans in the Senate are waiting for, they should be calling on Mitch McConnell to bring the Senate back, to vote on this legislation today.


ACOSTA: White House official say the president was in meetings with aides, preparing for his trip to Ohio and Texas, and looking at wide range of policies potentially aimed at preventing mass shootings. As officials maintained the president understands the gravity of this moment.

Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.

SOARES: Well, just before midnight in Washington, President Trump tweeted about Democratic candidate Beto O'Rourke who as you heard had been and has been very critical of his leadership, basically Mr. Trump says O'Rourke should respect the victims and law enforcement, as you can see there in his tweet. He said "be quiet" about his upcoming trip to Texas.

Well, the Democratic presidential candidate responded just while ago, a few hours ago, in fact, tweeting this, 22 people in my hometown are dead after an act of terror inspired by your racism. El Paso will not be quiet and neither will I. And we are still learning about the 31 men and women, parents as well as children were murdered in these latest attacks. Thirty-six-year-old Beatrice Warren-Curtis was killed in Dayton.

A coworker says Beatrice was bright, as well as vibrant, fondly recalling the birthday parties and girls' nights they shared. She says Beatrice was very close to her mother and had nieces and nephews who adored her.

Fifteen-year-old Javier Rodriguez was the youngest victim of the El Paso shooting. During a tearful visual his friends and classmates remember Javier as one of a kind person who brighten -- who brightened everyone else's day.

And 63-year-old David Johnson died protecting his wife and their nine- year-old granddaughter in the El Paso Walmart. His daughters want everyone to know that he died a hero, they say he loved to set up science experiments in his kitchen with his grandchildren.

Incredible human beings there. While meantime, police in El Paso said the suspect posted a racist anti-immigrant document that laid out a dark vision of America overrun by Hispanic immigrants.

However, those living in the grief-stricken city tell our Ed Lavandera their vision of America is anything but dark.


[03:10:04] ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: More than 100 years ago, El Paso street cars cross back and forth between Mexico and Texas. Today, the vintage trolleys circle the heart of the city and its passengers stare out the window at the borderland streetscape they reflect on the horror that rattled their hometown.

Twenty-year-old Clarissa Boone lives in Mexico and crosses the border to attend the University of Texas in El Paso, she says the Walmart shooting has cast an eerie feeling over both the cities of El Paso and Juarez.

Did you feel protected here in El Paso from racism?

CLARISSA BOONE, EL PASO COLLEGE STUDENT: Yes, because I know that we are a lot of Hispanics here and we are always big community.

LAVANDERA: So, you never had to face that?

BOONE: No, I mean, people here are very supportive and very nice and to have that coming here is like, I don't know.

Let's band together. El Paso is strong and we all have a big Corazon, I mean, it's a big heart.

LAVANDERA: Mike Patino is a retired combat veteran turned artist and community activist. He owns the Rock House gallery in one of the most historic neighborhoods in the city, he describes El Paso as a new modern-day Ellis Island. How do you make sense of what's going on?

MIKE PATINO, EL PASO RESIDENT: It's horrific, to just understand that something like this could actually happen here, we've never been under siege this bad by a local homemade terrorist.

LAVANDERA: The wounded left on this city by the massacre of 22 people by a white supremacist has unleashed a wave of intense emotions, this parking lot corner by the Walmart has become a place for thousands to share in their grief.

SONIA HEREDIE, EL PASO RESIDENT: Because I wanted to pay my respects to the people who passed away at my Walmart, it's hitting hard, it's hitting the home.

LAVANDERA: As we rode the El Paso Street car, talking with 37-year- old Rene Fierro, he felt a sense of optimism that the horrific shooting will not change the core spirit of the place he was born and raised.

RENE FIERRO, EL PASO RESIDENT: We have a very strong sense of family values.

LAVANDERA: Does this shatter that sense of security that you have here?

FIERRO: No, I don't think so. We are a safe community because the majority of the people they have that respect for one another, they don't cross those boundaries.


LAVANDERA: One of the things that we keep hearing over and over from people here in El Paso is that, this was someone from the outside who came to inflict this kind of pain. It wasn't one of their own.

And that offers a little bit of comfort for many of the people here in El Paso who say that because of that. Because it wasn't one of their own that that will go a long way in helping this community recover.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, El Paso Texas.

SOARES: Well, for more information on how you can help the victims of the mass shootings, why don't you visit There you'll find a link to nonprofit organizations trying to give the victims a helping hand,

Now we are following breaking news out of Afghanistan. At least 95 people have been injured in a large explosion in the capital city of Kabul, that is according to the country's public health ministry.

A military spokesman says three suicide bombers in a Humvee detonated their explosives at a police headquarters gate. Two of the attackers were killed and the third was arrested. Taliban has claimed responsibility.

We'll keep an eye on that breaking news as more developments come in, and of course, we shall bring them to you.

And up next right here on CNN Newsroom, Vladimir Putin has had his grip on power for 20 years. We'll look how Russia has changed under his two decades of leadership. That story just ahead.


SOARES: Now law enforcement officers in Britain have announced one of their largest ever heroin seizures. Almost 400 kilograms. They estimate a street value at nearly $15 million.

Officers says they found it aboard a ship in the port town of Felixstowe. Seized it and then they let it sail on to Belgium. There police swooped in when two suspects went to unload it and now the person was arrested here in Britain.

Now we are getting new details on Tuesday morning's missile launch in North Korea, according to North Korean state media leader Kim Jong-un supervised the live fire drill that tested two newly developed missiles.

The reputed nation says the test was meant to be a warning to United States, as well as South Korea over upcoming military drills. The U.S. has downplayed the launches. This is North Korea's fourth missile tests in two weeks.

Now, for 20 years, Vladimir Putin has dominated Russian politics as well as the world stage, for meddling in other countries elections, to engaging in international conflicts.

CNN's Matthew Chance looks back how the Russian president has changed his country's role in the world.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was Europe's first war of the 21st century, and it was Putin's war. A tiny Georgian enclave of South Ossetia was a back quarter of the former Soviet Union but it was here that Putin's Russia first tested the waters of international conflict.

Intervening to support the breakaway region, pounding Georgian forces, and rolling its tanks across the international border.

But there's been a lot of speculation about where the Russian troops are. Well here they are. Well, inside, Georgian territory and outside the main conflict zone of South Ossetia. They are now on the road to Tbilisi. The big question is how far will they go?

It's an issue I discussed with Vladimir Putin himself in the weeks after the war came to a close, in a new muscular Russia that begun to emerge.


CHANCE: Do you think that this is a turning point in relations between Russia and the west? Do you think that period of post-war calm has come to an end? VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: I think no, I hope not.


CHANCE: He was right, the western backlash against the resurgent Russia never came until this.

In 2014, protesters topple the pro- Russian president in neighboring Ukraine, and Putin moved quickly to secure Russian interests.

Well, astonishing developments in Crimea because without a shot being fired Russia has moved into the Ukrainian territory and despite international condemnation effectively brought it under its control.

Sanctions followed, so too did an unstoppable wave of nationalism. President Putin the victor of Crimea and for many Russians restored a sense of pride.


PUTIN (through translator): We understand that it is not about the territory which we have enough of, it is about historical roots of our spirituality and statehood, it is about what makes as a nation and a united, unified nation.


CHANCE: Soon, Putin unleashed his growing military swagger even further afield, the shock and awe of Russian air strikes in Syria in 2015 propped up the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Each missile helping to change the course of the Syrian conflict and sending a potent message of Russian resurgence.

This really does feel like the center of a massive Russian military operation. The air is filled with a smell of jet fuel, and the ground shutters with the roar of those warplanes returning from their bombing missions.

[03:19:58] And the tremors are being felt far beyond Syria. For better or worse, Russia, under Vladimir Putin has emerged as a key power influencing events across the globe, and perhaps setting it on a collision course with the west.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.

SOARES: Now they operate under the guise of free speech, but 8chan and other web sites are under scrutiny for the role they played in mass shootings. We'll have the story coming up for you.


SOARES: Now an administrator for the open internet forum 8chan has said we'll be back online as soon as possible.

The site is being blamed for fostering hate speech from white supremacists. Police say the suspect in the mass shooting in El Paso posted a manifesto shortly before opening fire and then killing 22 people.

Two internet service companies removed their support for 8chan on Monday.

While a senior researcher with the Anti-Defamation League says 8chan is one site what she calls a 'lion's den of hate.' And as of now, there is no clear plan to reign in those sites as Jon Sarlin now explains.

JON SARLIN, CNN PRODUCER: There's no question anymore, 4chan and 8chan are hotbeds for white nationalist terror. Terrorists who attack our mosques, our synagogues, our Walmart's.

Going to this web site if you're an outsider can become kind of dizzying. The look of it resembles the internet of more than a decade ago. And even if you are used to seeing offensive content pop up on Twitter or Facebook, it's not even close to what's being posted and allowed up on 4chan and 8chan.

4chan came first. And it allowed users to anonymously post whatever. And that whatever quickly became pretty much anything offensive you can think of.

Go to the political board and you'll find racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, misogyny, it's all there. But something is worth too much even for 4chan. And so, a new company formed a new site. And 8chan was born that promised even less moderation. They call themselves the "Darkest Reaches of the Internet" and they're not wrong.

And for years, people on those sites said that the racism that they posted was basically just a game where the winner is whoever posts the most offensive thing possible, sure there is racism they say, but it's ironic racism, all part of what they call (muted) posting.

Well, it's not a game. Here is why they're wrong. If shock value is the currency of a certain stream of the internet, then think of 4chan and 8chan kind of like a central bank.

They print the worst kind of hate and violence imaginable which then gets filtered throughout the wider internet, through Reddit, through Twitter, through people like conspiracy theorist Alex Jones who admitted in a deposition that he uses it as a, quote, "source for Infowars."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I'm asking is do you or do not know 4chan was your source?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe it was one of the places that put it up.


SARLIN: Looking back, 4chan didn't start out as a white nationalist breeding ground that it's become, it is several different channels, about pages that are -- about art and hobbies, not all politics.


MIKE WENDLING, AUTHOR, ALT-RIGHT: When 4chan began more than 15 years ago it wasn't really the place that it is now. It was a place where trolls and pranksters and people who were deep into internet culture hang out.

And as such, it was really, really influential in the development of internet culture, in the development of memes, in the development of trolling raids.

Over time, the political power of the hive mind of 4chan became apparent, not only to people on the board but to people who were coming from outside and who had different agendas.

[03:25:00] And so, in the last I guess three or four years, one particular bit of 4chan has come to be largely associated with the alt-right and with white supremacy.


SARLIN: Go to 4chan and you'll find memes right out of storm front. Racist, anti-Semitic, sexist trash. But when someone post racism for the lulls side by side with people who are so committed to cause as to shoot up a mosque, the line between the two stops being a line, racism is racism and white nationalism is white nationalism.

Take the OK hand symbol, the symbol that has become associated with white nationalists. The Southern Poverty Law Center says that white nationalist started it but that it gained new life on 4chan as a troll.

One 4chan user said that everyone should, quote, "flood Twitter and other social media web sites claiming that the OK hand sign is a symbol of white supremacy," the troll was a common 4chan tactic, tricked a gullible media and liberals into declaring something innocuous to be racist and with each hoax that the media falls for its credibility takes a blow, all a hoax. Right?

Well, tell that to the real white supremacist who now flash the OK symbol, you can find it here made by the Christchurch mass shooter in court.

The OK hand symbol might have started out as this ironic troll to fool a gullible media but it ended up being displayed by the perpetrator of one the worst hate crimes of a generation.

So, whether 4chan or 8chan's trolling racism is ironic or not, it doesn't matter, it's there. And it's inspiring and emboldening unimaginable hatred and acts of terror. It's having devastating consequences throughout the globe.

And just this year we know that three separate shooters including the El Paso shooter are believed to have posted to 8chan before committing their slaughters. And there's nothing funny or ironic about it. SOARES: Very important piece there. Well, as America grieves over two mass shootings, we also lost an iconic voice who capture the pain as well the loss in this country.

Eighty-eight-year-old author Toni Morrison died at a hospital in New York City. She was the first woman of color to win the Nobel Prize in literature in 1993. President Obama awarded her the Medal of Freedom in 2012.

Now in the wake of two national tragedies at least one fueled by racism her insight continues to resonate. She said the following. "The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work, it keeps you explaining over and over again your reason for being."

And that does it for me. Thank you very much for joining. I'm Isa Soares. Business Traveler up next. But before that I'll have you the headlines. Do stay right here. You are watching CNN.