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Trump Meets with Victims in Dayton; Protests for Trump's Visit in El Paso; Dayton Police Chief Talks about Shooting; Democrats in El Paso ask Trump Not to Come Visit. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired August 7, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:19] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. You're watching CNN's special live coverage here. I'm Brooke Baldwin in Dayton, Ohio, alongside John Berman, who's there in El Paso, Texas.
But here in Dayton, the president is here. He is visiting with victims of the mass shooting as I speak.
And before we get into that, we have some breaking news. I can't believe I'm saying this.
But CNN has confirmed that the headquarters of "USA Today" has been evacuated over reports of a man with a weapon at the building. It's happening in McLean, Virginia. We are told law enforcement is on the scene, including officers described with rifles and body armor.
So, as we get those updates, I'll pass them along to you.
Back here in Dayton, moments ago, President Trump offered condolences to victims. He thanked first responders and staff at Dayton's Miami Valley Hospital just days after a gunman opened fire right here in what's referred to as the popular Oregon district here in Dayton, killing nine people in a matter of 30 seconds before police took him down.
And the president, though, touched down this morning here in Ohio, protesters lined the streets. We're surrounded by many of them right now. They are grieving, they are frustrated and they are demanding that the president and our government do something to stop the threat of gun violence, John.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, and, Brooke, we're seeing a very similar thing here in El Paso and expecting it to grow over time when the president arrives later today. There are signs posted alongside a memorial beside me. One of them reads, "Mr. T, don't invade our city," which uses a phrase we've heard from both the president and the El Paso shooter when talking about undocumented immigrants, invasions.
One congresswoman tells CNN that the president put a target on the city, and now he needs, in her words, to peel it off.
We're going to have much more on that, Brooke, as it develops here over the next couple of hours.
But first, back to you.
BALDWIN: We are here, you and I, John, for the next three hours bringing coverage from both of these cities.
I want to start, though, here in Dayton. CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is here with me.
And, you know, listen, it is your job to cover the president each and every day. He's here. He's over at the hospital. I saw the helicopters. I mean the police on every single corner as I drove in to do this live show.
Tell me who he's meeting with and what his message is.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So he's following a similar path and sadly he's done too many times since he's been in office where he comes to these cities where these mass shootings have happened. He typically goes to the hospitals where some of the victims are being treated, where they've gone. He meets with law enforcement, first responders. He's at the Miami Valley Hospital right now. It's less than a mile away from this bar where these nine people were shot and killed. And that's where the president is.
But, interestingly enough, he's stayed behind closed doors the entire time he's been here in Dayton, Ohio. He hasn't come out in front of the cameras. He hasn't said anything publicly since leaving the White House. And we haven't actually seen the president since he was at Andrews Air Force Base leaving Washington to take that flight here before going on to Texas.
But we do know that before the president left, he was rejecting those calls for him to change the way he talks about illegal immigration. He said he doesn't think his rhetoric is to blame for any of the inflamed tensions. Instead, he said he thinks actually his rhetoric brings people together, which is certainly not something his critics agree with, or even some of the local officials you've seen here, like the mayor of Dayton, Nan Whaley, who greeted the president here at the airport and said she, the other day, did not think the president's remarks to the nation went far enough in his address and that he didn't talk about guns enough in that talk.
BALDWIN: Yes. We're talking to her in a couple of hours and I think she was hoping to be able to speak with the president and she was saying to me essentially, Brooke, this -- this city is exhausted by inaction.
Stay with me. I want to bring in the former governor of Ohio, John Kasich. You've been elected to Congress nine times. You've been -- you've run this state. You know these people. As a Republicans especially, let's just start with the president here, just a couple of miles from us.
We haven't heard from him, as Kaitlan pointed out. We haven't seen him in front of cameras. What do you hope he says? JOHN KASICH (R), FORMER OHIO GOVERNOR: Well, I think, first of all, I
consider it to be a good thing that he doesn't have the press all over this, that he decided to have some private meetings.
KASICH: Because this is not a time for politicians to try to get press. I mean -- and so it frustrates her in trying to cover, but I think he's done the right thing. I hope when he leaves, he will have some words of kindness, some words of strength and show the fact that he can feel their pain.
Now, being here today, and being on the sidewalk, just --
BALDWIN: What do you think of this?
KASICH: Well, I saw a young woman who had a little baby, and she started to cry, fear for her child, little baby, what kind of a world will this baby have when the baby grows up? And I put my forehead to hers and said a little prayer for strength.
[13:05:06] Another woman, 24 years old, knew some of the people who were killed. My concern I -- and she was with her mother. I said, you need to make sure you talk this out. Go through this. There's a lot of great pain here.
But, you know, as you walk around and look here, there's resilience at the same time that's there. I think we all agree with that. These are nice people. They are frustrated. They want to see things happen.
BALDWIN: No, they're over it. People are over it. And the sentiment, it seems to me to be pervasive over the last couple of days is people are ticked off.
BALDWIN: Some of them want change. Others are worried their Second Amendment rights are going to be taken away.
Watching the president leaving the White House this morning, it seemed to me he left the door open on background checks.
COLLINS: He came out probably the most forcefully we've seen talking about how he does believe there's political appetite in Washington for background checks. But the thing that's in the back of everyone's mind when they hear the president talk about expanding background checks may be taking more restrictive gun measures is what he said after Parkland when he had people at the White House, he held these listening sessions --
BALDWIN: He's made promises before.
COLLINS: And he said -- he said specifically they needed to expand back checks. That never happened after Parkland. So that is the question people have. Whether or not that's just something the president is saying because he's coming to places like Dayton, or if it's something he actually stands by. And even if the president does support it, is there actually an appetite for it in that Republican- controlled Senate because a lot of people have their doubts that there is.
BALDWIN: Does this give Republicans an opening if they hear the president of the United States saying he may be in favor --
KASICH: You know what, this, today -- this, today, should not be about Republican or Democrat. The people of this country want these changes to come, red flag laws, complete and comprehensive background checks. They want to look into this massive number of --
BALDWIN: But this bill has been sitting with Mitch McConnell since February.
KASICH: You know what -- I know. Not just -- not just that, Brooke. You know, I -- I spent a year fighting to pass red flag laws here. Now the governor has come out, I give him credit for doing it, Mike DeWine --
KASICH: And it -- but it's taken these series of 34 incidents, major incidents, since we saw Las Vegas, the horrible tragedy in Las Vegas.
I believe it's changing, though. You can feel it on the ground here that young people, middle age, seniors, they're all --
BALDWIN: We can feel it --
BALDWIN: But can Mitch McConnell feel it? Can Republicans in Washington feel it?
KASICH: Well, they need to demand it with him.
But, Brooke, I also want to say that while we focus on Washington, if we can get the changes state by state, that would be unbelievable progress. Now, do I think they can do red flag in Washington? I hope so. What the senators have to say to him is, man, what are you doing? I want to pass something. And what would even be better is if the president -- and you probably -- I don't know if he would ever do this -- get them together in the White House. You get Republicans, you get Democrats, you get community activists, you get faith leaders --
BALDWIN: Well --
KASICH: You get --
BALDWIN: They've tried that.
KASICH: And -- and you get law enforcement.
BALDWIN: They've tried that before. COLLINS: But the president did that. The president did that. And you'll remember he had Dianne Feinstein there and he was talking about being open to measures that she's proposed and she was thrilled. You could see it on camera.
COLLINS: Something that really went viral because she was so thrilled about it.
KASICH: But he didn't follow through. He's got to follow through.
COLLINS: So that's the question.
And the thing is, if that -- after the president backed off those stances, he had met with NRA leadership at the White House. We have reporting today that White House officials have been in conversations with top NRA leadership officials. We don't know if the president himself has had those conversations, but that's the question people will have when he's done with these visits today, when he's back in Washington, back around those Republicans. That will -- that's what people will be looking for.
BALDWIN: I appreciate the conversation. Forgive me for sounding exasperated, but it's just -- it's -- it's --
KASICH: Look, we're all -- I mean we're all exasperated --
BALDWIN: We are all exasperated.
KASICH: Because we see politicians playing games. Maybe it's ended, Brooke.
And, look, you being here, you being on the air, she talking about it, keep the heat on.
BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.
KASICH: The people want this done. That's how it will work.
BALDWIN: Governor, thank you very much.
KASICH: All right, thank you.
BALDWIN: Don't go too far, Kaitlan.
We will be right back here in Dayton, Ohio.
John, I'm going to send it to you in El Paso.
BERMAN: Right. Looks like we're going to see what you were seeing right now in just a few hours.
Brooke, one thing I want to add, if the president wants background checks, he could probably get them, if he pressed Mitch McConnell and if he pressed Republicans in the Senate. The president will soon depart from the vigils and hospital rooms he
visited in Dayton. He will arrive here in El Paso in just a little bit. We don't exactly know what his schedule is here, but we can expect he'll visit with first responders and also some of the victims as well.
He will likely avoid addressing the anti-immigrant writings of the gunmen in this massacre. His 2020 challengers, the president's, are drawing direct parallels to the president.
Senator Cory Booker addressed a congregation at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. That, of course, is the site of the 2015 hate crime that killed nine black parishioners. Booker says the hate in El Paso did not start with the hand that pulled the trigger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was sewed by those who spoke the same words the El Paso murderer did, warning of an invasion. It was sewed by those who spoke of an infestation of disgusting cities, rats and rodents, talking about majority/minority communities. It was sewed by those who have drawn an equivalence between neo-Nazis and those who protest them. It was sewed from the highest office in our land where we see in tweets and rhetoric hateful words that ultimately endanger the lives of people in our country, people of color, immigrants.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[13:10:45] BERMAN: Here in El Paso, there are multiple planned protests against the president's visit. You know, the president was here in just February. The people here in El Paso know the president, and know what he has said before, and they remember it. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the last two years alone, ICE officers have made 200 -- listen to these numbers, 266,000 arrests of criminal aliens, including those charged or convicted of approximately 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, 25,000 burglaries, 11,000 robberies, 4,000 kidnappings and 4,000 murders, murders, murders, killings, murders.
TRUMP: We will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: That was just February. Now he comes back here at the beginning of August, following a mass shooting here.
CNN's Nick Valencia is at the site of one of the planned protests.
And, Nick, I know that speech in February is in the minds of a lot of people gathered behind you.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, the conversation today and the narrative is largely focused around President Trump, naturally because he's visiting here. But in speaking with El Pasoans here, they say what cannot be lost is exactly what this was. This shooting on Saturday was a blatant attack, a racist attack simply because of the color of people's skins, because of their last name, because of who their parents are and who their children are, because of what they represent in this country.
Now, I want to bring in Fernando Garcia. He's with the Border Action Network. And you're part of the organizers here today. Border Network for Human Rights, rather, I'm sorry, Fernando.
Tell me how this has impacted the Latino community.
FERNANDO GARCIA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BORDER NETWORK FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: You know, let me tell you this first. A few months ago we saw the militias -- armed militias, the white supremacists came to -- came to El Paso. And I engaged with them in a public debate. And they say that they were coming to the border, responding to Trump's call to action to stop the invasion. And that's exactly what happened this weekend.
VALENCIA: When I talk to people here, they say what can't be lost also is that the fact that this shooter came from 600 miles away, 10 hours away, to come here to what police say carry out attacks on Latinos. There are Latinos in Dallas. Why do you think he came here?
GARCIA: El Paso is very symbolic. I mean we represent a community that has welcomed immigrants and refugees for many, many years. This is part of our nature, part of our history. And they came to attack exactly that. And also because El Paso has been responded to every immigration enforcement action. So this president, children in cages, border walls, and I think they were attacking this symbol in our community.
VALENCIA: We cannot forget and what cannot be lost is this is the same city where family separation policies, zero tolerance policy was rolled out, where migrants were held under a bridge outside by who used to be the sector chief here, Arron Hull (ph). They is where a lot of focus -- I talk to people here, they say President Trump, in the last two years, has been obsessed with El Paso.
What are we expected to hear today?
GARCIA: You know, two messages. The first one is a affirmation that we will continue receiving and welcoming immigrants. That's what we are at the end of the day. But the second thing is that Trump is not welcome in this community because of what he represents. He's part of the problem. He incited violence and hate against in our community and we cannot welcome that.
VALENCIA: But you know that there are people that support the president here. He had a rally here in February. Thousands of people showed up. How do you explain that? And I have to ask you, Fernando, are you not doing the same thing that you're accusing the president of by saying you're not welcome here? You accuse him of saying Latinos or immigrants here, migrants from Central America, are not welcome. Are you not doing the same thing to the president?
GARCIA: No, this is not on us. And that --
VALENCIA: How's that?
GARCIA: This is not on us. And we had 15,000 people outside when he came.
You know, the president must repent. He needs to ask for forgiveness and he needs to stop his language and attack against our community, then we can sit down. Then we can set the dialogue. Then we can welcome him. But he showed no regrets. I mean he has not shown any remorse and he's not taken responsibility on this.
VALENCIA: It was earlier I spoke to a group of four El Pasoans, a roundtable. They say the office of the presidency is welcomed here. They don't feel, though, that President Trump is the right person here to bring healing. Is that how you feel?
[13:15:09] GARCIA: Yes. I mean the is not about the office of the presidency of the United States, this is about a person that became the president because of our racist rhetoric against my family, against my community. He's calling us criminals and rapists. I cannot have a dialogue with that kind of person.
VALENCIA: This is personal?
GARCIA: This is very personal. And this is personal for most of our communities. We are mourning but also we're reflecting on what has happened and the responsibility that this president had in this.
VALENCIA: Fernando Garcia, one of the organizers here, thank you so much for taking the time with CNN.
And, John, in talking to people in this community, I think a lot of people know that I lived here, you know, this summer, basically spent Monday through Friday here five of the last seven weeks and they're angry here. They're very upset. Partly what's keeping them from crying --
BERMAN: I think they're upset.
VALENCIA: But as I found out earlier, it's not enough. There is people that are -- that are still shedding tears. They feel as though they're targeted.
Look, President Trump didn't create fear, he didn't create racism, he didn't create hate, but people that I speak to here, they say he's \certainly doing a good job at fostering that and dividing the country.
BERMAN: And we've heard the anger here all morning as well, Nick. Anger also, to be fair, fear. Fear of being targeted.
I can see on the screen, we're going to go back to Brooke Baldwin in Dayton, Ohio, because there is a lot of activity there.
Brooke, back to you.
BALDWIN: We're going to take it, John Berman. Thank you so much.
We were actually able to grab the police chief here in Dayton, Ohio, Richard Biehl, literally grabbed you from across the street.
CHIEF RICHARD BIEHL, DAYTON POLICE: Yes.
BALDWIN: So, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
BIEHL: You're welcome.
BALDWIN: My goodness, what a -- what a 24, 48, 70 hours you all have been through and are still going through. And before we get to that, though, the president is here. You are not meeting with him. Instead, who is and tell me why.
BIEHL: Well, we have a number of our officers who were actually involved in the response to the mass shooting we here on Sunday, meeting with the president, and Assistant Chief Carper, who literally responded to the scene and was acting chief in my absence -- I was in Washington, D.C. I want to make sure he had an opportunity to meet with the president. So that -- I know that happened at the Miami Valley Hospital.
BALDWIN: Can you tell me anything about that? (INAUDIBLE).
BIEHL: I wasn't there, so I don't know what the conversation was.
BIEHL: I do know that, in general, the president intended to thank the officers for the actions they took that were just literally vital and saved lives.
BALDWIN: They were heroes. I mean I can't tell you how many times I have said and heard from -- I was over at the firehouse. A bunch of those guys and gals, I know, met with the president today, all of them deferring to you all. Thirty seconds.
BALDWIN: He had murdered nine people. Thirty seconds, your officers took him down.
Can you just describe what you're feeling, what this community is feeling three days out?
BIEHL: Well, there's a profound sense of gratitude, certainly myself as chief, for the actions that they took. The complete, no hesitation whatsoever, immediate engagement, effective action and to end that threat. Sort of a deep sense of gratitude that I have, the whole department has, the whole city government has, the citizens here overwhelmingly coming up to us and thanking us, everywhere we go, for the action that was taken that night that was -- that saved lives and injuries of probably a significant magnitude. Had he made it inside that bar, we know there were people that were --
BALDWIN: He was at the front door.
BIEHL: Front door.
BALDWIN: I was inside Ned Peppers.
BALDWIN: They allowed one camera crew, and we were -- we were it, yesterday. And the guy who was behind the bar said the gunman was down, in front of their front door.
BALDWIN: And had he not been stopped, they were elbow-to-elbow inside that bar.
BALDWIN: And you could just --
BALDWIN: Finish -- finish my sentence.
BIEHL: Yes. Absolutely.
BALDWIN: Can I ask you about the investigation? I mean we now know the FBI is involved --
BIEHL: Right. Right. Right.
BALDWIN: Based upon, you know, ideologies he may have had or writings they may have found.
BALDWIN: Can you tell me anything more about that?
BIEHL: Well, I can't tell you a lot more than that because there were some initial materials that were recovered in the search warrant. We had an opportunity to review those. Based on what was contained in those materials, concerns are raised, not only about a pattern of behavior of these violent ideations, the expression of the desire to be involved in a mass shooting and to actually to carrying that out. So that clearly emerged very early on.
Also potentially some affiliation with some radical ideologies, violent ideologies, and that raised, you know, a federal nexus.
BIEHL: So the federal government has a role here into pursuing those investigations.
BIEHL: And we have a lot of digital evidence. We have not even had an opportunity to get to yet. That is receiving now priority attention because the FBI is involved in this. So we're really not going to know more until we have a chance to dive into that digital evidence. And that's going to take some time.
BALDWIN: OK. OK.
Chief Biehl, an honor.
BIEHL: Well, thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you very much.
BIEHL: Thank you. My honor.
BALDWIN: Thank you very much.
We are waiting -- again, we're here in Dayton. Once the president leaves here, he heads to Texas, to El Paso. So we will continue all of our coverage in both states in the next couple of hours.
[13:20:05] Also, moments from now, hospital officials right here in Dayton will be speaking live on the visit of the president of the United States.
You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We'll be right back.
[13:25:10] BERMAN: The president does not need to see protesters today to know that some El Paso residents don't want him here. That sentiment was written in an open letter to him by the El Paso County Democrats who asked the president not to come. The letter reads, in part, a visit from you will only result in our community's inability to begin the long journey of healing and prolong the heartbreak and anger that all of us are feeling right now.
With me now, J.J. Martinez, the director of communications for the El Paso County Democrats.
J.J., has your group heard from the White House at all?
J.J. MARTINEZ, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, EL PASO COUNTY DEMOCRATS: No. In fact, as our congresswoman, Veronica Escobar, has said, the White House refused her call. So, you know, if he doesn't want to talk to the sitting congresswoman of El Paso, he's definitely not going to reach out to us.
BERMAN: How will his visit prolong the process here as you say in your letter?
MARTINEZ: Right. Well, families are suffering. I mean El Paso is grieving with these families. And he's somehow managed to shift the narrative from the families to all about him. He somehow managed to transform an event that has really rippled throughout our community and he's made it about him again.
And we understand that he is the sitting president of the United States. But no part in my lifetime would I imagine having to come talk to you and say that we don't want a sitting president to come to El Paso. That's just -- it boggles my mind. And so I hope that today when he comes to El Paso, our mayor, who has agreed to meet with him, that he expresses those sentiments to the president and that he does voice the concerns of this community, who is still, as you can see behind me, just is grieving.
BERMAN: So he's coming.
BERMAN: You know that. And there are demonstrations that will take place in Washington Park, it's about five miles from here, near where we think the president is going. We don't know for sure. So he's coming.
I guess I'd ask, how then can you make this a positive?
MARTINEZ: Right. So the celebration today -- and I wouldn't call it so much a protest or a rally, it's going to be a celebration. It's going to be a celebration of El Paso, of our culture. But, of course, it's going to focus on white supremacy and insuring that this never happens again, that somebody who shouldn't have access of weapons of war on our streets shouldn't have them, that we call on our elected officials to do something about this epidemic. But it's going to be a celebration of El Paso, of our culture, grieving with the families, grieving with our community, coming together. So it's not so much about him. It's about the families and it's about what steps we can take to ensure this doesn't happen again.
BERMAN: You know, during the break we were talking -- right behind us is the Walmart where the shooting took place.
BERMAN: Twenty-two people died in that building. And it's hard to stand here. And you told me the first time you saw the building after the massacre, you cried. What was that like?
MARTINEZ: Well, when it actually happened, I was at a church about a two-minute drive from here. And we had police officers, SWAT team just coming into our parking lot, using it as a -- as a waypoint, gearing up. And we had to lock down the church.
And you don't -- I mean this is a church with, you know, young children, with young adults, like myself, with older people. And you don't really picture it until you see it. So, at the -- at that time it was surreal and, you know, this isn't happening. Then you get the alert on your phone. It's happening. But then you pass by. And you just can't help -- and you -- part of you doesn't want to look, but you have to. It's your community. It's families that you know, maybe that you don't know, but a friend of your friend knows and you have to grieve. And that's what we're going through right now.
BERMAN: I think America needs to look and look hard at all of this.
J.J. Martinez, thank you for being with us. I appreciate it.
MARTINEZ: Thank you so much.
All right, up next, CNN's exclusive footage showing the Dayton shooter in a bar with his friend and his sister just hours before he began shooting.
And a Fox TV host ignores the evidence. He lies.
And the FBI director claims -- with a claim that white supremacy is a hoax. Why he is wrong. That's next.