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President Trump Visits Dayton and El Paso Today; Exclusive Video: Gunman Spent Time in Bar Before Rampage; State of the U.S.- China Trade War. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired August 7, 2019 - 04:00   ET



[04:01:49] MAYOR NAN WHALEY (D), DAYTON, OHIO: His rhetoric has been painful for many in our community.

REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX): The words that have dehumanized us are still hanging over us.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump heads to Dayton and El Paso just hours from now. How will he be received?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: CNN with exclusive new video. What the Dayton gunman was doing in a bar just hours before his deadly attack.

RIPLEY: No end in sight to the U.S.-China trade war with both sides dug in. A deal could be more than a year away.

Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Will Ripley, in for Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Nice to have you here, Will.

RIPLEY: Good to see you.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It's Wednesday, August 7th, 4:00 a.m. in New York and in Dayton, Ohio. It is 2:00 a.m. in El Paso, Texas, where the president travels today.

The travelling to two American cities both hit by mass shootings over the weekend, the massacres just 13 hours apart. The president flies to Dayton this morning followed by El Paso later this afternoon.

Now, some leaders in the grief-stricken city say the president will not fill his traditional role of consoler-in-chief. They say his presence will only deepen divisions instead of helping people heal.


WHALEY: He's the president of the United States, and as he has an official capacity as president. You know, and official capacity of mayor, I will greet him here.

And, look, I know that, you know, he's 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 the people should stand up and say they're not happy if they're not happy that he's coming.


ROMANS: In El Paso, the mayor has already made clear he's welcoming the president because that's his job. El Paso's representative in Congress, Veronica Escobar, outright declined an invitation to join the president on this visit.


ESCOBAR: The words that have dehumanized us are still hanging over us.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: So, you need to hear this president apologize --


CUOMO: -- for the things he said?

ESCOBAR: And to acknowledge that they were wrong and to take them back.

CUOMO: And if he doesn't?

ESCOBAR: As far as I'm concerned, he should not be here until he does that.


ROMANS: Escobar says she refuses to be what she calls an accessory to Trump's visit.

RIPLEY: On the Dayton attack, we have new information and exclusive new video this morning. CNN has obtained security camera footage from a bar where the gunman spent more than an hour before the attack began.

As you can see, 24-year-old Connor Betts, he just blends right in, dressed in a t-shirt, shorts, and sneakers. The tactical vest and mask that he wears later nowhere to be seen here. He walks into Blind Bob's Bar. He's carded, he gets a wristband, and waits for his sister Megan and a friend identified as Charles Beard.

At 12:13 a.m., about an hour after he arrives, Betts speaks with staff and he leaves. His sister and Beard remain in the bar for another 45 minutes or so. Police say there was some communication between the two during that time, but there's nothing in this video, no visible arguing, no disturbance that gives any indication of what led to the rampage that came less than an hour later.

Megan Betts was killed along with eight others. Charles Beard was seriously wounded.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is in Dayton with more on the president's visit today and the investigation.


[04:05:05] BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Will and Christine, we know the president and first lady are expected to be here on the ground later this morning in Dayton, Ohio. I talked to first responders, they're also expected to meet with people in this community who are still grieving over the fact that they lost nine lives here and others injured in that horrible attack over the weekend.

We're also learning at this time more about the investigation. The FBI is now involved, specifically because there has been some that's been sort of come to light about the violent ideologies that the gunman sort was researching, looking into, before this attack. And so, now, the FBI is part of this investigation.

We know from their investigation that Connor Betts was obsessed with mass shootings. He would research them. He even talked about a wanting, a desire to carry out one himself.

TODD WICKERHAM, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: We have found very specific violent ideologies that the shooter we know followed and was interested in. This individual, the shooter, the attacker in this case, very specifically seeking out information that promotes violence. We are going back as far as we need to try to find out why he did this and also if anybody else knew about this or was involved with this.

GINGRAS: Parts of this are still sort of coming together, but still a lot of questions. Three of the major questions I want to point out that investigators are still trying to answer, one is that what more about the ideology that might have influenced Connor Betts. And the second one is who if anyone knew about his intention to carry out that rampage. And number three, again, is the motive. What made him do this?

These are all questions that investigators will be on the ground looking through digital evidence, looking through surveillance video trying to get some answers to -- Christine and Will.


ROMANS: All right. Brynn, thank you so much for that.

A woman who claims she dated the Dayton gunman says he was fascinated by mass shootings and things that made terrible people do terrible things. Adelia Johnson says she met the shooter in college and they bonded over what she calls depression humor.


ADELIA JOHNSON, GUNMAN'S FORMER GIRLFRIEND: He showed me the one video of the mass shooting on our first date. I'm not sure which shooting it was. I was drunk, and it was at a loud bar. So --

REPORTER: Did you find that odd?

JOHNSON: I think it's weird, but it wasn't like -- it wasn't a red flag. Which I know is weird to a lot of people, but given the context of him being a psychology student and him being fascinated in the psychology of those things, that's what made it digestible.


ROMANS: Johnson says her relationship with the gunman consisted mostly of drinking and talking about mental illness and world tragedies.

RIPLEY: The latest now on the El Paso massacre. The family of accused gunman Patrick Crusius says outside influences drove their son to open fire at a crowded Walmart killing 22. They released this statement, quote: Patrick's actions were apparently influenced and informed by people we do not know, and from ideas and beliefs we do not accept or condone in any way.

They say he was raised in a family that taught love, kindness, respect, and tolerance, rejecting all forms of racism, prejudice, hatred, and violence. There will never be a moment for rest of our lives when we will forget each and every victim of this senseless tragedy.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is in El Paso where President Trump is expected later today.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Will, since Saturday's massacre of 22 people here in the city of El Paso, this is a city that has been grappling, coming to terms with what has happened, especially given that the motivation for this attack was from a white supremacist wanting to carry out and inflict pain on the Hispanic community. The racist motivations for this attack is something that they are dealing with.

But many of the people we've spoken with here in El Paso say that one of the things they tax great comfort in is that it wasn't one of their own that did this, that that feeling and the spirit of the El Paso community wasn't shattered in this, that it was someone from the outside who came to inflict this kind of pain.

But it has in the words of some of the people we talked to cast an eerie feeling over the city.

Did you feel protected here from racism?

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

LAVANDERA: So, you never had to face that?

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

SONIA HEREDIE, EL PASO RESIDENT: It's hitting hard. It's hitting home.

LAVANDERA: Some of the people we talked to say that overt racism like this attacker brought here to the city isn't something that they normally deal with. They're used to living in a place where the far majority of everyone is Hispanic, and they're used to that kind of community. So, seeing that kind of hatred up close has been shocking and stunning for many of the people we talk to -- Christine and Will.


ROMANS: All right. Ed Lavandera, thank you so much for that, Ed.

[04:10:01] The 19-year-old gunman who used an assault-style rifle to kill three people at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, that was just last week.

RIPLEY: Unbelievable.

ROMANS: He had a target list, according to police. It contained religious institutions and political groups of both parties, as well as federal buildings and courthouses. The FBI is opening a domestic terrorist investigation into the shooting. Investigators say they have not come to a conclusion about the gunman's motives because he was exploring competing violent ideologies.

RIPLEY: Gilroy, El Paso, Dayton, I mean, in the wake of all these mass shootings, understandably, the nation's nerves are rattled. Panic broke out in two public places twice with no shots actually fired.

Here in New York, Times Square, a backfiring motorcycle sent hundreds scrambling for cover. They thought it was gunfire. The NYPD tweeted: Please don't panic, Times Square is very safe.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, there was a mad scramble for the exits at a Walmart.


911 OPERATOR: What's going on, ma'am?

CALLER: They're shooting, ma'am. They're shooting, they're shooting, they're shooting!

911 OPERATOR: Where? In the store?

CALLER: Walmart, Burbank, yes!

911 OPERATOR: They're shooting in Walmart?


(END AUDIO CLIP) RIPLEY: But no one was shooting. Law enforcement sources tell CNN the chaos actually began with a dispute between two men. One of them grabbed a pair of scissors. When the other displayed his licensed handgun, that set off a noisy stampede by other costumers and understandably, people mistook it for gunfire.

ROMANS: All right. Senate Republicans are scrambling to come up with a response to the mass shootings in El Paso and will Dayton.


CROWD: Do your job! Do your job! Do your job!


ROMANS: Protesters gathering on Capitol Hill demanding tougher gun safety laws and calling on GOP senators to "do your job."

Last night, a small group of demonstrators gathered outside Senator Mitch McConnell's office in Louisville. They want the majority leader to allow a vote on gun violence measures that have already passed the House, and they're not alone. According to a new "USA Today" poll, 67 percent of Americans want the Senate to pass a background check bill that's already made it through the House. And that sentiment cut across party lines. Seventy-nine percent of Democrats, 59 percent of Republicans agree the Senate needs to act.

RIPLEY: A related programming note. CNN's Chris Cuomo will moderate a live "CUOMO PRIME TIME" town hall, "America Under Assault: The Gun Crisis." That is tonight at 9:00 Eastern, only on CNN.

ROMANS: All right. Trade wars are not easy to win. The one with China is getting out of hand. There's a growing sense a deal won't happen -- a trade deal won't happen before the 2020 election.

Despite a threat of tariffs, China halting agriculture purchases and the U.S. labeling China a currency manipulator. Larry Kudlow, one of the president's chief economic adviser, said the U.S. trade team still plans to meet with the Chinese in September.


LARRY KUDLOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER: The president said, you know, if you make good deal or good progress on a deal, maybe he'll flexible on the tariffs. On the other hand, if there's no progress on the deal, then the tariffs might get worse.


ROMANS: Trump signaled he's not backing down from his agreement stance, tweeting massive amounts of money from China and other parts of the world is pouring into the United States for reasons of safety, investment, and interest rates.

We are in a very strong position. Curiously, he wants lower interest rates which wouldn't necessarily attract a lot -- RIPLEY: Right. Sure.

ROMANS: Anyway, China isn't backing down either. The "Wall Street Journal" reports that policy advisers in Beijing believe it can wait for the tariffs to damage the U.S. economy, to force President Trump into making concessions.

RIPLEY: They don't have an election to worry about.


RIPLEY: Xi Jinping effectively can be president for life. They can think in decades' long increments and know that President Trump has two, maybe six years later.

ROMANS: It's interesting because the president's supporters inside the White House say the president is also thinking long term. That he's finally doing something that other presidents have been too afraid of the election cycle to do, which is to get tough on China. Although many would argue that the tariff strategy --

RIPLEY: Failing miserably now. You have potential to cause a global recession.

ROMANS: We shall see.


Police officers on horseback and a suspect in handcuffs. And this picture that has the police chief apologizing, next.

ROMANS: Plus, the manhunt for armored car robbers. Surveillance cameras catch them in the act.


[04:18:38] RIPLEY: The police chief in Galveston, Texas, is apologizing for photos showing his officers on horseback using a rope to lead a handcuffed man across the street. The chief says the procedure will end immediately.

The family of 43-year-old Donald Neely (ph) says an apology just doesn't cut it. Through their attorney, they say they're appalled by this viral photo. Police charged Neely with criminal trespassing after several warnings. The man's family says he's bipolar, homeless, and had lost touch with his relatives.

ROMANS: All right. A federal judge has temporarily blocked Arkansas's ban on abortions after 18 weeks, citing the irreparable harm it would cause women seeking the procedure. The ruling also blocks a new law that bars providers from performing abortions in a woman chooses to have one because her fetus has Down syndrome.

The ACLU and Planned Parenthood filed suit in June challenging the measures as unconstitutional. The Arkansas attorney general has already filed an appeal of the judge's ban. RIPLEY: Philadelphia police and the FBI are releasing surveillance

video as the manhunt intensifies for three armed robbery suspects. This footage shows two armed robbers advancing toward the armored car and then fleeing when armored car personnel opened fire. One suspect dove into an SUV before the driver took off. The third fled on foot. The FBI is offering a reward looking for information leading to their arrest and prosecution.

[04:20:00] ROMANS: All right. What caused a toilet bowl to literally explode in Florida? The answer, next.


[04:25:00] RIPLEY: The literally world is mourning the loss of renowned best-selling author and Nobel laureate, Toni Morrison. Her publisher confirming her death to CNN. Morrison is being remembered for her seminal novels on the black experience in America, particularly that of black women in books like "Beloved", "Song of Solomon" and "Sula". She was the first African-American woman to win a Nobel Prize.

During a powerful 1993 PBS interview, Morrison explained why she considered racism a moral issue.


TONI MORRISON, AUTHOR: But if the racist white person, I don't mean the person who is examining his consciousness and so on, doesn't understand that he or she is also a race, it's also constructive, it's also made, and it also has some serviceability. But when you take it away, I take your race away.

And there you are all strung out, and all you've got is your little self, and what is that? What are you without racism? Are you any good? Are you still strong? You still smart? You still like yourself?

I mean, these are the questions. If you can only be tall because somebody's on their knees, then you have a serious problem.


RIPLEY: "The New York Times" perhaps put it best, a towering figure. Toni Morrison was 88.

ROMANS: All right. A successful launch of the Falcon 9 rocket for SpaceX.


ANNOUNCER: Three, two, one, zero. Ignition, lift off.


ROMANS: The Falcon 9 successfully deploying a $161 million Amos 17 satellite that was built for an Israeli firm by Boeing. It was the third and final launch for the reusable rocket. It is also the first time SpaceX has delivered a payload for space since the loss of its $200 million Amos 6 satellite in the devastating launch pad explosion in September, 2016. No one was hurt in that incident.

RIPLEY: The next time you hear a summer thunderstorm rumbling outside, you might want to stay away from the bathroom. Mary Lou Ward and her husband and three dogs were lying in bed in their Florida home on Sunday morning when lightning struck near their septic system. The house shook. Pictures fell off the wall.

And then, oh, yes, the toilet exploded. It blew up. The plumbing company was called in to clean up the mess. So they explained it this way -- they said lightning combined with all of the methane gas in the septic tank created a bomb-like effect.

ROMANS: Wow. What are the chances? The chance of being struck by lightning are slim. The chance of having your toilet explode --

RIPLEY: Toilet explode -- there's so much we could go there, but we're not going to. It's 4:30 in the morning.

ROMANS: We just did. We actually just did.

All right. Twenty-seven minutes past the hour.

The president -- President Trump heads to Dayton and then El Paso in a matter of hours. Critics question whether his visit will help the healing. More from both communities, next.