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Today: Trump Visits El Paso & Dayton after Mass Shootings; Trump Tells Beto O'Rourke To "Be Quiet" in Tweet; Ohio's GOP Governor Call for Background Checks on All Gun Sales. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired August 7, 2019 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's 4:00 a.m. here in El Paso, Texas. Alisyn is off, I'm joined this morning by Erica Hill who is in Dayton, Ohio. In this morning these two cities, there are cities in pain and there are also cities in dread. The first we're used to. American towns and communities recovering from the plague of mass shootings. But the second, the dread at least among some here is new. It comes from the anticipation of a visit from the President of the United States in just a few hours.

This morning, the President leaves the White House to come meet with first responders, medical personnel, and victims' families. Here in El Paso, protesters plan to gather hours ahead of the arrival to call for gun control and denounce white supremacy. Beto O'Rourke will be there.

Now, he was the target of what some might call destructive bipartisanship by the President overnight, who made fun of O'Rourke's name and told him to be quite. Now that is the same President who just Monday read from the teleprompter saying, now is the time to set destructive partisanship aside. Now apparently ended Monday or maybe never begun.

O'Rourke, who has been critical with the President calling him a racist, wrote back that neither he nor El Paso, Erica will be silenced.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, John, I should point out protests are also planned here in Dayton where the major insist she will confront the President on gun control, something she said, he failed to do in that address of the nation on Monday.

Keep in mind, though, it's not just in Dayton and El Paso where these shootings have Americans on edge. I want to show you the scene from New York's Times Square just last night. The panic there as the sound of a backfiring motorcycle was mistaken for gunfire. Look how quickly people are moving there in this heavily, heavily densely populated area always full of people. Scrambling for cover. Police at the same time pleading for calm.

BERMAN: I have to say, it's completely understandable. And at this moment, completely American that in Times Square or at a mall, you're looking over your shoulder anticipating something going wrong. We got a lot of news for you this morning. We're going to begin here in El Paso with Rosa Flores with the latest from this city. The President is coming. And setting a tone even before he arrives.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Definitely so. You know, we've talked to a lot of people here in El Paso. There's mixed emotions about the President arriving. Democratic Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke of course has been here. He's been very vocal in calling out President Trump and his immigration policies, his rhetoric, the words that he has used to describe immigrants. And this of course has caught the attention of the President.

Let's take a look at his tweet, the President tweeted this out saying, "Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O'Rourke who is embarrassed by my last visit to the state of Texas where I trounced him. And is now even more embarrassed by polling at one percent in the Democrat primary, should respect the victims and law enforcement and be quiet!"

Beto O'Rourke of course responded by saying, "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 I can tell you, John, a lot of people here in El Paso, this is the last thing they want to be hearing. They don't want to be talking about politics. They don't want to be thinking about politics while they're mourning those 22 individuals who died.

BERMAN: They want to hear about how something like this will be prevented. They want to hear how they will be lead through this crisis. Rosa, I understand we're also hearing for the first time from the family of the killer or alleged killer?

FLORES: Right. The alleged killer. This is the first time we're hearing from them. And they have been very quiet, but their words are pretty profound. And they separate themselves from the racism and the violence and the hatred. Here's what they had to say in a statement that says in part.

"Patrick's actions were influenced and informed by people we do not know and from ideas and beliefs that we do not accept or condone, in any way. He was raised in a family that taught love, kindness, respect, and tolerance, rejecting all forms of racism, prejudice, hatred, and violence." We know, of course, that the suspect sitting in jail right now facing capital murder charges and he's being held without bond.

BERMAN: All right, Rosa. Stay on the story for us. We'll keep talking to you throughout the morning. Let's get the latest headlines from Dayton, Ohio. Erica Hill is there. Erica.

HILL: And we begin here in Dayton, John, with the CNN exclusive. As this city is preparing for the President's visit, we have chilling video of the Dayton gunman inside the bar about two hours before the massacre. You see him in this video in a t-shirt and shorts. You'll notice no tactical gear, no visible confrontations on this video. No sign of what was about to happen.

[06:05:11] His ex-girlfriend also coming forward to say he was interested in what makes terrible people do terrible things. Including mass shootings.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is live with me here in Dayton with the latest here. That alone is chilling.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I was just going to say that video is just chilling. Because right this is the first time we're getting a look at sort of his movements before the shooting. And we haven't even had a timeline from police. So that's why we're fascinated by this seeing maybe what his thoughts are, which is what police are trying to answer. But let's walk through the video as viewers are seeing it right now.

So that is Connor Betts that we've identified there in that video. This is at a bar here in the really entertainment district two hours before the shooting rampage. And again, we're highlighting there the fact he has a t-shirt on, he has shorts on. He got a wristband to go into that bar. He does not have that mask and vest that we know he wore during the shooting.

Now, we know from time stamps at this bar that he left alone from this bar an hour later. Remember, he entered with his sister and a companion that CNN has identified as Charles Beard. He left about an hour later. His sister and that companion left 45 minutes after him.

Now, at that time was only about six or so minutes before the shooting. So that's how close it was. We know from the police chief that Betts, this gunman, had some sort of communication with a companion during that time. But they wouldn't elaborate what communication that is. We also know, of course, his sister was a victim in this. And so was that companion who he walked into that bar with, Charles Beard. He was shot and is in the hospital. But police do not believe they had any sort of knowledge as to what was about to happen.

HILL: So, so many questions as you point out, we have now a snippet of that timeline.

GINGRAS: Right.

HILL: But what was that communication? What was said? What brought them outside, so much more.

GINGRAS: And there's still so many questions, right? We now know that the FBI is involved because there was some sort of ideology that Connor Betts bit into that they are not investigating. And we know that he was fascinating with mass shootings. And we know that Drew Griffin spoke to an ex-girlfriend who said that. That he even showed her a picture on one of their first dates.

HILL: One of their first dates. It is chilling. I keep going back to the word, but it's hard not to. Brynn, thank you.

GINGRAS: Yeah.

HILL: John, we'll send it back to you in El Paso.

BERMAN: All right, Erica. Thanks very much.

Joining me now is Adolpho Telles. He is the chairman of the El Paso, Texas, Republican Party. Adolpho, thanks for being with us. I just want to show people this t-shirt first of all which is going to go on sale not even today, in a couple of days. All the proceeds from this that says El Paso Strong are going to go to the El Paso Community Foundation, 100 percent. And that's symbolic I think of this community pulling together to work through this. It's so impressive. We want to thank you for welcoming us here.

My question, you know the President is coming. You know it's controversial. There are people who are welcoming it. There are people to say the least who are not.

ADOLPHO TELLES, CHAIR, EL PASO, TEXAS, REPUBLICAN PARTY: Right.

BERMAN: How will the President's visit help today?

TELLES: You know, the President is the President of the United States. Not of a certain part, of all the United States, of this city, this state, this country. He normally attends every location where there's a major issue. This is a major issue. Him showing up in El Paso to show his support, to learn what's going on, hopefully take things back on what needs to be changed, what needs to be worked on, I think it's very important to be here. And I think it's outstanding that he can coming.

BERMAN: The President on Monday read from the teleprompter saying now is the time to set destructive partisanship aside. How is going after Beto O'Rourke for his name? How is telling Beto O'Rourke that he trounced him, the President when he came to El Paso? I don't even know what that means. How is that setting destructive partisanship aside?

TELLES: Great question. When I heard about this issue on Saturday, we the local Republican Party decided without discussions of anybody else, that we did not want to make this a political issue. Did not want to do it. Within a day, O'Rourke, Escobar, Moody started spewing poison to the community and being negative, making it a political issue in order to enhance their political opportunities. They started the issue and we have tried to stay back. We still don't want to make it a political issue. This is a time for healing. This is a time to address the people. And the families of the people that got hurt, the families that are trying to heal and the communities.

BERMAN: So now was the time to set destructive partisanship aside. Shouldn't the President be the first to do that?

TELLES: Well, once he gets attacked and once he gets it, he has got to do what he's supposed to be doing. And what he's supposed to be doing is being here. That's his responsibility. The people that are being unprofessional and inappropriate are the people I just mentioned. They're the ones that are causing the problems in this community and causing people to be upset instead of focusing on helping our people.

[06:10:10] BERMAN: What tone does it set though? What I know you talked about the President, you don't always happy with him. What tone does it set that hours before he comes here, he sends out that message? What does it say? Does it say, do as I say, not as I do?

TELLES: No. I think what it says is you got to focus on the people that are locally and look at how they're reacting. And we've got our politicians that do not represent El Paso. Escobar and O'Rourke do not represent all of El Paso. And they're the ones that are causing it and they're the ones that need to stop.

BERMAN: I would think --

TELLES: If they back off, I'm sure the President would too.

BERMAN: They were literally both -- Escobar now is the representative of El Paso and Beto O'Rourke was in Congress.

TELLES: Yes.

BERMAN: I want to play something for you. And we have heard from Latinos all over the country, here in El Paso as well, who feel like they're being hunted down and under attacked. That this attack here in name of white supremacy targeted them specifically. And we know it because we read it. I want you to listen to what Tucker Carlson said last night on Fox News.

And I want to have you help me understand it if it's at all possible. Listen to what he said about white supremacy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: White supremacy, that's the problem. This is a hoax. Just like the Russia hoax. It's a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power. That's exactly what's going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: White supremacy is a hoax, he says. And I say this to you as someone who serves in this community with the 22 people who were killed behind us because the killer told us of what they look like and the language they speak. How on earth can you call that a hoax?

TELLES: You know, I'm Hispanic. OK? I speak Spanish. My mother, my grandmother was from Mexico from Zacatecas.

I am Hispanic and I claim it and I'm very proud of it, OK? White supremacy -- somebody asked me yesterday if I agree 100 percent with the President. I said I don't agree 100 percent with anybody, OK?

I like Tucker Carlson. White supremacy is not a hoax. But that doesn't mean it's a national very large group. There are pockets of radicals from any type of focus that you want to look at all over this country, all over this world. That doesn't mean that it's something that's going to take over, that's going to dominate. But without a doubt, you've got people that are anti-black, people that are anti- white, people that are anti-Hispanic.

And you -- if want to be a radical some place? You're going to find a group that will support what you that you want to believe.

BERMAN: But I know you know, diminishing the threat of white supremacy as Carlson was doing, it doesn't help the people. In your community here, I know you know that and the people who were killed here behind us. It's not language you would use.

TELLES: This community is 80 percent Hispanic, 80 percent-plus, OK. We're 82 percent, 83 percent Hispanic and we get along and I mean everybody. I'm a minority. This is a democratic county. I'm a Republican representative in a democratic county in a Republican state, OK. But in spite of that, we don't have -- we have differences of opinion, strong differences of opinion, but we don't have anger and frustration and fighting over our differences of opinion.

And so we acknowledge that there are issues here, there are problems here. You know, we can touch a number of issues that are -- we're sensitive about because you can see the lights behind us.

BERMAN: That's Mexico.

TELLES: And that's Mexico. That's how close we are to Mexico. And so we deal with immigration issues, with border patrol issues, human trafficking, child trafficking, we deal with those things all the time.

And I think in this community, we've been able to control that. But we're the front line for the rest of the United States because what goes on in the rest of the United States is impacted by what occurs in El Paso.

BERMAN: I do want to say, Adolpho Telles, thank you again for having us here in this city. It's been an honor to be here. Thank you for the work you do. Nice to see you.

TELLES: You're welcome.

BERMAN: Thanks for coming in.

TELLES: Take care.

BERMAN: I want to know Chris Cuomo is going to moderate a live Cuomo Prime Time Town Hall, America Under Assault: The Gun Crisis. That's tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Now, protesters told Ohio's governor to do something after the shooting in Dayton. Now he is. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:18:57] HILL: The message here in Dayton where nine people were killed is clear. Do something. Those words interrupting Ohio Governor Mike DeWine earlier this week at a vigil. And yesterday the Republican governor announced he is taking action. Calling on lawmakers to pass a law that would require background checks for all firearm sales and also proposing a red flag law.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): These orders which would be grant upon clear and convincing evidence would allow the removal of firearms from potentially dangerous individuals. And get them the mental health treatment that they need, get them whatever help that they need.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Joining us now, Dayton City Commissioner Chris Shaw and Susie Lane who's the leader of the Ohio Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. We appreciate you both coming down this morning.

CHRIS SHAW, COMMISSIONER, CITY Of DAYTON: Thank you.

HILL: Susie, I know you've said in reaction to this plan that the Governor released yesterday, you see this as an important step forward. There's a lot in there you can get behind?

SUSIE LANE, DAYTON GROUP LEADER, MOMS DEMAND ACTION: Oh yeah, oh yeah. We're going to support this legislation all the way through. And hopefully it passes the House and the Senate.

[06:20:00] HILL: Hopefully it passes. What are your thoughts on possible passing here? It's been tough in Ohio, as we know, to have some of these discussions and to get things passed.

SHAW: Absolutely. I'm very proud of the Governor and frankly Congressman Turner as well. I'm hopeful that this passes and this is a good start. I think that there are other things we need to be taking a look at too, like getting weapons of war off of our streets.

HILL: Do you think that could ultimately be a next step, if in fact, some of this passes?

SHAW: I think it should be. I think that these events continue to happen all over our country and it's because of these high-powered weapons that are on our streets. It's a matter of safety for our citizens and also our first responders, our police officers.

HILL: Obviously the President is coming here later today. There's been a lot of discussion about the visit both here and the visit in El Paso. What do you want to hear from the President, Susie, today? What do you think his message should be to the people of Dayton and to the American people?

LANE: Well, I'm hopeful that this visit has an impact on his stance on gun safety and gun violence. And I hope that his heart, his mind is changed and he listens to the broad majority of people across the United States that are in favor of doing something just like they said at the vigil. HILL: Do you think the President has a sense as Susie said? And, you know, there's number of polling for certain issues. There is really broad support in this country when it comes to talking about different legislative measures. Do you think the President is seeing that and also the reaction of the last couple days? Do you think that will influence him this morning?

SHAW: Well, I certainly hope so. I mean, the crowds out here at our vigil certainly had an effect on the governor. I hope that the President also listened to some of that and heard the message loud and clear that we want him and the Congress to do something, meaningful gun control laws.

HILL: In terms of Congress, we have some reporting. A person close to Mitch McConnell, he's serious to about allowing the Senate to have bicameral, bipartisan legislation to address gun violence, that there's a conference call on Monday. But one thing that did not come up in that conference call was calling the Senate back. And part of the reason was he didn't feel there was support from the President for the background check bill. How do you feel about that?

LANE: Well, that's good news. And I hope that the President does support that and they do call the Congress back because that's what people in the United States want. That's what we hear. That's, you know, the politicians need to catch up with the people.

HILL: Do you think Mitch McConnell is hearing that message?

LANE: I hope so, I hope so. I know we at Moms Demand Action are working. We're trying to get that action to him and our leaders in Kentucky are working on him and putting as much pressure as we can.

HILL: And are you feeling some progress?

LANE: Yes, I think we are. I mean, this is -- you know, when you see Governor DeWine and when you see Representative Turner change their minds and, you know, and the people are speaking and they're listening.

HILL: What about you, Chris? Do you feel that your elected officials in Washington are listening?

SHAW: Well, I think some are. I think that there are a great many others that continue to listen to the gun lobby. So I want to make sure that this is the time for action and that we are actually moving things forward.

You know, we've seen these kind of bumps up in activity before. And I just want to make sure that now we can actually sign some meaningful legislation into effect that will control these awful weapons of war.

HILL: You said earlier you would actually like to see Mitch McConnell get on that plane with the President?

SHAW: Get on the plane with the President, come here, have a conversation with folks. I think that they should take that opportunity to be in the rooms with some of those folks like I was on that morning to hear the families and form the fate of their loved ones. Because it's kept me up at night. And I don't know how others can sleep at night. They should be in those rooms, outside on some of those rooms and hear the cries of the families.

HILL: Chris Shaw, Susie Lane, I appreciate you both getting up and being with us this morning. Thank you.

LANE: Thank you.

SHAW: Thank you.

HILL: And coming up in our next hour, I'm going to be speaking with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as he also calls on Washington to take action on guns, John?

BERMAN: All right, Erica. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell called himself the grim reaper when it came to stalling bills from the Democratic House. Now with calls for gun control in his own party growing louder, will he be forced to change course? New developments, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:28:50] HILL: Some Republicans are starting to demand action on gun control legislation. But after calling himself the grim reaper of socialism, will Majority Leader Mitch McConnell call senators back to Washington for a vote?

Lauren Fox, joins us live from Louisville, Kentucky with more. Lauren?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, every time there's one of these tragedies, Erica, there are renewed calls to change the country's gun laws. Usually those calls fade before any action is taken in Washington. But after those twin tragedies over the weekend within 24 hours, there's renewed traction.

Now, Democrats are pointing their finger at one man, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who they say has the power to make changes to the country's gun laws.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOX (voice-over): He's been the biggest road block to new gun legislation in Washington.

CROWD: Do your job!

FOX: Now the pressure is mounting on Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, to take action.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We've discussed this long enough. Let's pass this bill now. FOX: Some Democrats demanding McConnell call back the Senate from its five-week recess to vote on a House pass universal background checks bill.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): We can fly back into Washington on Monday morning. We could pass the background check bill. And people could fly back and be home for dinner. And the President needs to sign this bill.

[06:30:08] FOX: McConnell didn't call back the Senate --