Return to Transcripts main page
McConnell May Call Back Senators; Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) is Interviewed about Gun Legislation; East Coast Braces for Storms; World Puzzled at U.S. Mass Shootings. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired August 7, 2019 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:30:00] SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): 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.
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: McConnell didn't call back the Senate, but did open the door to considering legislation to curb gun violence, writing in a statement, quote, Senate Republicans are prepared to do our part. On a private conference call, sources say McConnell dispatched three committee chairmen, including Trump confidant Lindsey Graham, to find a pack of reforms that could garner bipartisan support and be signed into law by the president. Proposals could include Trump priorities, like limiting guns for people with severe mental health issues, studying the impact of violent video games or pushing red flag laws to take guns from potentially dangerous individuals.
Former McConnell adviser Scott Jennings tells CNN the Senate majority leader is ready to act. But time is running out.
SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ADVISER: I talked to him this week and he's very, very grief stricken about what has befallen our country on numerous occasions. And I think he's got the same kinds of questions that most of us have, which is, what can we actually do that would have a meaningful impact on stopping this in the future?
I hear him saying that he wants to find something meaningful, but -- but his job is to run a process that gets to something meaningful and can get to an end product. His job is not to run a process that leads to a bunch of grandstanding and then nothing.
FOX: The Republicans' goal is to work during the recess to find consensus on proposals they can tackle when lawmakers return. McConnell warning, quote, only serious bipartisan, bicameral efforts will enable us to continue this important work and produce further legislation that can pass the Senate, pass the House, and earn the president's signature. Partisan theatrics and campaign trail rhetoric will only take us further away from the progress all Americans deserve.
With the 2020 election closing in and members away from Washington for the next month, the biggest factors in getting anything passed are whether both parties can reach an agreement, and whether President Trump gives his blessing.
JENNINGS: We've seen time and again, when he lays hands on something, the Republican Party tends to get on board.
FOX: And even here in Louisville, there was a vigil last night outside Majority Leader McConnell's office trying to pressure him to take some action. Of course, after a long recess, it's unclear precisely what can happen when lawmakers return in September.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Lauren Fox for us in Louisville. Lauren, thanks very much.
And coming up in just a minute, we're going to speak to an influential Republican lawmaker to see if he's moved at all by some of the space that McConnell might be creating.
But first, we do have some breaking campaign news.
We've learned that former Vice President Joe Biden is going to make his strongest speech yet condemning President Trump's rhetoric. It's happening in Iowa today. Biden is expected to say, how far is it from Trump saying this is an invasion to the shooter in El Paso declaring his attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas? Not far at all, Biden will say. How far is it from the white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Trump's very fine people, Biden says, chanting, you will not replace us to the shooter at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh saying Jews were committing genocide to his people? Not far at all. In both clear language and in code, this president has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation.
The former Vice president goes on to say that when American presidents have been tested in the past, they have stepped up. Biden says that Trump has not and has aligned himself with the darkest forces of this nation. The former vice president's comments come after many of the 2020 candidates spoke out against the president's rhetoric following the mass shootings here in El Paso and also in Dayton.
All right, you heard us tell you about Mitch McConnell, what he might allow when it comes to gun control legislation. Will other Republicans buy it? We are joined by someone who has an "a" rating with the NRA, next.
[06:38:09] BERMAN: In just a few hours, the president will leave the White House, head to Dayton, Ohio, and then here to El Paso, one of two stops in the wake of the mass shootings in America over the last few days. Survivors are now demanding action in the wake of the tragedies. Will Congress answer the call after years of inaction?
Joining us now is Republican Congressman Brian Babin of Texas. Congressman, thank you for being with us. I know the entire Texas delegation has come together in support of the people here in El Paso and I know they are grateful for that. So, thank you.
Let me read you a statement from Congressman Mike Turner, the Republican who represents Dayton, Ohio, who has moved on gun violence legislation. He said, I will support legislation that prevents the sale of military style weapons to civilians, a magazine limit and red flag legislation. The carnage these military style weapons are able to produce when available to the wrong people is intolerable.
Three things, military style weapons, which some people call assault weapons, a ban on high-capacity magazines, and red flag laws.
Could you support action on any of those three fronts?
REP. BRIAN BABIN (R-TX): Well, number one, what is a military style weapons? We're talking semi-automatic weapons. I think we need to get away from the rhetoric of what -- what weapon or what instrument was used to make these terrible and atrocious murders and get to something that we can actually pass. I --
BERMAN: Why? Why?
BABIN: Let me just say this.
BABIN: Let me just say you -- let me just tell you this. The chances of getting everything that the Democrats want are very, very small. They -- the Democrats control the House. The Republicans control the Senate. There's a Republican in the White House. Let's do something that we can all do together. That's what has to happen. The American people are demanding that Congress act.
[06:40:05] I've got a bill, it's HR-838. I just want to make sure -- I'm going to hold this up, 838. It has 114 co-sponsors on it, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. It's something that we can use right now. We can get it out of the Judiciary Committee in the House. There's already a bipartisan counterpart to it in the U.S. Senate by a Republican and a Democrat sponsor there as well.
And so what needs to happen is that we can -- let's work on the things that are possible right now. And this is possible.
BABIN: It's called the TAPS Act. The Threat Assessment, Prevention and Safety Act. And what it does, it takes an existing process that was developed by the Secret Service over three decades ago after Ronald Reagan had an assassination attempt. It works. It's not in the hands -- it's in the hands of the federal government, the FBI, the Capitol Hill Police. It keeps us safe with the same thing. It identifies threats. It assesses these threats. And if the threat is deemed serious, then they mitigate and manage this threat.
BABIN: It works.
BABIN: We haven't had any issues. By --
BERMAN: I understand. I understand. I understand. It assess a person (ph) --
BABIN: The LAPD uses it.
BERMAN: Congressman, I have to -- I -- we have limited time. We have limited time. It assesses threats and it does have bipartisan support.
BABIN: I understand.
BERMAN: A lot of people look at that, including its supporters, and say, and then what, because it doesn't give police, it doesn't give communities the right to go then take the weapons away from someone that it identifies as a threat. It doesn't do what the red flags laws would do.
I'm just asking you, yes or no, would you support the red flag laws that Lindsey Graham --
BABIN: Well, we have -- hey, John -- John, we have what we -- we have a Constitution --
BERMAN: That Lindsey -- just give me a yes or no.
BABIN: We have a Constitution and we have to abide by the Constitution.
BERMAN: OK, so is that a no? No, you would not support the red flag laws?
BABIN: No, I would support any law that does not infringe upon our constitutional rights.
BERMAN: How does the Constitution prevent that?
BABIN: Because let's say someone's ex-wife decides that she doesn't like them anymore or somebody's ex-husband and makes a threat, calls the authorities and says, this person is a -- is a bad threat to society. He's on a path to hurt somebody. So they go out and confiscate all their guns. They can hold them in a cell. And they -- they just suspend due process.
BERMAN: Well, it's what the laws -- the laws -- due process -- hang on. Hang on, Congressman. Congressman, Lindsey Graham --
BABIN: And that's -- that is reckless. That, I think, you're going to have a whole lot of Republicans that may have -- and even Democrats that may have a hard time supporting that. BERMAN: Lindsey Graham, Mike Turner, Rodney Davis, you go around the country, they look at the red flag laws and they say there is due process. It requires a judge to make a decision based on the information that has been given. And from a federal level, all you're doing is providing federal grants to states to encourage red flag laws.
So, again, this is something that people look at and says there is due process. I understand you are opposing it right now. And I just want to put up on the screen so people see it, the 100 round drum magazine used in Dayton, Ohio. Forgetting whether you want to talk about rifles, forgetting whether you want to talk about the guns themselves --
BABIN: And, listen, we could have a meeting -- look -- hey, John, we can have discussions --
BERMAN: Hang on -- hang on -- can we just -- let me just finish -- let me finish --
BABIN: About the drums and the magazines.
BERMAN: I just want to -- I just want to say, Mike Turner --
BABIN: We can have meaningful discussions.
BERMAN: Oh, OK.
BABIN: But right now let's do something that's possible.
BERMAN: Mike -- I mean, I'm sorry, Congressman --
BABIN: Let's look at the possible right now and TAPS is that possibility.
BERMAN: OK. But, no, no, no, no, no, it's possible that Mike Turner -- Mike Turner -- Mike Turner, Rodney Davis, Adam Kinzinger, Republicans that we've spoken to in the last few days -- that's the rifle, but the 100 drum round magazine have said they'd be willing to limit high- capacity magazines. So there is bipartisan support for that. Not just Democratic, bipartisan support.
BABIN: Well --
BERMAN: Why should there be legal protections for people to have a 100 drum magazine?
BABIN: You know what, John, I just told you, I would -- I'm willing to come to the table and discuss these types of things.
BABIN: But right now we have the opportunity -- there's 114 co- sponsors from the Democrat Party and the Republican Party, both sides of the aisle. This is something that we can do. This is a process that works. BERMAN: Sure. TAPS -- TAPS is something you can do.
BABIN: The LAPD has been using it for years. They've -- listen, if this -- if it's good enough for celebrities in Hollywood and the president and congressmen, then it's good enough for the average person in America to be protected by the same thing that (INAUDIBLE).
BERMAN: The president -- the president -- the president has support -- the president -- the president has supported -- the president has expressed support, we understand -- the president has expressed support, we understand, for the red flag laws. So if the president comes out vocally and supports the red flag laws, would you support them?
BABIN: Listen, red flag laws have a potential. They have a potential to do well. But they also have a potential for abuse. And until we have protections -- I'll let -- let me look at the red flag laws that are being proposed. Let's see what protections we have constitutionally. I'm a reasonable guy. Let's see what they are.
But right now, I think the American people deserve the same protection that the president, celebrities, Congress and diplomats, the people that are being protected by these -- these -- this process, the threat -- behavioral threat assessment that's been used for 30 years.
[06:45:12] So let's let the American people have this too.
BERMAN: I have -- I have time -- I have time for one yes or no.
BABIN: And this -- this is what we can do right now.
BERMAN: I have time for one yes or no question. I have time for one yes or no question. The TAPS law, again, which is something that a lot of people support, if someone is assessed as a threat, does it give anyone any power, any power to take a weapon away from that individual that your law would deem as a threat?
BABIN: There -- there are -- listen, if you -- if you threaten the president of the United States, the Secret Service are going to come out and they're going to question you to see if you are a serious threat. And then they will mitigate that threat.
BERMAN: You can't take --
BABIN: This is the way this -- this process works.
BERMAN: All right. The answer -- the answer is no. The answer is no. The answer is no to the TAPS law right there. Again, it has a lot of support, but the answer's no.
BABIN: No, you're puts words in my mouth, John. I'm sorry. We -- we will talk about this. We will talk about it. But I want to see what constitutional protections are put in before I would vote for something and would support something that would take away someone's constitutional rights.
BERMAN: Again, it has a lot of support. But the answer is no. I'm not putting words in your mouth. But -- OK. OK.
The law -- the law which you are supporting, and, again, which has some bipartisan support, does something but it doesn't allow for any weapon to be taken away from someone deemed as a threat. A threat to his or her self or a threat to others. The threat to people, like in this mall -- or this Walmart behind me where 22 people were killed. All I'm saying is it only goes so far and why not do it all?
BABIN: I think -- you know, I think you've got this thing -- there are states that already have red flag laws, John, OK? And those states, those state governments have deemed that a legal thing. You can take someone's weapons away in those states. But before we had a federal law --
BABIN: That would blanket 50 states with red flags, I'd want to see the protections to Americans' constitutional rights before I could support that.
BERMAN: All right, Congressman.
BABIN: In a state that has it already, New York or whatever, Illinois, then I think that's probably would what happened just as you say. But I would not support something unless I know that the American people are safe from a tyrannical judge or somebody that wants to take away their constitutional rights and infringe upon them.
BERMAN: All right, Congressman.
BABIN: We have the opportunity to pass HR-838 now.
BERMAN: Congressman, thank you.
BABIN: So let's do that. That's what has to happen.
BERMAN: Congressman, Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham think they maybe have a chance to pass some federal regulations for red flags also. Sit down, talk with them. Thank you for being with us this morning. Appreciate your time.
BABIN: Absolutely. I'm willing --
BERMAN: In just hours, the president heads to El Paso where I am and also in Ohio. But not everyone is welcoming the visit. We're going to speak to an organizer of a big protest planned for this afternoon, coming up.
[06:52:00] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Much of the East Coast from the Carolinas up to New England facing the threat of severe storms today. Hail, flash flooding, even wind gusts near hurricane strength.
Let's get straight to meteorologist Chad Myers, who is looking at it, including the timing of all of this for us. Chad.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You bet, Erica.
It's already hot. It's humid out there. And today is going to be a severe weather day for the East Coast. Storms are already on the radar.
This weather's brought to you by Xyzal, all night, all day allergy relief.
So let's get to it. Here comes the rain. Noon, 2:00, 3:00 right here through New York state into New England, all the way down even to D.C. Some of these storms will contain hail. Many of them will contain wind. A little bit of lightening as well. Likely not much of a chance of a tornado today, but that chance is not zero with this weather. The weather will spread itself out. It's the heat, the humidity and the cold front all getting together for the northeast. Ninety-two in D.C. today, 101 in Dallas. And that does not change for the next couple days. Hot weather all the way through the week for the southwest. Right where you are, John, 101 today.
BERMAN: Looking forward to it, Chad. Chad Myers, thank you very much.
BERMAN: How is the world responding to the violence they see here in the United States? An eye-opening look at why two countries have put a travel alert in place for the United States. That's next.
[06:57:25] HILL: As America grapples with the mass shootings here in Dayton and in El Paso, some countries are issuing travel warnings for those planning to visit the U.S.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh explains.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The grief here is local and agonizing.
JUAN MARTINEZ, SUPERINTENDENT, HORIZON HIGH SCHOOL: Not our children! Please don't! Not one more.
WALSH: But the anger and bewilderment has slowly turned global. The U.S. has been here many times before. And so has the rest of the world watching on, bewildered by the all too familiar debate about gun control and the U.S. paralyzed by politics. Elsewhere, in their moment of violent tragedy, the answer seemed clear.
JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: Australia experienced a massacre and changed their laws. New Zealand had its experience and changed its laws. To be honest with you, I do not understand the United States. WALSH: Other leaders more conventional in their condolences and
condemnation. The U.K. prime minister, Boris Johnson, tweeting, our hearts go out to the victims and all those affected by the appalling acts of violence.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, added, families and entire cities have been plunged into mourning and suffering by these acts of violence and hate.
But the Mexican president went a step further. It's time for American leaders to take action, he said.
MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO (through translator): The U.S. needs to control the indiscriminant sale of weapons. I say this with all due respect. It is not our intention to meddle in the internal matters of any country, but, yes, the matter should be reviewed.
WALSH: The suspected El Paso shooter was a 21-year-old, apparently fueled by hatred of immigrants and Hispanics. It's prompted some Latin American countries to update their travel warnings. Venezuela is urging its citizens to postpone their plans or exercise caution. And Uruguay is warning travelers of, quote, the growing indiscriminately violence in the U.S.
The reality is this is an American malaise with only American solutions at which the rest of the world simply looks on in disbelief.
WALSH: Now, those new two travel warnings, obviously Venezuela in the heat now of a political row (ph) about the future of the Maduro government with the U.S. and Uruguay some say responding to a recent tightening up of travel advice for Americans traveling to that South American country.
[07:00:00] But I've got to tell you really from the outside of the United States, there is an extraordinary disconnect as to how Americans don't seem able to address politically this key issue.