Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Visits El Paso and Dayton After Mass Shootings; Ohio Governor Calls For Background Checks on All Gun Sales; Trump to Face Protests As He Visits El Paso Today; Mistaken Gunfire Causes Panic in Times Square. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired August 7, 2019 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:00] NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: But I've got to tell you, really, from outside of the United States, there is an extraordinary disconnect as to how Americans don't seem able to address politically this key issue. Americans you speak to feel the same frankly about the European view of their right to bare arms in their second amendments. They say it's part of life. But, really, so much shock, I think, felt globally over the past week.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Nick Paton Walsh, you see it so well, there's a cognitive dissonance, a lack of it. How could this possibly happen is what we hear from around the world. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much.

Protests and the president coming here to El Paso, also Dayton, Ohio, in just a few hours. NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump to head to Ohio and Texas. Some lawmakers saying the president and his offensive rhetoric are not welcome.

HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: The president is the president of all the people. He wants to talk about solutions.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is an invasion. When you see these caravans starting out with 20,000 people, that's an invasion.

REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX): He put the target on our back. He needs to peel it off. He needs to stand up and say, I was wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The objective has got to be not to come up with the perfect solution but to save a few children's lives. That's why we need to keep the pressure up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's work on mental health. Let's look at firearms. I think both sides can see through the partisan cloud.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

John Berman here in El Paso, Texas. Erica Hill joins me from Dayton, Ohio, this morning.

Two cities very much in pain. Two cities very much to a certain extent in dread, preparing at this hour for a visit from the president. Dayton and El Paso, they're still reeling from mass shootings, the shootings that killed 31 people.

The president and first lady are planning to meet with first responders, medical personnel, and victims' families. And this is where the dread comes in. Some people, some, don't want the president to come. Here in El Paso, protesters plan to gather hours ahead of his arrival to call for gun control and to denounce white supremacy. And Beto O'Rourke will be there. He was the target of what you could reasonably call destructive partisanship by the president overnight.

The president made fun of O'Rourke's name and told him to be quiet. This was the same president who just Monday read from a teleprompter saying that now is the time to set destructive partisanship aside. As we've been saying, now apparently ended Monday or maybe it never existed at all for him.

O'Rourke has been very critical of the president calling him a racist, a white supremacist. He wrote back that neither he nor El Paso will be silenced. Erica?

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, there are also protests planned here in Dayton today. The mayor is vowing to confront the president on gun control. And one thing is becoming increasingly clear, Americans are on edge.

Just take a look at this scene in New York's Times Square. This is from last night. You see all of these people, hundreds of people frantically scrambling for cover last night. They moved at the sound of what many thought were gunshots. That loud noise turned out to be a motorcycle backfiring.

Police pleading for calm. But that alone, John, really illustrates where many people in this country are this morning.

BERMAN: America. Joining me now is Texas state representative, Democrat Art Fierro whose district covers part of El Paso. Representative, thanks so much for being with us.

You know, actually, let me start with that video we were just watching because when we're watching it together, and we are both shaking our heads. When you see Americans running en masse from the sound of a muffler, how does that make you feel standing in front of this Walmart? ART FIERRO (D), TEXAS STATE HOUSE: That's New York City. We're talking about El Paso, Texas, the third safest city in the country. We're feet away from where 22 people lie dying or died a few days ago. We're yards away from a high school that I attended. And that high school, three of those victims attended or lived in the neighborhood.

This is a different community. This is a loving, welcoming community. But we won't be defined by a domestic terrorist commonly choosing our community to come in here and do this carnage, to do this massacre for no other reason than our proximity to Mexico and because the people here look like me. They look like my daughter. They look like my wife. They look like my family.

There was no other reason that our city was chosen.

BERMAN: The president is coming today. What are your constituents, what are the people here telling you about his visit?

FIERRO: I've been inundated with phone calls on asking him not to come. If I had the opportunity to sit in front of the president and talk to him, I would say, Mr. President, we need to do something. This is your opportunity to be a leader of our country. This is your opportunity to put those evil, vicious words aside and do something for all your constituents.

Let's call the Congress. Let's call the Senate back. Let's do something.

[07:05:03] This is no longer a partisan subject. This is a bipartisan. Let's save people's lives.

When this carnage can happen in El Paso, Texas, it can happen anywhere. It's time for us to put partisanship aside and move forward and bring some smart legislation and policy into place that will protect us.

BERMAN: The president said now is the time to end destructive partisanship. Overnight he went after Beto O'Rourke, you know, criticizing his name, also saying he trounced him when they were both here in El Paso -- I don't even know what that means that he trounced him. But is that the message that will help El Paso heal tonight?

FIERRO: Is healing on the amount of people that I can bring to my rally versus your rally? That's not healing. Healing is really sitting down. Don't spend two, two and a half hours in El Paso.

My understanding is he's going to arrive at 2, 2:30, leave at 4, 4:30. In those two hours, what could you have done if you sat in the White House and did some progressive, positive policy changes to gun control? What would happen if you used that time to put out a message, a true message from the heart, a true message that you meant on bringing the people of the United States together?

BERMAN: I want to play something for you that happened on TV last night. I'm reticent even to play it for you because it hurts, it hurts to see it. It's offensive to anyone with common decency. And it happened on Fox TV when Tucker Carlson suggested that white supremacy is a hoax.

Listen to this.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: 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.


BERMAN: How can you say that to the people who died behind us who as you know were murdered because of what they looked like, the language that they speak?

FIERRO: John, we can't forget cowardly murdered. This is exactly what we're offering to that the president is very guilty of. Words have consequences. We have got to be cognizant of what we're saying.

It's no longer rhetoric. Let's do something. You know, let's -- you cannot tell me that these 22 people that lied there in that parking lot and that building don't believe that words have consequences.

BERMAN: All right. Art Fierro, Representative, thank you for being with us this morning.

FIERRO: No. Thank you for being here and thank you from the people of El Paso.

BERMAN: Thanks for being such great host to us in this city. All right. Erica?

HILL: John, thank you. Also with us now is Jon Husted. He's the lieutenant-governor of Ohio. Lt. Governor, we appreciate you taking the time for us this morning. There's a lot happening as you know in the state as well today, specifically here in Dayton.

Yesterday, Governor DeWine, and you were there with him by his side, announcing these various proposals. And one of them that really stood out to me, sir, was a school tip line and also social media monitoring. And the reason that really struck a chord is that we've heard about this kill list that the shooter here in Dayton reportedly had in high school, that it was reported to police.

We know that his record was expunged. There was nothing in his background criminally that would have prevented him from legally buying a weapon.

Looking at this moving forward, if tips are coming into a school line, if they are passed onto a police department, is that something that moving forward, perhaps, should be included in consideration when it comes to whether someone should be allowed to buy a firearm?

LT.- GOV. JON HUSTED (R-OH): Well, yes, if there's something in their record that would prevent them legally from buying a firearm, we need to make sure that information better available. What we said yesterday is, you know, we have the national slogan, "If you see something, say something." Well, we would like in Ohio if you see something to do something. And we've given the mechanisms on the hotline to do so.

We want police, mental health experts, the people who can do something about this to be -- to let it be known. The signs were very clear with this shooter that he was potentially violent and yet nothing was done. We need to reform our mental health system and the way that we deal with these potentially violent people to make sure that they get the help that they need so that these kinds of terrible tragedies don't happen.

HILL: Are you confident that these proposals will pass here in Ohio?

HUSTED: I am. What's different is I spent, the governor has spent a lot of time with people in the legislature and from the Second Amendment community, the gun rights advocates. We brought them to the table and said, look, we don't want to take guns away from law-abiding citizens, but you have to help us make sure that people with mental health issues or people who can't -- or shouldn't legally have a gun, that you help us keep guns out of their hands.

[07:10:09] Because if you don't and tragedies like this continue to happen, you're going to eventually force the nation to look at how we affect people who are law-abiding citizens and how their gun rights are affected. So please -- you know, we've reached out to the Second Amendment community. We've brought them in and said help us fix this. And I believe it'll pass.

HILL: When we look at what's happening on a local and a state level, we know it is often times easier to get things done. Where, though, does the federal government in your mind fit into this puzzle? What does need to be done in Congress?

HUSTED: Well, look, the background check system, the technology behind it, the reporting behind it, that can be improved. That's certainly something that we need them to do, you know. But as it relates to guns themselves, that will all have to be done at the federal level because you can't have states where you can, you know, have access to certain things and not in others.

But we have really focused in Ohio. Look, when the governor spoke in Dayton on Sunday, there was a call for doing something. In 24 hours we turned around a 17-point plan. Most of that, we were already working on.

We brought the mayors and people of, you know, the Democrats, Republicans, people from the political left and political right together to say, look, let's not point fingers at each other. Let's identify all of the things that we can do together and get this pass. Because I promise you, this 17-point initiative that we've laid out yesterday, it will save lives. It will save lives from people who might commit suicide, that might do harm to other people.

And we really -- we're currently trying to use this event to crystallize people's minds and their hearts and to say it's time that we act. And we need to do it swiftly. And I believe that we will get this through the legislature.

HILL: You have met with victims here in Dayton. You were among those donating blood, I know, as well. When you meet with people who have gone through this personally, it does change you and those are moments that stay with you. The president is making his way here later today. What do you think the people that you met with, what do you think Ohioans this morning need to hear from this president today?

HUSTED: Frankly, I'm glad that the president is coming because when he meets the survivors -- I met a young woman who had a bullet wound to the head. I met a number of survivors who had these wounds and described the terrible ordeal that they went through. When he visits the site and sees the bullet holes and the blood stains, I think that has an effect on you as a human being. And I think that what the president needs is to see that and to search his heart and his mind to respond to what the people of Dayton will be asking him to do.

But I think it's -- I think that as a public official, you do need to meet with survivors. You do need to see what happened. You do need to talk with law enforcement because I think it helps you gain the perspective you need to act and lead on these issues.

HILL: Lieutenant-Governor Jon Husted, appreciate you taking the time for us this morning. Thank you.

HUSTED: Thank you.

HILL: Chris Cuomo will moderate a live Cuomo Prime Time Town Hall, "America Under Assault: The Gun Crisis." That is tonight, 9 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.


BERMAN: All right. Here in El Paso, protests are going to greet the president when he arrives here later today.

Up next, we're going to speak to one of the people behind these protests, the organizer, to find out why he is going to march and also how the Latino community feels this week.


[07:18:05] BERMAN: President Trump will face protests when he arrives here in El Paso, Texas. The local Democratic Party urged the president not to come, calls that the president ignored. Today, five groups from the El Paso strong movement are joining together in a show of opposition and to demand stronger gun control laws.

Joining me now is Fernando Garcia, founder of Border Network for Human Rights, one of the groups organizing today's community gathering. Fernando, thank you very much for being with us.

And you know what, I do want to talk about the protests, and it's obvious you're wearing the t-shirt right now saying that racism not welcome Trump. But I want to talk in general about your community, the Latino community down here, because what I have heard from around the country this week that people feel in your community that what is being missed is Latinos feel hunted. They feel targeted. They feel threatened now more than ever.

FERNANDO GARCIA, FOUNDER, BORDER NETWORK FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: You know, I was thinking about that as I was coming to this show, and our community had seen fear already. I mean, before this incident, families, immigrant, Latino communities were afraid of family separation because of immigration enforcement, have seen the raids happening. Trump has called on raids on Latinos before.

And after this shooting, there's a new label of fear. I mean, that fear of going outside, going and taking your children to the school or to shopping and finding that somebody is going to have a gun that is going to shoot at you just because of the way you look, because you look like Mexican and Latino. So that is a different level of fear. I think it is very concerning.

BERMAN: Do you feel that the country and its leadership understand that fear?

GARCIA: Well, I believe that at least the White House and the president, they have promoted the conditions for people to be afraid because what happened here in El Paso was not an isolated incident. It was connected by hateful narrative, a racist rhetoric promoted by the president himself.

[07:20:02] So I think they had contributed for the people to be afraid.

BERMAN: One of the things that broke my heart is when we heard a story from inside the Walmart when the victims before they were shot were shouting por favor, no, por favor, no and then the killer would shoot them which I find just incredibly searing and hurtful.

GARCIA: You know, we had members of our community but also members of our organization, the Border Network for Human Rights, a Dreamer was working at that time inside the Walmart, a DACA recipient, and she had to explain to us what happened. I mean, people running away, seeing the shooter just selecting people because of the way they looked.

I mean, other than Mexicans, they were not targeted. Only Mexicans and Latinos were targeted by this shooting. Obviously, we need to call it what it is. This is an act of terrorism against Hispanic communities and Latinos.

BERMAN: So you're going to be protesting a few miles from here when the president comes today. I see the t-shirt you're wearing. What positive message do you want to send? What's the way to move forward?

GARCIA: You know, we need to say it. I mean, we need to say that we are going to have a strong demonstration, a strong gathering of people because we're proud of what we are in El Paso. We are a welcoming community, a community that had received immigrants and refugees. We open our hearts, our churches, our homes to immigrant families and refugees and that is what was attacked. And I think we need to say it out loud.

Now, what would be the conditions where we will welcome Trump? Well, he needs to repent. He needs to ask for forgiveness to the families that actually were impacted. But also more than anything, he needs to stop the rhetoric, the policy and the strategy that has caused so much harm.

Yes, we have a shooting, a terrorist attack but also had children dying in detention centers. We have migrants dying in the rivers because of the policy of this administration. Building walls or rejecting refugees, that is something that needs to stop.

BERMAN: What do you need here in El Paso? What would help you the next few days, weeks, months?

GARCIA: You know, we are in the transitional moment between mourning, reflection, and action. And when I say that, is because people at least now in the stage of asking the question of why it has happened. And we need to answer that question. And sometimes the answer is very dramatic. I mean, when you realize that this shooter wasn't alone, it was a rhetoric, it was a hateful message coming from the White House, that needs to stop right now.

BERMAN: Fernando Garcia, thank you for being with us today. We do appreciate it.

GARCIA: Thank you.

BERMAN: I want to put up the names and faces of the people who were affected here in El Paso at the Walmart here and leave you with that. Again, look at the faces, look at the names. What Fernando was saying, this was no accident. This was a group of people that were targeted.

We'll be right back.


[07:27:41] HILL: Panic in Times Square. Thousands of people running for cover. This just gives you a sense of the sheer amount of people as they are moving en masse there.

The sound of a motorcycle backfiring was mistaken for gunshots. No one was hurt here. But that sense of unease and frankly these visuals really show us how people are feeling in this country when it comes to gunshots, when it comes to mass shootings. The sound alone, all of this, of course, against the backdrop not just of these mass shootings but also amidst calls for gun control growing louder.

Joining us now is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Governor, good to have you with us this morning. I'm just curious, first of all, your take on that video that we see.

People running, and as you and I know, many of those people in Times Square were likely not New Yorkers. They were likely tourists who heard that sound and just started running as police are pleading for calm.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): No. Erica, you're exactly right. It's a microcosm of the nation. People are obviously frightened and they should be with what they see in El Paso, Ohio, et cetera. I think they're more frightened by the governmental impotence that we're seeing where this is the same pattern, right? It's the definition of insanity.

El Paso and Ohio are not the first. Las Vegas, San Bernardino, Pittsburgh, et cetera. And still the government is impotent and that's what's even more frightening than the killings. And now we have all this political noise in both sides and who's a leftist and who's a rightist.

We have to get the basic truth and facts. And the basic truth and facts are that there were two elements that create this situation, the way hydrogen and oxygen create water. You have hate plus a gun. It is inarguable but that this president has incited hate.

He didn't create it. It's been a dormant virus in the American DNA since we were created, but he incites it. He markets it. He is a marketer. That's what this president is. And he marketed divide and conquer.

The worst line in modern American political rhetoric was when he said mental illness pulled the trigger, not the gun. No. The trigger is on the gun. There is no trigger without a gun.

Hate can pick up a stone. Hate --