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Marianne Williamson is Interviews on Gun Violence; El Paso Mayor Talks about Trump's Visit; Trump Visits El Paso and Dayton. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired August 7, 2019 - 08:30   ET



[08:33:40] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: What you're looking at right here, frankly, is El Paso. It's a prayer circle right next to the memorial, right next to the Walmart where 22 people were murdered the other day. But this is the community coming together. This is the city coming together trying to heal, trying to move forward. They've been here for about 15, 20 minutes, and it is deeply, deeply moving.

I want to bring in now presidential candidate Marianne Williamson. She was the most searched candidate after the second debate right here on CNN.

Marianne, thank you so much for being with us.

I have to say, it's great to have you with what's going on behind me in this prayer circle because what the people behind me are doing, they're trying to do something that you speak to, which is to use love to move past this.

What do you make of this?

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I make of it is that we always go there once a tragedy has already happened. After a tragedy has happened, we're all into giving ourselves permission to talk about love, to talk about peace, to talk about healing. We need to make that the conversation we have more often.

You know, violence is the absence of peace. And I think that this is a time for us, as a society, to ask ourselves some very deep questions about what we want. It's obviously a multidimensional problem we have on our hands. Guns is very much a part of it. White nationalism is very much of a part of it. Some of the answers are public. Some of the answers are private. Some of the answers have to do with policy and some of the answers have to do with our own hearts.

[08:35:16] But we have to have a deeper question about what has happened in our society. Why are we so violent? And part of the problem is that we have, over the last few decades, we have acquiesced to such an amoral world view, an amoral economics, a government that has been corrupted by an amoral economics. It has even corrupted our value system. And where there is amorality, there will always be immoral

consequences. So I believe every act of forgiveness, every personal reaching out to anyone, but also recognizing that our government could do so much more with public policy to serve love rather than crass economics. And when it comes to guns, we need to realize, this is all about the fact that our government has given advocacy for short-term profits to gun manufacturers. More attention, more focus and more resource than advocacy for our safety, our health, our well-being. And this needs to stop now.

BERMAN: You have specific policy proposals to stop gun violence. What are the highlights?

WILLIAMSON: My gun proposals have to do with -- very similar to other Democratic candidates. We need universal background checks. We need to outlaw bump stocks. We need to close the loopholes, the boyfriend loopholes, the gun show loopholes, and we have got to renew the assault weapon ban. Even when we renew the assault weapons ban, though, there will be millions on the street. So we're going to have to outlaw the manufacturer of the bullets that are used to shoot with them. That's what we're going to have to do.

BERMAN: Are you concerned -- are you concerned, there's a lot of focus on mental illness and the red flag laws that they're talking about now identify potential threats to people -- people who are threats to themselves and others and perhaps take their guns away through due process, through a judge. But are you concerned there might be a stigma being placed with all this discussion on mental illness?

WILLIAMSON: I'm not concerned about a stigma necessarily, but as your -- as your previous guests were talking about with the red flag law, you know, who -- who's going to make that decision of what's considered a red flag?

Now, remembered, under the Obama presidency, Obama had already put in place an order not allowing mentally ill people -- criminally and violently insane people, to have -- to have access to guns. And really the first official act I think of the Trump administration was to overturn that.

So we need more mental health services. We need all of the things that will enable people to live more peaceful lives to begin with. But once we know that people have demonstrated any kind of violent behavioral concern, yes we do need to outlaw their access. But when it comes to the red flag, what you're previous guests were saying, you know, yes, it -- all of this is problematical, isn't it? All of it -- any time there's a benefit, there's a risk of an overreach. But we simply must do now what can be done.

BERMAN: Again, you speak all about love and a lot about healing. There are protests today greeting the president here in El Paso. There will be protests, no doubt, in Dayton, Ohio, when he is there as well.

Does the love you speak about, from you, extend to the president?

WILLIAMSON: Well, absolutely. It does on a universal level. But as Martin Luther King said, God said I have to love my enemies, they didn't say I have to like them.

And also in terms of the protests of the president, sometimes love says no. Love is not sentimental and weak and anemic. Love is powerful. Love is strength. And sometimes, just like we know with our children, sometimes it's because we love a child that we say, no.

Our president is not a king. Part of the core of the American freedom is that we get to protest. That's a constitutional right. It is a core value. And it is time for us to say, not only no to this president, but we need to say no to every elected official who does more to serve the NRA and the short-term profits of gun manufacturers than to serve us.

It is time now for the American people to wake up. That's what has to happen now. It's time for the people to step in.

BERMAN: We've got about 45 seconds left. You talked about on the debate stage your plan for reparations over slavery. You're rolling out more specifics on that today. Very quickly, can you tell us what they are?

WILLIAMSON: I want a reparations council made up of 30 to 50 people who themselves are descendants of American slaves. They come from culture. They come from academia. They come from politics. They are people who have a background and deep understanding and research on this topic.

I have proposed $200 billion to $500 billion to be dispersed over a period of 20 years. It would be this reparations council that decides how is the money dispersed within the context of the stipulation on the part of the U.S. government that the money is be used for economic and educational renewal.

[08:40:00] The reason I feel strongly about reparations as opposed to race based policies, is that race based policies leaves open the question of whose fault it is that this economic gap exists. With reparations, there's an inherent mea culpa. It is an acknowledgement of a wrong that has been done, a debt that is owed, and the willingness of a nation to pay it.

BERMAN: Marianne Williamson, again, thank you for being with us this morning.

WILLIAMSON: Thank you.

BERMAN: I will only note that the prayers continue behind me here in El Paso.

WILLIAMSON: I think all of America is praying (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: President Trump -- President Trump is set to leave the White House very shortly for Dayton and then El Paso. Protests planned in both cities. We're going to speak with El Paso's mayor about what he's going to say to the president, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: All right, John Berman back live in El Paso, Texas.

In just a few minutes, President Trump will leave the White House. He will visit Dayton and then El Paso, the sites of this weekend's mass shootings. El Paso's mayor says he will welcome the president despite concerns from his constituents.

With me now is a man you've seen a lot of over the last few days. He's really been leading this city through the pain and the recovery, El Paso Mayor Dee Margo.

[08:45:07] Mayor, thank you very much for being with us this morning.


BERMAN: I was joking with you. You're wearing your presidential suit today.


BERMAN: Are you excited for this visit today?

MARGO: Well, under the circumstances, no, I wouldn't call it excitement. We're anticipating --he's the president of the United States. I'm the mayor of El Paso. I'm -- I honor the office of the presidency. And we're going to need some help. And I'm going to talk to him about that.

And so, on that basis, I realize that there's a lot of emotional pain and concern over his visit, but I'm the mayor of all of El Paso and I feel like it's my duty, obligation, my fiduciary duty to meet with the president of the United States.

BERMAN: What message will you deliver to him beyond this is what we need? Will you talk to him about some of the language he has used, which was mimicked in the screed written by the man here, the language of invasion? Will you talk to him about stuff he's written over the last 24 hours talking about Beto O'Rourke and making fun of his name and whatnot?

MARGO: Well, I -- I want to focus on El Paso and our region. I want to explain who we are and what we're about.

Remember, we're a region that began 350 years ago. We've been here 100 years before the United States was ever formed. That's what makes us unique. You can stand on the top of one of our bank buildings and look south and you cannot tell where El Paso ends and Juarez, Mexico, begins. And that's been that way for 350 years. Family on both sides, commerce on both sides. It's been that way from day one. So that's what -- there's no other place, there is no other region in North America commensurate with or would equate to El Paso, Juarez, and our region of 2.5 million people.

BERMAN: You just say who we are. I think behind us -- I don't know if you can get a shot of this with both of us here, you get a sense behind us right now of, as you say, who we are. It's this prayer circle that's been going on here for some 45 minutes outside the Walmart here.

We were talking about this before, you say this is who we are.

MARGO: The heart of El Paso and Juarez, our region, is unsurpassed. We're family oriented. That's why I've said on numerous -- every time I -- this perpetrator of evil did not come from El Paso, nor do I believe anybody in El Paso would have ever done this. This is not what we're about. And this is a great community, it's a loving community, and we're going to take some healing, but I don't know that it's really going to start until we finish all the funerals.


Are you concerned at all about the protests today?

MARGO: Well, I mean, I have done my best not to politicize this. I'm elected in a non-partisan office.

BERMAN: You haven't politicized this at all.

MARGO: I -- I don't want this to -- this is about El Paso and our needs and our healing and what we're about as a community. I wish I weren't standing here because of all of this. I wish I could just be standing here and talking about El Paso in general.

But we will heal. This will not define us. People -- one person asked me yesterday, they said, yes, will you -- this is going to be part of your history. I said, it may be, but I want it as an asterisk, not as defining us. It will not define us.

BERMAN: I want to ask you, again, in this healing process, words matter. And an understanding of what happened here matters.

Tucker Carlson went on TV last (ph) night and I'm not going to dignify it by playing it again, but he said white supremacy is a hoax. You noted before that someone drove ten hours from Dallas to here to go into that Walmart to shoot people because they were Latino, looked different, sound different, speak a different language. How do you respond to a comment like that?

MARGO: It was a hate crime perpetrated by evil, pure evil, pure unadulterated evil. You know, we -- we don't -- this is not heaven. We're not living in heaven. This is not heaven. We are surrounded by evil. And we're going to have to learn how to deal with it. Somebody said what's your -- how do you deal with it? And I said, well, I don't know, but the only textbook I have is the Bible.

BERMAN: It's the text book they're reading from behind us right now as they continue to pray here in front of this memorial.

Mayor Dee Margo, again, thank you for being with us. Thank you to helping lead this city through this difficult time in this moment that, as you say, will be an asterisk to an otherwise great history.

MARGO: Thank you. BERMAN: Thanks, mayor.

We are standing by for President Trump's departure from the White House. Will he speak to cameras? Will he tell us about his feelings and his plans as he visits Dayton and El Paso?

This as the mourners continue to gather behind me.

[08:49:45] Our special live coverage continues after this.


ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump set to depart for Dayton shortly. He'll be greeted here by protests. He's set to visit the city here to meet with first responders, plus meeting with victims and after that, of course, he'll head to El Paso.

What he'll find here is what many officials have told me is a gritty city. It is a city, though, that is committed to seeing their way through this tragedy and to seeing some real change come from it. And that is what they are committed to.

I can tell you, the memorial is growing behind us and this is something we see at too many of these events. We have all covered far too many of them. And the question is always, what happens now? Well, that is what many people are waiting to hear from the president this morning, both here in Dayton and also in El Paso, where John Berman is right now.

BERMAN: Erica, you're saying it's a city growing in healing. Also growing in love. And it's happening right behind me here in El Paso where this memorial -- and you were here -- it's been growing by the day. It started with just a few candles and now the candles stretch, you know, 20, 50 yards down the way. And there have been people coming all night, all morning to pay their respects.

[08:55:01] We just met a man from San Antonio who was kneeling before saying, I had to come here. That's not a short drive, by the way. I had to come here to pay my respects.

In this wall there's a cross for every one of the victims, personal messages for every one of the victims. And they are remembered today and the community of El Paso is what is remembered today.

And, Erica, as you pointed out, there are the three flags here, Mexico, the United States and Texas. And off in the distance, yes, you see the Walmart where the shootings took place, but that's Mexico behind us here and this is a city that has always been about unity and they're going to need that unity more than ever. And they will show us that unity today.

The president leaves the White House very shortly. We'll bring that moment to you live. We're going to follow his trip very carefully. CNN's special live coverage continues after this.