Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Visited Dayton, Ohio This Morning; Interview With Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH); Counter-Demonstrators Await Trump In El Paso; El Paso Survivor Recounts Shooting Horror; U.S. In Crisis As Americans Reel From Latest Shootings; Biden Attacks President Trump On Race Issues. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired August 7, 2019 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:48] HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani.

Tonight, President Trump travels to two cities touched by tragedy. He is heading to El Paso, Texas after spending the morning in Dayton, Ohio.

We'll tell you of the reception he got there.

But in both cities, protestors are venting their anger. In a moment, I will speak to a Democratic presidential candidate who is demanding that

Congress do something about gun control.

U.S. President Donald Trump has just left Dayton, Ohio after wrapping up a difficult visit to a grieving community. His next stop is El Paso, Texas,

and it certainly will not be easier.

Mr. Trump is paying his respects to both cities, devastated by recent mass shootings. This was the only time we saw him in Ohio, by the way. That is

when he stepped off the plane. He didn't speak to reporters, we didn't see him during his visit other than this moment.

The president visited a hospital where some shooting victims were being treated, meeting with family members and first responders as well. He

stayed clear of protestors, who gathered outside the bar where the massacre happened, as well as outside the hospital he was visiting.

Mr. Trump also steered clear of protestors, but he did have a lot to say before he left Washington. He said there is no political appetite for

banning assault rifles in America, but said he supports one measure that critics call long-overdue. Listen to President Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We certainly have to strengthen background checks. Everybody agrees with that. And we're going

to make background checks very, very strong. I'll be speaking about that at CPAC. Very, very important, is to do that.

And also, the mentally ill, people that are mentally -- they have mental problems, we cannot allow them to have guns.


GORANI: Let's go live to Dayton now. And I'm joined by Katilan Collins, our CNN White House correspondent.

Why didn't we hear from the president at all in Dayton? We only saw him when his plane landed.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We only saw him very briefly, here on the ground. Nothing at the hospital or anything, we

didn't even see the president going into the hospital or coming out.

The White House says that's because they never intended for this trip to be a photo op for the president. They want him to be able to spend time

behind closed doors with some of the victims, some of their family members in addition to those first responders and law enforcement.

And of course, that's not always a pattern you've seen with the president in the past where, oftentimes, he's come out and spoken to the cameras

after visiting with those people. Because, sadly, this is something the president has done multiple times now, throughout his time in office.

Now, whether or not that stays the course as the president goes on to El Paso, is another question. Because he didn't come to the scene of the

crime here, right behind me, where these nine people were gunned down just a few days ago.

And as the president was here in Dayton, about a mile -- at that hospital about a mile away from where I'm standing right now, we did see tensions

spark here between the people who are protesting the president's visit, and the people who are supporting the president.

Where they had flags on one side, saying, "Trump-Pence 2020." On the other side, you had people chanting, "Do something," talking about changing some

of those gun laws. And just, really, a lot of emotions were flying high here. Because of course, given just such a sensitivity in this community

in light of those shootings.

This also comes as the president himself was facing resistance, not just from some of the people who were standing out here who didn't want the

president to visit Dayton right now, but also from some of the local officials, who said they didn't think it was the time for the president to


Now, White House officials pushed back on that, saying if the president didn't come, he would have also been criticized. But of course, these

visits for the president, who has at times had a difficult time striking the right tone after a time of tragedy, White House officials do know that

those visits are going to be highly scrutinized.

GORANI: We heard from the mayor of Dayton, and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, just minutes ago. Let's listen to what they told reporters about the



SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): I'd changed my mind (IINAUDIBLE) about coming. I didn't want, in any way, encourage the president's racist talk and

divisive talk. I came because Mayor Whaley asked me to come.

[14:05:00] And I came because I thought maybe I'd have a chance to talk to the president about mental health issues, about not cutting Medicaid. And

I'd get a chance to talk to the president about pushing -- putting pressure on Senator McConnell to ban assault weapons, which Congress did for a 10-

year period once, bipartisanly.

And to get the president -- because if the president tells the Congress, "Pass an assault weapon ban," if the president says, "Pass legislation for

universal background checks," the Republican Congress, the Senate will move on it and the House will undoubtedly move on it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to get the mayor --

BROWN: We can do that.

MAYOR NAN WHALEY, DAYTON, OHIO: Yes. So I mean, this for us in Dayton, we hope so. I'm not holding my breath. You know, too often, we just see

complete inaction because they're waiting just for time, for people to forget that nine people died in Dayton because of a gun that was too --

that shouldn't be legal, frankly.

You know, we pointed out -- I pointed out to the president that now- Governor, former Senator Mike DeWine voted for the assault weapons ban. There was a time when this was bipartisan.


GORANI: And so, Kaitlan, these are obviously Democratic politicians, critical of the president. And I find it puzzling that he hasn't said

anything publicly. I mean, if his intention is to play the role of consoler-in-chief, is that a calculated strategy, do you think?

COLLINS: Yes. Some White House aides think it's better if he doesn't take those turns to address that all the time. And because you heard the

president earlier, talking about Nan Whaley, the mayor of Dayton just there, talking about her at the White House earlier, saying that they had

had a good conversation, and then noting that she had come out and been critical of him after, when she said that she didn't think the president

went far enough in that initial address to the nation.

But of course, yes, these are Democrats. But also, this -- Nan Whaley represents Dayton, and just had nine of their residents gunned down by

someone on the street right here behind me. So that is why you see them talking about what they're talking about. Not just about the president's

behavior or the tone he's striking, but they're saying they want the president to take action on guns.

And they're being incredibly critical, not just of Trump but also of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is facing an enormous amount of

scrutiny because right now, Congress is on that six-week recess from Washington, they're not even there. But Democrats are calling on him to

reconvene the Senate, pass that universal background checks bill.

Though it's not clear that that even has the president's support, but also Republicans in the Senate. So Sherrod Brown sounded optimistic there, that

if the president got behind that, that Republican senators would too. But I am just not sure that's the case, based on the conversations we've had

with people up on Capitol Hill.

GORANI: All right. We'll be speaking with a Democratic presidential candidate in just under a minute. Before we do that, we're finding out

more about the gunman in Dayton. A friend says Connor Betts practiced at his local shooting range. The friend says he's known Betts for more than

10 years, that he occasionally went shooting with him. He said he owns several guns, including an AR-15 pistol, although he says that he had no

indication that Betts was planning anything violent.

A Democratic congressman from Ohio who's also running for president says he's fed up with mass shootings in America, and the lack of political will

to pass real gun reform. Tomorrow, Tim Ryan will take his message on the road, leading a caravan of gun control advocates to the Kentucky office of

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Congressman Ryan joins me now from Youngstown, Ohio.

Thanks for being with us. What is your intention with this caravan? What are you trying to achieve exactly, in terms of trying to put pressure on

the Senate majority leader here?

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, there -- thank you for that. We are going to head down. There's a lot of people in Ohio that

have been visibly moved from what has happened in the past few days, the back-to-back nature of Texas and Ohio, the way these things have -- went


And we want to act, and we want the Senate majority leader to pass two key pieces of legislation, at least, to provide comprehensive background checks

for people before they can buy weapons. So this is about legislative action. These bills have passed the United States House of

Representatives. We now want it to pass the Senate and we want the president to support it.

So there's a lot of people that are anxious, a lot of advocates in Ohio, and we want to do something. So it's time for action and --

GORANI: But why would this --

RYAN: -- we're going to head south to Kentucky.

GORANI: Why would this time be different? There have been massacres in the past, there have been calls for more gun control and expanding

background checks, and that has never really come to pass legislatively. Why do you think this time would be different?

RYAN: Well, what we passed out of the House was the most significant piece of legislation in a long time with regard -- probably going back to 1994.

So there is progress being made in the Democratic-controlled House.

[14:10:03] I think this is accumulating. The grief, the pain, the sadness is accumulating. And that accumulation is putting more and more pressure.

We saw a Republican congressman from Dayton come out for an assault weapons ban.

We saw the governor, Republican governor of Ohio, come out with a comprehensive plan. Doesn't go as far as I'd like to see it go, but it

goes much further than anything that the president or any other Republican has said.

So by applying this pressure to Mitch McConnell and continue to let the nation know that we are fed up and we are going to do something, and we're

going to organize and we're going to get this done and we're not giving up until it happens, that's the difference.

GORANI: And you'll stop at background checks, or are you looking at potentially banning some of these weapons of war? The president today said

there's no appetite for that.

RYAN: I think we go as far as we can around the background check bill, around closing the Charleston loophole, going around and studying gun

violence as a public health issue and recognizing that we have to take significant steps, and see how far we can get.

I don't believe that these magazines, that someone can put into an AR-15 pistol, that the magazine that the kid had that could get 100 shots off in

30 seconds, that's not meant for the streets of Dayton, Ohio or El Paso, Texas. That's meant for a war zone.

And so all we're saying is, this is ridiculous. Let's take some modest steps to get these things out of the hands of people who shouldn't have

them at all.

GORANI: We're seen internationally, and a lot of people have reacted. This has been big news outside of the United States, as you know. And

people have written op-eds and editorials in Germany and France and the U.K. and Spain. "El Pais" said this was the greatest racist crime against

Hispanics. Germany is calling this America's new civil war.

Do you see this as that much of a defining moment in the history of your country, what's going on now in the United States? And why is it happening


RYAN: I don't know if you can put a label on it. All I can tell you is it's a lot of pain, it's a lot of sorrow, it has been aided and abetted by

an environment created by this president, that has created an environment of division, an environment of intolerance, of what we call in America,

"othering" people, you know. They're not part of the group. They're the immigrant, they're the African-American. He's spent his whole career doing


And then someone comes along who's the lowest common denominator in a group, and thinks, "I'm going to drive 10 hours to go," you know, quote-

unquote, "shoot some Mexicans." And that environment has been created by the president. And so --

GORANI: So you blame the president, for -- partly for what's going on? You blame his rhetoric?

RYAN: I --

GORANI: You think he's making things worse?

RYAN: I think he -- I think he needs to take some responsibility for creating an environment in which somebody drives 10 hours to go shoot

Mexicans in the very town that the president was holding an immigration rally, and using the same words in his manifesto, like "invasion," that the

president has consistently used. He used them in campaign ads to raise money, he used that exact word, "invasion."

And his attempt to scare people of -- from people of color, and be afraid of people of color, especially immigrants. And that has created an

environment in the United States that is very divisive.

And all I'm saying here, as a member of the United States Congress, we've got to heal as a country. This is a diverse country. It's our greatest

strength. Everybody around the world knows that's our greatest strength. It's been great for our culture, great for our economy, great for our

country. It's been the American dream. And --

GORANI: But (ph) people around the world --

RYAN: -- now we're saying we're going to --

GORANI: Sorry to jump in.

RYAN: Yes.

GORANI: People around the world are actually frightened, sometimes, of going to the United States. Sometimes they're choosing to study in other

countries because they feel like they won't get visas.

RYAN: Yes.

GORANI: People from certain parts of the world are delaying or even canceling plans to go to America, and they feel like the identity of the

country and how much they might be welcomed in the United States of America, has really gone down, that it's turned into a different


What would you say to people around the world, as an American Democratic politician, running for the presidency of the United States, to those

people who think, I don't recognize America any more"?

RYAN: I will say that my great-grandfather and my great-grandmother came over here from Italy. And they came to Youngstown, Ohio. And they came

into the great melting pot with people from Ireland and Germany and Greece and Czechoslovakia and all those Eastern European countries that come over

and work in the steel mills. And that they lived the American dream. Their great-grandson is now running for president.

[14:15:17] And when I walked down that street in Dayton a couple nights ago, I saw a couple kids there from Iraq, I saw a Palestinian who was, I

think, from the West Bank, who was here. They were studying in this country. They loved America, they loved Ohio, they loved Dayton. They were

writing with chalk on the block, messages of love in Arabic. And that's America, right there. That's America.

Muslims, Jews, Gentiles, Christians, Catholic, Evangelical -- all -- this is America. And I don't want anybody in the world to think that it's not.

Underneath the president's rhetoric, is still a loving, kind country who wants to heal and wants to come together. And unfortunately, there's a

bully on the playground right now. And we've got to get the bully off the playground so all the kids can come back and start playing together in the

same sandbox.

GORANI: But you once had an "A" rating from the NRA, by the way. That changed when? When did you change your mind on gun control?

RYAN: Well, it slowly evolved. In committee votes that I would have in Congress, as I started to watch some of these things happen in our country.

And then I, you know, completely switched my position, after watching more and more of the school shootings and, really, the NRA not doing anything to

try to solve the problem.

And then after the Nevada massacre a few years back, I gave every dime I ever got from the NRA, and I gave it to the gun control groups, like Gabby

Giffords' and, you know, Everytown, and all of those groups, to use to help pass legislation.

So I've -- you know, my wife's a first-grade school teacher, so this is the first time she's happy with me, that I went from an A to an F in any of my

report cards. So I'm proud of that.

And, look, I'm a hunter too. I hunt. One of the great days of the year is when my son and I go duck-hunting. So it's not about taking someone's

hunting weapon away. It's not about saying they can't protect their family and their house. It's about saying these weapons of war should not be on

the streets of towns like Dayton, Ohio.

GORANI: All right. Thanks so much, Tim Ryan, Ohio Congressman, running for president. Still polling in the lower tier, but we'll see how the

campaign goes for you and how your numbers evolve. We really appreciate having you on the program this evening. Thank you.

Now, we've been discussing what to do about the crisis of guns in America. But as far as the Ohio investigation goes, CNN has obtained this exclusive

video from a bar where the gunman spent more than an hour before the shooting began.

It shows him entering the bar with his sister and a second individual. He's wearing a T-shirt and shorts, not the body armor and mask seen during

the massacre. But you can see him there, kind of just what looks like just a regular typical night out. And shortly after that is when the rampage


Still to come tonight, we will go live to Trump's next stop, the border town or El Paso in Texas, where Saturday's shooting was deemed "domestic

terrorism." We'll be right back.


[14:20:38] GORANI: U.S. President Donald Trump is now on his way to the scene of the weekend's other mass shooting. Protestors are expected to

turn out in the border city of El Paso, Texas as well, in the same way they did in Ohio.

Nearly half of the 22 people killed outside the Walmart there, were Mexican. And the suspect echoed some of the president's same disparaging

words about immigrants online, talking about invasion and the like.

El Paso's native son and Democratic presidential contender, Beto O'Rourke, says Mr. Trump's anti-immigrant comments were to blame for the killings.

In the president's address to the nation, Monday, he called for bipartisanship. Take a listen to what the president said, Monday.


TRUMP: Open wounds cannot heal if we are divided. We must seek real bipartisan solutions. We have to do that in a bipartisan manner. That

will truly make America safer and better for all.


GORANI: Well, that was the scripted address. Contrast that with this tweet Mr. Trump set out last night. He accused Beto O'Rourke of making up

a phony name -- actually people say it's been his nickname since he was a child -- and says O'Rourke is just embarrassed by how he's doing in the


TEXT: Donald J. Trump: Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O'Rourke, who is embarrassed by my last visit to the Great State of Texas,

where I trounced him, and is now even more embarrassed by polling at 1 percent in the Democrat Primary, should respect the victims & las

enforcement -- & be quiet!

GORANI: Well, not much unity in that tweet.

So, now, we are going to the second community in mourning. CNN's Nick Valencia is in El Paso, awaiting the president's arrival.

Set the scene for us, where you are, Nick.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hala, we're here at a demonstration, a counter-demonstration to what is expected to be a very large crowd here,

bearing about 95-degree heat to protest President Trump's arrival.

They want to be clear about something here. They feel as though the focus for the last few days, of the coverage of this story, has focused largely

on President Trump, and they want to remind people what this attack was and why it was different.

People here say that this was a blatant attack on brown people in this country, Latino people in this country simply because of the color of their

skin, their last names, who their parents are, who their children are, what they represent and who they are to America.

They believe that the president bears some responsibility, even if his supporters are unwilling to accept that his rhetoric and what he said in

the last two years from the office, the highest office in this country. Even if they're unwilling to accept that he's played a role, people here

that I've spoken to believe he has.

It was earlier, that I spoke a roundtable -- a roundtable of local El Pasoans, people here who have grown up their whole lives, who know El Paso

and know the kindness of the people here in this community. I asked them if they want President Trump to visit. This is what they told me.


VALENCIA: Do you want President Trump here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Personally? I think that this community is hurting. I don't think he's done anything to help that.

VALENCIA: Jim (ph)?


VALENCIA: Superintendent (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, I don't know how he's going to help. I don't know what his desire is to be here, or what the action's going to be. But

as head of state, I do agree with the mayor. If we can get resources, support us, then that -- so be it. But I don't see how it's going to help.

VALENCIA: Marina (ph), last word.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's -- it's not the right time.


VALENCIA: One person I spoke to said that they do respect the office of the president. They respect the president himself, but they say that this

is not the time to come, that he has shown, at no point in his term in office, any attempt to heal this country.

In fact, they say that President Trump has not (ph) created hate or fear and anxiety, but they feel as though he's used those mechanisms to draw a

wedge in this county, a wedge that they feel inspired this alleged shooter, who came here on Saturday and carried out this mass shooting.

A lot of people here are angry, Hala. And the only thing keeping them from crying is their anger. People here are upset. They say that this is not

what this community represents. And they are clear. They say somebody had to come from outside this community, six hours away, drive -- 600 miles

away, drive 10 hours to carry this out, that this person does not reflect what this community is all about and they feel as though that message needs

to be made loud and clear -- Hala.

TEXT: Killed in El Paso, TX Shooting: Jordan Anchondo, Andre Anchondo, Arturo Benavides, Arturo Benavides, Angie Englisbee, Sara Esther Regalado,

Adolfo Cerros Hernandez, Gloria Irma Marquez, David Johnson, Javier Amir Rodriguez, Ivan Filiberto Manzano, Jorge Calvillo Garcia, Elsa Mendoza de

la Mora, Maria Eugenia Legarreta Rothe, Juan de Dios Velazquez Chaires, Leo Campos, Maribel Hernandez, Jorge Calvillo Garcia, Alexander Gerhard

Hoffman, Luis Alfonzo Juarez, Margie Reckard, Raul Flores, Maria Flores, Teresa Sanchez

GORANI: And of course, focusing on the victims -- and we have been, the last several days -- what more do we know -- what is the investigation

telling us? Do we have any more details about whether or not this attack was planned in some sort of coordinated way, or if this was done in a lone

wolf fashion? Do we have any more details about this at this stage, now?

[14:25:20] VALENCIA: There have been conflicting reports, and reports that we've been unable to verify here, exactly what the shooter was doing,

how long he was outside the Walmart. According to some media outlets, he was outside for more than an hour. Others report that he was hungry, and

that's why he decided to go inside that Walmart.

What is very evident and clear, is the writings in his alleged tirade, manifesto, whatever you want to call it or characterize it, the second

sentence in that four-page document was that this is a direct action because of the Hispanic invasion, as he calls it, to Texas.

People are focusing on that, and they want to be very clear. They feel as though they were targeted simply because they're Hispanic -- Hala.

GORANI: Nick Valencia, thanks very much. In El Paso, Texas. We'll be returning to that protest. I'm hoping to speak to one of the protest

organizers, there in Texas.

Now, inside Mexico, there is a lot of anger, that the alleged shooter appears to have targeted Mexican citizens specifically. Mexico's foreign

minister calls the massacre an act of terror against his citizens. He also says his country is looking at legal action to protect Mexicans in the

United States.

I want to bring in CNN's Patrick Oppmann. He's in Mexico's Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, where there is a lot of grief and we're

starting to see some of the bodies of those who were so brutally murdered, come back to Mexico -- Patrick.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Just literally seconds ago, very somber scene here on one of the bridges that connect Mexico to Texas, to

the United States. And we saw the first hearse carrying the body of one of the eight Mexican victims of this shootout, the shootout that apparently

targeted Mexicans and Hispanics.

Inside the hearse was Elsa Mendoza de la Mora. She was a teacher at a local school here. School's due to begin very soon, the next several days,

and people have told us that they believe that she was going across the border, as people do here on a daily basis, to buy school supplies for her


And I can't tell you how common it is, for people, when they need something, to just go to the United States, to cross the border. Most

people we've talked to here have a special pass that allows them to go into Texas, about 75 miles into Texas. And people say that one of the first

things that many people do here, is stop at the Walmart to eat, to buy things, to do a little bit of shopping and go home. And something people

do every day, many of them.

And so certainly, when Mrs. Mendoza, Elsa Mendoza, crossed the border, she would never have known that this was how she was going to return home. She

is going to a funeral parlor now, her body's been taken to a funeral parlor and her funeral is scheduled for tomorrow -- Hala.

GORANI: And this legal action that we discussed with you yesterday Patrick, has that advanced at all? What form might it take?

OPPMANN: It's very interesting. Because no one has -- remembers a case of a suspect who has committed crimes in the U.S., being repatriated,

certainly not to Mexico. And bear in mind that there is not death penalty in Mexico, while we're waiting to see how the case in the U.S. develops.

Of course, there is a death penalty in Texas, and it seems somewhat likely to expect the suspect in these shootings could face the death penalty


TEXT: Mexican citizens killed in El Paso Shooting: Sara Esther Regalado, Adolfo Cerros Hernandez, Gloria Irma Marquez, Ivan Filiberto Manzano, Jorge

Calvillo Garcia, Elsa Mendoza de la Mora, Maria Eugenia Legarreta Rothe, Juan de Dios Velazquez Chaires,

OPPMANN: So they'll begin the U.S. process first, and Mexico has not said exactly what form their petition to bring him across the border to face

trial here, could be. Certainly for white supremacists to face prison time in Mexico, probably seems like the ultimate punishment. But it is very

unlikely, legal experts tell us, that he will ever serve a day at least in Mexican prison. Of course, he is facing some very serious charges in the


GORANI: OK. Patrick Oppmann, thanks very much.

Still to come tonight, President Trump may not be greeted warmly when he arrives in El Paso. Many there say he's not welcome. We'll hear from one

of them in just a moment.

We'll also hear from a Republican who is happy the president is in town.

[14:29:16] Also ahead, the shootings in El Paso and Ohio are just the latest in a growing list of mass shootings in the U.S. How Americans are

now living with fear on a daily basis, next.


[14:30:02] GORANI: Donald Trump is midair right now, on his way from the scene of one mass shooting to another.

But what makes El Paso different from Dayton is that the shooter there appears to have been motivated by hatred of immigrants, to have a real

ideological cause behind the massacre.

And critics have been accusing the U.S. president of, in fact, fanning the flames of that hate. So when he arrives in El Paso, the president is

likely to be greeted by people who say he should just stay away.

And as difficult and scary as it may be, I want you to picture for a moment, finding yourself in the middle of a nightmare like El Paso or

Dayton. What would you do? Would you hide or would you run or would you fight back? If you chose heroism, what price would you pay?

Christopher Grant was faced with that horrifying and very difficult choice while he was shopping at that Walmart, thankfully he survived to tell his

story. But he had to speak to CNN's Chris Cuomo from a hospital bed.


CHRISTOPHER GRANT, EL PASO SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I saw him popping people off and I was like, you know, this is crazy. So, and to deter him, I started

just chunked him balls, I just started throwing ball, random balls at him. And I'm not a baseball player. So, one went this way, and one went that

way, and then one went right towards him.

And then that's when he saw me, and just started, and I ducked, and started -- I was behind the chips. And so, I ducked, and he just boo- boo-boo-boo-

boo-boo, started firing off rounds at me, and I was like "Oh my God, this guy's shooting at me."

And then so when I got hit, it was like -- it was like somebody put a hand grenade in your back, and pulled the pin, that's basically what it felt

like -- felt like.

And then, so I was like "Oh, my God, I got to get up. I got to get up. Get up, Get up. Get up." And then, so he walked to the bank, which was

right by the restrooms, and just randomly started -- I mean people were praying in Spanish, "Por favor, no, no, por favor, no."

And he was just they were on the ground, and he still just shot them in the head. I mean they're praying in Spanish. I mean, I'm from El Paso, and I

know Spanish, and they're praying, "Please, please don't shoot me." And he had no remorse for their lives at all.


GORANI: And Grant says he found an angel in the form of a federal agent. She helped him get to a hospital where he's being treated right now, still.

In many ways, mass shootings like these have infected America's very social fabric. This is what America has been, in the last few years, has been

known for outside of the United States, people here in the U.K. and Europe and the Middle East, they talk a lot about this epidemic and they have

changed how people live their lives there. Drills taken place in schools and offices when people go to the movie and restaurants, they might look

for exits.

[14:35:04] I know something quite similar happened after the Paris terrorist attacks that we covered. A lot of people were on edge, the

slightest noise, the slightest sound or a rumor that somebody might be out there with a gun or that there was a threat and there could be a stampede.

In fact, it happened once a few days after the attacks.

In the United States now, people are in a state of increased tension and fear. And to illustrate that, I want to show you this video. Take a look.




GORANI: That's the sound of people screaming in New York Times Square, as they run away from what they feared was gunfire. It wasn't, in fact, it

was just a motorcycle backfiring, but people are on edge and they're scared. And a motorcycle backfiring sounds a lot like a gunshot.

Activist, Kevin Powell, has written an op-ed on this issue for CNN. The title is, "I Do Not Want To Get Shot." He believes that until the country

addresses the culture of gun violence, nothing will change.

He writes, "We will just await the next series of mass shootings, recycle the same responses and thoughts and prayers and continue to deteriorate as

a people, as a nation like it is no big deal." And Kevin joins me now from New York.

Do you -- this is a very dark way to look at America, Kevin. Do you really think that this is such a defining moment that this is really -- that

America, in some way, has deteriorated, has degraded because of this gun violence epidemic?

KEVIN POWELL, WRITER & CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I don't think it's a dark away, although I think it's an honest way, and we're not going to go

forward as a nation, there's not going to be real action as a people in this country if we're not honest about what's happening. This is no

difference than what Dr. King and other folks talked about during the 1950s and 1960s in America around racism and the civil rights movement, that

we've got to take some bold action.

And what we really need in this country is action. That's the word that the mayor of Dayton, Ohio has been saying all day today. That's what many

of us have been saying for the last 20 years, from Columbine to Dayton and El Paso. How many more examples of this do we need? There should not be

weapons of war in the streets. Weapons should not be this easily to get, preferred for people?

And the fact is, you know, as I said in the blog on, I should not be paranoid when I got to church, when I'm at a movie theater, when I'm at

Walmart, and you're at Target in New York City. It doesn't make any sense for people have to live like this.

People should not be buying, as their kids are about to go back to school, bullet proof book bags. I mean, where is the logic in that for their

children? This is where we are.

And so think that this is what we need in this country. The politicians continue to be hit the wallets of the gun lobby. We, as American people,

have to take to the streets just like we did in the 50s and 60s, because that's what ultimately change America. It wasn't the politicians that

people protesting, people of all backgrounds and then the legislation came.

And I feel this where we are now, because too many people who are still so currently and so strong arm by the gun lobby here by the NRA in our country

that we are literally putting all people in jeopardy of losing their lives at any given moment. That's what we are.

GORANI: But the difference, I think, between the U.S. and other countries, and by the way, the U.S. is the country with the highest rate of gun

ownership per 100 residence. It said more guns per people, actually, 120 for every 100.

The second country on that list is Yemen, which is the country in the midst of a horrendous civil war, 52 guns per 100 residents.

But I guess the difference is that the United States, the gun ownership in America is seen quite differently than in other parts of the world. By

many people, as a fundamental right. And whenever you start to legislate against the ownership of some assault rifles or expanding background check,

some people, not all, but some are convinced that this means that the federal government will come to their homes and start confiscating their

weapons. So, how do you get passed that?

POWELL: Well, the first problem for me is that we really have to examine our cultures, this is a culture that, unfortunately, is rooted in violence.

And so it's not just about guns being -- someone's gun being taken away. It's a mindset that says that violence is the solution for every problem,

every conflict.

You know, we've heard conversations about mental illness, we've heard conversations about easy access to guns, about pop culture video games, et

cetera. I'm saying it's all coming together at one time and then you have this whole thing underlining it which is hatred. This hatred of women,

this hatred of Jewish people, of Muslims, or black people, of Latin people, of immigrant people.

And so, you know, we claim to be a melting pot. I love our country. I'm an American. I was born in this country. I go back generations in this

country. But if you really love your country, then you'd challenge that country to do better, which is to say, we cannot continue to move forward a

culture that is rooted in hatred and violence where it's gotten to epidemic proportions now where people are being shot while they're partying or

they're at Walmart. There's something fundamentally wrong with that, there's something morally wrong with that.

[14:40:08] And so even if you are a gun owner -- let me just say this, even if you are a gun owner, what are your values where you think it's OK to

hold on to -- people to get guns this easily that they can just use it to kill people, their fellow citizens? Because we're all in this together,

his fellow human beings.

GORANI: And I think many, many people would agree with you. But I think many people would also wonder, how do you get there? How do you get there

in a nation so divided?

POWELL: It's going to take bold and different kind of leadership. I mean, what I was about to see -- what I say in the CNN piece, we need love, we

need peace, we need the understanding of who we are. You know, we need to respect people who are different than us. Don't hate people because

they're Muslim, don't hate people because they're Jewish. Don't hate people because they happen to be women or from the LBGTQ community.

You know, we are one human family here. If we claim to be Americans or wherever we are in the planet, then there has to be some way to operate

with each other where it's about peace and love and not violence and hatred.

GORANI: And Kevin, in fact, Joe Biden is speaking out about what happened in El Paso in Ohio.

Thank you, Kevin. We're going to cross over to Joe Biden. Thank you, Kevin Powell.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He said after Charlottesville there were, and I quote, "Very fine people on both sides." I said then, it gave

license and safe harbor to white supremacists and neo-Nazis and this Ku Klux Klan.

These words, not only stunned America, but they stunned the world. And in doing so, he assigned a moral equivalence, a moral equivalence between

those spewing hate and those with the courage to stand against it. I said at the time, we're going to battle for the soul of this nation. I said it

again when I announced my candidacy. And I say here today, we are in a battle for this soul of nation. That's why primarily, I'm running for



Charlottesville was no isolated incident. When Trump announced he was running for president, he called Mexicans rapists. Days before the

midterm, he formed fears of a caravan heading to United States, creating hysteria, when he said, look what's marching up, this is an invasion. An

invasion. The assertion -- that immigrants would, quote, "carve you up with a knife."

More recently, he called American -- a major American senate, city, "A disgusting rat-infected rodent mess." "No human being, he said, would

choose to live as though the vibrant, diverse community around Baltimore somehow was less than human.

At a rally in Florida when he asked the crowd, how do we stop these people? Meaning immigrants, someone yelled back, "Shoot them," and he smiled. In

North Carolina, he bashed in the chants of "send her back" echoing across the stadium. How far is it from Trump saying this is an invasion to the

shooter in El Paso declaring, quote, "This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas."

How far apart are those comments? How far is it from white supremacist and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Trump's very fine people chanting, "You will

replace us," to the shooter at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh saying, "We're committing genocide." Jews are committing genocide on his


I don't think it's that far at all. It's both clear language, and in code. This president has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation.

His low energy, vacant-eyed mouthing of the words written for him, condemning white supremacists this week, I don't believe fooled anyone at

home or abroad.

His energetic embrace, the energetic embrace of this president by the darkest hearts and most hate-filled minds in this country say it all.

[14:45:03] When the white nationalist, Richard Spencer, celebrated Trump's election by declaring "Hail Trump!" at an alt-right conference where the

Nazi salute was being used.

In Charlottesville, David Duke, the former leader of the KKK, said, "This is why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he's going to take back

the country."

After Donald Trump tweeted his "Go back" screed, a leading Nazi website, Neo-Nazi website, said, this is the kind of nationalism we elected him for.

He knows it. He saw it.

And on 8Chan, a haven for radicalism on the internet where a declaration of hate linked to El Paso shooter was posted, one commentator wrote that Trump

is helping normalize the most extreme radical sentiments because his perceived authority carries so much weight. We have a problem with this

rising tide of supremacy -- white supremacy in America, and we have a president who encourages and emboldens it.

The statistics are clear. Extremism is on the rise in America. The Southern Poverty Center finds that of the 1,020 hate groups operate in the

United States in 2018. That's how many there are. They pointed out that white nationalist groups have surged by over 50 percent.

In 2017, an active shooter with ties to white extremism claimed 135 victims and 70 kill.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, all but one of the 50 extremist- link murders counted in 2018, had direct links to white supremacist. His own FBI director recently testified to Congress that extreme white right-

wing groups, white nationalists, pose the greatest threat to racially motivated domestic terrorism, and what has Trump done?

He poured fuel on the fire. He's retweeted postage from extremist and white nationalist. He's cutting funding in some cases completely

eliminated funding, initiated by Barack, by the president and I and our administration, to counter violent extremism at home.

Trump readily, eagerly, attacks Islamic terrorism, but can barely bring himself to use the words white supremacy. And even when he says it, he

doesn't appear to believe it. He's seems more concerned about losing their votes and beating back this hateful ideology.

He says guns are not the problem in mass shootings. The issue is mental health. It's a dodge. Hatred isn't a mental health issue. I can tell

you, is the guy along with Senator Dianne Feinstein got the assault weapons ban in the high-capacity magazines ban in this country for 10 years is

elected president? We will do it again. We will do it again.


A hundred rounds in Dayton, 30 round clips, El Paso. They'll be banned. And when we do it, it will put in place a buyback program to get as many of

these military style weapons of war as possible off the street. And we need -- we need a domestic terrorism law.

We can do without infringing on anyone's free speech without tampering with anybody's liberties. Quite simply, we have to make the same commitment as

a nation to root out domestic terrorism. We have been stopping international terrorism.

I wish I could say that this all began with Donald Trump and will end with him, but it didn't -- and I won't. American history is not a fairy tale.

[14:50:04] The battle for the soul of the nation has been a constant push and pull for 243 years between the American ideal that says we're all

created equal and a harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart.

The same document that promised to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity also allow for slavery in the so-called three-

fifths compromise that discounted the very humanity of black people in America at the time.

The honest truth is both elements are part of the American character. At our best, American ideal wins out, but it's never a route. It's always a

fight and it's a battle that is never fully finished. Go back to the beginning.

Thomas Jefferson wrote what many believed to be the most important document, civil document, in human history. He was a slaveholder. We've

never lived up to our American ideals, Jefferson himself didn't. But what he wrote has pulled us towards justice for more than two centuries and it

still does remains this nation's north star.

Take a look at the Klan, Klu Klux Klan, after the Civil War, we saw a rise in the Klan. It was beaten down only to rise up again in the '20s. In

fact, in August of 1925, 30,000 fully clad Klansman and the robes and pointed hats march down Pennsylvania Avenue, the streets of Washington.

Imagine -- imagine that today. And then the clan was once again, beaten back as it was after Civil War. How? The courts, the press, and yes,

presidents stood against them, and that is the point.

Our institutions, often, imperfectly stood against hate at moments when we go most tested. American presidents have stepped up in the past. George

H.W. Bush renounces membership in the NRA. President Clinton, after Oklahoma City. George W. Bush going to a mosque after 9/11. President

Obama, after Charleston. Presidents who led, who opposed, chose to fight for what the best of American character is about, it was deafening silence.

Sadly, we don't have that today. Our president has aligned himself with the darkest forces in this nation that makes winning this battle for the

soul of our nation that much tougher, harder. Trump doesn't understand what Franklin D. Roosevelt did. Roosevelt said the presidency is,

"Preeminently, a place of moral leadership."

You didn't see what JFK did when he said only the president represents the national interest. He's blind to what Lyndon Baines Johnson said of the

office when he said, "Nothing makes a man come to grips more directly with his conscience than the presidency."

Trump offers no moral leadership. He seems to have no interest in unifying this nation. No evidence that the presidency has awakened his conscience

in the least. Indeed, we have a president with a toxic tongue, was publicly and unapologetically embrace the political strategy of hate,

racism and division.

So it's up to us as it was in the 20s. It's up to us we're living through a rare moment in this nation's history, where our president isn't up to the

moment, where our president lacks the moral authority to lead, where our president has more in common with George Wallace than he does with George

Washington, you know.


[14:55:12] We are almost 330 million Americans, we'll have to do what our president can't, stand together, stand against hate, stand up for what is

best, our nation's best, when we're the best. In this nation, we believe we're at our best. We believe in honesty, decency, treating everyone with

respect, giving everyone, a fair shot behind, leaving nobody behind, giving hate no safe harbor.

Demonizing no one, not the poor, the powerless, the immigrant or the other leading by the power of our example, not by the example of our power.

That's a lot to sustain as a beacon to the world. Being part of something bigger than ourselves. It's a code, it's uniquely American code. It's who

we are, but Donald Trump doesn't get it.

What this president don't understand is let like every other nation on earth were unable to define what constitutes American by religion, by

ethnicity, or by tribe, you can't do it. America is an idea. An idea stronger than any army, bigger than any ocean, more powerful than any

dictator or tyrant. It gives hope, the most desperate people on Earth.

It is not only our values that are under assault, our democracies as well, our free press, and independent judiciary, a legislature. There's a co-

equal branch of government. These are the guardrail. These are guard rails of our democracy. They're written into our constitution. And if

you've noticed for the last two-plus years, they've been under attack. Phrases like "fake news," "enemy of people," they're no joke. They're

insidious, they're corrosive.

Just look around the world. The worst despots are now using Trump's language to justify their own abuses of power. Trump is trying to weaken

our institutions, depress the courts, the Congress, precisely, because they are the only checks on his power.

That's what this is all about, the abuse of power. If there's one thing I can't stand, and I know you can't, is the abuse of power, and whether it's

a boss, taking advantage of his or her workers, or a man raises a hand to a woman or a child, or a president who's running roughshod over everything

this country believes and stands for.


No matter how old or young you are, you've never seen anything like this in your lifetime. We're being reminded every day, but there's nothing

guaranteed about democracy, not even here in America. We have to constantly earn it. We have to protect it. We have to fight for it. I

believe America is -- as Lincoln named us, the last best Hope on earth.

We have to remember why. It's not because you're the biggest economy, the strongest military in the history of the world. It's not because we have

the most innovative entrepreneurs and the greatest research universities. That's all true. But it's not why we're America. The reason is what we

believe, the most powerful idea in the history of the world, I think beats in the heart of the people of this country.

It beats in all of us, no matter your race, your ethnicity, no matter your gender identity, your sexual orientation, no matter your faith and peace in

the hearts of the rich and poor alike, unites America or their ancestors were native to these shores, or they're brought forcibly and enslaved,

where they're immigrants generations back like my family from Ireland. Or those today looking to build a better life for their family.