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CNN RIGHT NOW

Trump Brags during Hospital Visit; El Paso Suspect's Mother Called Police; Rep. Tim Ryan Leading Caravan to McConnell; Children Left Without Parents After Raids; Business Owner Under Fire over Trump Fundraiser. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired August 8, 2019 - 13:00   ET

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


[13:00:00] ELANA SCHOR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "ASSOCIATED PRESS": A significant beverage.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN HOST: He's -- he's -- he's with -- yes, he's with Queen Bee (ph). Yes.

MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": OK. Yes.

HENDERSON: (INAUDIBLE). Yes.

Thanks, guys.

Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. Brianna Keilar starts "RIGHT NOW."

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I'm Pamela Brown, in for Brianna Keilar.

Underway right now, before he targeted Latinos and killed 22 at a Walmart, his mother called police and told them she was worried about her son. But in the wake of two mass shootings, the White House rebuffs attempts to make domestic terror and white supremacy a priority. The question is, why?

Plus, what happens to the children? Heartbreaking images of children left alone.

(INAUDIBLE).

And we begin at the White House.

President Trump is back in Washington today after visiting the grieving cities of Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas. It was a moment for the president to focus on the victims, the survivors, the families. But new, behind-the-scenes video shows it still comes back to him. The video from the president's visit to El Paso where 22 people are dead and more than two dozen injured, eight still in the hospital.

CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is live for us at the White House.

So, if you would, Kaitlan, tell us about this new video and what exactly it shows.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Pam, so you'll remember, the White House didn't let cameras into the hospital while the president was visiting because they said they didn't want it to turn into a photo opportunity, though they did later release videos of their own.

But now we're getting a look at what it is the president said beyond those videos that came from the White House because this is coming from someone who was inside the hospital where, at the beginning of this video, the president thanked the medical staff for their response, their quick response to that shooting, but then the president quickly pivoted to talking about himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was here three months ago. We made a speech. And we had a -- what was the name of the arena? That place was packed, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was the colosseum.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was front row there.

D. TRUMP: Right? Right? The judge is a respected guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was front row.

D. TRUMP: What was the name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was front row right there.

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: He was in the front row.

D. TRUMP: Oh, good. Come here, (INAUDIBLE).

Yes, that was some -- that was some crowd.

M. TRUMP: Thank you for all that you do. Thank you.

D. TRUMP: And we had twice the number outside. And then you had this crazy Beto. Beto had like 400 people in a parking lot and they said his crowd was wonderful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Now, Pam, I was at that rally for the president back in February when Beto O'Rourke, of course, was outside with his supporters. That's a rally where the president said he was bragging about getting illegal immigrants, quote, the hell out of our country, something that the crowd inside the arena was cheering. But, of course, people outside were protesting the president's visit there to El Paso, months, of course, before this tragedy was going to strike.

And we should also note, that's a rally where the president still owes the city of El Paso over half of a million dollars, something they initially billed them for and then added on a late fee because it still had not been paid. Those fees typically are because of police officers having to be paid for working that event, public safety costs that a city has to consider when the president visits. That's something that still hasn't been paid.

But, of course, this video and the president's tone there bragging about his crowd size versus Beto O'Rourke's is not going to contribute -- or it is going to contribute to this criticism that the president is seeing, saying that essentially when he goes to meet with these victims, he doesn't always strike the right tone.

BROWN: Right. I mean we've heard the president talk about crowd sizes time and time again. At times he seems obsessed with it.

But what makes this so startling, I guess, is that he was saying it while he's visiting a hospital in El Paso after this mass shooting. And, you know, there were times where he struck a somber tone. As you pointed out, Kaitlan, he did thank the first responders and talked about the victims and families. But he also spent the day insulting people and sparking feuds, right?

COLLINS: Yes, the president essentially isn't able to restrain himself when he's facing criticism. This is what people who are not just critics of the president's will say, but also some of his closest allies, including some of his top aides inside the White House.

Now, when someone says something critical of him, even in a time like this, the president is unable to resist by responding. Even when you watch in the wake of after -- when he left Dayton, Ohio, yesterday, and you saw the mayor of Dayton and Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio both gave a press conference talking about the president's visit where they praised him and said that the victims were grateful the president was there, they said he struck the right tone behind those closed doors, as did the first lady, Melania Trump, but then they were critical of the president's stance on gun control, which isn't surprising since they are Democrats. And, of course, Nan Whaley, the mayor of Dayton, just witnessed this mass shooting, just had nine of her residents gunned down.

But the president and his aides watched that and they responded, pushing back, saying that they were being unfairly critical of the president and his visit. And you continue to see the president lashing out about that throughout the day. Something that I've spoken with several Trump advisers. They said they don't think that's a wise idea for the president to respond like something at all because, of course, he is the president.

BROWN: Yes. I mean, as we've seen time and time again, he can't be restrained in the face of criticism.

Kaitlin Collins, thank you so much for bringing that to us from the White House.

So now we want to turn to CNN's exclusive reporting on the accused El Paso gunman. [13:05:02] An attorney for the family tells us that the suspect's own

mother called police just weeks before the massacre out of concern that her son had purchased an AK-type rifle.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is live for us in El Paso.

So, Ed, tell us more about this phone call and how police followed up on it.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was a phone call that the mother placed to Allen -- the Allen Police Department, which is a suburb north of Dallas, where the gunman was living with his grandparents.

The mother -- and this is all according to lawyers for the gunman's family, says that the mother made that call because she was concerned about her son owning that type of weapon, his maturity level and whether or not he was capable of -- mature enough to handle that kind of weaponry. The lawyer says that the mother spoke with an officer there who was basically told that the man was able to legally own that weapon and doesn't appear to be much follow-up after that.

The lawyers do go on to say, Pamela, that this was not a situation where the mother believed that her son was acting in a volatile way, in erratic behavior. In the words of the lawyer, it's not like alarm bells were going off. But that's -- that was a call that we understand was made several weeks before this massacre happened here in El Paso.

BROWN: But, I mean, to find out now, after the fact, that the mother had concern and reached out to police, it is just so sad that, once again, there was a potential concern and it wasn't followed up on.

Ed Lavandera, thank you very much. We do appreciate it.

And, meantime, 2020 Democratic candidate Beto O'Rourke has been off the campaign trail this entire week, also meeting with survivors in El Paso in his hometown. That's where he met 20-year-old Sean Nixon (ph), who was inside the Walmart shopping when he heard the shots go off. The two shared this emotional moment as Nixon struggled to describe to O'Rourke the horror he was forced to witness. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And are you able to see a counselor or a therapist?

SEAN NIXON, WITNESSED WALMART SHOOTING: (INAUDIBLE).

O'ROURKE: Yes. OK.

Talk to me.

NIXON: It doesn't make sense at all. It's too much. El Paso was great. I don't know why this dude is doing this to us.

O'ROURKE: It's all right. Come here. Come here. Come here, man. This is my cell phone. It goes directly to me. There have been a

number of people who have reached out to me, counselors, therapists, who want to be helpful. If that additional help would be good for you, let me know and I'll put you in touch. If you can think of anything I can do for you or your family, I want to do it, OK? Yes. I'm grateful that you said hello and I'm grateful that you're OK.

NIXON: (INAUDIBLE).

O'ROURKE: Yes. Thank you for being there. Yes, appreciate it, bud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Well, the pressure is now mounting on Senator Mitch McConnell to do something on gun reform. Right now Ohio congressman and presidential candidate Tim Ryan is leading a caravan of protesters. They're now headed to McConnell's hometown in Louisville to essentially pound on the Senate Majority leader's door and demand that he bring gun violence legislation to the floor for a vote.

CNN's Lauren Fox is in Louisville right now.

So, what are you hearing, Lauren?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Democrats are not the only ones who are putting that pressure on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. We heard, Pam, yesterday, the president talking about the need to expand background checks. That's something that he is also privately pushing for, I'm told, from Republican sources on Capitol Hill. And it's just a good reminder of where the strategy is at this point.

You know, members are gone. They have a congressional recess right now. And a lot of folks are telling me that behind the scenes conversations are happening. They're trying to get a sense of what could actually pass and what could have stopped these tragedies in the first place.

And I'll tell you that the background checks piece of this is a bit more controversial for Republican members. It's a little hard for them to stomach. A lot of concerns have concerns about it. But the president has had repeated calls with Senator Pat Toomey, a big advocate and a Republican advocate for background checks legislation. I'm told that there is more promise that there could be something passed on so-called red-flag laws. Essentially they would give states incentives to pass those kinds of laws to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals.

So, that gives you a little bit of a sense of what's happening behind the scenes. But, you know, there is a little concern that the NRA just isn't as strong as they once were and, in a sense, that may open the door for Republicans to do more on guns than they have in the past. But, again, it's several weeks until members return to Washington. It's just unclear whether or not the president's going to keep the pressure on to get Republicans to pass something on the floor.

Pam.

[13:10:06] BROWN: Yes, it's interesting you say that there's concern among some lawmakers that the NRA isn't as powerful as it has been before. We know the NRA's Wayne LaPierre has been speaking to President Trump as well expressing concern about background checks. So we'll have to see how all of this plays out.

Lauren, thank you for breaking it all down for us. We do appreciate it.

So in light of all of this, new revelations that the White House has been rebuffing attempts by Homeland Security to prioritize domestic terror. But why?

Plus, children right now alone after the Trump administration arrests their parents in massive immigration raids. I'll speak live with a school superintendent.

And, the owner of SoulCycle and the Miami Dolphins facing backlash for a fundraiser he's hosting for the president.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:15:45] BROWN: A massive ICE raid in Mississippi left children homeless, living in fear and crying out for their parents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Government, please put your heart, let my parents be free. With everybody else, please, don't leave the childs with cryingness and everything. I need my dad with me. My dad didn't do nothing. He's not a criminal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Well, many of the children, some as young as toddlers, relied on friends, neighbors, even strangers to take them in after officials detained nearly 700 people in a series of raids across the state, including at a food processing plant in Morton, where an 11-year-old girl watched as her mom was detained and begged officials to let her go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, can I just see my mother, please?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, please let her talk -- her mom is the only one she has. That's her guardian.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mom's the only one that she has?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, she's the only one she has here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's her only legal guardian. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He not got any papa, no other family, no other

nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Our Dianne Gallagher is in Morton.

Dianne, what more can you tell us about these raids and is there a plan in place to take care of these kids who have now been separated from their parents?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Pam, first I want to talk about that little girl that you just saw talking outside of this particular plant right here. And I apologize, the train is going by right now. But this particular plant right here where her mother was detained from.

I just got done speaking with her mother. She and her 12-year-old daughter have been reunited. She was dropped off at a different plant overnight more than an hour away from this location. A family friend went and picked her up. She says to me that she was allowed to leave. She does not have an ankle monitor on, because she had her daughter and she was her daughter's only way of caring for her, her daughter is a U.S. citizen, but she does have a court date in 2020 January.

We don't know if that's the case for so many more of these parents. There were children who were just simply left at day care, children who were sitting at school waiting for their parents to pick them up. And, instead, their parents had been taken to a processing center.

Now, I do know from talking to individuals who were detained that some of those people who were detained along with them may have been sent to other locations. One woman told me that she believes that her husband has been sent to New Orleans at this point.

But at this time right now, Pamela, there are people just sitting here in front of this plant waiting for buses to arrive, hoping that their loved ones are on there. Some of these people have been here since overnight, 8:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m. A couple buses came around 11:00 p.m. and around 2:00 in the morning, but they haven't had anything since then.

And these rumors keep coming around that more buses are going to show up and drop them off and everybody kind of gets themselves worked into this emotional frenzy, hoping it's their brother, their mother, their child that is going to show up on that bus, but we haven't seen one at this location all day, I mean since the very early morning hours.

Now, as far as the individuals who are the owners, the managers, the U.S.-born citizens who are in power here at these particular plants, and, look, there are seven different locations and in six different cities around Jackson, we don't know if they are charged with anything, if there were any sort of punishment that happened. The U.S. attorney just told us that it is an ongoing criminal investigation at this point. But, again, you had over 680 undocumented people who were boarded onto

these buses, taken to a processing center. Some of them have been returned, some with ankle bracelets, some with court dates. Others, though, their families are still waiting to find out where they are. And that does include some of those children right now.

BROWN: Yes, your heart goes out to the children just wondering what's going to happen with their parents.

I did speak to a senior administration official, and hopefully we can put up this graphic. And this official said that they're trying to reunite the kids with their parents as quickly as possible, saying any arrestee who identifies a child care issue an is not being criminally arrested or is subject to mandatory detention will be expeditiously processed and returned to the point of apprehension so that they can get their child or other dependent.

[13:20:03] But you're seeing a case there, Dianne, where that -- the reunification hasn't happened yet for some of these kids, right?

GALLAGHER: Well, and the truth is, Pamela, we don't really know what those circumstances are. Some of those cases could be an individual who had a final deportation order or who has a criminal background of some sort. We don't know all the specifics of each individual case.

I can tell you that the quote you just read there does match with what the woman that I just spoke to, that mother of that girl in the video, what she said about what they told her, that she was being released to her child. They kept her I.D., she said, but she was being released to her child because she was the primary caretaker, the only caretaker of her U.S.-born citizen daughter and that they were working to do so.

She told me that there were so many parents, some who had small babies, and that they were put in the same sort of area. She said everybody was divided up. And the area that she was in, that those individuals had children, they were people who she said did not say they had any sort of criminal past or deportation order. So it was her assumption that they had been split off by -- from those other individuals who had been detained.

She said there were about 50 buses sitting outside of that processing area that they made for them and that some of those buses she was told were going off to other states at that time, which, again, matches what some of these other wives, spouses have been told by attorneys and people who have been in contact with their loved ones.

BROWN: All right, Dianne Gallagher, thank you so much for bring us the latest on the ground there in Mississippi.

And I'm going to speak live with a school superintendent who's dealing with all of this.

Plus, the owner of SoulCycle and the Miami Dolphins facing backlash for a fundraiser he's hosting for the president. But is that fair? We're going to discuss.

And why the House Judiciary Committee may be closer to breaking the summer recess to take action on gun control legislation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:26:38] BROWN: Well, the owner of the Miami Dolphins and SoulCycle is under fire over his decision to host a fundraiser for President Trump. Stephen Ross, who also owns Equinox, is now facing a number of calls for boycotts to his businesses with many on social media threatening to cancel their gym memberships.

Joining me now to discuss is "USA Today" sports columnist and CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan.

Christine, thanks for coming on.

You know, this is not the first time a business owner has faced backlash for supporting Trump. You saw it with Under Armour, with Home Depot, with New Balance. But are you surprised in this case?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: I'm actually not, Pam, because of the intense emotional outburst and reaction that we've had to this week, this tragic and horrific week. And what the NFL always has been, and frankly sports has been, is this national conversation. It's almost -- the NFL's a window into our culture. And so -- and reflects it back.

So the fact that you've got Ross, who is hosting this event for -- fundraiser for Trump, that probably in any other week would have gone unnoticed, but this week, of all weeks, when we are focusing so much on the president's racist words and white supremacist, you know, involvement and all the things that we know politically, obviously then the spotlight is now shining even more on this fundraiser and then on the owner and then on his team.

BROWN: Yes, critiques of the president's rhetoric in the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso.

BRENNAN: Exactly.

BROWN: And it's interesting because Steve Ross also has this organization dedicated to equality called Rise. Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills tweeted that by hosting this fundraiser, Ross is essentially undermining the nonprofit's mission.

BRENNAN: Right.

BROWN: Do you agree with that?

BRENNAN: Well, I do. And I understand the controversy. I've actually been on panels for Rise out at the Super Bowl a few years ago. It's a wonderful group. I know some of the people who work there and they're working very hard on the issue of racial equality and all those issues that are involved with that, social justice, et cetera. So the fact that Ross is so associated -- this is his nonprofit -- I think that that adds another layer and that's why I think it's fair game. And this conversation, I think, is not over by any means because he is a man who has this kind of other side to him. Most owners don't, Pam. Most owners are not involved with nonprofits. So he has done that and it's admirable. But now, obviously, you can see the contradiction and, in many ways, that is another point of contention for his players, as I think any of us would expect it would be.

BROWN: And here's what he said in a statement to CNN. He says, I have been and will continue to be an outspoken champion of racial equality, inclusion, diversity, public education and environmental sustainability. And I have and will continue to support leaders on both sides of the aisle to address these challenges. He also says he's known Donald Trump for many, many years.

But what do you think, is Ross trying to have it both ways here?

BRENNAN: I think he is. And probably, again, before this week, before the tragedies in El Paso and Dayton, he may have been able to get away with it. But I think because of the fact that he's been so involved on both of these sides, it would be wrong I think not only for the players but also for journalists to not question this and to not bring this to light. That's where we are in our country today. And as the country goes, obviously so goes the National Football League.

[13:29:56] And what this portends, Pam, moving forward now as the season approaches, I think we are going to see protests again. I think we're going to see all the things we saw with Colin Kaepernick a few years ago and that continuing saga.