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Mother of El Paso Suspect Tries to Tell Police; White House Rejects DHS Efforts to Fight Domestic Terrorism; U.N. Report Says Over Consumption Affects the Environment. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 8, 2019 - 04:30   ET


[04:30:22] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Did police miss a crucial clue? CNN has learned the El Paso suspect's mom called police officers weeks ago.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Sources tell CNN Homeland Security fought the White House for more than a year to make domestic terrorism a higher priority.

ROMANS: President Trump gets a warning from the National Rifle Association right after he calls for background checks for gun buyers.


SIMONE BILES, GYMNAST: You have one job. You literally have one job and you didn't protect us.


RIPLEY: Gold medalist Simone Biles not holding back about the sexual abuse scandal rocking USA Gymnastics.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Will Ripley.

ROMANS: Nice to have you here today again. I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 -- almost 31 minutes past the hour here in New York.

Let's begin here with a CNN exclusive. Texas police may have missed a crucial opportunity in the weeks before the El Paso massacre that killed 22 people on Saturday. The mother of the suspected gunman Patrick Crusius called police in Allen, Texas, last month. She called police because she was concerned about her son owning an AK-style weapon.

Now lawyers for the family tell CNN the mother was transferred to a public safety officer and that officer told her her son was legally allowed to purchase the weapon. The mother did not provide her son's name and the officer did not seek any other information. We don't know if that is the weapon the mother -- that she called about, if that's the one used in the attack.

RIPLEY: CNN has also learned exclusively the White House has been rejecting apparently efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to fight domestic terrorism and this has been going on for more than a year. Several administration sources tell us White House officials only wanted to focus on the jihadist threat choosing to ignore the reality of rising racial supremacist violence.

One senior source close to the Trump administration says the White House has major ideological blinders on. And when the national counter terrorism strategy was released last fall, the White House did add a paragraph about other forms of extremism, but failed to even specifically reference white supremacist.

ROMANS: New this morning, the National Rifle Association is warning President Trump. CNN has learned the NRA chief Wayne LaPierre spoke to the president on Tuesday. The "Washington Post" reports LaPierre told Trump his support for background checks on gun purchases would not be popular among his supporters.

Here's what the president said about background checks on Wednesday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I'm looking to do background checks. I think background checks are important. I don't want to put guns into the hands of mentally unstable people or people with rage or hate, sick people. I don't want to -- I'm all in favor of it.


ROMANS: The president, all in favor there, but he's gone back and forth on gun control before. White House officials say he's torn between wanting to do more and growing concern that doing more would cause a revolt from his base.

RIPLEY: President Trump spent Wednesday visiting the scenes of both weekend massacres, Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas. By all accounts he was well-received by the people he met. But that did not stop the president -- stop him from lashing out as he flew from Dayton to El Paso. He started complaining bitterly that his visit was falsely portrayed by Democrats and by the media. He tweeted, "It was a warm and wonderful visit," but he said Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley went on TV misrepresenting what took place. "Their news conference was a fraud. It bore no resemblance to what took place."

On the ground in El Paso President Trump continued to complain about how he was being portrayed.


TRUMP: I took them in. At their request, we made the tour. They couldn't believe it. She said it to people. He said it to people. I get on Air Force One where they do have a lot of televisions. I turn on the television and there they are saying, well, I don't know if it was appropriate for the president, you know, et cetera, et cetera. You know, the same old line. They're very dishonest people and that's probably why he got I think about zero percent that he failed as a presidential candidate.

(END VIDEO CLIP) RIPLEY: On the ground, near a mass shooting scene, President Trump once again making it about him. So here's a fact check. Here's what Brown and Whaley actually said at that news conference.


SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): He was comforting. And he did the right things.


BROWN: And Melania did the right things. And it's his job in part to comfort people. I'm glad he did it in that -- those hospital rooms.

WHALEY: I think the victims and the first responders were grateful that the president of the United States came to Dayton.


RIPLEY: In all fairness to the president, the senator and the mayor were bluntly critical of things that he has said and done in the past.


BROWN: I'm very concerned about a president that divides in his rhetoric and plays to race in his rhetoric and is racist.

[04:35:02] WHALEY: I think a lot of people that own their businesses in that district aren't interested in the president being there. And, you know, a lot of the times his talk can be very divisive and that's the last thing we need in Dayton.


ROMANS: All right, presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spent the whole day in El Paso. It's his hometown. He visited with community members and dropped off flowers at makeshift memorials that's growing at the Walmart where that massacre happened. O'Rourke had said earlier that President Trump was not welcomed in El Paso but he told CNN Trump's visit might have helped some of the grieving families.


BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hope for those families that he met with that it was helpful for them. If it was, then I'm grateful for that small comfort for them, but for the community at large to have been so regularly attacked and vilified and demonized by this president, for him to have created the conditions that made an attack like this possible and ultimately likely it's very insulting to us that he was here but, look, we're going to focus on making sure that we're strong, making sure these families are OK.


ROMANS: O'Rourke has dropped plans to join many of the other Democratic candidates at the Iowa State Fair today. Instead he'll stay in El Paso meeting families and attending funerals.

RIPLEY: Some of the most scathing criticism of the president came from the 2020 Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden. During a campaign stop in Iowa, he directly linked President Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric to the carnage in El Paso. And he accused the president of fanning the flames of white supremacy in the U.S.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're in a battle for the soul of this nation. Our president has aligned himself with the darkest forces in this nation. And that makes winning this battle for the soul of our nation that much tougher. Harder.


RIPLEY: Vice President Biden added he does not buy President Trump's condemnation earlier this week of white supremacists. Trump's reaction to Biden's speech? In a tweet he called it, "so boring."

ROMANS: All right. Breaking overnight, an unidentified California man now in custody. Police say he stabbed six people in a robbery spree. Four of the victims were killed. The suspect is described as a 33-year-old Hispanic male who robbed multiple locations in Orange County. He was eventually caught at a 7-Eleven where a security guard was killed.

RIPLEY: President Trump is defending the escalating trade war against China. He says despite the risks, his tough stance will ultimately benefit the American economy. The president says China has been killing the U.S. with unfair trade deals and he says something had to be done.


TRUMP: Somebody had to do this with China because they were taking hundreds of billions of dollars a year out of the United States and somebody had to make a stand.


RIPLEY: The sudden escalation of the U.S.-China trade conflict in recent days has been jolting financial markets. The president says the market reaction was anticipated and he continued to express confidence in the strength of the U.S. economy.

ROMANS: Equinox owner Steven Ross is holding a fundraiser for President Trump and many members of the gym chain are not happy. Ross is chairman of the related companies which overseas Equinox's SoulCycle and Blink Fitness. The fundraiser is set for Friday where attendees will pay up to $100,000 for a picture with the president and $250,000 to listen in on a roundtable discussion.

Now people are taking to Twitter threatening to cancel their gym memberships. Ross responded, saying, "I've known Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others. And I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions."

A spokesperson for Equinox and SoulCycle said they don't have anything to do with this event for the president. They don't support it and they don't use company profits to fund politicians. The Trump campaign has not responded to CNN's request for comments.

Ross also owns the Miami Dolphins and a related nonprofit dedicated to equality and sports. Kenny Stills, a wide receiver on the team, tweeted, "You can't have a nonprofit with this mission statement, then open your doors to Trump." There are also calls to boycott other related companies, businesses including Hudson Yards, home to CNN's New York studios. "Out" magazine's editor-in-chief called for fashion designers to boycott Hudson Yards for Fashion Week.

RIPLEY: There is a new climate report out this morning and it says if we want to save the planet, we need to change the way we eat. We'll explain live in London.


[04:43:31] RIPLEY: Federal immigration authorities are processing nearly 700 undocumented immigrants. They were detained Wednesday in Mississippi in what officials are calling the largest single state immigration enforcement operation in U.S. history. CNN affiliates reported raids at food processing plants all across the state. At one plant in Morton, Mississippi, buses were seen picking up large groups of detainees. One 11-year-old girl is seen sobbing uncontrollably when she sees her mother through the fence.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please let me just see my mother. Please.


RIPLEY: The officer says the girl's mother will be processed and then released, and because she's the sole guardian of her daughter, a U.S. citizen, she won't be deported. Eventually the girl was able to see her mom before ICE took the woman away.

ROMANS: Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles is blasting USA Gymnastic in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. Biles was one of hundreds of young female athletes abused by Nassar. She is now preparing for this week's national championships in Kansas City where she will compete under the banner of USA Gymnastics. Biles was emotional -- grew emotional talking to reporters about the organization that failed her.


BILES: It's hard coming here for an organization and having had them failed us so many times.

[04:45:05] And we had one goal and we've done everything that they asked us for, even when we didn't want to, and they couldn't do one damn job. You had one job. You literally had one job and you couldn't protect us.


ROMANS: Biles believes it is important for her and other gymnasts to keep expressing their disappointment publicly, both in USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee for the inaction that allowed Nassar's serial molestation to go unchecked for years.

RIPLEY: Chilling warnings in a new report out this morning, basically saying if we want to save the planet, we need to dramatically change the way that we produce food. And if we attempt to solve the climate crisis by only cut carbon emissions in things like cars, factories, power plants, we're doomed to failure.

Those headlines are in the Inter-Government Panel on Climate Change report that has just been released.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is live in London with the details.

So, Nick, essentially the culprit here is meat.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Meat but other types of food production as well. And what we do to the planet's land 70 percent of which that's not covered in ice currently being used by food production and humans. Startling figures here and this is important. Not because it's another activist group telling you things about how the planet is changing, this is the consensus. This is the U.N., hundreds of experts, everybody on the same page and the consensus they basically have.

And as you say, it's about changing your eating habits really in the immediate short term to avoid catastrophe. Here's some of what we learned.


WALSH (voice-over): A new U.N. report has emerged to reveal the shocking truth about how our food is ruining our planet. Officially estimating that go about a quarter of greenhouse gases in the last decade came from food, farming and land use, and that if we change what we eat and how we farm, we could eliminate nearly all of that. If we don't, the U.N. experts warn chillingly, we risk, quote, "long- term impacts" including rapid decline in productivity of agriculture.

That's a big ask in Texas where beef, the biggest food culprit in greenhouse gas production, is a way of life. Among the ribs, grills, steaks, and excess, try telling people here that time is running out to fix the climate emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not today because this is delicious.

WALSH: Beef and dairy agriculture are a key and often overlooked cause of the greenhouse gases. Human kind must rapidly curtail if we want to live like we do now.

(On camera): Well, think about it this way. Half a pound of beef causes as much greenhouse gas to be emitted as driving 55 of these cars for one mile.

(Voice-over): We drive out as the sun rises over beef country, 12 million cattle in Texas, where the extraordinary toll of something so natural as beef on the planet emerges.

We have to make drastic changes by 2030 to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees. If we don't, beef and dairy will cause 10 percent of greenhouse gases. If we do, meet other 2030 emissions targets they'll cost much more, 30 percent. Either way we must act.

America's hunger sits on natural edge here.

(On camera): That first thing that hits you is just the smell. There's just so many, so tightly packed together.

(Voice-over): And there, and nearly 1.5 billion cattle on earth, one for every five people. The United States and the world will likely eat a record amount of beef. We're going the wrong way, but it is the bottom line, livelihoods, but understandably matter more here.

(On camera): Now when I said global warning, you said they say. Do you believe in it or do you think this is all just a bit of --


WALSH: Why not?

BUTLER: I just don't.


BUTLER: I just -- it's hard for me to believe that global warming has something to do with the rainfall.

WALSH: What would it take to change your mind about that?

BUTLER: There would have to be a drastic change. Yes, we have -- go through some droughts but that's just the normal periods. Here, this last couple of years, we hadn't had much winter.

WALSH: You're saying you're seeing it get warmer down here already but you want it to get really bad before you'll believe the scientists?

BUTLER: Right.

WALSH (voice-over): The U.N. report predicts in the next three decades basic food like cereals will get about eight percent more expensive and says human use affects already nearly three-quarters of the earth's ice-free surface.

Huge changes are already happening and huge changes must be made by humans if the way of enjoying life cherished here doesn't bring our way of life to change entirely.


WALSH: I think what's so startling about this report is the scope of change in human behavior that's required but also to some degree how these warnings sometimes pass almost unnoticed with a bit of fanfare, a bit of scare, a bit of alarmism and everyone goes back to doing exactly what they were doing the day before -- Christine, Will.

RIPLEY: Until those changes are forced in one way or another.

[04:50:05] Nick Paton Walsh, live in London. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. A week's long manhunt in Canada for two killers is over. Canadian authorities believe the bodies of 19-year-old Kam McLeod and 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky were found on a river bank in northern Manitoba. The two teens were suspected of killing three people. An autopsy will be performed to confirm their identities and determine the cause of death. Police say while there were significant evidence linking the suspects to both crime scenes, they may never learn a motive for those killings.

RIPLEY: Police in Montana say a 39-year-old man faces felony assault charges for attacking a 13-year-old boy because the boy refused to remove his hat during the national anthem. It happened on Saturday at a county fair rodeo. Curt Brockway tells police he asked the child to take off his hat because it was disrespectful to wear it during the anthem. And he claims the boy responded by saying, "F you." According to a court affidavit, Rockway admits he grabbed the boy by the throat, lifted him in the air, and slammed him on the ground. The boy suffered a concussion and a fractured skull, and had to be flown by helicopter to a hospital in Spokane.

ROMANS: Wow. All right. The House Judiciary Committee has filed suit seeking a court order to force testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn. The suit says McGahn's testimony is essential to determining whether President Trump should be impeached for obstruction of justice. McGahn's lawyer says his client will follow White House orders not to testify to Congress unless a judge orders him to. The White House argues executive privilege gives the president and his close advisers absolute immunity from testifying.

RIPLEY: There are new concerns about vaping. Something a lot of people do. What the FDA is now looking at in a new investigation.


[04:56:08] RIPLEY: You walk down the street, you see a lot of people with their vapes. People seem to love them but now there are new concerns that people could be suffering from seizures after vaping. The FDA is investigating 127 reported cases. Nearly 100 were received since the agency first announced an investigation back in April. Now many involved kids and young adults who experience seizures after using these e-cigarettes that are growing in popularity. Now officials say it's not clear that e-cigarettes have anything to do with the seizures. They caution also that these cases occurred over a 10-year period. ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning.

A look at markets around the world, shows stabilization. Asian stocks climbed as Chinese customs data showed the country's exports rose in July despite the trade war with the U.S. China's exports rose 3.3 percent compared to last year. On Wall Street, yesterday was another volatile trading day for investors. The Dow gave up some last-minute gains and finished down about 22 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, they managed to close slightly higher. Really trying to stabilize here because there have been trade war and recession fears that have caused investors to seek refuge by piling into things like gold. Gold prices up almost 2.5 percent about $1500 an ounce, the highest level since 2013.

Amazon's go-it-alone delivery strategy has driven away one of its biggest partners. FedEx announced it will end its ground delivery contract with Amazon at the end of the month. For years Amazon has used FedEx's ground delivery service to help shuttle online orders to customers. But Amazon is also rapidly growing its own delivery network. FedEx had recent steps to bolster its delivery network, positioned the company extraordinarily well to focus on the broader e- commerce market. FedEx also dumped Amazon from its air cargo services in June.

Walgreens will close about 200 locations across the U.S. It's part of a plan to cut cost. There are a number of challenges here including lower prices for generic drugs and a persistent decline in reimbursement rates for medications from states and federal government health care plans. The pharmacy chain said the closures will cause minimal disruption to customers and patients and it will find jobs for the affected employees in nearby locations. Walgreens did not provide a list of the stores it plans to close.

And there's more trouble -- speaking of store closures -- for Sears. Sears and K-Mart parent company Transform Co announced it will close 26 stores in October as it struggles after emerging from bankruptcy. The company blamed a generally weak retail environment for the closures and warned more could be on the horizon.

RIPLEY: Tough time to be a brick-and-mortar business.

ROMANS: Yes. Retail. Absolutely.

RIPLEY: Yes. Thanks to our international viewers for joining us here on EARLY START. Have a great rest of your day. Now for our U.S. viewers, EARLY START continues right now.

ROMANS: Did police miss a crucial clue? CNN has learned the El Paso suspect's mother called officers weeks ago.

RIPLEY: Sources tell CNN exclusively Homeland Security was battling the White House for more than a year on the issue of domestic terrorism.

ROMANS: President Trump gets a warning from the National Rifle Association right after he calls for background checks for gun buyers.


BILES: You had one job. You literally had one job and you couldn't protect us.


RIPLEY: Gold medalist Simone Biles not holding back about sexual abuse, a scandal that rocked USA Gymnastics.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Will Ripley in for Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Always nice to have you here. And I'm Christine Romans. It's Thursday, August 8th, 5:00 a.m. in New York and Dayton, Ohio, it is 3:00 a.m. in El Paso, Texas.

Up first, a CNN exclusive. Texas police may have missed a crucial opportunity in the weeks before the El Paso massacre that killed 22 people on Saturday. The mother of the suspected gunman, Patrick Crusius, she called police in Allen, Texas, last month. She was concerned about her son owning an AK-style weapon. Now lawyers for the family tell CNN the mother was transferred to a public safety officer and that officer told her --