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El Paso Suspect's Mother Called Police Weeks Before Shooting; NRA Warns Trump About Support For Background Checks; Worldwide Land Abuse Is Major Contributor To Climate Emergency. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 8, 2019 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] WILL RIPLEY, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump gets a warning from the National Rifle Association right after he calls for background checks for gun buyers.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And if you really want to save the planet change your diet. A new climate warning just released. No more burgers for lunch.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Christine Romans.

RIPLEY: I'm Will Ripley. It's 5:30 here in New York and here's what we're following this morning.

A CNN exclusive. Texas police say they might have missed a crucial opportunity or at least some are saying that. That weeks before the El Paso massacre that killed 22 people on Saturday, we now know that the mother of the suspected gunman, Patrick Crusius, she called police -- police in Allen, Texas last month. She was concerned about her son owning an AK-style weapon.

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. Now, the mother did not provide her son's name. The officer didn't ask for any other information and that was it.

And what we still don't know is if the weapon that the mother was calling about is actually the one that was used in the attack.

ROMANS: The other exclusive this morning, CNN has also learned the White House has been rejecting efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to fight domestic terrorism -- fighting back for more than a year against the DHS recommendations.

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.

When the national counterterrorism strategy was released last fall, the White House did add a paragraph about, quote, "other forms of extremism" but did not specifically reference white supremacists. RIPLEY: New this morning, we have learned that the National Rifle Association is warning President Trump. CNN has learned the NRA chief, Wayne LaPierre, spoke to the president this week.

"The Washington Post" reports that LaPierre told Trump his support for background checks on gun purchases -- which are also, by the way, supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans -- but he says it would not be popular among President Trump's supporters.

So here's what President Trump 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 -- I'm all in favor of them.


RIPLEY: That's what he says now. What will he say later? The president, we know, has gone back and forth on gun control. White House officials say that he's torn between wanting to do more but also growing concern that actually doing so would cause a revolt from his base.

ROMANS: 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 from lashing out as he flew from Dayton to El Paso. He complained bitterly that his visit was falsely portrayed by Democrats and the media.

He tweeted, "It was a warm and wonderful visit. But he said Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley went on T.V. "...misrepresenting what took place. Their news conference was a fraud. It bore no resemblance to what took place."

Again, the president tweeting between the visits of one massacre site and the other.

On the ground in El Paso, he continued to complain about how he thought 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 to be here -- 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 and he failed as a presidential candidate.


ROMANS: Fact-check here. Here's what Brown and Whaley said at that news conference.


SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): Oh, he was comforting --

MAYOR NAN WHALEY (D), DAYTON, OHIO: He was very nice.

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

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


ROMANS: In fairness to the president, Sen. Brown and Mayor Whaley were critical of some things he's 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.

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


RIPLEY: Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke had his own back-and- forth on Twitter with the president.

He spent the whole day in El Paso, his hometown, visiting with community members and dropping off flowers at memorials that have been growing at the Walmart where the massacre happened.

O'Rourke said earlier President Trump wasn't welcome in El Paso. We asked him about it after President Trump's visit.

[05:35:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.


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

ROMANS: All right, let's bring in "Washington Post" congressional reporter Karoun Demirjian, a CNN political analyst. Good morning.

And, you know, just the backdrop here of a nation really in mourning still, Karoun, trying to find out will there be leadership, will somebody do something.

We know that Democrats -- 200 House Democrats have sent a letter to Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, saying this.

"In February, the new Democratic House majority took swift action to pass these bipartisan bills. Since that time, you've allowed more than 150 days to pass and countless lives have been lost, including those most recently lost in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio, Chicago, Illinois, and many others who will never make the headlines."

Congressman Tim Ryan actually calling for a "Caravan for Change". It's going to start in Niles, Ohio and travel to Akron, Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, and finally, Louisville, Kentucky as kind of a play for the optics here on Mitch McConnell.

Is there any sense that McConnell is going to do anything or has any kind of incentive to do anything?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Of his own volition, no. I think McConnell is waiting for a signal from the president before he takes any sort of move, whether it's to reconvene the Senate or simply to address this when the Senate comes back after the recess in September.

I don't think McConnell is in a position where he feels like he wants to go ahead of where the president is. It's both not an issue that he has taken very proactive steps on in the past. And also, just generally falls into the category of McConnell not wanting to go out further than President Trump is willing to follow him, given how much sway Trump has over the Republican Party -- the electorate, at least.

So, if Trump made some sort of statement that this is exactly what we should do and used his own political capital to try to bring over enough Republicans to get over procedural hurdles, then you might see some action in the Senate. But absent that, probably not.

RIPLEY: You know, talk about a signal from the president. He said on camera yesterday, background checks, background checks, I support this. Now we're hearing that there was a warning from the NRA that would be unpopular with your base.

President Trump has promised action in the past. Remember, after Parkland --


RIPLEY: -- he met with some of the survivors. I think we have a piece from that meeting. Let me play that for you.


TRUMP: As we continue to mourn the loss of so many precious young lives in Parkland, Florida, we're determined to turn our grief into action. I really believe that. I think that the people at this table want it.


RIPLEY: "Turn our grief into action." Did any action happen? No.

DEMIRJIAN: It did not, no.

RIPLEY: So what can you expect?

ROMANS: The only -- the only -- the only action is a call from the NRA saying no, you're not going to do that.

RIPLEY: Yes. So why -- is there any reason to think that President Trump might signal something and something might actually happen this time around?

DEMIRJIAN: Only if the pressure on him builds to the point and his own personal convictions build to the point where he feels like something has to be done. Right now, we've not seen that reflected in his public statements.

I mean, when you watched the president yesterday -- yes, he went to the hospitals. He was the consoler in chief and all of that. And yet, his tweets were about how he was portrayed --


DEMIRJIAN: -- by other elected officials and in the media.

And he seems to still be making this about whether he is being portrayed in a good enough light to suit him. That doesn't suggest that the president is primarily thinking right now about the lives lost, what can be done.

I mean, I can't inside his head but it does not -- what he's projecting right now is not oh my goodness, we must do something. I'm going to ignore the NRA this time and this time is going to be different. That's not what we're hearing.

ROMANS: You know what's interesting? I mean, he -- it doesn't seem like he's going to ignore the NRA this time because the NRA is basically telling him it's not going to be popular with your base.

But he's not shy about going against his own party and I'm thinking of this Rod Blagojevich comment that he made yesterday.


ROMAN: The former -- in prison -- former governor of Illinois who was convicted, I think, of 14 of 17 charges of trying to sell --

RIPLEY: Yes, trying to sell President Obama's Senate seat.

ROMANS: Yes, his Senate seat.

And this is what the president said about Rod Blagojevich yesterday.

He said, "I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly. He was given close to 18 years in prison and a lot of people thought it was unfair, like a lot of other things. And it was the same gang -- the Comey gang and the -- all these sleazebags that did it.

[05:40:08] I'm thinking about commuting his sentence. I think it's enough -- seven years."

You know, the delegation -- the Republican delegation in Illinois does not -- the Republican delegation in Illinois does not want him to do that.

DEMIRJIAN: No, but -- well, no, but this kind of goes towards a different category for President Trump's feelings. I mean, you saw the reference that was made right there of former FBI director James Comey.


DEMIRJIAN: I think the president has -- is right now in a bit of a punching match with a lot of federal law enforcement systems, particularly FBI. This goes to the heart of his anger about the Russia probe and feeling like that was focused on him unfairly. And supporting this probe that's being done with the I.G. and with Attorney General Bill Barr to try to get at the underlying causes.

I mean, the president has had this war going on with the FBI for a long time, so this is just yet another punch to be able to throw, not necessarily something that's your standard calculus of what does the GOP and the --

ROMANS: Right.

DEMIRJIAN: -- local area want versus what would be good for -- it goes to a completely different realm of what the president was thinking.

ROMANS: And, T.V. I mean, it all goes back to reality T.V. again, as well, because he praised Rod Blagojevich's wife for how well she's done on television --


ROMANS: -- against Comey and the probe and all that. So it shows how he really is -- it is the T.V. presence going on.

RIPLEY: It's how he thinks.

ROMANS: Yes, probably.


ROMANS: Karoun Demirjian, nice to see you. Thank you.

DEMIRJIAN: Thank you.

RIPLEY: When we think about climate change we think about things like our cars, our energy consumption.

ROMANS: Factories.

RIPLEY: Now we need to think about our food consumption. And this is a big new report and a big new warning for you, next.


[05:45:49] ROMANS: Federal immigration authorities are processing nearly 700 undocumented immigrants detained Wednesday in Mississippi. Officials are calling it the largest single state immigration enforcement operation in U.S. history.

CNN affiliates reported raids at food processing plants across the state. At one plant in Morton, Mississippi, buses were picking up large groups of detainees.

One 11-year-old girl sobbing uncontrollably when she saw her mother through the fence.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).

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


ROMANS: The officer says the girl's mother will be processed and released and because she is 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.

RIPLEY: Chilling warnings out in a new report that says if we want to save the planet we need to change what we put on the table and how we produce food. It also says if we attempt to solve the climate crisis by just cutting carbon emissions in cars and factories and power plants, we're doomed to failure.

Those are headlines from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Its report has just been released and it really forces us to take a look at what we're eating and its effect on our environment.

Nick Paton Walsh joins us now.

It says, essentially, beef is a luxury that our planet cannot afford.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At the end of the day, yes. And the IPCC is important, Will, because it is the consensus. It is nearly every country in the world and all of its experts agreeing on common language on what is essentially the truth -- the facts -- and they're pretty stark.

Twenty-three percent of greenhouse gas emissions are from agriculture land use -- the things that go into making our food. Nearly a third of those gases are into the entirety of food production.

Some good news, possibly, if we get rid of red meats in our diet. If we move towards vegan lifestyles and we change how we're using the land we might be able to reverse that damage, but the clock is ticking.

It says half a billion people have already experienced the effects of desertification -- startling numbers.

Here's what it said.


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 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 declines in productivity of agriculture."

And 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 and grilled steaks in excess, try telling people here that time is running out to fix the climate emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not today because this is delicious.

WALSH (voice-over): Beef and dairy agriculture are a key and often overlooked cause of the greenhouse gases. Humankind must rapidly curtail if we want to live like we do now.

WALSH (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. WALSH (voice-over): We drive out as the sun rises over beef country. Twelve million cattle in Texas where the extraordinary toll of something to 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 cause much more -- 30 percent. Either way, we must act.

America's hunger is hit on a natural edge here.

WALSH (on camera): The first thing that hits you is just the smell. There's just so many so tightly-packed together.

WALSH (voice-over): And there are nearly 1.5 billion cattle on earth, one for every five people.

[05:50:00] The United States and world will likely, this year, eat a record amount of beef. We're going the wrong way.

But it is the bottom line livelihoods that understandably matter more here.

WALSH (on camera): Now, when I said global warming, you said "they say." Do you believe in it or do you think this is all just a --


WALSH (on camera): Why not?

BUTLER: I just don't.

WALSH (on camera): Why?

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

WALSH (on camera): 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 (on camera): 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: This is not something that's optional, really. This about an enormous change in how we live our daily lives. It starts, really, with every single one of us.

So, Will, Christine, are you going to eat something different than you planned for lunch today?

RIPLEY: I mean, one hamburger -- 55 cars driving for a mile. That statistic, startling. And you've got to think twice about what you're ordering.

Nick Paton Walsh live in London. Thank you.

ROMANS: Nick says we have to eat more mushrooms.

RIPLEY: More mushrooms.

ROMANS: Bottom line, more mushrooms.

RIPLEY: Mushroom burgers.

ROMANS: Mushroom burgers.

Let's get a check on "CNN Business" this morning.

A look at markets around the world where they're stabilizing here. And, 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, taking a look at futures, up just a little bit. I mean, searching for some positive signs here.

Yesterday was another pretty volatile day for investors. The Dow gave up some last-minute gains and finished down 22 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closed slightly higher. That's just treading water, I would say.


ROMANS: Treading water because trade war and recession fears have caused investors to seek refuge by piling into safer instruments, like gold. Gold prices settled 2.4 percent higher above $1,500 an ounce. That's the highest level since 2013.

All right, trouble in retail land.

Walgreens will close about 200 locations to cut costs. That's about less than three percent of Walgreens locations.

And more trouble for struggling Sears. Sears and Kmart will close 26 more stores in October as the company struggles from bankruptcy. Sears blamed a weak retail environment and warned even more stores could close down the line.

RIPLEY: A Hollywood actor known for playing the villain gets to play a real-life hero, next.


[05:57:23] RIPLEY: Following the Oscars' lead, this year's Emmy awards will go on without a host. The Television Academy and Fox network say the idea is to have more time to salute T.V.'s best shows and the talent behind them.

And this year, plenty of iconic shows like "GAME OF THRONES", "VEEP", and "THE BIG BANG THEORY" all likely to be recognized as they end their runs.

The "PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS" will air September 22nd on Fox.

ROMANS: Actor Danny Trejo playing a real-life hero when a car overturned in a crash in Los Angeles Wednesday. The actor says he rushed to help and along with another bystander rescued a baby from the wreckage.


DANNY TREJO, ACTOR: There was a baby inside and a grandma.

And a young lady, she left -- that young lady. I had to crawl through the window because I couldn't -- I crawled in. I couldn't get the baby out. I couldn't unbuckle the seat belt. So the woman, she got in and undid the seat belt and pulled the baby out of the other side.


ROMANS: Trejo often plays the villain in movies but he's probably best-known for playing an anti-hero.


Scene from "Machete".


ROMANS: Oh, scary. That's the 75-year-old playing the title role in the film "Machete".

RIPLEY: All right, how often do you get to see this? New Braunfels, Texas police in hot pursuit. Yes, that's a zebra right there.

Two of them apparently escaped from a ranch. One was eventually tranquilized and flown by helicopter back to the ranch, but they're still looking for the second one.

ROMANS: Zebra on the lamb in New Braunfels.

RIPLEY: Zebra on the lamb.

ROMANS: There's a zebra on the lamb.

RIPLEY: Look for the stripes.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

RIPLEY: I'm Will Ripley. "NEW DAY" begins right now.


TRUMP: They're very dishonest people.

WHALEY: The victims were grateful that the president came to Dayton.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He cannot allow one minute of one day to go by without it being about him. He's not the consoler in chief, he's the victim in chief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no 'one size fits all' response but we are going to try to come up with some consensus position.

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): This is not a Democratic or Republican thing. This is every goodhearted American who is ready to say enough is enough.


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

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Thursday, August eighth, 6:00 in the East, 4:00 a.m. here in El Paso.

Alisyn is off. Erica Hill joins me this morning from Washington.

So, he came, he saw, he complained. The president back in Washington this morning after a day that was really a strange brew of political combat and consoling.

Here in Dayton -- or sorry, I should say here.