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Six Days Since Two More Mass Shootings In America; A President Stepping Into The Role Of Consoler-In-Chief Is A Necessary Part Of The Job; Panic At A Missouri Walmart When An Armed Man Walks Through The Store. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 9, 2019 - 14:00   ET


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: ... to give up. So these protests which are now in their 10th consecutive week, it is two months exactly today since these protests began. From the look of it, here at the airport and from what we're hearing is going to be happening over the weekend, these protests are not about to end -- Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: All right, thanks, Ben. That's it for me. NEWSROOM with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there, you're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin, thank you for being with me on this Friday afternoon. It has been six days since two more mass shootings in America -- the 15th and 16th of this year -- with four or more people killed, and it is only August.

Six days of survivors planning surgeries, of families planning funerals, and nothing. Eighteen months since more teenagers were killed in their high school. Nothing. Three years since nearly 50 people were killed at a nightclub. Nothing. Seven years since first graders -- first graders -- were killed inside their classroom. Nothing.

Six days and nothing at the Federal level except for a ban on bump stocks has been done to take on this problem. And today the President is going on vacation. Congress is on vacation, and they won't come back to deal with a nation in crisis.

Mitch McConnell says "We will talk about it in September." In a month. So in a span of 14 hours, two mass shootings in two American cities, and Congress wants to wait until September, despite Americans demanding change -- it seems nothing ever does when it comes to the work for people who actually work for Americans.

And now once again, just like yesterday was and seven years ago was, September, maybe too late.

To the White House now where before departing for the Hamptons for a fundraiser, the President admitted the country, quote, "needs intelligent background checks," but he didn't offer any specific ideas on taking action in the immediate aftermath of this week's mass shootings.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On background checks, we have tremendous support for really common sense, sensible, important background checks.

I think with a lot of success that we have, I think I have a greater influence now over the Senate and over the House.

QUESTION: Are we going to get gun laws --

TRUMP: I think we could get something really good done. This isn't a question of NRA, Republican or Democrat. I will tell you, I spoke to Mitch McConnell yesterday. He is totally on board.


BALDWIN: CNN's Kaitlan Collins is live at the White House. And so Kaitlan, what do we know about any further action the President may be considering?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the President says there that the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is totally on board. But he doesn't say exactly with what and we know that despite a radio interview yesterday where McConnell said that the Senate would consider some kind of new legislation potentially, as you noted, when they get back from their vacation, he didn't say any specific legislation that he was going to endorse.

And his office came out after the President made those remarks and made clear that he has not endorsed any legislation yet on that. So the President says they've got this tremendous support from congressional lawmakers, not just Democrats, including Republicans. But we should note, there are less than a handful of Republicans who are on the record supporting any kind of specific legislation related to these background checks. Now, that could change with all the pressure that they're facing. But right now, that's not the case.

However, today, the President also sounded confident that he could change the mind of the gun lobby, the NRA, which has changed the President's mind on more restrictive gun measures in the past. Today, he is sounding hopeful that maybe that can be reversed this time around.


TRUMP: I had a good talk with Wayne, and I like Wayne. And you know, as you know, they supported me very early, far earlier than anybody thought possible; especially me not being a politician.

There's been no President, and that feels more strongly about the Second Amendment that I do. However, we need meaningful background checks so that sick people don't get guns.

I think in the end, I think in the end, Wayne and the NRA will either be there or maybe will be a little bit more neutral, and that would be okay, too. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Brooke, that Wayne that the President is referencing there is the NRA chief, Wayne LaPierre, who, based on our reporting in multiple phone calls this week has told the President that his supporters are not going to be in favor of expanding those background checks, making them stricter.

And in a statement yesterday, the NRA said that they are not in favor of these potential law changes and legislation that they say would infringe on the rights of these law-abiding Americans who have guns.

So right now, no new statements from Republicans or the NRA that says they are going to be on board on these expansive background checks and measures that the President has said he wants to support even though the President is saying there is that support right now.

[14:05:08] BALDWIN: Kaitlan, thank you -- at the White House. We also have new details this afternoon into the El Paso shooting investigation.

Sources tell CNN the alleged gunman, during interviews of various detectives revealed one of the reasons why he chose El Paso to carry out the rampage, driving for nearly 11 hours more than 600 miles because the suspect told police he thought it would be wrong to commit the attack in his hometown near Dallas, because he didn't want his family and acquaintances to find out about it.

Tim Archuleta is the Editor of "The El Paso Times." Tim, your reporting has been incredible. You're live. You hear me, Tim?


BALDWIN: Okay. I know you've been following this --

ARCHULETA: How are you, Brooke?

BALDWIN: I'm -- it's been a sad week for everyone is the honest answer to that. I know you've been following the investigation really closely. What do you make of the new details?

ARCHULETA: Well, it's just -- it's really been a crazy week. New developments, I believe that we -- you know, we've done a really good job of explaining the motive for the attack, and trying to explain how the city has had to deal with this, the hurt that's being felt by people here in El Paso.

BALDWIN: But specifically, the fact that the shooter told detectives that he didn't want his family and acquaintances to find out it was him. So he drove all the way to where you are to get far from Dallas, your thoughts on that?

ARCHULETA: Well, we've always known that he was an outsider. And, you know, we knew this wouldn't be coming from our folks. Our folks don't have that kind of hate in their hearts. So, we've been reporting on that. It's been known for really quickly after the shooting occurred, that that's the actions that he was taking. It's a sad -- it's a sad confirmation of a really, really tragic story.

BALDWIN: We also wanted to talk to you about are this powerful letter to the President of the United States, right, that was published the day he visited your city. And let me just read part of it. You wrote, "Our people are scared. Many of us feel our city is still viewed as a target. But El Paso does not lash out in anger even when we are treated unfairly. In El Paso, we won't ever look at someone who is different with prejudice in our hearts. The hatred that came to us came from an outsider, it did not come from El Paso." So what effect did the President's visit have on your city?

ARCHULETA: I think it had multiple effects. It just depends on you know, what your perspective is on the shooting? I think that our community proved itself -- proved those words. Yes, we're going to stand up for ourselves and we're going to speak up and defend El Paso. But we're not going to lash out.

I'm very, very proud of our community for keeping it's cool. But also being very vocal that this was a really, really unfair thing for El Paso. It's an unfair thing for the community and for the city's proud history of being a place where outsiders are welcomed. Where we get along with each other, where diversity is celebrated, where the border is an opportunity for prosperity.

And so I think our community has responded, you know, wonderfully. You look at the memorial here at the scene here, and there's lots of love and gratefully, lots of peace.

BALDWIN: No, you can -- you can feel the love. You can feel the love from all the people who have stopped by and everyone I've talked to, my colleagues there and El Paso, but I can't let you go without talking about this little baby boy, Tim.

The photo that the First Lady tweeted out, so just for perspective, for everyone watching. This little baby, two months old, the baby is going to grow up without either his parents because his mother and father died shielding him from the gunfire in El Paso.

And so CNN has learned that the baby had been discharged from the hospital, but was actually brought back to meet the President. Now, the family says they wanted to share their pain with the President, which they have every right to do.

But, Tim, when you look at the First Lady and the President's faces and the smiles and the thumbs up, what did you think?

ARCHULETA: You know, I really don't want to get into the politics of this. You know, we're still deeply involved in the reporting --

BALDWIN: Is it politics or is it a decency?

ARCHULETA: Well, you know, the United States has had a proud history of the Office of the Presidency coming during these kinds of tragic situations. That's really all I want to say about it, Brooke.

BALDWIN: You've got it. You got it. I won't push you whatsoever. Phenomenal reporting this week. I'm so sorry about what happened and your beautiful city. Tim Archuleta, the Editor of "The El Paso Times." Tim, thank you very much.

[14:10:13] BALDWIN: Obviously, you know, this isn't the first time a sitting President has had to deal with a tragedy that resonated across the country and really around the world.

Here's an example of how past Presidents have dealt with traumas such as the Oklahoma City bombing, the terror attacks on 9/11, the Challenger explosion, and the deadly attack on the African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let us let our own children know that we will stand against the forces of fear. When there is talk of hatred, let us stand up and talk against it.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And it is a great country. It's a great country because we share the same values of respect and dignity and human worth.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger honored as for the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them nor the last time we saw them this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye, and slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (Singing "Amazing Grace.") Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound ...


BALDWIN: That was so powerful. Stepping into the role of Consoler- in-Chief, it is a necessary part of the job. CNN presidential historian, Doug Brinkley is with me and just going through those moments, Republican Presidents, Democratic Presidents. Tell me why it's so important to get it right.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Because the American people have a representative and that's their President, and the President is supposed to be able to show the grief of the country. That's our spokesperson, our Rabbi, our minister at that moment -- all three of those clips you played, they are memorable because they healed the country.

Unfortunately, this week what President Trump didn't follow in that tradition, he instead had politics on his mind; he did tweet swipes in Dayton, Democratic politicians and then talked about how his crowd size is bigger than Beto O'Rourke's in El Paso; and then we just saw that awful thumbs up with a baby who has just lost both of parents.

BALDWIN: Both his parents.

BRINKLEY: It's just heart wrenching. So, the President has flunked this week, and that, as a counselor pulling the country together in our time of tragedy.

BALDWIN: Even White House insiders have said that the trip to Dayton and El Paso was -- quoting, "a debacle." But you know, I think my mind goes to -- remember when the President was in Puerto Rico tossing those -- what was it? Toilet paper rolls out into the crowd, and he was criticized for that. And this is a man who has spent -- there it was -- this is a man who has spent, you know, working in television, has been in front of cameras for years. Why do you think he hasn't mastered the art of the image?

BRINKLEY: He has no real empathy. I think, part of his Trump brand, the narcissism that made him so strong and powerful and rich just doesn't have the heart and the feeling. He is seeing every situation from what's in it for Trump, instead of being able to naturally feel the pain of a community.

He did not help heal Dayton or El Paso. I'm glad he went, incidentally, I thought the President needed to go so in that regard, he did well, but when he brings in the petty politics and can't take a timeout, it just continues to divide our country more and that is his strategy not unite, and in a sense of national prayer, but continue to pour a fire on this -- the cultural war we're in the middle of right now.

BALDWIN: There is a new reporting from "Axios" today. They are reporting that the Trump campaign officials actually think that seeing these Democratic candidates, just a few have come out and called him a white supremacist, they actually think it will help him win in 2020. That it's alienating people who think that they're going too far. What do you think?

BRINKLEY: We saw Joe Biden carefully not just say white supremacist, it's -- the Democrats have to do a lot of things. I mean, they're going to have to prove that they can make a better economy and make your life better. But I do think Trump is in trouble with these policies on children.

If all the Democrats are going to do is take commercials and showing kids in cages, and then the little girl crying in Mississippi due to the I.C.E. raid and the dead girl on the Rio Grande -- his rhetoric is by anybody's estimation inflaming the country. The idea that he is going to be able to use Charlottesville as a winning strategy, which is the white supremacy strategy, I'm dubious about that because in the end, it's all about the center and Donald Trump barely won in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and he's going to perform better there.

I don't see how being a racist or behaving in a racist or behaving in a racist way is a winning strategy, but it does help him with his base. It does mobilize money, and it keeps him kind of together as a fist of the alternative right.

[14:15:18] BALDWIN: Doug Brinkley, thank you very much. We appreciate you. And another case of America on edge. Panic at a Missouri Walmart when an armed man walks through the store. What we've learned about who he is and what he was doing. Plus Walmart will not stop selling guns, but is pulling something out. And two more open positions in crucial roles in the government with top officials in charge of National Intelligence out the revolving door. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


[14:20:37] BALDWIN: No question this country is on edge right now. So, just consider this. Just days after those two mass shootings, a young man armed with a rifle and wearing body armor surrender to police after he walked into a Missouri Walmart and just started pushing a cart. Customers obviously panicked. The store manager pulled the fire alarm, a witness described what happened next.


JEREMY LAUDERDALE, WITNESSED WALMART INCIDENT: A real loud siren goes off for like a second, and then they say, "Suspected fire. Possible fire. Exit immediately." There was an employee standing there and I was like -- looked at him like that and he's like, "I don't know." This lady was screaming and shouting "Get out now. Get out. Get out."

LT. MIKE LUCAS, SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI POLICE DEPARTMENT: There were a lot of people hiding outside behind these barriers and businesses and it was pretty, pretty chaotic for a couple of minutes.


Omar Jimenez is following this one for us, and Omar, no shots fired. So who is this guy? And what was he doing?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, at this point, police have identified him as Dimitri Andreychenko. This 20-year-olds -- his background is still unclear at this point. But you touched on the main piece of good news, no shots fired and no one injured in this.

Now, what they are trying to piece together at this point in the investigation is what motivated him to do this. We know when he walked into this Walmart, according to police, he was filming himself on his cell phone. For what purpose? We still do not know. And then pushing a shopping cart through the store.

And again, as you mentioned earlier, that was what prompted the manager to pull the fire alarm and for people to evacuate as quickly as possible. And in the process of all of that, this man tried to casually stroll out of the store where he was confronted by an off duty firefighter who was also wielding a weapon and detained this man, Andreychenko, until police arrived just a few minutes later.

But here is how police described their arrival to the scene, again, just about three minutes later.


LUCAS: He walked in here heavily armed with body armor on, in military fatigues and caused a great amount of panic inside the store. So he certainly had the capability and the potential to harm people.

He was compliant with us. But his intent was not to cause peace or comfort to anybody that was in the business here. In fact, he is lucky he is alive still to be honest.


JIMENEZ: And let's remember what he looked like when he came in. He was wearing that almost military-like style clothing. He was armed with that assault rifle as well, and it is important to note that Missouri is an open carry state, but it is illegal to carry a weapon with lethal capacity when it is being done in a threatening manner.

And I think at least it is safe to say a lot of people here felt at least a little bit threatened as they evacuated the store on that front. And while we know the man's identity at this point, police say they hope to be able to release more information about him once charges are officially filed. But they told us they arrested him for making terrorist threats in the first degree -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: I keep thinking of the police officer still again saying, "This guy is lucky to be alive." Omar Jimenez. Thank you, Omar.

More on the heat that Walmart has really been feeling this week. Stores are pulling violent video game displays, but they won't stop selling the video games themselves or the guns in the store. So, is this the thoughtful and deliberate response that the CEO promised?

And up next, the top two people in charge of America's intelligence are gone. Hear what the latest news on their departure and what they told the President in a handwritten note.


[14:28:45] BALDWIN: As the nation is in the midst of a trade war with China, a face-off with Iran and a siren call about Russian interference in the 2020 election, there was a monster shake up happening in the U.S. Intelligence Community. The country's top two Intelligence officials are leaving.

We are learning today that the number two official is departing out of quote-unquote "respect and patriotism, but not preference." You see those words of Sue Gordon written by hand to the President when she officially resigned as Deputy Director of National Intelligence. She is now leaving next week with her boss, DNI, Dan Coats.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff says the loss of both of them is quote "devastating." But the President said today, he is not in a rush to fill their spots because he has such confidence in the man who he just named to be the acting Director of National Intelligence. Retired Vice Admiral Joseph McGuire.


TRUMP: McGuire is an excellent Admiral, highly respected, great leader. He is acting right now. Sue did a great job. I like Sue Gordon very much.


BALDWIN: McGuire now joins a dozen others in the Trump administration as quote-unquote "acting members," a temporary designation.

So Bob Bair, let's talk to you. Former CIA operative and CNN intelligence and security analyst and let me play this first. Just a week ago, Sue Gordon said this about President Trump.