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Source: Jeffrey Epstein Dies After Apparent Hanging In Jail Cell; Beto O'Rourke Joins March, Rally In El Paso After Deadly Mass Shooting; Funerals Begin For Victims Of Dayton Massacre; Will Death Of Jeffrey Epstein Change How Case Moves Forward?; 2020 Democrats Push Gun Reform At Iowa Forum; Trump's New Call For Background Checks Met With Skepticism; Security Officials Have Concerns Over "Easily Created Deepfakes"; Trump Reveals Contents Of New Letter From Kim Jong-un. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired August 10, 2019 - 13:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:00:14] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, again, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Our big breaking news right now, Jeffrey Epstein, a multimillionaire financier-turn accused sex trafficker, is dead. Sources telling CNN that he was discovered in his jail cell early this morning where officials believe he hanged himself. No foul play is suspected. The 66-year-old was in cardiac arrest when he was taken to a hospital and later died.

Epstein was being held on multiple federal charges, which he pled not guilty to in July. The indictment accused him, in part, of soliciting sex from girls as young as 14 years old. He faced 45 years behind bars if found guilty.

CNN Correspondent, Polo Sandoval, and CNN Reporter, Kara Scannell, are tracking the story for us and learning about what happened.

Polo, what are you learning about what happened?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, the Department of Justice, mainly the Bureau of Prison, is confirming that Epstein was found in his cell in the facility's special housing unit this morning at 6:30.

Keep that in mind as we talk about the investigation. Because that's going to be key at this point.

Investigators saying he was found in the SHU this morning. He was unresponsive, rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A law enforcement source is saying he took his own life here, that he hanged himself.

What's important is really what kind of guidelines are in place here. Because the Bureau of Prisons' own guidelines say, "Any inmate who exhibited potential for suicide must be removed from the SHU cell and placed in a designated suicide prevention room."

What's going to be key here is to essentially look back about two weeks to an earlier incident where he was found in his cell at this facility. He had some sort of minor injuries, markings on his neck. He claimed he was assaulted by fellow inmates.

However, authorities, due to privacy reasons, never confirmed whether those minor injuries were sustained because of an assault or if they were possibly self-inflicted. They did, however, say he was placed on suicide watch not long after that.

That brings us to today. The main question here: What kind of conditions was he being held him if authorities at this lower Manhattan facility believed he was a risk for himself, then the Bureau of Prison's own guidelines would require him to be placed in a special suicide prevention room.

However, as we heard from authorities this morning, confirming in their official release, he was found in the special housing unit.

WHITFIELD: OK. Lots of questions as to why he wouldn't be under suicide watch if he was not currently under suicide watch.

All right, Polo.

SANDOVAL: Right.

WHITFIELD: Kara, let me bring you in.

We're hearing from the U.S. attorney general, William Barr, who apparently reportedly is livid over how this could have happened. What can you tell us?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Fred, we've got pretty strong and swift reaction from the Attorney General Barr. He said that -- I want to read part of the statement he released: "Mr. Epstein's death raises serious questions that must be answered. In addition to the FBI's investigation, I have consulted with the inspector general who is opening an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Epstein's death."

So Barr coming out saying that not only is there going to be that FBI investigation that Polo mentioned, but there's also going to be an inspector general investigation to determine how Epstein was able to kill himself in one of the most-strict and heavily surveilled jails in New York City and in the federal system.

This is the same prison that Housed El Chapo, the Mexican drug lord. It's a place that's known for its security.

There are big questions today of how Epstein was able to kill himself. That's what Barr says, that he wants to get to the bottom of it by having the inspector general and FBI begin investigations into this.

WHITFIELD: Yes. El Chapo and Paul Manafort just to name a few, of a place that's used to high-profile inmates, suspects. Polo Sandoval, Kara Scannell, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

My next guest is a former chief psychologist at the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Dr. Selma De Jesus-Zayas. She's joining us right now.

Selma, Doctor, this follows what may have been a potential suicide attempt, still yet to get confirmation on that, just a few weeks ago.

What kind of conditions, adjustments should have been made for Jeffrey Epstein? A high-profile inmate, and possibly one that may have attempted suicide just weeks ago. What kind of watch, you know, should he have been under? What kind of behavior might he have exhibited?

[13:05:02] DR. SELMA DE JESUS-ZAYAS, FORMER CHIEF PSYCHOLOGIST, FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS: Well, I just want to begin by stating that the Bureau of Prisons has one of the most comprehensive suicide watch programs in the nation. And obviously, they'll conduct a thorough investigation, internal investigation as to what happened.

When an inmate such as Epstein comes in, he definitely has all the markings for a suicide. He's a high-risk suicidal inmate. Not only because he's a high-profile inmate, but also because of the nature of the alleged crimes he was being held for.

And so I'm sure that the Bureau of Prisons, because of their internal policies, had a number of -- implemented a number of programs to ensure his safety while he was in prison.

Two weeks ago, he was placed on suicide watch. You might be wondering, and a lot of people are speculating as to why was he released. Most likely than not, when a suicide assessment was conducted to determine the seriousness of his attempt, they also placed him on watch as a result of that assessment. They also included a criteria he needed to meet in order to be removed from suicide watch.

Most likely than not, he did meet that criteria, which is why he was placed back in SHU.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: What would be some of those things?

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: What would be some of those things that would release him from suicide watch?

DE JESUS-ZAYAS: Sure. For example, whether or not he was making statements such as, I'm going to hurt myself. Whether or not his mood has changed, from somebody who was probably crying all the time -- I'm just speculating, I did not see him -- but somebody who might be crying on a regular basis or somebody who is saying, I'm feeling better. All the way to thinking errors that might have been corrected. For

example, thinking that my life is over. I cannot do anything about this. All the way to saying, well, I'm coming to peace with my situation. I think I can handle this. I can cope with it. I have friends, I have family who support me. All the way to anxiety, levels of anxiety.

So there are a number of factors.

Another one, would he be willing to take medication? If he's agreeing to take medication, that helps. Does he have a good relationship with his team?

There are a number of criteria that are implemented. If he were to meet them, and not only one person but a whole team would be looking at it, then he'd be placed back in SHU.

At this point in time, the only question I really have is, why was he housed alone in SHU. Ordinarily, another inmate that was removed from suicide watch and returned to SHU, it still a risk. I would have wanted to see him housed with somebody else. But there might have been reasons why that was not possible.

WHITFIELD: This news, then, is how stunning to you, knowing what you know about this center, the MCC?

DE JESUS-ZAYAS: It's still stunning. The mast of the inmates, there's always something that's difficult. Somebody who is under care and, more so, somebody such as Epstein, who had such a big case ahead of him. I feel for the victims. I also feel actually for his family. I certainly feel for the victims who might not receive the closure that they wanted to.

WHITFIELD: All right. Selma De Jesus-Zayas, thank you so much. Selma, thank you. Appreciate it.

DE JESUS-ZAYAS: Thank you. You bet.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead, marching for change. El Paso, Texas, residents hit the streets a week after that deadly shooting that took place there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:12:38] WHITFIELD: Today, 2020 candidate, Beto O'Rourke, marched with members of the El Paso community left devastated by last week's mass shooting that killed 22 people. The El Paso native and others marched side by side through the streets calling for an end to what they say is President Trump's divisive rhetoric.

Meantime, we also have shocking new video of the moments of that attack. But we do want to warn you these images are very upsetting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(GUNFIRE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no.

(SHOUTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: The cell phone video shows the Walmart parking lot just after last weekend's shooting. You can hear some people calling for help as they lay on the ground, while others run from the scene.

CNN National Correspondent, Natasha Chen, is in El Paso.

People are still gathered there?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fred, they have just wrapped up. People are taking away pieces of equipment. But the one thing they've left up for us to show you are the back fences here where people were asked to sign condolences for the 22 who were killed. "Do not live in fear," it says. "Much love, prayers."

But the interesting one in the middle here is a sign where they were allowed to write messages to lawmakers. This is filled. People are saying, "Say no to NRA." "We need gun reform now." And then, of course, very striking here in blue, "Their blood is on your hands."

So they are putting out a strong message that they want to see some sort of action taken at the very top levels.

They were referencing President Trump today as well, hoping there's some sort of accountability for the words he uses. Because they feel it has strong impact and may empower people to take action in this horrible way.

Of course, presidential candidate, Beto O'Rourke, was up here speaking earlier to the crowd. He had a strong message as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETO O'ROURKE, (D), FORMER CONGRESSMAN & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to remember this. Not only did El Paso bear the brunt of this hatred and this racism perpetrated not just by white nationalists and terrorists and clansmen and Neo-Nazis, but by the very president of the United States himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN: After some of the speakers, people said all the 22 names of the people killed. We also heard from a woman who was injured last week. She was assisted up there with a wheelchair. She said she may be wounded, but she's going to continue and stand up to fight.

[13:15:14] So, Fred, a lot of emotional speeches today, of course, in the shadow of that building right behind us where the suspect is currently being detained.

WHITFIELD: All right, Natasha Chen, in El Paso, Texas, thank you so much.

The other deadly mass shooting that took place last weekend, just hours after what happened in El Paso, that was in Dayton, Ohio. A gunman there killed nine people. Today, several of them are being laid to rest.

CNN National Correspondent, Jason Carroll, is in Dayton right now.

Jason, do officials there know anything more today about what drove that 24-year-old to do what he did?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Investigators say no word on a motive yet. Certainly, Fredricka, there are a number of people here in Dayton, Ohio, who want to know the reasons why. Why this all happened.

But it's also about what's next for this community. And this is a community that is still very much in mourning, trying to remember those who were lost.

Several funerals are going to be held for some of the victims, including the funeral for Beatrice Warren. She was 36. Also, Derrick Fudge, 57 years old. You remember the story about him. He died in his son's arms. Nicholas Cumer, 25. A graduate student. He'll be laid to rest as well today. As well as Logan Turner, 30 years old. And Monica Brickhouse, 39 years old. She was a wife and mother of two small children.

Again, as this community tries to come together trying to remember those who were lost.

Also trying again, investigators, to come up with some sort of motive as to why this all happened.

We spoke to the city manager earlier today. She was trying to manage expectations. Basically saying we may never know a motive for why this all happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHELLEY DICKSTEIN, CITY MANAGER, DAYTON, OHIO: The motive in these situations are extremely difficult. It's really hard to get into somebody's head. We still have no answers as to why his -- why he shot his sister and his friend. We have no answer as to why Sunday morning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: As you can see, right here, at Ned Pepper's, a lot of folks coming out to pay their respects for those who lost their lives.

There's going to be an added police presence out here on the street tonight. This is a community very much, while they're mourning, still on edge.

Just to give you an example of that, Fredricka, we were told earlier there's going to be a sporting event out here in Dayton. Out of respect for those who lost their lives, they won't be holding fireworks. They're not going to be setting off fireworks because the sound of that might set some people off.

So still, this is very much a community very much on edge -- Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: All right, Jason Carroll, thank you so much, in Dayton, Ohio.

So the suicide of this -- what officials are saying is the hanging of Jeffrey Epstein in his jail cell comes at a very important time in that legal case. So will it change how the case moves forward? My legal experts join me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:21:54] WHITFIELD: Welcome back.

We continue to follow this breaking news. Accused sex trafficker, Jeffrey Epstein, is dead. Sources say the multimillionaire financier was found unresponsive in his Manhattan jail cell early this morning. Officials believe he hanged himself. He was transported to a hospital where he died of cardiac arrest. A federal official says no foul play is suspected.

Epstein was being held on multiple federal charges, including soliciting sex from girls as young as 14 years old. He pleaded not guilty in July.

Here now to discuss the legal ramifications of Epstein's death, civil rights attorney, Avery Friedman, and criminal defense attorney, Richard Herman.

Good to see you both.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: So, Richard, you know this MCC, Metropolitan Correctional Facility. How could this happen in your view?

RICHARD HERMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't know how it could happen. It's outrageous. It's so egregious, Fred.

This facility is such a lockdown facility -- they even have a SAMS unit in this facility. I mean, El Chapo was in there. You have terrorists in there. You have the worst --

(CROSSTALK)

HERMAN: -- dangerous gangsters are in this facility. That's my home away from home. We've been down there so many times, Fred.

There's no way anybody on a suicide watch in this facility could have done this. There's no way.

WHITFIELD: What if he was no longer on a suicide watch? Yes, officials say that --

HERMAN: Well, isn't that special?

AVERY FRIEDMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.

WHITFIELD: -- a couple of weeks ago, it appeared that there may have been an attempted suicide or at least something left marks on his neck. Why wouldn't he be on suicide watch if he was not at this juncture.

HERMAN: There were tons of documents released yesterday. A lot of people are going to be incriminated in this case. He's looking at 45 years in prison. The only way for him to reduce that prison time would be to cooperate with the feds and give up the names --

FRIEDMAN: That's right. That's right.

HERMAN: -- of the people he got underage girls for. And he'd have to do that and he would do that.

FRIEDMAN: That's right.

HERMAN: And so a lot of people had good reason to get rid of Jeffrey Epstein. The judge has to investigate this case. Everybody in that facility has to be under investigation. Who got --

(CROSSTALK)

FRIEDMAN: I agree.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: But officials are already quick to --

HERMAN: no suicide watch.

WHITFIELD: But officials are quick to say no foul play suspected.

HERMAN: Of course, they are.

FRIEDMAN: Yes.

HERMAN: They're trying to cover --

(CROSSTALK)

FRIEDMAN: What a bizarre response. What a bizarre response.

The fact is that we have the most serious criminals held in that facility. How on earth -- especially when the U.S. court of appeals for the Second Circuit of New York released transcripts, which had been sealed, which disclosed information about the young girls and other people. The idea of that release Friday and the fact that they discovered the body at about 6:00, 6:30 this morning, Fredricka, requires FBI involvement. Bureau of Prisons has indicated between the inspector general and the

FBI there are questions that need to be answered. At this point, nobody knows the answer.

WHITFIELD: This was already going to be an incredible -- it's shaping up to be an incredible investigation of the what happened involving Epstein when he was living. Now we're talking about an investigation of what happened in his death.

[13:25:05] You've got the attorney general who, you know, via tweet, is saying in a statement he's incensed. He wants to see the inspector general involved --

(CROSSTALK)

FRIEDMAN: Sure.

WHITFIELD: -- investigating the investigators.

Richard, the investigation of this alleged sex trafficking will continue, will it not? Even though Epstein is dead. Now you also may have a separate investigation of, how did he die. What were the events that led up to him being found apparently hanged?

HERMAN: Right. So that's twofold, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

HERMAN: First of all, Judge Berman, who is a wonderful judge, I have total respect for him, in the Southern District, he made a determination no bail, no bond, incarcerate him. Now he has to lead the investigation as to why this man was not protected when he was in custody.

Again, Fred, this facility is one of the biggest lockdown facilities in the United States. This --

(CROSSTALK)

FRIEDMAN: Maybe. Maybe.

HERMAN: There are cameras everywhere. Cameras everywhere. People are watching and monitoring every move of every person in that facility.

As far as the other investigation goes, yes, it will continue, it will continue without Epstein's participation. But there's a lot to go through. There's a lot to look at that Florida deal that was made years ago.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

FRIEDMAN: That's right. That's right. WHITFIELD: If I can add now, Epstein's attorney, Marc Fernich, you

know, has released his personal statement as a result of this death. Also calling for a full investigation into Epstein's death.

HERMAN: Yes.

WHITFIELD: And is now placing blame for the death on several parties, including, "over-zealous prosecutors," I'm quoting now, "Pandering politicians, complaint judges and hysterical press corp."

(CROSSTALK)

FRIEDMAN: Yes, I -- if you're representing him, you make that kind of statement, Fredricka. But the fact is, it's Bureau of Prisons. Each federal agency has an inspector general. That's the way that works. It will be the inspector general working with the FBI to find out how this could possibly happen.

And certainly, it's not above suspicious to think, wait a minute, so many people will be affected by this, so many people will be implicated --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: There were allegations of a lot of prominent names that may have been involved in --

FRIEDMAN: Exactly right.

WHITFIELD: -- knowing or been complicit in the trafficking of these young ladies.

FRIEDMAN: That's exactly right.

HERMAN: I know Marc Fernich. I know Marc Fernich. He's a wonderful lawyer. He's not going to sit down on this one, Fred.

Listen, to be intelligent and discuss this, who was too benefit by Epstein dying? There's so many very powerful, powerful people who would benefit by this. Someone got to his cell.

(CROSSTALK)

HERMAN: I do not believe one second that this was a suicide, Fred. They have to look into this.

FRIEDMAN: Oh, my gosh.

(CROSSTALK)

HERMAN: -- in this facility.

WHITFIELD: A little bit more on that statement word for word coming from Mark Furnish (ph). He says, "There seems to be plenty of blame to go around for this unthinkable tragedy. Overzealous prosecutors" -- (CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: -- "bent on locking up a presumptively innocent man posing no real danger or flight risk."

FRIEDMAN: Well --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: "I speak as an outraged citizen and defense lawyer not as a representative of Jeffrey Epstein's defense team."

FRIEDMAN: Yes, I mean, the bottom line on it is that a defense lawyer can say whatever she or he wants to say. But the idea of blaming politicians for suicide, blaming the media doing their job, as being responsible for this is really outrageous. Look, the idea --

(CROSSTALK)

FRIEDMAN: The idea of Richard saying, well, it doesn't seem like a suicide or -- I mean, it's preposterous. As if somebody was behind it? No.

HERMAN: Yes.

FRIEDMAN: He committed suicide. But documents that were released --

(CROSSTALK)

HERMAN: How do you know?

FRIEDMAN: That's what triggered it.

How do you know it's some other person?

(CROSSTALK)

HERMAN: I don't know. They have to investigate it, that's why.

(CROSSTALK)

HERMAN: Who stood to gain by him dying? Who stood to gain --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: So it has provoked -- it has provoked a lot of questions about --

HERMAN: I'm talking, you can't hear me.

WHITFIELD: Yes. It has provoked a lot of --

(CROSSTALK)

HERMAN: Who stood to gain the most by him dying, Fred?

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: And it has provoked a lot of questions about --

HERMAN: Individuals involved with him.

(CROSSTALK)

FRIEDMAN: How about the victims?

WHITFIELD: Still, Avery and Richard --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: -- unresolved here

(CROSSTALK)

FRIEDMAN: -- about the victims.

WHITFIELD: Unresolved here is how these victims are feeling, now learning that he's taken his own life. We've heard from some of the attorneys representing some of the accusers who feel like they will still pursue Epstein's estate by way of perhaps civil cases.

FRIEDMAN: As they should.

WHITFIELD: They don't feel as if the case is closed as a result of the death of Jeffrey Epstein.

Really appreciate your candor and expertise --

HERMAN: Thanks a lot.

WHITFIELD: -- Richard and Avery. Thank you so much.

[13:30:00] HERMAN: OK, Fred, thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIAN CASTRO, (D), FORMER HOUSING SECRETARY & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would do things like redefine by executive authority what constitutes a firearms dealer.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): I'll take executive action in every corner, with the Department of Justice, with ATF, to move as much as I can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Democratic candidates are in Iowa today telling voters how they plan to solve the gun violence problem in the U.S.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Gun violence front and center today in Iowa as the 2020 candidates gather at a gun reform forum hosted by Every Town for Gun Safety.

Sixteen candidates are there laying out their visions for how to curb gun violence, including Julian Castro, who detailed a plan to redefine what a firearm deal is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CASTRO: I would maximize the executive authority because we know that we may face a Congress, a Senate that is still led by Mitch McConnell.

I would do things like redefine by executive authority what constitutes a firearms dealer. So that anyone who sells five guns or more in a year is considered a firearms dealer and needs to get a license and conduct background checks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: CNN's Arlette Saenz joins me next from the forum in Des Moines.

[13:35:03] Arlette, you know, Senator Elizabeth Warren also had things to say. She just wrapped up her rollout of a gun reform plan. How was it received?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Fred, it was received well in this room. She got several rounds of applause throughout her speech. Elizabeth Warren is setting this goal of trying to reduce gun deaths in this country by 80 percent.

Some of the ways she wants to tackle that is by expanding a universal background check. Also banning assault weapons. She's also calling for a federal licensing system for people who buy guns and ammunitions.

Elizabeth Warren is also one of the candidates who is calling on Walmart to stop selling guns in their stores.

Take a listen to a little bit of what she had to tell the attendees here at this forum earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN: I come to you, I know, with these latest shootings in El Paso, in Dayton, at a time of sorrow in our country but a time of real determination. We are going to make change. We are going to pass gun safety laws in this country.

That means we're going to reduce gun deaths. We are going to make this a Congress, make this a government that is responsive to the will of the people. That's why we're here.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SAENZ: Now 15 other Democratic presidential candidates are also speaking to the group, former Vice President Joe Biden being one of those.

He started out his remarks also speaking in very personal terms. Talking about the grief that people experience when their loved ones are victims of gun violence. Talking about his own experience with grief. Also talked about his work trying to take on the NRA in the past when he passed the assault weapons ban as part of the 1994 crime bill.

You're hearing these candidates lay out the ways that they feel they can try to stem this issue of gun violence in the country.

Many of them also saying that the president, Republicans and the NRA are, in part, to blame for the inaction that they have seen so far -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right. Arlette Saenz, thank you so much.

Let's talk more about all of this. Joining me now Matt Lewis, a senior columnist for "The Daily Beast" and a CNN political commentator. Also with me, Democratic Strategist, Aisha Moodie-Mills.

Thanks for being with me this Saturday.

Aisha, you first.

You know, you've got 16 Democratic candidates today in Iowa speaking about gun control reform. Today, Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced a sweeping gun control plan, saying, if elected president, she'd sign an executive order for background checks and push for laws to ban assault weapons.

Has the mood in the country shifted enough that these Democratic candidates feel like they've got some momentum here?

AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, just to clarify, the Democrats have always been the leading voices on the fact that we should have some gun control in this country.

Look, let's remember President Obama, in tears, talked about, after children were killed in Massachusetts, that we needed to do anything.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

MOODIE-MILLS: The fact that we are still in a place where we're having partisan conversations about people's lives, about the fact that they're literally, no matter what partisan persuasion you are, there are people who have been gunned down more than any other country in the world.

So surely these Democrats have their own visions, their own plans. But at the end of the day, the Democrats are the ones that have been trying to move something. Nancy Pelosi passed in the House earlier this year a comprehensive

bill that had background checks. As the president, the current President Trump came in, he decided he was going to do away with Obama-era background checks.

The fact that we're having this partisan bickering is the problem.

I just don't understand why Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and the rest of them are so beholden to the NRA that, at this point, they love guns more than they love Americans.

WHITFIELD: So then, Matt, you know, the president says he does support -- he said it yesterday. He does support meaningful background check legislation and so-called red flag laws to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

But does he really have the support from the Senate, Mitch McConnell, or the NRA or even voters? Are they in his corner on this?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I'm skeptical when Donald Trump says it because he's said things like that before about assault weapons ban, things like that.

Dianne Feinstein was excited with one meeting with President Trump, and then Trump doesn't follow through with it. That's a different question whether he should or whether it's good politics.

In terms of optimism or skepticism about what Donald Trump says, I'll believe it when I see it.

WHITFIELD: What does he mean when he says meaningful background checks? He said it like --

MOODIE-MILLS: Nothing.

WHITFIELD: -- 11 times yesterday.

[13:39:59] LEWIS: I think one possibility is - and this would give Donald Trump an out -- would be, would a background check have stopped one of these tragedies. That may not be the case. That may be why he says ultimately it's not meaningful.

The other laws that might deal with mental health, the ability -- the red flag laws, that's a different story. And maybe that's where this ends up going.

WHITFIELD: Aisha, along with gun control, particularly one week after these two mass shootings, you've got candidates who are rolling out their proposals. At the same time, you have a host of candidates, nearly the majority, who are willing to call the president a white supremacist. I mean, just take a look at how many are willing to label the president as such.

Is this a winning strategy, Matt? Might that potentially backfire? Is it going too far or is it right on point, according to the perception and view of American voters and their appetite? MOODIE-MILLS: Yes, I think it's always a winning strategy to tell the

truth. I think it is always on point to call out craziness, racism, bigotry, hostility.

Let's keep in mind that perhaps if folks started calling out Hitler sooner, there might have been some more consciousness and awakening that stopped some of the devastation that he created and the brutal murder of so many lives.

I do believe it's always right on course, the right message and the right tone to ring the alarm.

The question to whether that's a political strategy that's going to help elect some Democrats or, you know, push Donald Trump back into office, I believe in what the polls have shown is that the vast majority of Americans are good decent people who are not racist, who are not white supremacists.

The vast majority of Americans, in fact, are embarrassed this is what's happening right now. That so many people are attached to Donald Trump who are people who are white supremacists.

I think by having this conversation, it's a reminder to mothers, for example, who might have voted for him the first time. It's a reminder to people who are living in the suburbs who live in diverse communities, that, wait a minute, this guy doesn't represent and reflect the values that we represent and reflect as Americans.

And so I think that for all of us, be it the candidates, be it people in the media or otherwise, to constantly ring the alarm about the fact this guy is a fascist, as well as a white supremacist, and to talk about that and keep that top of mind.

Anybody who wants to affiliate with them, they're going to need to do a gut check about whether this is the kind of person they want to support and lift up.

Yes, I think that everybody should keep talking about this more and more and more.

WHITFIELD: Matt, you want a quick response on that?

LEWIS: Yes. I just quickly I would say the Democrats care about winning, they just have to be careful. If white folks who live -- by the way, the election is about the Electoral College. So places like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, that's where the election will probably be decided.

If white folks believe that they're being implicated, that they're being accused of being white supremacists, not just the president, but they are, and, by the way, Democrats wants to register your guns, with licensing, which ultimately they might fear as gun confiscation, this helps reelect Donald Trump.

Democrats need to be careful that they don't inadvertently help reelect Donald Trump. WHITFIELD: We'll leave it there for now.

Matt Lewis, Aisha Moodie-Mills, good to see you both.

LEWIS; Thank you.

WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.

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[13:47:31] This weekend, in Las Vegas, two groups getting together. You wouldn't think they'd be very friendly with each other. Washington lawmakers and intelligence types rubbing shoulders with high-tech hackers. It's one of the world's biggest gatherings of hackers. Those hackers even managed to get their hands on some electronic voting machines.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan is in Las Vegas.

Tell us how this collaboration is working.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN TECHNOLOGY & POLITICS REPORTER: That's right, Fred. Lots of stuff is happening here this weekend in Las Vegas.

As you mentioned, they have a whole pile of voting machines where hackers are letting loose to try and show the vulnerabilities in voting machines that are used in America.

Also happening here this week is a talk of deepfake video. Deepfakes are made using artificial intelligence and they can make it appear as if somebody has said something they never really said. They're quite convincing.

The Intelligence Community and experts are worried about how America's adversaries could be used in potential future disinformation campaigns.

The Democratic National Party created their own deepfake this week and showed it here yesterday. It shows Tom Perez -- I think we're going to play it for you now. Just a reminder, this is not a real video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB LORD, CHIEF SECURITY OFFICER, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: So what we wanted to do is set up an experiment to really start to participate and to highlight some of the concerns we have around deepfakes, in particular, but also disinformation in general.

So we went through a program where we worked with some university researchers to model my face and allow me to speak a little speech about what people should look for to identify deepfakes. Then we put that onto video of Tom.

O'SULLIVAN: Can you talk us through how the deepfake was made?

LORD: So at home, I set up a big tarp with just a white background. And then I would speak into my web cam. They put that into the computer. And then they took lots of video of Tom Perez. He was on CSPAN and a lot of other stock footage. Put that into the computer. Then they were able to match them up so that, whenever I spoke, it moved Tom's lips.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'SULLIVAN: So you can imagine, in 2020, you know, if a tape, whether it be audio or video, were to drop of a candidate, and with this sort of technology, you know, really questioning, is it real or is it fake. If it's a fake video, that could cause confusion. But also a real damaging tape of a candidate could emerge and that candidates might be able to claim, well, it's a deepfake.

[13:50:14] WHITFIELD: And it's very frightening because it looks pretty convincing until one gets the explanation like that.

Donie O'Sullivan, thank you so much.

All right, President Trump revealing a few details today about the letter he says he received from North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. This, as North Korea launched a new round of short-range ballistic missiles. We'll talk about that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: President Trump says Kim Jong-un wants to restart nuclear negotiations once joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea are over. Trump tweeting out today that the request came in a new letter sent to him by the North Korean dictator.

Those tweets coming just hours after North Korea conducted another round of short-range missile tests.

Sarah Westwood is in New Jersey for us, near where the president is vacationing at his resort in Bedminster.

Sarah, what else are we learning about this letter?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, President Trump said this letter he received from Kim Jong-un was mostly about Kim Jong-un's frustrations with the fact that the U.S. and South Korea are conducting joint military exercises in the region.

[13:55:06] Trump yesterday said this letter was about three pages. And in his tweets this morning, he described it as being a very long letter.

But he said that the North Korean director expressed a promise that those short-range missile tests would end after the end of the joint military exercises. Those are something that the North Korean leader has long disliked.

He's pressured the U.S. to end them, but they're part of a very strong demonstration of the U.S./South Korean military alliance. But those drills, which have been scaled back this year on orders from

President Trump, come as Trump is channeling his frustrations into the relationship with South Korea.

Just this week, for example, we saw him demand that Seoul contribute more to its defense, contribute more to the cost of basing thousands of U.S. troops in South Korea. And aides say President Trump has expressed frustration with the fact that Seoul hasn't done more to contain the aggression of Pyongyang.

Trump also mentioned in that letter, Fred, that he would like to sit down with Kim Jong-un, but the North Korean leader wants to wait until those military drills are over before restarting denuclearization talks.

WHITFIELD: All right. Sarah Westwood, thank you so much.

The U.S. attorney general says investigations will take place after Jeffrey Epstein died by an apparent suicide in his New York jail cell.

Stay with us.

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[14:00:09] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.