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STATE OF THE UNION

Interview With Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan; Interview With Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ); Interview With Presidential Candidate Beto O'Rourke. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired August 11, 2019 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:20]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Nation in crisis.

After two mass shootings, Democrats blame President Trump for a rising tide of hate.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He didn't pull the trigger, but he has certainly been tweeting out the ammunition.

TAPPER: The president says he wants to prevent gun violence.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we could get something really good done.

TAPPER: But will this time be any different?

I will speak with Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke next.

Plus: massive raids, children separated from parents, as hundreds of undocumented immigrants are swept up by ICE. The president calls those raids a good deterrent.

TRUMP: They may get in, but it doesn't matter, because they're going out.

TAPPER: Why were families targeted? I will speak to acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan in moments.

And all in Iowa. Democrats take the soapbox at the Iowa State Fair.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The story of this state is the story of America.

TAPPER: Whose message is resonating with caucus-goers? Presidential candidate Senator Cory Booker joins me next.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is appalled. We begin this morning with a retweet from the president of the United

States, not a message about healing or uniting the country one week after two horrifying massacres, not about the victims of those tragedies.

Instead, President Trump using his massive Twitter platform, 63 million followers, to spread a deranged conspiracy theory, tying the death of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein in prison to the president's former political rivals the Clintons.

I'm not going to show you the tweet, but the spokesperson for former President Bill Clinton responded to the president retweeting it, saying -- quote -- "Ridiculous and, of course, not true, and Donald Trump knows it. Has he triggered the 25th Amendment yet?"

President Trump could use his megaphone for anything. But the president often uses it to amplify that which is the worst of us, personal attacks, bigotry, and insane conspiracy theories.

Officials say Epstein died by apparent suicide while in the custody of the federal government. The attorney general, William Barr, released a statement opening an investigation into how this happened, saying he was -- quote -- "appalled" and saying "Mr. Epstein's death raises serious questions that must be answered" -- unquote.

This is, of course, not the first time that President Trump has chosen to use his amplified voice to spread conspiracies. He lied about President Obama's birthplace. He suggested Ted Cruz's father might have been involved in the JFK assassination. He lied that he saw American Muslims on TV celebrating 9/11, when there is no such tape.

President Trump has also given voice to the lie that the migrant and refugee crisis at the Southern border of the U.S. is a plot by Jewish billionaire George Soros to fund a -- quote -- "invasion."

That is a conspiracy theory that was the motive for mass slaughter in Pittsburgh and El Paso.

This is no longer just irresponsible and indecent. It is dangerous.

Joining me now from his hometown of El Paso, after having canceled his campaign events for the week to deal with the mourning citizens in his city, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke.

Congressman O'Rourke, we have a lot to get to.

I do want to get your reaction to the president retweeting this unhinged conspiracy theory, without any evidence, linking Epstein's death by apparent suicide to a murder by the Clintons.

What was your reaction when you saw the tweets?

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is another example of our president using this position of public trust to attack his political enemies with unfounded conspiracy theories, and also to try to force you and me and all of us to focus on his bizarre behavior, instead of the fact that we just lost 22 people in this community, nine people in Dayton, Ohio, we're seeing an epidemic of gun violence every single day in this country.

And the attack in El Paso, that terrorist attack in El Paso, was motivated in part by the president constantly warning of invasions and infestations and predators and Mexican immigrants who he described as rapist and criminals, though we know they commit crimes at a far lower rate than those who are born in this country.

He's changing the conversation. And if we allow him to do that, then we will never be able to focus on the true problems, of which he is a part, and make sure that we get to the solutions, now, whether that means legislation that keeps guns out of the hands of those who shouldn't have it, or focusing on domestic terrorism of white supremacists that his own FBI director warned us about.

And then you reported this week that his Department of Homeland Security has been begging the president to focus on the kinds of threats that we saw in El Paso, and he's ignored them or willfully suppressed action on those ideas and those programs and those policies that could have saved lives in El Paso and across the country.

[09:05:18]

TAPPER: Let's talk about some of those solutions.

I do want to ask you about President Trump visiting El Paso, visiting the University Medical Center hospital this week, which I know you visited as well. The president praised the doctors there, but in a video, a cell phone video that has made -- been made public, he also bragged about his last rally in El Paso in February.

And he attacked you. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: That was some crowd.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The president also took a photo I want to show with a 2- month-old baby. The parents of that child had died trying to save the baby.

President Trump in that picture with this now orphaned child, big smile, thumbs up.

What did the people of El Paso tell you about the president's visit? Did he offer them any comfort?

O'ROURKE: The people of El Paso told me that they didn't want to see the president and they didn't want him to come here.

They understand that he's part of the problem. His constant warnings of invasion and infestation, his description of El Paso as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States -- and he didn't say it once. He said it repeatedly, though we are one of, if not the safest cities in the United States of America -- helped to cause somebody to drive more than 600 miles to kill people in this community.

Not a single patient at University Medical Center or Del Sol Hospital, the two hospitals caring for survivors of that attack, wanted to see the president.

That says it all, if you ask me.

But for him then to focus on comparing political rallies or on himself, on how much people love him just shows you how sick this guy is and how unfit for this office. He should be consoling people, bringing people together, focusing on their pain and improving their lives.

And, instead, he's focused on himself.

TAPPER: Let's talk about some of the solutions that you were talking about earlier.

You were asked in May whether you supported a plan for federal gun licensing. You said it might go too far.

I'm wondering what you think now, after the El Paso and Dayton massacres, if you feel the same way, or if maybe your mind is opening about that. That is a proposal that Senator Booker and some of your other rivals are out there talking about.

O'ROURKE: We should do it. We should have a national licensing program in this country.

I also said at the time it is something that is worth discussing, looking at. I want to learn more.

I have. I have listened to my fellow Americans, my fellow Texans, my fellow El Pasoans. This makes sense. It will save lives.

And in conjunction with universal background checks, closing all loopholes, ending the of weapons of war into our communities like the one that was used in El Paso, and red flag laws that stop people who own a firearm before it is too late, before they hurt themselves or someone else, we can end this epidemic of gun violence that will claim more than 40,000 lives this year, happening every single day in almost every single community.

So I think it is a proposal that makes sense, and one that I would want to implement as president.

TAPPER: The response that you would get from a lot of Texans, I would think, even some Democratic Texans, would be, hey, the people who do these mass shootings, criminals who commit crimes with guns, they don't care what the gun laws are, they're not going to abide by the gun laws, they're not going to get a license for a gun, they're just going to buy an illegal gun and commit the crime.

What would be your response to that?

O'ROURKE: Then why pass any law, and why be a nation of laws?

I think we pass those laws that we know will improve our lives, save lives, protect our fellow Americans. And then we have to vigorously enforce those laws.

And, as, president I would. It is the only way that we're going to save the lives of our fellow Americans that we are losing at a frightening pace right now, at a pace that no other country is seeing around the world.

And we either accept that this is our lot and our future and our fate, and we are inherently violent or evil or bad, or that this is a human- caused problem with a human solution.

And we know that, in those states that have adopted these licenses, or have adopted universal background checks, or have stopped the sales of weapons of war, that we are saving lives.

So let's adopt these solutions nationally and make sure that, without taking anyone's Second Amendment rights away, that we save the lives of our fellow Americans.

[09:10:00]

TAPPER: You said to me last week that you thought President Trump was a white nationalist.

I just wonder, sir. President Trump won your home state of Texas by nine points. Almost 63 million Americans voted for him. Do you think it is racist to vote for President Trump in 2020?

O'ROURKE: I think it is really hard, after everything that we have seen, from his time as a candidate in 2016, to his repeated warnings of invasions, to his repeated calls to send them back, sending back people who are U.S. citizens, sending back people who were born in this country, his description of white nationalists and Klansmen and neo-Nazis as very fine people, his warnings of Muslims as being somehow inherently defective or dangerous and attempting to ban them from entry into this country, his transgender troop ban, and his attack on anyone who does not look like or pray like or love like the majority of the country.

Yes, Donald Trump is dangerous to the future of America, and will destroy what makes us so unique and so special and the genius that we represent to ourselves and to the rest of the world.

And so I appeal to my fellow Americans to choose a candidate who will bring this very divided and highly polarized country together, who will work on the issues before us, whether it is health care, or an economy that includes everyone, or immigration, or confronting climate before it is too late, and doing it in a way that speaks to the best of us, that is ambitious, that is not fearful of the future and does not try to divide us on our differences.

That is exactly what Donald Trump is doing right now.

TAPPER: Congressman Beto O'Rourke, please continue to send our condolences to the people of El Paso.

We appreciate your time.

O'ROURKE: Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up next: President Trump says everything he's doing on immigration is paying off at the border.

What are some other consequences? We're going to talk with the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:53]

TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

President Trump is defending the immigration raids in Mississippi this week in which at least -- in which at least 680 people were detained, leaving some children crying out for their parents.

The president said those raids were a very good deterrent to those considering crossing into the U.S. illegally.

Joining me now, the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Mark Morgan.

Thank you so much for joining us.

I want you to take a listen to one 11-year-old girl whose father was detained in these Mississippi raids.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAGDALENA GOMEZ GREGORIO, FATHER DETAINED IN ICE RAID: I need my dad. My dad didn't do nothing. He's not a criminal.

Governments, fill your heart. Let my parents be free with everybody else, please.

Don't leave the childs with crying-ness and everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, you and the president said just a few weeks ago that the pending ICE raids coming down the pike were going to be really focused on violent criminals. That is not what happened here in Mississippi. Why not?

MARK MORGAN, ACTING COMMISSIONER, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: Well, so, first of all, I never said that the raids, as you call, were focused on violent criminals. I have never said that.

And, also, I think words matter. These aren't raids. These are targeted law enforcement operations. And, in this case, this was a joint criminal investigation with ICE and the Department of Justice targeting work site enforcement, meaning companies that knowingly and willfully hire illegal aliens, so that, in most cases, they can pay them reduced wages, exploit them further for their bottom line.

That is what this investigation was about, a criminal investigation, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, so I want to get to that in one second.

MORGAN: Sure.

TAPPER: But just to give your exact quote -- you're right, you didn't say violent.

You said -- quote -- "Their part has always been and it will be to go after those that are criminal aliens, meaning those people that are here illegally and have committed additional crimes against American citizens."

MORGAN: So that was my response to a question about priorities, and that ICE's priorities will always be to go after criminal aliens as a priority.

That doesn't mean they exclude all demographics. We still have to apply consequences, meaning enforce the rule of law, for those individuals that are here illegally against immigration law.

TAPPER: So it seems like undocumented workers, the dad of that little girl and the like, often bear the brunt of these raids and not the employers who hire them.

Isn't it important to hold businesses responsible for this?

Syracuse found -- university -- researchers at Syracuse University found that, from April 2018 to March 2019, the Trump administration prosecuted zero companies and only 11 individuals for employing undocumented immigrants?

Obviously, hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants have been targeted.

MORGAN: So, think about what you are saying, Jake.

So, you're saying, on one hand, that we're not doing enough, and then, when we go out and we actually do what you're saying we need to do more of, they are chastised for doing that.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Well, I'm saying, why aren't you focusing more on the companies and the business owners?

MORGAN: They -- they are.

Again, this was a joint criminal investigation between ICE and the Department of Justice, which was targeting the companies that were hiring illegal aliens.

That's exactly...

TAPPER: Are there any charges against the companies or the business owners?

MORGAN: It is a pending investigation right now. There was a criminal search warrant to go in there to collect more information, more intelligence. And that investigation is ongoing. But that is the intent of that investigation.

TAPPER: Is it important for businesses to not employ these individuals who are in this country illegally and exploit them, as you suggested?

MORGAN: Absolutely.

And -- but it is twofold. So I think the American people need to understand that is exactly what is happening. So these individuals seeking a better life first are being exploited by the cartels to come here.

TAPPER: Right.

MORGAN: Once they come in the United States, then they're further exploited by United States companies by paying them reduced wages.

But that is only the first element of this. These individuals here and the girl -- I know it is emotional. I know it is done on purpose to show a picture like that.

TAPPER: What is done on purpose?

MORGAN: But -- but -- to show the girl. Jake, listen...

TAPPER: Just the people in the wake of these raids. We interview people who are affected by them.

MORGAN: But -- but how about interview the people that -- because a majority of time in these cases, these individuals that are here illegally, they also steal identities of U.S. citizens, they get fraudulent documents, Social Security cards and et cetera.

[09:20:00]

And so it is not just a victimless crime that is going on here. First of all, they are here illegally. And then a lot of times, there is additional fraud that goes with this for them to try to get these jobs in the companies.

So I understand that the girl is upset. And I get that. But her father committed a crime. And just so the American people know also, is that girl, her mother was home, and she was reunited with her mother within a few hours that night.

TAPPER: I want to ask you, because -- because, I mean, you're talking about how this is a pending investigation into these businesses, but we see the human cost of this borne by the undocumented immigrants and their families over and over and over again.

And, like, I just gave you this statistic from Syracuse, in the last year, zero companies prosecuted, only 11 individuals prosecuted.

I mean, if you focused on the companies, wouldn't that have more of a deterring effect than going after these individuals, who are desperate?

MORGAN: So, Jake, again, I -- I -- this is the third time -- that was the intent of that investigation.

TAPPER: But I'm talking about, in the last year, only -- zero companies and 11 individuals for the last year.

MORGAN: I -- I can't speak to the Department of Justice on how many cases they have.

I'm the commissioner of CBP, so I'm not involved in those investigations.

But what I can tell you is, that is exactly what this investigation was about. And, again, let's go back to words matter. These aren't undocumented immigrants. They are illegal immigrants. They are here in this country illegally. They're obtaining jobs illegally.

So I think words matter. And let's keep in mind that ICE and -- during this target enforcement operation, they took extraordinary efforts to make sure that when -- everyone that was apprehended, they had actually agents dedicated full time during the operation, that they did nothing but be prepared to reach out to schools, to reach out to day care.

And every single person that they apprehended, the first question that they asked was, do you have a child? Where are they? Are they at day care or are they at school?

They had phone banks there for everybody to call to reach out to their loved ones and their children. Again, these agents contacted over 12 schools, and they made sure that they were -- had a full understanding of where everybody is.

And that is why over 300 of the 600-plus arrested that were reunited on humanitarian reasons, because they had kids, they had children. They were released on their own recognizance.

TAPPER: So "The Washington Post" reported this week that at least eight Trump Organization properties have employed, whether you call them illegal immigrants or undocumented immigrants.

And this is just one of many, many headlines about undocumented immigrants working for President Trump's properties, whether it's his construction crews, working at his properties, working at his golf clubs.

There have been zero raids on any of those companies, despite headline after headline after headline.

It seems like you guys are turning a blind eye to this crime being committed by the president's own companies.

MORGAN: So, look, I have been in law enforcement for over 25 years. So, first of all, again, I'm the commissioner of CBP. So, it's not my responsibility.

TAPPER: I understand. But you were head of ICE, though, until recently.

MORGAN: But for -- that -- that is correct.

What I can tell you is, is that, in my 25 years, I take offense to say anybody is turning a blind eye to someone that is violating the law. I have been doing it for a long time. I have never known anybody in law enforcement to turn a blind eye to someone that is committing a crime.

TAPPER: Well, I don't understand why it is that the president's companies, there is headline after headline after headline about them employing undocumented immigrants, and there has never been a raid, there's never been any sort of law enforcement investigation that we can discern.

MORGAN: Well, so you really can't say that for sure, because there are investigations going on all the time that you're unaware of.

And we shouldn't be aware of those investigations. So those investigations should be done without notifying everyone, because, of course, it is going to jeopardize the investigation if I come on here and I talk to you about an investigation that is going on.

TAPPER: The number of arrests along the U.S.-Mexico border fell 24 percent last month, to its lowest mark since February. It's almost been cut in half since the high in May.

That is a success. Yet you still call this -- quote -- "a full-blown crisis" this week. At what point is it no longer a full-blown crisis, if you're halving the number?

MORGAN: So, that is great, Jake, and I think that is a good question.

We can't be focused on the number alone. Again, 43 percent reduction from May, that is absolutely a huge step. And that is because of this president and what this administration is doing, especially with our international partners. The efforts now from the government of Mexico and the government of

Guatemala is unprecedented. And that is one of the major reasons why we're seeing these apprehension numbers go down.

But make no mistake, our daily apprehension numbers are still -- we're between 2,300 to 2,500. If you remember, the former Secretary Jeh Johnson said a bad day for him was 1,000.

TAPPER: Yes.

MORGAN: And I know it because I worked for him then as chief of Border Patrol.

So this is still crisis levels. And here is a key point. It is not just the numbers. It is the demographics. Again, things have changed. These are family units and unaccompanied minors.

TAPPER: Families, not -- yes.

MORGAN: ... 65 percent of which we're allowing them into the country. That adds to the crisis. It is not just...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I want to ask just a follow on that, because almost 30,000 undocumented immigrants have been sent back to Mexico to wait for their immigration hearings, part of this new deal you have with the Mexican government.

[09:25:00]

But they are being sent to some very dangerous cities, Tijuana and -- for example. And the group Human Rights First said there are 110 public reports of rape, kidnapping and other violent crimes against asylum seekers waiting in Mexico. That's likely just the tip of the iceberg.

Are you worried at all that this process is resulting in sending people back over the border into Mexico into dangerous cities, basically sending them to their doom?

MORGAN: I disagree with that categorization, that we're sending anybody to their doom.

First of all, for any country, the safety and security of the citizens of the country, for any country, is a challenge. Look at the cities in our own country.

Jake, we have multiple cities in our country where the homicide rate per capita is outrageous, violent crime is outrageous. Would it be fair to say that the entire United States is a dangerous country? I think not.

And I think so we need to be cautious about overcharacterizing and overgeneralizing how dangerous Mexico is.

TAPPER: I just meant the two cities, Tijuana -- and the other one is escaping my memory.

What are the three cities, the main ones that they are going to? They're going to Tijuana.

MORGAN: I don't know the major cities that they're going to right now, because we're expanding...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: But I'm only talking about these cities that are very dangerous.

But we're out of time.

MORGAN: Right.

TAPPER: I appreciate your time, Mr. -- Commissioner Morgan. Thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it.

MORGAN: You bet. Thanks, sir.

TAPPER: In the wake of the attack in El Paso, several Democratic presidential candidates are directly calling President Trump a white supremacist.

But another candidate, Senator Cory Booker, says that is not the real question at all.

And he will join us to talk about hate in America and what we do next, next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

Our calendar is getting crowded with the wrong kinds of anniversaries, those of horrific attacks on Americans in public places.

Tomorrow, for example, marks two years since the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.

My next guest gave a speech at the attack at another site marred by an awful attack, Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, where a white terrorist murdered nine worshipers in 2015.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Joining me now from the campaign trail in Dubuque, Iowa, to talk about rising hate and more, 2020 presidential candidate Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey.

Senator, thanks for joining us from the campaign trail.

I want to get your reaction to the president retweeting this deranged conspiracy theory, obviously, no evidence, falsely linking Jeffrey Epstein's death by apparent suicide to an alleged murder by the president's political opponents.

What is your reaction?

BOOKER: You know, this is just more recklessness. What he's doing is dangerous.

He's giving life to not just conspiracy theories, but really whipping people up into anger and worse against different people in this country. And so this is a tired way that the president does. He's been using the Clintons as a means for a lot of his false accusations.

But, remember, this is a nation now where we have just seen horrific acts, whether it is someone walking into a pizza shop, based upon these kind of conspiracy theories, to take violent action.

[09:30:10]

We see people's lives being threatened because this president whips up hatred. This is a very dangerous president that we have right now, trying to divide us against each other and really using the same tactics and the same language, not just of white supremacists, but also using the same tactics and languages of the Russians, if you look at the intelligence reports about how they're coming at our democracy.

TAPPER: President Trump said on Friday that, in the wake of the El Paso and Dayton massacres, he's pushing Congress to enact what he calls -- quote -- "meaningful background checks."

The president said he's going to be able to get the NRA on board as well.

Do you believe that? And do you believe that he's going to push forward for background checks?

BOOKER: I believe very little that this president says, where he tweets, from pulling troops out of Afghanistan to that he solved the nuclear crisis in North Korea.

He tweets a lot of things. He says -- makes a lot of bold statements that don't just come through. He doesn't follow through. He doesn't do the things that keep our nation safe and strong.

So, absolutely not. A real president in this time of crisis, where America is grieving, where fear is penetrating our nation -- I hear from kids on the campaign trail standing up and just talking about what ultimately for our nation right now is a surrender, saying that we can't protect our children. So, when they go to school, we're going to teach you how to duck and cover and hide and shelter in place.

This is an abject surrender of leadership on this president's part. He has taken no responsibility for this penetrating fear that's in our in our society. And, frankly, he's not leading in this moment. So I don't believe what he tweets. I have seen no real action. I

have seen nothing coming out of Mitch McConnell. Here we are on a summer recess, when this nation is deeply hurting and deeply worried about their safety.

I have talked to teachers at the Iowa Fair yesterday who said, we startup school in a matter of days, and we're going to go back to classrooms where that's going to be hanging over the classrooms.

This is the time for decisive action, for Congress to go back, for this president to lay out a real, substantive plan.

But he's doing none of that. He's failing this nation, and in so many ways responsible for where we are right now.

TAPPER: It does seem that there might be a some momentum for a so- called red flag law to pass the Senate that would allow an individual's family or potentially law enforcement to temporarily block an individual from having firearms if he or she seems to be a danger to himself or others.

But Senate Democratic Leader Schumer said passing a red flag law without the background check bill that the House of Representatives passed would be a -- quote -- "cop-out."

He said -- quote -- "Democrats in the Senate will seek to require that any red flag bill that comes to the floor is accompanied by a vote on the House-passed universal background check legislation."

So, Senator, I guess my question is, would you support a red flag law as a stand-alone bill? I mean, isn't something better than nothing?

BOOKER: Well, again, I have a comprehensive plan, perhaps the far -- most far-reaching amongst Democratic candidates.

And, yes, so-called red flag laws are a part of that. And we should do that at a nation.

But it is not going to be enough to end the epidemic of mass shootings. And it's not going to be enough to really restore a sense of -- bring a sense of calm and security back to our nation.

So I will do whatever I can to leverage more change, to leverage the steps that we need that will dramatically -- that the evidence has shown will dramatically lower the levels of shootings.

So, again, this is going to be a chess match and tactical sausage- making in the Senate. But I'm going to say very clearly we need far more bolder action to make our nation safe.

Red flag laws, yes, they're important, but they're nowhere near enough to stop these rising levels of mass shootings, now having more sunrises and sunsets in our nation than we -- less sunrises and sunsets than we've had mass shootings.

We have to do more. The American public should demand more. And, frankly, things like background checks are overwhelmingly supported by gun owners. The fact that we're not doing that is a failure of leadership.

TAPPER: Former Vice President Biden appeared to stumble at an event earlier this week, a campaign event.

He said that -- quote -- "Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids." And then he seemed to correct themselves saying wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids. The campaign said he misspoke.

But one of your rivals, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, on Twitter said -- quote -- "To quickly dismiss Joe Biden's words as a mere slip of the tongue is as concerning as what he said. We need to have a real conversation about the racism and sexism behind 'electability.'"

What do you make of this all?

[09:35:00]

BOOKER: I pay very little mind to it. I mean, Joe Biden will have to answer to his -- his words himself.

I will say this, that this idea of electability doesn't usually center on the broader ideals of that.

I'm going to Milwaukee to do a rally. I know we're going to have hundreds and hundreds of people there.

If you can't energize the urban base, as well as the suburban base, as well as rural area -- we need candidates that can create the kind of excitement that we saw -- the last time we really saw it was President Obama.

We would have won a lot of our -- we would have won this presidential election. And, again, I don't put this on Secretary Clinton, who ran, in many ways, a campaign that was dealing with the headwinds of the Russians and the Trump campaign using psychographics, doing everything they could to suppress African-American votes.

We need to learn from that in this race. And we need to have candidates that can inspire a movement-like election, not somebody that we think is a safe bet, but a candidate that can really energize the aspirational nature of our party, talking about a future that engages people and inspires them to come to the polls.

That is why I'm running. I believe we could have a candidate that can reach out to the full breadth, not just our party, but our nation. And that is why I have been going to cities like Philadelphia and cities like Milwaukee to show that we could energize a tremendous excitement amongst core base voters that we need to win.

TAPPER: Senator Booker, before you go, we all want to offer you con condolences on the loss of your aunt Alma.

She was 100 years old. She lived in Iowa, one of your biggest supporters. You went to her memorial, her funeral yesterday. And we just wanted to offer our condolences to you and your family.

BOOKER: I'm really grateful for that.

She lived a extraordinary life, born before women had the right to vote, born during a summer of some of the greatest domestic terrorism we have seen. And from all that, she and my grandmother in this incredible state of Iowa were able to raise extraordinary families that have gone on and done some great things.

This is our common history. And, in Iowa, a lot of people don't know about how a town called Buxton, which is where my family first moved, was this town ahead of its time, blacks and whites coming together, descending into the mines to scrape out their American dream.

We have some incredible history of Americans across racial lines creating a much better America. And that's what we celebrated when I gave her eulogy. And that's what I believe we need to be celebrating now in our country, with so many leaders trying to divide us against each other.

We need to get back to that spirit in our nation that understands we have common cause and common purpose. And that's how she lived. And I hope that her legacy will go on, not just in her family, but will inspire that in the rest of us.

TAPPER: Well, may her memory be a blessing.

Senator Booker, thanks so much.

BOOKER: Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

Is there any reason to believe that's possible? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:42:16]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a six and three-year- old boys. Imagine -- I was imagining it was one of them that got shot and the other saw it. I'm so sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The presidential candidate Andrew Yang breaking down while responding to a mother who lost one of her children to gun violence. The other child a twin was a witness to it. Will anything actually get done in Washington to stop this cycle of carnage? Let's discuss.

Congresswoman, let me start with you, is it compromise that moves a ball forward in Congress possible at all? MIA LOVE (R-UT), FORMER REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I think if they're actually focused on people and they're focused on kids at school and they're less focused on the political divide, I think it is possible.

I think that the thing that stops members of Congress from doing the right thing is the political parties pulling them from one side to the other. Now, I have three kids and I can understand the emotion. When you really put yourself in the place of people who have been affected by this, it affects you because you think about your own children.

I have three kids and it is something that I fear all the time but just doing something is not enough. Really, my daughter actually did this article and she said I wish Congress would focus on the violent thoughts before I become a victim of the violent act. I could not believe how insightful that was. She talks about kids sitting at school by themselves totally isolated, some of them even in cars in the parking lot.

There are some issues that we have to face. You're talking about not just gun violence and making sure that you are just -- you're doing everything you can to keep guns out of the hands of people who lack the ability to make a rational decision but also making sure you stop the violent act which also includes making sure that everyone that is on TV, that is out there, that is influential watches their language also. It's a holistic approach.

TAPPER: What would you hope for, Mr. Mayor?

MITCH LANDRIEU (D), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: Well, first of all, for us to understand the depth and the breadth of the pain that was displayed by Andrew a minute ago. 630,000 American citizens have been killed on the streets of America involving gun violence since 1980. And that pain is felt in every neighborhood. And it is searing.

We have a couple of different crisis all that are now converging. It is a national security crisis involving domestic terrorism. It's a public health crisis and it's a public safety crisis.

The approach has to be comprehensive. You can still support the Second Amendment and have reasonable gun control -- gun responsibility legislation but that in and of itself, although those things are important, as the Congress lady said, are not enough.

[09:45:10]

You have to get into mental health. You have to get into substance abuse. You have to get into reconciliation. You have to get into this notion that we're going to solve all of our problems through a violent act using a gun.

So I'm hopeful that Congress will get past the politics of it, do common sense responsible gun legislation and then get really deep into this culture of violence that we have developed in the United States of America.

TAPPER: Adolfo, one of the things that enjoys the most popular support is universal background checks. The idea of it that all sales of guns should -- there should be a background check.

President Trump has voiced support for it before after the Parkland shootings a year ago and then ultimately didn't follow through. He now says that he thinks he could get the NRA to -- at least, be neutral on it. Do you think that actually could happen?

ADOLFO FRANCO, FORMER SPOKESMAN FOR MCCAIN AND ROMNEY CAMPAIGNS: Well, first of all, I agree with everything on the panel. One of the two times of the panel everybody seems to be in agreement with things. But just to the politics of it.

First of all, the president has now signaled that it is something that he wants to do and it is a priority. So I think we'll move along a lot of Republicans. Of course, Senator McConnell just announced that he's going to take this up and he's absolutely working for a bipartisan solution.

I think, though, that one of the things we need to do and I so agree with what Congresswoman Love said, is not just pass legislation. As an example for the sake of passing legislation, I think it gives people really a false sense of security because that is just addressing the symptoms and not the root cause. And then in example, California they have this red law state in California --

TAPPER: Red flag law.

FRANCO: Red flag statute and I understand for two years it was never -- it was never even used or employed. So we have a lot on the books right now even on background checks that the laws have been passed and aren't enforced.

At the end of the day, I am going to say something here that is probably not very popular, I'm not holding my breath there will be an agreement and for this reason. We just saw this debate in Iowa over the weekend or just the last few days, the climate right now is just too politicized. I think it is always difficult and it is already an election year to get things done in Washington.

So I think the Democrats, frankly I don't want to make it partisan here, the Democrats are in a position since they are trying to unseat the president to push the envelope to a point that Republicans will not be able to expect -- accept over-reaching on this issue.

TAPPER: Xochitl.

XOCHITL HINOJOSA, DNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: The House passed a background checks bill 160 days ago and where has Donald Trump (INAUDIBLE).

FRANCO: A flawed one.

HINOJOSA: A flawed one that is of the floor. Background checks is a floor. Ninety percent of Americans support background checks.

How many people have to die before Donald Trump acts? And frankly -- Donald Trump can call the Senate in tomorrow and say, come back, get legislation done. But the problem is that Mitch McConnell right now, his problem is that he wants people to forget.

He wants recess to go on. He wants September to come in and then he wants another topic to be out there. So I don't think that Republicans are taking it seriously. And it's very unfortunate.

(CROSSTALK)

LOVE: Wait a minute --

(CROSSTALK)

LOVE: This is a prime example -- this is a prime example of what we -- what is going wrong. First of all, it is not up to the executive branch to pass legislation.

FRANCO: Or to call Congress back.

LOVE: You have got to get Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, Kevin McCarthy and Chuck Schumer together to pass legislation and it is -- it is the job of the executive branch to execute that legislation and also to prosecute criminals.

TAPPER: Yes.

LOVE: So we have to remember we're putting too much responsibility and too much power in the White House where that it should be done in Congress.

HINOJOSA: Legislation could pass --

LANDRIEU: This is why people don't like Washington. We have a massive crisis. It is a national crisis. It is a national emergency. People are being killed every day. Forty people a day. And then you have the mass shootings which are now we know a domestic terrorism.

If you wanted to solve --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Can I just say that -- to your point of mental health, I think two-thirds of the deaths are suicide. Two-thirds of the gun deaths are suicide, which is an ignored part of this but it's a part of the mental health.

(CROSSTALK)

LANDRIEU: It falls into three buckets. Most suicides then you have regular -- street crime where individuals are getting killed usually with the mechanism of a handgun and then you have these mass shootings. All three of them.

FRANCO: And gang violence -- gang violence and drugs.

LANDRIEU: Well, of course --

TAPPER: The street crime -- (CROSSTALK)

LANDRIEU: It is all of those things. And people are being killed and people are being hurt.

If you were going to take an approach to this like it was a national emergency, you would bring all of the resources, not only of the government but the private sector, the faith-based community to bear to solving the problem of violence in America. Now, I believe that reasonable gun laws are going to be helpful and I think most Americans think that not everybody needs any kind of gun any time to do anything that you want.

But that is just a small part. But I would say an important part of the problem. We -- the president's team has now diverted money from the FBI, the ATF and the U.S. marshal's office and given it to the customs and border patrol and ICE. Their budgets are now bigger.

And you showed the picture of the young girl whose father had been taken away from her and you questioned Mr. Morgan about whether or not the president wants to keep America safe.

[09:50:02]

Well they certainly didn't do it with domestic terrorism when everybody was saying, this is a major problem and so the mass of America warned the president years ago that this maniacal focus on -- quote -- unquote -- people who he calls "criminals" who just crossed the border are more important than focusing on violent criminals that have killed us. And it is -- it is a misdirection of our resources to keep us safe.

TAPPER: Let's turn to that in the couple minutes we have. Because after a series of immigration raids in Mississippi both sides presented very starkly different pictures of what's going on and their necessity. Let's roll that. This is a clip from question (ph) (INAUDIBLE).

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It serves as a very good deterrent. If people come into our country illegally, they're going out.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: After what just happened in El Paso, when it was motivated by hate against immigrants and Latino immigrants, do you think that a responsible leader would have said, don't do those raids?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Xochitl, your response?

HINOJOSA: I agree with Kamala Harris. I think we're all parents on this panel. I don't think anybody agrees that families should be separated. That video of the little girl who had been separated from her parents, that is just heart-breaking. I am a Mexican American from Texas. And I will tell you that I have never been scared in my life until this president.

My 95-year-old grandmother, in the middle of the night she is here legally -- she is here legally -- she has been here legally for 60 years, she went in the middle of the night and looked for her papers because she thought that Donald Trump was going to send her to Mexico.

TAPPER: Adolfo, we only have about 15 seconds.

FRANCO: Quickly, that little girl wasn't separated from her mother. So, she wasn't separated from her parents. Secondly, they -- I talk to high ranking ICE officials. They had 120 Spanish speaking agents there. They're enforcing the laws.

When American citizens are arrested at home, they are separated from their parents if their kids are at school. You want to give illegal immigrants privileges that U.S. citizens do not have --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Thanks one and all for being here. We're not going to solve the problem here. Thank you so much for being here. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, we're going to try to have a lighter note. In today's politics every day is starting to feel Festivus with the airing of grievances. And that's this week's "State of the Cartoonion."

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:56:33]

TAPPER: A lighter note now. Candidate Marianne Williamson quoted the iconic sitcom "Seinfeld" on the debate stage a few days ago. And that's this week's "State of the Cartoonion."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): Comedy legend Julia Louis-Dreyfus found her worlds colliding when Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson at the CNN debate quoted "Seinfeld."

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yada, yada, yada.

TAPPER: The former Elaine Benes from "Seinfeld" immediately thought of her other famous comedy show "Veep."

JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS, ACTRESS: I guess she's going to pick me as a running mate.

TAPPER: It made us wonder what other iconic lines from "Seinfeld" might describe today's politics. For example, President Trump's negotiating approach to everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No soup for you!

TAPPER: Or perhaps a potential future response next time someone calls the president's hands small.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was at a pool!

TAPPER: After a cutting insult from Elizabeth Warren at the debate, candidate John Delaney later came up with a comeback which reminded us of --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the jerk store called. They're running out of you.

TAPPER: But Warren might want to tell any candidate polling lower than one percent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get out!

TAPPER: Of course, President Trump already knows the healing power of "Seinfeld's" invented holiday Festivus given his daily airing of grievances.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a lot of problems with you people!

TAPPER: But the ultimate pearl of "Seinfeld" wisdom for this era --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a lie if you believe it.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: "FAREED ZAKARIA, GPS" starts next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)