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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Chaos Erupts At Hong Kong Airport As Police, Protesters Clash; Trump Claims McConnell Supports Expanded Background Checks, Despite McConnell's Office Saying Otherwise; New Video Shows Police Engaging Dayton Shooter. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired August 13, 2019 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me. Today, let's go to Washington. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: President Trump says China is now moving troops, reacting to the protests in Hong Kong. "The Lead" starts right now.

Riot police clashing with protesters who are crippling the airport in Hong Kong, and breaking today how China may be responding by possibly moving troops and also refusing to let the U.S. Navy dock there.

After back-to-back gun massacres, President Trump today insisting that the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is in favor of expanded background checks for gun purchases but McConnell's own office is saying, whoa, not so fast.

Plus, just moments, ago Dayton police revealing brand-new surveillance video and new details about what the gunman did before he murdered his sister and eight others.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. We start with breaking news in our world lead as absolute chaos takes over one of the busiest airports in the world. One protester compared it to war today as hundreds faced off with riot police bringing to a halt the airport in Hong Kong. The semiautonomous region of the Southeast coast of China canceling flights, stranding travelers, causing violence, our reporters on the ground described an ugly and violent scene, protesters beating at least one person they believed to be an undercover police officer and then refusing to allow the individual first aid.

This is just the latest in nearly three months of protests in Hong Kong against the government closely aligned with China and a proposed bill legislation that would have allowed extradition from Hong Kong to Mainland China. While Hong Kong is a part of China, it's governed under a special political system with greater freedoms. This afternoon China denying request for two U.S. Navy ships to make port visits in Hong Kong later this month visits that were previously scheduled.

President Trump weighed in on the violence this afternoon and disappointed those who had hope the President would condemn China and the Hong Kong government and stand in solidarity with the protesters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope it works out for liberty. I hope it works out for anybody including China. I hope it works out peacefully. I hope nobody gets hurt. I hope nobody gets killed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: CNN's Paula Hancocks is live for us at the Hong Kong International Airport. And Paula what's the situation there right now?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, it's 4:00 a.m. right here so the protesters have gone home. The question is that, what will they do later today? It's Wednesday here already. Will they return here to the airport to try and shut down the airport once again for a third day running?

Now just hours ago, we saw some dramatic images here. We saw riot police and protesters clashing at one of the world's busiest airports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Chaos at one of the world's busiest airports. Protesters barricading themselves behind a wall of luggage carts and chairs as they clash with riot police at the Hong Kong International Terminal entrance with batons and pepper spray. One officer appears to pull out his pistol after protesters overpowered him, grabbing his baton and using it against him.

After several minutes, police start retreating. The arrival by the bus load created a window for paramedics to rescue a man who had passed out after protesters accused him of being an undercover cop.

It's the second consecutive day. Thousands of Hong Kong activists have forced this massive international hub to cancel all outbound flights. Sparking anger and frustration from stranded travelers, the scenes at the airport highlighting the intensity of the moment for the people of Hong Kong. Today, President Trump reacting to the powerful images.

TRUMP: The Hong Kong thing is very tough situation. Very tough. We'll see what happens. But I'm sure it will work out. I hope it works out for everybody including China.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): This is the 11th straight week of protests which have brought this region with its two starkly different political systems to a screeching halt. It all started because of a proposed law that would allow accused criminals to be extradited to Mainland China which activists say would let the Chinese government target political enemies. But now that bill has been suspended but not formally withdrawn.

And protesters anger has spread to the precede excessive violence by the police. China has taken the demonstrations as a direct challenge to its rule sending tanks to the border and demanding protesters back down. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam who backs the bill says Hong Kong is no longer safe due to the mass protests.

CARRIE LAM, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF HONG KONG (through translation): The rioters have pushed Hong Kong to the brink of no return.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HANCOCKS: I'm also hearing some stronger words from China. A top official in Beijing saying these protests now show signs of terrorism, Jake?

[16:05:04] TAPPER: All right, Paula Hancocks at the Hong Kong airport. Thank you so much.

I want to bring in Gordon Chang, he wrote the book, "The Coming Collapse of China." And he's also a columnist for "The Daily Beast". He's written extensively about the relationship between Beijing and Hong Kong.

Gordon, thanks for joining us. This is now the tenth straight week of these protests which started back in June. Why do you think they've been able to last so long?

GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, I think that most people in Hong Kong, two-thirds, maybe three quarters actually believe that this is the last stand. This is the -- where they protect their homeland, they protect their autonomy.

You know, Beijing has been encroaching on that one country, two systems formula that was promised in 1997, when Britain handed China -- Hong Kong to China. So, it's really a feeling across society that this is where that they determine their future.

TAPPER: These protesters are taking on the very powerful Chinese government. What are the potential repercussions for the protesters?

CHANG: Well, repercussions could very well be that the Chinese send in the people's armed police or the people's liberation army. Right now Chinese leaders are in Beidaihe, the resort close to Beijing. And this is what they do most August.

And if they follow the pattern, they'll be ending the meeting in about three or four days, about the end of this week. So we may find the Chinese actually moving then. I don't think so, Jake. I think that they're going to wait a lot longer because they realize the repercussions of doing something. But nonetheless, we're at a point where Beijing could make a decision.

TAPPER: What do you read into the announcement that the U.S. Navy which had previously arranged to dock in Hong Kong later this month has been told that they cannot any more?

CHANG: Well, Beijing normally will do this when they are upset at the United States. They will cancel port visits or they will cancel reciprocal visits of high-ranking military officers. Obviously they don't want the U.S. Navy there.

If they think they're going to bring in the People's Armed Police and there are all of those images that President Trump referred to of the PAP massing in Shenzhen which is just across the border from Hong Kong. So clearly they want to be able to control the battlefield.

TAPPER: I see a lot of people in social media and around the world calling for President Trump to signify that he stands in solidarity with these protesters. If he did that, would it make any sort of difference?

CHANG: It would make things better, Jake. You know, I'm sure President Trump's getting sort of advice that, you know, you should not do anything to aggravate Xi Jinping, the Chinese ruler. But the point is Beijing is already vilified, demonized by the United States.

In the middle of May it declared a people's war on us. So there is nothing we can do to make the Chinese go away or make this situation better. We need to stand for our values. And clearly at this point when you've got protesters who are waving the star -- the stars and stripes and they're singing our national anthem, we've got to stand with them because they're the front line of freedom.

We've got a common foe, Jake. China is attacking the protesters. China is also attacking our democracy. So we have an interest in supporting them.

TAPPER: You mean through cyber, they're -- the way they're attacking the democracy?

CHANG: No, I mean, almost every day you have People's Daily and other state media attacking the form of government that we have and actually criticizing the U.S. going after democracies and democracy itself. So this is a broad-based challenge to our form of government and to our sovereignty.

So it's important for us to understand what the Chinese are doing. They don't want to just run a totalitarian system in China itself, they want to make sure that that system is safe and they believe that democracy is elsewhere endanger their form of government.

TAPPER: And you say the end of this week could be significant as we watch these protests. What happens then?

CHANG: That's when the Beidaihe meeting will conclude if they follow the pattern of previous years. Normally they meet for about two weeks. And that would put it towards the end of this week when they wrap up.

There you have not only all of the senior Chinese leaders but you also have former leaders. So this is a conclave where the lot is discussed and obviously Hong Kong is going to be at the top of the agenda as well the trade war with the United States and relationships with Washington. So this is a consequential time for the leadership.

Xi Jinping can come out of the Beidaihe meeting strengthen or he could come out with a lot less power than when he went in.

TAPPER: All right, Gordon Chang, thank you so much for your expertise, appreciate it

President Trump says he's on the same page as the Senate Majority Leader when it comes to potential new gun legislation, but Mitch McConnell's office is saying, no, we're not. Plus, we've got some breaking news now. New surveillance video just released by Dayton police tracing the path of that city's horrific mass murderer and that's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:14:01] TAPPER: In our politics lead now today President Trump is again claiming that he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell along with many Senate Republicans are on board with expanding background checks for gun sales in the wake of 31 people murdered in back-to-back mass shootings in the United States. Yet as CNN Phil Mattingly now reports, McConnell's staff has made it pretty clear that the Majority Leader does not endorse such a proposal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. ANTHONY BROWN (D), MARYLAND: It's now the time for Mitch McConnell and President Trump to do something.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: House Democrats today ramping up the pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump to tighten gun laws.

REP. STENY HOYER (D), MAJORITY LEADER: What takes courage is to look a special interest group in the eye and say enough is enough.

MATTINGLY: President Trump insisting McConnell and Republicans back measures to expand background checks for gun purchases.

TRUMP: We want to do it. I think very strongly he wants to do background checks and I do too and I think a lot of Republicans do.

[16:15:01] MATTINGLY (voice-over): But McConnell aides made clear the Kentucky Republican hasn't endorsed any specific background checks legislation and he's rejected calls to bring Congress back early from the summer recess.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We just have people scoring points and nothing would happen. There has to be a bipartisan discussion here of what we can agree on.

MATTINGLY: Instead tasking three committee chairmen to work through their own proposals on gun violence to be taken up when the Senate returns in September.

And GOP aides also make something else clear to CNN. The end game, to the extent there is one, lies with the president. One senior Republican aide telling CNN: Tell me where he lands on the policy and I'll tell you what we're debating in September. Democratic lawmakers trying to take advantage of the momentum, now

pressing a dual-pronged approach. House Democrats calling on the Republican-led Senate to vote on a House-passed background checks measure, and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer asking the Trump administration to withdraw its $5 billion request for border wall funding and instead reallocate it toward programs combating violent extremism, domestic terrorism and gun violence research.

For his part, the president continued a series of calls with lawmakers involved in the gun issue, including some staunchly opposed to GOP positions.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): He certainly believes that there is a deal to be had on what he calls a meaningful background checks bill. The devil is in the details is as to what he means about that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY: And, Jake, the Democratic push today comes as one aide acknowledged to me, quote, time is our enemy, and there's good reason for that position based on history and also this -- GOP aides acknowledged there's growing skepticism right now that there is anything substantive, be it background checks or even red flag laws that can actually get through the Senate at this point -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Phil Mattingly, thanks so much.

And we have our experts with us.

Amanda, I'm going to ask you a question you might not know the answer because it is trying to explain President Trump's behavior. But why do you think he keeps saying that Mitch McConnell is on board with background checks given that McConnell's office keeps saying, no, he isn't, he hasn't agreed to anything?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Because it sounds good. Theoretically, I mean, in the past, both have come to the floor. I'm thinking of Toomey/Manchin in 2013. These things have been discussed, but where I sort of see this as going nowhere.

Nobody is talking about specifics. Yes, expanded background checks -- well, what do you mean? Do you mean online sales, do you mean person to person sales, do you talk about making the background checks more robust?

Even these red flag laws which I think people are broadly supportive of, I'm not sure what they mean. Are they talking only about taking away guns from people who are mentally unstable through the police or possibly taking other factors into consideration when you do the background checks like a history of domestic violence without a conviction, expulsions from schools, mental health?

And so, there's this whole mesh of information and everybody saying, oh, yes, we'll look at background checks. I had no idea what that means and Mitch McConnell certainly isn't telling us. TAPPER: And, Ray, take a listen to Democratic Senator Chris Murphy,

who's a vocal advocate for further restrictions on gun ownership. He said he's pessimistic but he's glad that the president is interested in background checks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MURPHY: I spoke to the president this weekend. I can't tell whether he is more sincere but he certainly believes that there is a deal to be had.

I know, in the end, Republicans aren't going to support background checks legislation unless the president supports it. The only way that we get enough Republicans to get to 60 votes in the Senate is if the president is pushing them to get there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Do you think the president is willing it push on something like this?

RAY SUAREZ, JOURNALIST & AUTHOR: Using what currency? Using what persuasion? Where have we seen the president before ram something through using the power of his own personal prestige?

I mean, if you're a Democratic legislator --

TAPPER: Yes.

SUAREZ: You're glad the conversation continuing and you could still, especially, if you come from the state where Sandy Hook Elementary School was shot up, this is important to you and you're going to keep it front of agenda.

But, is something really going to happen? Well, I don't know. It doesn't look very likely, does it?

TAPPER: Where do you think this is all going to go, if anywhere?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the prospects are very bleak. There's been no indication that either side on Capitol Hill is closer to coming to some sort of agreement. Democrats still want to bring up the House-passed bill that effectively makes background checks universal to the Senate floor which is a nonstarter with Republicans.

And even if you talk about the Manchin/Toomey legislation that came up after Sandy Hook which expanded background checks to private gun shows, as well as an online but did not include the vast majority of private deals and exempted family transfers. There is still no indication that that bill has any greater chance of passing today.

Pat Toomey, the Republican co-sponsor, said he still thinks there is a lot of work to be done convincing his colleagues to come on board and then Democrats have, of course, said that these red flag bills that are being proposed by Republicans are too close because they don't require that states adopt them.

[16:20:03] And, frankly, even some Republicans are saying they don't want to touch this red flag legislation. So, I just don't think we're any closer to a deal and we have had this conversation many times before.

TAPPER: And, Paul, I mean, if you look at President Trump's tweets today in which he's attacking a cable news host, one of our colleagues, using the red flag law gamut, it doesn't really seem to suggest a whole lot of seriousness about the red flag law given that he's just using it ten days after these horrific attacks to score political points.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. And I would have thought even President Trump who is a bit of a narcissist would have been changed by going to Dayton and to El Paso.

I had to go with the president to Andrews Air Force Base when people were murdered in terrorist attack in Darussalam and Nairobi, it changes you forever. It should. It should.

The fact that he could mock legislation that might have had an effect, might not, if we can't say anything would be a panacea, it's really pretty shocking. I have to say, Senator Schumer, I'm a Democrat, Senator Schumer seems like he's like being a little too political for my taste by just saying, oh, take way his border funding and his wall. That's not going anywhere.

If Schumer really wanted to put the president on the horns of a dilemma say, we'll give you your stupid wall, you give us serious protections against white supremacy which is a much greater threat than any refugee across the border and background checks and the rest of the legislation passed by the House. That would put Trump on the horns of a dilemma. That would not just be political, that would be I think great.

TAPPER: Yes, I saw Fred Guttenberg, one of the fathers from Parkland, really upset with the president talking so mockingly about red flag laws because he thinks it could have saved his daughter Jamie.

Everyone, stick around. We got more to talk about.

New information now about the Dayton shooter's final movements and who was communicating with an hour before the massacre.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:26:24] TAPPER: We have breaking news in our national lead. Just moments ago, police in Dayton released new video of the mass murderer there and his encounter with police and we got the first minute by minute account of how the massacre in Dayton, Ohio, unfolded.

Let's go straight to CNN's Gary Tuchman who was in Dayton, Ohio.

Gary, walk us through exactly what we just learned. GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the surveillance video

is very compelling from many different cameras in the area and it captures a two-hour span on Saturday night and Sunday morning. It ends at 1:06 a.m. when the murderer is shot and killed by police. It's a violent scene. It lasted 32 seconds from when he started shooting until he was killed by some very alert and brave policemen here in Dayton, Ohio.

But it started two hours earlier. He walked into a bar here in Dayton with his sister and a companion. Everything seemed normal on that video, but about an hour later, he walked out by himself out of the bar and he actually passed a policeman in a police car. He went to a parking lot and in the parking lot, he changed. He put on a hoodie, he put on a sweatshirt. He got a backpack which contained the AR-15 style rifle he was about to use in the killing.

Perhaps the most important thing that we have learned from this videotape is that police say, by looking at it, they have determined that it is very unlikely -- they thought this before but now sure he did not have an accomplice, that he did this all by himself, it was all by himself from when he got his weapon until he carried out the killing.

We also learned something interesting. As we know, he went to the bar with his sister and a companion. His sister was killed. The companion was wounded. It is still not known if he intentionally tried to kill those two people.

Police are telling us at this point they still do not know the motivation. But they do know the mindset. They say that he was consumed with possibly carrying out a killing and that's why they think he did it. But they still don't know the motivation for doing it in this place on that night.

Jake, back to you.

TAPPER: All right. Gary Tuchman in Dayton, Ohio, thank you so much.

I want to bring in a former CIA and FBI official, Phil Mudd, to talk about this.

Phil, is there anything you heard from Dayton police that stood out to you?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Yes. A couple of things. We just saw a moment ago.

First, that confirmation we're talking about, about whether this was solo. The first question you got to have here is, it's just not about what happened. It's an open investigation. You look at the video and nobody there. You've got to get confirmation that it doesn't look like anybody operated with him.

The second thing I'd say is it gives you a little bit of a picture of intent. The hardest thing to get especially with a dead perpetrator. He didn't go in there accidentally. He's casing these places. I want to see things like credit card records to know how often he was in before.

But it's hard to look at that, especially since he was speaking with his sister and not think this was intentional.

TAPPER: OK. So, it's about a week and a half since this horrific mass shooting. And police are still not offering any motive. They have a minute by minute account of his whereabouts that night.

Is it possible we'll never really know the motive?

MUDD: Yes. But remember, think of this as a layer cake. We just saw one layer.

Layer over that emails, presuming they looked at his emails. Google searches, whether he's searching ideological sites. They should have his text messaging, which was referenced today, so we're knowing what he was saying right before, including the days before the event and, of course, interviews with friends and family. So, you layer those on top of each other with that timeline.

They know more than they're telling us, but they don't have a clear picture yet, but they've got to have a slightly better picture than what we see.

I'd close by saying I'm not sure they'll ever fully know, but we've got to know a little more than we know right now because they've seen all that data.

TAPPER: We still don't know the motive of the Las Vegas shooter.

MUDD: Yes, that's right.

TAPPER: Horrific shooting in this country.

Phil Mudd, thank you so much for your time.

A possible presidential candidate heading to New Hampshire today and he's not a Democrat. His warning for the Republican Party that President Trump may want to hear.

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