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Friend of Dayton Killer Due in Court Today; Police Release New Video of Dayton Mass Shooting; Epstein's Accuser Files Lawsuit Against His Estate and Several Others. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired August 14, 2019 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:32] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. Jim Sciutto has a well- deserved week off.

And first up this morning, serious new fears of a recession. When the markets open in just a few minutes the Dow is set to drop more than 300 points. You are looking at Dow Futures right now. All three major U.S. indices in the red.

We'll explain why this is happening, the trade war and much more in just a moment. The Opening Bell rings at the bottom of the hour.

Right now, though, on Congress they are in recess. The president is on vacation. But efforts are still under way, we are hearing, to address gun reform in this country. CNN has learned that informational talks between the White House and the Senate have begun.

Our congressional reporter Lauren Fox is in Washington this morning.

Lauren, good morning. Look, Mitch McConnell has weighed in on this, the president has weighed in on this. Our reporting was that Ivanka Trump was calling members of both parties yesterday. How serious is this effort right now?

LAUREN FOX, CNN POLITICS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. We know that Patrick Toomey, Joe Manchin, and others have had a direct conversation with the president. We also know that aides for members are having discussions with White House officials but I will tell you, Poppy, these are informational at this point. And we should be careful at looking at how serious these are because behind the scenes we're told that Republicans have deep concerns about background check proposals that are being floated. They also have concerns about those red flag proposals because of some due process issues.

So, there are concerns among Republicans that even though the president is both publicly and privately pushing to expand background checks that that may not be something that enough Republican senators can actually support. So, you know, I'm hearing from aides that these conversations are happening, but we should be careful in sort of putting too much stock into them. In part because members are on recess.

They're back home in their districts. They're on vacations. Until they get back from recess and are in Washington together, it's hard to say how they cut a deal. And I will tell you that it's unclear if the momentum to do something on guns will even be there when they get back in September -- Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. Lauren Fox, thank you. I appreciate the reporting.

One more sign of what is at stake in the gun control debate continues. An alarming discovery in Ohio. Federal authorities find a massive arsenal after arresting an 18-year-old man accused of threatening to assault federal law enforcement officers. And the FBI says that he made that threat online and also voiced support for mass shootings.

Let's go to my colleague Jessica Schneider, our justice correspondent in Washington. This is -- this is terrifying and frankly all too common that we hear things like this.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: And it shows just what authorities will do when they see this kind of threats. Authorities say that this 18-year-old have been using the online app iFunny to make multiple threats over multiple months supporting mass shootings and encouraging a full-scale attack on federal law enforcement agents.

Now this was something that FBI agents were monitoring for months and it was just last week, just a few days after the mass shooting in Dayton when FBI agents conducted a search of this teenager's car and also his father's house where he was living. And they found this. They found a machete inside the teen's car and at the house 15 rifles, including assault rifles, 10 semiautomatic pistols, 10,000 rounds of ammunition, and in one bedroom camouflage clothing and backpacks.

Now most of these firearms were in a gun vault that was opened by the teen's father. But when agents confronted 18-year-old Justin Olsen, he said that his comments online promoted violence were, in his words, just a joke. But, of course, authorities are taking this very seriously. They've charged this teenager with threatening to assault a law enforcement officer. He remains in custody after his initial court appearance happened on Monday and he'll have a detention hearing. That will be on Friday.

But really, Poppy, this arrest does show how seriously authorities are taking online threats and any of the stockpiling of weapons that they find in the wake of those two mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. The Dayton shooting happening just about 250 miles from where this teenager was found with this arsenal in the house where he was living. And in this case the charges right now are for threats against federal officers, you know, but it's possible this teen could face even more charges.

We're not yet aware in terms of the legality of these guns. We do know that they likely belong to his father, but again this is all going to come out as this court proceeding develops -- Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. Jessica, thank you as always for your reporting.

Let's talk about this and the broader issue, and if anything is actually different this time for Congress. Astead Herndon, national political reporter for "The New York Times"

joins me, Eliana Johnson, White House reporter for Politico.

[09:05:05] Good morning, you guys.

Eliana, what's your real read on this? Something different than Sandy Hook, 2013? Parkland? Is something actually fundamentally different now that Congress will act?

ELIANA JOHNSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: Could be. I think President Trump is really the X-factor in all of this. The president, of course on his annual summer vacation out of Bedminster, but the president has indicated that he wants to do something on guns. Now the Republicans in the Senate reluctant to move on this issue. And the NRA right now in a state of disarray which does give the president an opening.

I think the question is a matter of presidential focus. If Trump pushes hard once he returns from his vacation and once Congress is back from recess, something will happen. But we've often seen the president who is distractible lose focus on these issues. But if he indicates he really wants to get something done, Republicans will follow him and something will happen.

HARLOW: OK, the issue, as you said, the president said something similar to what we heard him say this week and in the wake of El Paso and Dayton. He said something very similar after the Parkland shooting and then he met with -- (INAUDIBLE), he met with the NRA and that changed on background checks. And our reporting this morning from officials is that, you know, Republicans, many of them are pushing him on the red flag laws, let's do this, right, we've seen Lindsey Graham tweet about his support and others.

But some conservative allies are saying tread carefully on universal background checks, right? Don't necessarily go there. And that begs the question, will the president listen to them or will he push for background checks as well?

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly. I mean, if this was a, quote-unquote, "normal presidency" in which the president had kind of a policy center and can make a legislative push that was coordinated with Congress, then I would certainly say that we would be in the situation where we might see some gun control efforts. But this is not that. The evidence in front of us is that the president almost consistently has even when he's made these statements, looking to say that he is willing to kind of bend and come to the middle on issues like gun control, he has often retreated as you say when he has heard the last person talk to him whether that's the NRA or more conservative senators who are more wary of that.

I remember back in the Parkland -- after the Parkland shootings they focused in on bump stocks, this kind of a compromise that moved away from the background check. So again, I would be wary of the president's words because he's just shown us repeatedly that he is not had the willingness to really go above and beyond what conservatives want. And we know just how wary they are about universal background checks.

HARLOW: Guys, listen to Mitch McConnell because he had -- he said last week that red flag laws and talking about background checks would be front and center when the Senate returns to session. Here he was on August 8th on a radio interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The urgency of this is not lost on any of us. What we can't do is fail to pass something.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: The urgency is not lost, Eliana, on any of us. We cannot fail to pass something. I would argue that the something is actually the operative word in that. What is it going to be, right?

JOHNSON: You're right. That's of course the question. And I think Astead is right that we're unlikely to see universal background checks passed. That there's just too much opposition to that within the Republican Party. But I do think there's an opening for these red flag laws. And we know that Wayne LaPierre, the head of NRA, got on the phone to the president last week pressing him not to do these red flag laws. But I can tell you there is angst in the Republican Party about the NRA -- about the weakened state of the NRA, and they just don't have the juice that they once had. And for that reason, I do think that it's likely that something -- something incremental like these red flag laws, though not something where there's almost universal opposition in the Republican Party like universal background checks will pass.

HARLOW: So, let's switch gears here to Ken Cuccinelli and the issue of immigration. He's the acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Astead, he was asked about Lazarus', you know, famous words that are now etched into the Statue of Liberty, you know, give us your huddled masses, et cetera. What does he think about that given the immigration rule change for legal immigration of this country this week from the administration, and he was on NPR and he essentially said, and I'm paraphrasing here, you know, give us those who will stand on their own two feet, and he took a lot of heat about that.

So he came on the network. He talked to Erin last night. Here's how he tried to explain it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: Well, of course that poem was referring back to people coming from Europe where they had class-based societies where people were considered wretched if they weren't in the right class. And it was introduced -- it was written one year, one year after the first federal public charge rule was written.

(END VIDEO CLIP) [09:10:08] HARLOW: What do you make of his explanation given the attention he's gotten for that?

HERNDON: I mean this is literally the latest iteration of what we've seen as a kind of consistent policy from the Trump administration. I would say one of the rare consistencies of President Trump and his administration's policies where they have focused immigration and limiting immigration not only for those who are coming from certain countries but for those who are, quote-unquote, like "deemed unworthy," people who would need public assistance. People who would need kind of the government to step in and support them.

And you hear this articulation frequently on the ground. I spend my time on the campaign trail side, and you'll hear the Republican base talking about, oh, we're not opposed to immigrants, we just want immigrants who can -- who have skills and have jobs. And that's been the through line consistently. Of course, there's also a racial component to this, too. When we talk about the kind of low-skill or people coming from certain countries, S-hole countries, as the president once called them. Those are often immigrants who are not from Europe, who are black and brown immigrants.

So you have this kind of dual thing happening here where people use the kind of skill-based arguments, the class-base arguments but is certainly also has a racial connotation and that is where their critics count.

HARLOW: But there's also -- Eliana, I'll just wrap it up -- an interesting divide within the Democratic Party and specifically the Democrats running for the presidency on, you know, levels of education for immigrants who should be -- on the legal immigration front who should be granted visas, et cetera.

JOHNSON: Well, that's right. And I think the Democrats are also divided on illegal immigration.

HARLOW: Oh, yes.

JOHNSON: Should we penalize people for crossing the border and that's an argument that's really likely to animate the Democrats running for president as the primaries continue. And something that President Trump has already pounced on. You've seen him calling Democrats the party of open borders and contrasting his own record with that. And so, you know, it is President Trump who's made immigration sort of the central national issue of -- of the 2016 campaign and of his first term as president. And I think we see now that is not going away as 2020 continues.

HARLOW: No, those first words when he game down the golden elevator -- golden escalator if you will, right, I mean, that ended up working for him. Will it work again? We'll see. Thank you, both. Astead Herndon, Eliana Johnson, I appreciate it.

Still to come the friend of -- the friend accused of giving the Dayton shooter body armor and a high capacity magazine is due in court today. This as we're learning more about those critical moments that led up to the massacre.

We are also keeping a very close eye on the market. The Dow is set to tumble at the open on news that is sparking more fears of a recession.

Plus 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Senator Michael Benett will be here with me live. He has a new book detailing Russian intervention, and he talks about how Russia once again is trying to divide this country ahead of the 2020 election.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:00] HARLOW: Later today, there will be a court hearing for the friend that is accused of giving body armor and a high capacity magazine to the shooter in Dayton, Ohio. He is facing federal firearms charges, and this happens as police release more details about that shooting, a lot more.

We now know more about what the shooter did, when he did it. We see him on surveillance video going to different bars and then back to his car to change clothes and to get his weapon. Well, police still are not sure about his motive, why he carried out this massacre, and did he deliberately target his sister?

Our national correspondent Ryan Young is live in Dayton this morning. Ryan, get us up to speed with what the police there are saying now.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Poppy, look, a lot of people still have that same question about the why and the fact the shooter was actually moving among all these people going into those bars. But there's so many surveillance cameras in this area, police now have more details about what his actions were right before the shooting.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YOUNG (voice-over): This new surveillance video released by Dayton police pending a haunting time line of how quickly a killer shot 26 people in just 32 seconds. Nine of them died.

RICHARD BIEHL, POLICE CHIEF, DAYTON, OHIO: This was the next big, I think chunk of the investigation that we felt comfortable of releasing because we have high level of confidence, it's accurate in terms of time frame and location and activity.

YOUNG: Authorities say the killer's night began shortly after 11:00 p.m., going to Blind Bob's Bar with his sister Megan Betts and a friend. Next, you can see him here at 12:14 a.m. leaving the two before heading to another bar, Ned Peppers. About 30 minutes later, the shooter leaves the venue even walking by a police vehicle.

PAUL SAUNDERS, POLICE, DAYTON, OHIO: He's aware of where they were or even think he hadn't seen them.

YOUNG: At 12:46 a.m., the killer goes to his car. Authorities say he changed his clothes and grabs his assault rifle. Next waiting behind a stretch of bars for nine minutes. BIEHL: I don't think he could have put that weapon in its fully

built-out state in that backpack and not have it sticking out. I think that's part of the explanation for the nine minutes, right?

SAUNDERS: Right, and that's noticing the fact that the backpack was -- appeared to be weighed down, so it's safe to say it was probably in the backpack.

YOUNG: Surveillance cameras catch the shooter then walking down an ally, shortly after 1:00 a.m., the nightmare begins, the killer opens fire with the weapon of war, police quickly responding to the scene, shooting and killing the gunman quickly. But in those 32 seconds, he managed to fire 41 bullets, hitting 26 people, 9 of them fatally, including his sister.

[09:20:00] BIEHL: The evidence has been debated in both directions with individuals and organization intimately familiar with the evidence, whether that was intentional or not, I think it's inconclusive.

YOUNG: Authorities say the killer was communicating with his sister in the hour before the massacre through a phone call and text messages.

BIEHL: We don't see any one assisting him in committing this horrendous crime. Some follow-up investigation seems to strongly suggest that his companion had no idea of what he was going to do, nor did he have any knowledge of the weapons that were in the trunk of that vehicle.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YOUNG: Let's not forget that friend will be in court today to face the charges for buying that body armor and having parts of that ammunition drum that he was helping to hide from the shooter's parents. There's also something else we should mention here. You think about when his sister was shot just across the street, there was another friend with them, that friend did survive, no one's had a chance to talk to him just yet.

I mean, police have talked to him, but it'll be interesting to figure out exactly what he was saying in those minutes, maybe those hours before. So, some of the people here could get an idea of just why some of this has happened. And one thing that stood out to me, Poppy, and I've mentioned this before, there are all these stickers all across this area all the way down the street with these encouraging messages to the people of Dayton.

It's pretty beautiful considering all the things that have happened in this community this year, because even like two months ago, they had a tornado that tore through this area. This has been a challenging year for Dayton.

HARLOW: Yes, beyond. That's a beautiful thing to see in the wake of such tragedy, Ryan Young, thank you for bringing us that and for the great reporting this morning. All right, turning the page now to Jeffrey Epstein and a woman who now says that Epstein began sexually abusing her when she was 14 years old.

She's now filed a lawsuit against his estate and several people affiliated with him. She's alleging the group conspired to help Epstein repeatedly assault her. Meantime, we're learning that the warden at the correctional center here in New York City where Epstein committed suicide is being reassigned, the two guards supposed to watch him, they have been suspended.

The Justice Department did not identify those guards, at least not yet or say if they were the ones assigned to monitor Epstein when he died. Our Brynn Gingras is outside of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. What more do we know as they try to get answers here?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy, there was a bureau of prison's reconstruction team that was on site here at MCC, the building behind me yesterday. Another team is arriving today to get some of these answers to this investigation that's ongoing. You mentioned the warden being transferred, now an acting warden is coming in from Otisville, a prison just, you know, 60-70 miles north of here of New York City.

And we know that Epstein was not monitored for hours according to a source. You talked about those two guards, there are two staff members put on leave, we know one of those guards was a corrections officer, another guard had some training, but wasn't serving as a corrections officer.

We also know that there were cameras in the hallway outside of Epstein's cell. But it's unclear if those cameras were working, did they show anything? And the fact that there're so many questions about that really points to the fact that there might not be answers as to exactly how this all went down.

But still, again, so many questions to be answered like how long was Epstein dead possibly inside his cell before he was actually noticed? And all those questions need to be answered soon by these investigative teams and answers need to be given even to congressional members, Poppy.

HARLOW: OK, Brynn, thank you for that. Before you go, though, there's this new lawsuit --

GINGRAS: Yes --

HARLOW: Against not only Epstein, right, his estate for money, but also people connected to him?

GINGRAS: Yes, this is a big deal, Poppy, this is a suit that was filed today, and it does name the estate of Jeffrey Epstein, a British socialite who we have heard is the alleged madam, she served as a madam for Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell as well as 3 Jane Doe who in the lawsuit described as the recruiters, secretary and maid.

Now, remember, these women have not been charged criminally, but essentially, this suit filed by Jennifer Rose says they were all complicit in the fact that she was sexually abused at the hands of Epstein when she was 14 or 15 years old right here in New York City, and essentially, this is really going to serve as a template because now suits can be filed in New York, thanks to a change in the law for others to possibly come forward and file suit, Poppy?

HARLOW: OK, yes, I expect they'll see a lot more of this, Brynn, thank you for the great reporting this morning. Let's talk about the market here because we're moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street. It could get ugly quickly. There are new fears of a recession, I will tell you why? Next.

[09:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: All right, so we're moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street. Stocks about to drop, looks like a lot. There are fears this morning, new fears about a possible recession. Cristina Alesci is with me. To just start out with the warning signals here, and I know it sounds -- I mean, the futures are off almost 400 points, I know it sounds wonky, but this morning, the ten-year yield on U.S. treasuries, secure investment fell below the yield on two-year bonds, hasn't happened since 2007 which was a precursor to the last recession.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: So, we're really going to geek out this morning --

HARLOW: Of course!

ALESCI: OK, what that is called an inverted yield curve, and when shorter-term rates are higher, then longer-term rates. That's not the way it's supposed to work, and usually when you have an inverted yield curve, that is preceded by a recession, usually. We are in an abnormal environment, so no one really.

[09:30:00]