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Dayton Police Say Killer Shot 26 People in 32 Seconds; FBI Arrests Teen for Threats Against Federal Agents; Will Congress Pass Gun Legislation After Mass Shootings?; Trump Appears to Back Off Blagojevich Pardon; Hong Kong-China Tensions Escalate After Violent Protests. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired August 14, 2019 - 06:00   ET

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


[06:00:00] ANNOUNCER: NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, August 14th, 6:00 here in New York. I'm only a little rusty.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: How was summer camp?

CAMEROTA: It was great.

BERMAN: You have new camp friends?

CAMEROTA: I have lots of new camp friends. Yes. And I'll tell you, when you check out of this news cycle for a week and you're sort of off the grid, as we were in Montana, it looks even more insane when you check back in.

BERMAN: I can imagine.

CAMEROTA: It is really -- it's clarifying to be out of the news cycle and to have watched what happened and unfolded over last week.

BERMAN: You have three hours to impart your clarity on me. I could use some of it.

CAMEROTA: OK. Here we go. This morning "The Washington Post" headline is stark but obvious. People are fed up when it comes to gun violence and Congress' lack of action. According to the "Post," activists who want gun restrictions believe the momentum is on their side. President Trump claims that Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell wants to strengthen background checks on gun sales. But there's no evidence of that. McConnell's aides say he has not endorsed any legislation on guns and of course Congress is in recess for this month.

BERMAN: So was the president just making things up when it comes to Mitch McConnell's intentions? What exactly would McConnell support and what exactly will Leader McConnell do?

This should be pretty easy for McConnell to answer and answer quickly. And speed matters here. El Paso and Dayton show us that this is urgent and the police in Dayton just released new information including new surveillance video and a timeline of the massacre there. The killer shot 26 people in 32 seconds. 32 seconds.

CNN's Ryan Young live in Dayton with these new details.

Ryan, tell us what you've learned.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, when you think about this story, it's so very tough especially for people in this community. If you look over my shoulder you still see the memorial that stands there. So many questions about this case but police now revealing a closer timeline.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

CHIEF RICHARD BIEHL, DAYTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: This was a next big, I think, chunk of the investigation that we felt comfortable releasing as we have a high level of confidence that it's accurate in terms of timeframe 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.

LT. PAUL SAUNDERS, DAYTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: He's aware of where they were or you'd think he hadn't seen them.

YOUNG: At 12:46 a.m., the killer goes to his car. Authorities say he changes 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 alley. Shortly after 1:00 a.m., the nightmare begins. The killer opens fire with a 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, nine of them fatally, including his sister.

BIEHL: The evidence has been debated in both directions with individuals in our 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 anyone assisting him in committing this horrendous crime. Some follow-up investigation seems to strongly suggest that his companion had no idea 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: Not only did the shooter have body armor on, but he had that AR-15. Of course, police and federal investigators are still working on the motive in this case. So many people in this community want to know why -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: We all do, Ryan. Thank you very much.

So not far from Dayton, the FBI has arrested an 18-year-old who they say threatened to kill federal agents. Authorities found dozens of guns and a massive amount of ammunition in his home.

CNN's Jessica Schneider is live for us with more.

What's this about, Jessica?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, authorities say that this 18-year-old has been using the online app iFunny to make threats supporting mass shootings and encouraging full- scale attack on federal law enforcement agents. Now this was something that FBI agents were monitoring for months.

[06:05:02] And last week just a few days after that mass shooting in Dayton, FBI agents conducted a search of this teenager's car and bedroom and they found this. A machete, 15 rifles including assault rifles, 10 semiautomatic pistols, 10,000 rounds of ammunition, camouflage clothing, and backpacks. And when agents confronted that 18-year-old Justin Olsen, he said that his comments online promoting violence were just a joke. But of course authorities are taking this very seriously.

They've charged that teen with threatening to assault a law enforcement officer and he remains in custody this morning after an initial court appearance on Monday. He has a detention hearing on Friday. And really this arrest shows just how seriously authorities are taking online threats and the stockpiling of weapons in the wake of those two mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. The Dayton shooting just 200 miles away from where this teenager was found with his arsenal. In this case, the charges right now are for threats against federal officers. But it is possible that this teen could face even more charges -- John and Alisyn.

BERMAN: All right. Jessica Schneider for us.

What he had in his possession and what he is writing, such a dangerous combination.

CAMEROTA: And what he's able to amass. I mean, what he's able to amass. I just think that we just need to point that out this morning that, you know, I think it's so absurd that he says, oh, it's all a joke. He was allowed to buy those assault weapons, semiautomatic, tons of rifles, tons of ammo, body armor. What did people think he was going to do?

BERMAN: And again, this is urgent and is demanding immediate action. We're hearing from our political leaders, they want to take immediate action. They just need to prove it.

Joining us right now are April Ryan, White House correspondent at American Urban Networks, Toluse Olorunnipa, White House reporter at the "Washington Post," and Angela Rye is CNN political commentator.

I want to play for you what President Trump is now saying about where things stand with political movement in the issue of background checks, which the president claims he is a supportive of. Listen to what the president says.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am convinced that Mitch wants to do something. I've spoken to Mitch McConnell. He's a good man. He wanted to do something. He wants to do -- and I think very strongly, he wants to do background checks and I do, too. And I think a lot of Republicans do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: McConnell's -- Mitch McConnell's people tell CNN that he hasn't promised anything other than to talk about background checks. We don't have any reason to believe that McConnell is supportive of background checks.

So, Toluse, you were with the president yesterday. You were the author of some famous pool reports yesterday that got a lot of -- a lot of buzz. Is this just word salad from the president? What is he talking about? What does it mean?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the president was actually very eager to come over to talk to the press. No one asked him any questions. He just made a beeline directly from Marine One to talk to the assembled reporters. So, he did want to put out his message on this issue. But it's not clear that he has any specifics yet. He's just talking about broad language. The president wants to do something but not saying what exactly he wants to do.

He said he wants to do background checks, but he hasn't said anything about bringing the Senate back in. He hasn't announced support for the House-passed bill which has already passed the House which if the Senate were to pass the president could sign and have an accomplishment on background checks. So, it does seem like he's sort of trying to dial back exactly what he means by background checks. And you have to sort of delve into the details to find out whether or

not he wants to do something that actually would make a difference or just have some sort of accomplishment to say, I did something on guns. Let's move to another issue.

CAMEROTA: And April, I mean, forgive me for sounding jaded, but we've been here before.

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, yes.

CAMEROTA: Obviously too many times. But the president has also flip- flopped on this so many times. He has said that he wanted background checks after Parkland.

RYAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: And then nothing happened. After Las Vegas, he felt strongly in those 24 hours or 48 hours about, you know, bump stocks and it took a year for an executive action. And so, it's just hard to trust what will happen this time.

RYAN: Alisyn, you're right. We've been here before. But it took people. It took hurt. For people to come out and put pressure on the president. Particularly when it was Parkland. We heard the same thing about background checks. But the NRA, the NRA stepped in and said no, no, no. The NRA has the president. They've got the Republicans in the Senate and Republicans in the House so nothing's going to happen.

I mean, we've been dealing with issues of guns and mass shootings for decades now. I mean, this is an epidemic for real. And the problem is when you keep talking about it -- I mean, I've been at the White House for 22 years. They were talking about closing the gun show loophole during Bill Clinton's time in office.

CAMEROTA: But it feels like it's accelerated. I mean, and I don't think the talk.

RYAN: It's accelerated.

CAMEROTA: I mean, the mass shootings.

RYAN: It has accelerated. And you have HR-8 that has bipartisan support in that House that will not get support in the Senate. One, Mitch McConnell is running for office and that is a death nail for him. So, the talk is going to happen. They're talking. There's no action.

BERMAN: So, Angela, I know this will appeal to you because I think sometimes you want to see action outside the realm of just counting on the president for anything.

[06:10:01] "The Washington Post" has a story which you pointed out this morning which suggests there is a new groundswell of support for some of these groups battling gun violence and they feel new momentum to get something done. But is that going to be enough, this new momentum that they feel without McConnell and the president?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that the real challenge here is -- and April, I'm glad you brought up the NRA. The NRA is going through some really challenging times. And to me it seems like if there was ever an opportunity to shake free Republican support that, you know, the death hold the NRA -- sorry, no pun intended -- has on members of Congress, you would think it would be right now. In part because of the number of deaths and shootings we've seen, Alisyn, to your last point. But also because it shows the fragility and the fact that this is not an entity that has to be permanent and particularly if they're making some ethical mistakes which is clear they have made.

I think the other real challenge for us is there are a number of people in communities everywhere who feel like, I don't know that I have the power. And so now is the time to test to see if they have the power to stand up against the Goliath and they are all the little Davids. Goliath being the NRA but a very fragile one. Maybe there's one more sling stone that'll take it out.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I mean, people feel -- obviously people feel helpless. They feel like they're sending their kids to school as sitting ducks. And said, well, I guess that's just the price of admission in America. I guess we just accept this as our new normal. But of course, you can actually vote for people who feel strongly about this. This can be your single issue. And if you have been in or around a shooting, a mass shooting, this does become your single issue. We're going to be speaking later in the program with a woman who survived Dayton. And then it becomes your motivating issue. And so we're just trying to figure out if this is the tipping point and we always try to figure that out.

BERMAN: It shouldn't be a mystery. I'll just say, Mitch McConnell, it shouldn't be a mystery. There's no reason Mitch McConnell can't tell us exactly where he does stand on background checks. That would clear things up and make it easier to have the conversation he wants to have.

Ken Cuccinelli who runs immigration for the president inside the White House had some interesting remarks yesterday about the poem Emma Lazarus, of course, wrote that is now on the Statue of Liberty, which says, you know, give us your tired and your poor. This is what he told NPR he thinks it -- I think should say? Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do also agree that Emma Lazarus' words etched on the Statue of Liberty, give me your tired, your poor, are also part of the American ethos?

KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: They certainly are. Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: Yes. "Who will not become a public charge" is absolutely not in that poem. And Ken Cuccinelli knows it which is why he tried to clean it up last night with Erin Burnett. Listen to what he tried to do here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUCCINELLI: 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 that says, and I'll quote it. "Any person unable to take care of himself without becoming a public charge," unquote, would be inadmissible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: How does that clear that up, Angela?

RYE: John.

CAMEROTA: Yes? I can't wait for this one.

BERMAN: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

RYE: First of all, what is amazing about what he said is that he actually cited a continent where he thinks this is acceptable. He says Europe. And that is exactly the point that we all have been raising whether we're talking about s-holes, it's too early, or whether we're talking about the things -- the ways in which they've targeted (INAUDIBLE) communities. It is very clear what their intentions are.

To me, Ken Cuccinelli told on himself and now we're ready for a lawsuit. That's the way that we have to engage with this administration. Even going back to the last point we were just on. It is a shame when you get to a place where there's an entire aspect -- part of the American government that cannot function. Everything has to be a lawsuit with this administration because they act like they don't have fundamental understanding that discriminatory practices on their face are illegal. It's unconstitutional.

CAMEROTA: There are already lawsuits now being launched I believe in California.

RYE: Yes.

BERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: To challenge this. But if Ken Cuccinelli --

RYE: And New York.

CAMEROTA: I mean, if the administration wants to make sure that people will not be on the dole on welfare and public assistance, they should have immigrants trained native-born Americans, because immigrants receive fewer benefits and work more, all the statistics show at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, than native born Americans.

OLORUNNIPA: Yes. The labor participation rate is much higher among immigrant groups than among native born Americans and most people who come here don't come here to get on welfare. They come here to make a better life for themselves, and what Ken Cuccinelli was doing was providing a revisionist form of American history, saying that people who've come here in the past have all been aristocrats and been wealthy and been able to, you know, take care of themselves and provide for the public good as soon as they got here.

[06:15:10] And that's not the history that we've heard. We've heard a number of these very same politicians say when my grandparents came here with, you know, 2 cents in their pockets, they've made the American dream for my family, and, you know, I'm a testament to that. And now I'm --

CAMEROTA: But Donald Trump's grandfather came here.

OLORUNNIPA: Right. And so now that -- you know, that the country is changing in terms of the demographics, there seems to be a move to try to revise American history and say that, you know, the public charge issue is something that Emma Lazarus was thinking about when she wrote that poem and was thinking that only people who could not be a public charge should come into the -- into America.

CAMEROTA: It's the opposite. I mean, it's the opposite.

RYAN: Yes. It's most definitely the opposite. But what happened was Ken Cuccinelli basically gave the talking point that they were using for this effort and the backlash came. But see, here's the piece that they don't understand. As you said, labor. Labor has the numbers. Go to your own department and find out before you speak falsehoods. Then there's another piece. The poorest portion of America happens to be in Mitch McConnell's district. Appalachia. White America. Not immigrants. White America.

So, this does not stand legally. This discrimination and regulatory processes do not stand. And it just does not stand on a moral and a human basis. This is upturning the applecart. The nation is changing. Or they're trying to change it.

BERMAN: Last thing I want to cover here, if I can, is the president of course has been accused of profiting, and his family, of profiting while in office.

RYE: Absolutely.

BERMAN: You say absolutely. There have been lawsuits, not have been settled conclusively at this point but the lawsuits are out there. The president was asked about this yesterday. In his defense or the way he tried to turn it is straight out of fantasy land. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: This thing is costing me a fortune, being president. Somebody said, oh, he might have rented a room for -- to a man from Saudi Arabia for $500. What about the $5 billion that I'll lose? You know, it's probably going to cost me including upside, downside lawyers because every day they sue me for something. These are the most litigious people. It's probably costing me from $3 billion to $5 billion for the privilege of being -- and I couldn't care less. I don't care. You know, if you're wealthy, it doesn't matter. I just want to do a great job.

That's why I don't care. I want to do the right job. I got sued on a thing called emoluments. Emoluments. You ever hear the word -- nobody ever heard of it before. They went back. Now nobody looks at Obama getting $60 million for a book. That's OK. Even though nobody in history ever got that much money for a book. $60 million for a book. Nobody looks. Nobody looks at any -- but with me, it's everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Well, I'm glad he doesn't care.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: There's a word for that. That is dumb. That is a dumb comparison there.

RYE: Yes, sir.

BERMAN: That is just dumb. And it's nonsensical, right? Emoluments?

RYAN: He's limited.

BERMAN: Look, there can be lawsuits. They can determine what they want with the lawsuits, but President Obama got the book deal after he was president. There's apples and oranges. It's not even apples and oranges. It's like apples and, like, robots.

RYE: And here's -- here's the real -- yes, OK. OK, John. But I think the real challenge here is I think there's a fundamental lack of understanding for how government works. The other challenge we have is, unlike Donald Trump, Barack Obama actually had, you know, a White House counsel and ethics governance that he followed, practices that he followed, whereas this administration regularly breaks laws, breaks rules. Like just runs afoul of the rules.

The fact that he sees it as not that big of a deal when you're wealthy to not take all this money, but Trump -- the Trump campaign regularly spends money with Trump properties. He's benefitting. The fact that --

CAMEROTA: Hundreds and millions of dollars, we should say.

RYE: Yes.

CAMEROTA: They have made hundreds of millions of dollars.

RYE: Yes, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: From their hotel.

RYE: You can pull the number.

CAMEROTA: So, the idea that he's losing money is also -- doesn't -- the math doesn't work.

RYAN: Being president is a profitable business for him and for his entities. Any other president would have to walk away from their stocks, from any of their businesses, put it in a blind trust. But this president just goes down the street every week to his own property, invites everybody to come. I mean, you hear so many people from other countries, oh, I stayed at the Trump Hotel. He's getting money for being president. He's not losing.

CAMEROTA: The Mar a-Lago membership fees have gone up exponentially.

RYAN: I wouldn't know. I don't go.

OLORUNNIPA: And if I could just point really quickly, the event yesterday was a taxpayer funded event. It really was a campaign rally. This was supposed to be an official event but the president was campaigning on the public dime, millions of taxpayer dollars.

CAMEROTA: Imagine that.

OLORUNNIPA: While complaining about how much money he's losing.

CAMEROTA: On the public dole.

RYAN: Hmm.

RYE: Imagine that. We can't imagine he would do that.

[06:20:04] BERMAN: All right, friends, thank you very much.

New this morning, multiple sources tell CNN President Trump appears to have backed off a plan to commute the sentence of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. It apparently came after a flood of calls from Republican lawmakers to the president.

Joe Johns is live in New Jersey where the president is staying with more on this.

Man, the president was floating this out in the open for everyone to see and now will retreat, Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Fascinating story. But, you know, any time this president is thinking about using his pardon power, it gets a lot of attention. And my colleagues here at CNN, Pam Brown and Jeremy Diamond, have learned that the president was on the verge of issuing a pardon to Rod Blagojevich, of course the disgraced former Illinois governor, he's in prison right now, and apparently the president got flooded with calls from Illinois politicians including Darin LaHood, Mike Bost, both United States congressmen, all of whom saying this is just a bad idea. It sends the wrong message.

The president apparently backing off saying he wished he'd had that perspective before. Now, as you know Blago got a 14-year for a sentence for essentially trying to sell the Senate seat of Barack Obama when he left the Senate to become president of the United States. The president apparently knows Blagojevich from his days back on "The Apprentice" TV show on NBC. So apparently, we are told, yes, the president has decided to back off on that idea. However, a very interesting development.

Back to you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And how it all happened.

Joe, thank you very much.

BERMAN: Imagine if you're Rod Blagojevich this morning.

CAMEROTA: That's not nice.

BERMAN: Right? Well --

CAMEROTA: That was a (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: Dangling out there. Yes, absolutely.

CAMEROTA: Yes. All right. Meanwhile, a violent turn to protests in Hong Kong escalating tensions with China. Could this lead to another Tiananmen Square? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:26:39] CAMEROTA: Hong Kong's airport is reopened at this hour. It was closed Tuesday following violent protests. Those protests that you see on your screen are escalating tensions between Hong Kong and China.

And joining us now is CNN's international correspondent Will Ripley who knows all about this.

Will, what's going to happen today?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We don't know. If -- they've tried to stop these protesters from reentering the airport. They're checking passports and boarding passes so the hope is that they can't get a huge crowd in there and disrupt the flights for the third straight day in an airport that's one of the busiest in the world.

BERMAN: The issue is these protests are growing and the protesters don't seem to relent. And it seems to be spiraling to a point where confrontation really perhaps dangerous confrontation is inevitable. RIPLEY: I would say the violence is growing but the size of the

protest is getting smaller, which to me indicates that they're losing the support that they had at the beginning of the summer when there were, you know, a million or more people out. A lot of people inspired by these young people who feel that they're fighting for the future of Hong Kong. But there's now this radical darker element. And when you have every week pepper spray being, you know, used by police and protesters hurling petro bombs and bricks, that takes it to a darker place. And a lot of people now are exhausted. The city is stretched and people are wondering what's going to happen next.

CAMEROTA: I mean, you've also told us that there are -- that some of the young people feels like they're fighting for their future. So it's not just about the extradition bill anymore. It's about fighting for their future and they feel there's nothing to lose.

RIPLEY: And that's the dangerous thing, is that we've actually heard from young people who say they're willing to die for this cause. They think it's a foregone conclusion that Beijing is going to roll in its military much like Tiananmen Square.

Now that seems very unlikely for a lot of different reasons. Optics. This is not 1989. There's social media now. I mean, the -- that would be absolutely catastrophic. But what we are seeing is the Chinese propaganda trying to intimidate these protesters to remind them of what could happen. You see this military convoy assembling in Shenzhen, which now that China just opened up a brand-new bridge connecting the mainland to Hong Kong, that convoy could roll over very quickly.

And I think the Chinese government wants Hong Kong protesters to know that even if that's not their plan at least not yet.

BERMAN: You headed there to Hong Kong?

RIPLEY: As long as my flight lands, yes.

BERMAN: Right. Well, it just goes to show the situation could be getting worse. You're going there to cover it because we think this may be a problem in the next month.

RIPLEY: We need to watch it. It's a big story and it's not over yet.

BERMAN: All right, Will, thanks for being here with us. Safe travels.

All right. A new report says the guards who were watching Jeffrey Epstein before his death, they were asleep and then tried to cover it up. What we're learning about what happened inside the prison next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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