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Donald Trump Unlikely to Support Increased Gun Control; Hong Kong Protestors Preparing Subway Barricade Tonight; Protestors Spray Police with Fire Extinguishers as They Arrive on Scene. Aired 10:30- 11a ET

Aired August 21, 2019 - 10:30   ET



TEXT: Trump's Phone Calls With Wayne LaPierre Reveal NRA's Influence: Earlier this afternoon, according to a person briefed on the call, the president told LaPierre in another phone call that universal background checks were off the table.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: -- universal background checks are now off the table. Surprised? You shouldn't be, because we've seen this before. Just like last year after Parkland, where 17 students and staff were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Here's the president, just nine days after that shooting.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We certainly have to strengthen background checks. Everybody agrees with that. And we're going to make background checks very, very strong.


SCIUTTO: "Very, very strong," he said. But just three days after that --


TRUMP: Don't worry about the NRA, they're on our side. You guys, half of you are so afraid of the NRA, there's nothing to be afraid of.


SCIUTTO: Well, two weeks later, "The New York Times" put it bluntly. "Conceding to NRA, Trump Abandons Brief Gun Control Promise."

To be clear, it's not just the president. Yesterday, I asked GOP Congressman Tom Reed why any American would need a 100-round barrel magazine like the one the Dayton shooter used to kill nine people in just 40 seconds. Here was his answer.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): A hundred-round magazine. You're looking, there, at what's called a "barrel magazine." Should that be legal?

REP. TOM REED (R-NY): I don't believe banning objects is going to be the solution to this issue.

SCIUTTO: Why should that -- who needs a hundred --

REED: I think you go after the "who."

SCIUTTO: -- round magazine?

REED: Who.

SCIUTTO: Who in the country needs a hundred-round magazine?

REED: I mean, where are you going to draw the line? Does that make you feel better, that if we pass --

SCIUTTO: How about we start there?

REED: -- a law, saying we're going to ban objects --

SCIUTTO: Start on that --

REED: -- we're going to ban --

SCIUTTO: I spent a lot of time in Iraq and Afghanistan --

REED: -- you now why don't we ban --


SCUITTO: -- I've never seen a U.S. soldier --

REED: -- to your driver's license? Like, why don't we ban cars? Let's get them off the streets --

SCIUTTO: I'm asking you --

REED: -- because they're killing people.

SCIUTTO: I've never seen a barrel magazine like that --

REED: And so the question you're asking me --

SCIUTTO: -- with -- in the hands of a U.S. soldier --

REED: -- the question --

SCIUTTO: -- should it be legal? Simple question, yes or no.

REED: So I don't support that ban. And that's an attack against law- abiding citizens --

SCIUTTO: So it should be legal?

(END VIDEOTAPE) SCIUTTO: So once again, was this time different? The answer seems to be pretty clear: No. Let's discuss all this with John Kasich. He's the former Republican governor of Ohio, as well as CNN political -- senior political commentator.

Governor, you and I have talked about this a lot. In fact, we were standing outside the murder scene in Dayton, Ohio just a couple of weeks back, talking about that mass murder. Why do we appear to be in the same place we've been, after so many tragedies like this?

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Jim, this is the ugliest side of politics. So in other words, "I'm not going to do this because I might lose part of my base and I'm afraid of that, and I might not win election."

And this is not just related to Donald Trump, this relates to a lot of people in the United States Congress. "So therefore, because I've got some people out here who are screaming and yelling and saying they're going to go and defeat me, I just need to back off. "

And by the way, for that congressman, maybe you should have asked him, "Well, should people have machine guns?" You know, they banned bump stocks. Did you -- I mean, that conversation with him was absurd, OK? That is -- it's ridiculous. It's like we can do nothing unless we do everything.

So this is the ugliest side of politics. Obviously, they were telling the president that "If you go for any of this stuff, you're going to lose your base and you're going to lose election." Now, I think you're in office, Jim -- and you know, people can check my record -- you're in office to do the right thing, and the politics will take care of itself. This is really -- this is very sickening to me.

Secondly, though, I think there still is an opportunity in the states to get something done. And by the way, I see in the Senate, they're talking about some sort of grants for red flag laws. Well, that would be progress. That would be significant progress. But it's not enough.

SCIUTTO: All right.

KASICH: But, look, let's take whatever step we can, and let the states begin. And, here in Ohio, I certainly hope here in Ohio, they're going to pass some things. It's just --

SCIUTTO: And I know, to your --

KASICH: -- it's amazing to me.

SCIUTTO: -- credit, as governor of Ohio, Republican governor, you pursued measures, gun violence protection orders, known as red flag laws, domestic violence, you know, regulations so that folks don't use weapons like that at home, background checks as well. What did you learn from that experience in terms of getting measures like this through? KASICH: Well, as the casualties pile up, I've always felt that --

well, look, I was at a dinner the other night, and there were four women around the table, with their husbands. And the women all said one thing. "Why do we need to have all these guns?" OK? Nobody is coming to take everybody's guns away. We are for Second Amendment.

And, frankly, gun owners support reasonable restrictions --


KASICH: -- they do. But those people who are loud, who live in the District, are the ones that keep yelling at these members, and the members wilt. They're unwilling to say, "Oh, come on, now. Nobody's going to come grab your gun, but there are some reasonable things that we can do."

But, Jim, at the end of the day, it gets up to the voters. If the voters are going to speak on this, the politicians will run. I saw Joni Ernst in Iowa, they had a lot of people holding up signs to her. See, when she sees that, that puts the fear of God in her.

[10:35:01] I'm not questioning her, I don't know enough about her. But what I'm saying is, when the public demands changes, they will -- it will come. And it ultimately will come.

SCIUTTO: But the thing -- you look at the polling, I mean, more than 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks. The majority of NRA members support it. Hasn't the public spoken?

KASICH: Because, Jim, look, change comes over time. I mean, this is the thing that's hard for people to understand. Change comes from the bottom-up. The people who are for reasonable gun control laws have many things they're concerned about. Gun owners are concerned about basically one thing: "Don't touch my gun and don't change the laws."

So it's a matter of who has the most intensity when it comes to politicians. So if the public says, "Yeah, I'd like to have that," but they're not demanding it from people, and yet the gun owner is saying, "Don't you do anything," guess who wins? It's all about intensity.


KASICH: But over time, it will grow. Just like we see the environmental movement starting to grow, it took -- look how long it took to have women's suffrage in this country, because nobody wanted to do it and they fought for it for decades.

Unfortunately or fortunately, that's how change happens.

SCIUTTO: Yes. You could make a comparison to Civil Rights legislation in the '60s as well.

KASICH: You got it.

SCIUTTO: Governor John Kasich, always good to have you on the show. KASICH: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Overseas, the crisis in Venezuela, entering a new and dangerous period. Up next, CNN gets an exclusive look at the human cost of that country's bloody gold industry.


[10:41:05] SCIUTTO: Welcome back. These are live pictures from Hong Kong. These are pro-democracy protestors there, in a subway station. They have been setting up what appears to be a barricade. You see a number of them with umbrellas, that's been an icon of this pro- democracy movement there.

They're wearing gas masks -- police have, often in these encounters, used tear gas. And they are blocking the entrance there, you could see, with waste bins, other debris. We see them wearing hard hats, they're wearing goggles. These are all measures that protestors there have taken to respond to how the police have responded to these protests.

If they're setting up a barricade there, blocking access to a train station. This is a tactic that some of the more aggressive groups within the broader protest movement have used as a form of protest. We saw them in the airport, the international airport there, which has an enormous amount of volume running through it, essentially blocking the main terminal there.

You also see them with fire extinguishers, which they have used kind of as a way to push back against police there, who have, at times, been firing tear gas at the protestors, they've also used batons. Again, this is live pictures from Hong Kong. It's late in the evening there, inside a train station.

We're going to continue to follow this story. And when we -- we're going to take a quick break, we'll be right back after that break with a reporter on the ground, there in Hong Kong. Please stay with us.


[10:47:40] SCIUTTO: Welcome back. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington, and welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. We are watching live pictures here from Hong Kong. This is in the Yuen Long train station. Those are pro-democracy protestors there. They have set up a barricade, blocking access to that station.

You can see the protestors, they're wearing hard hats, gas masks, they're carrying umbrellas, which has become an iconic symbol of the ongoing pro-democracy movement there. They've set up a barricade there with waste bins. They're also carrying fire extinguishers, which appears to be a way to respond to, if police use, as they have in the past, tear gas against the protestors.

Here, this follows 11 straight weekends in Hong Kong, of pro-democracy protests, many of which have attracted hundreds of thousands of people to peaceful protests in the streets. At other times, there have been clashes between portions of the protestors and police who have used tear gas, batons. There have been arrests as well.

Again, these are live pictures, where -- from Hong Kong, where it's late in the evening. We have CNN correspondent Will Ripley, who is in Hong Kong now. He's on the phone.

Will, what do we know about these protests and what's planned?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, what we're seeing here began as a kind of a peaceful sit-in at the Yuen Long MTR Station, which of course was the scene of that -- that attack, involving suspected Triad gang members. This is the anniversary that was being marked, the one-month anniversary.

And yet, now, what has happened, as we've often seen in this cycle of this summer of discontent, when things seem like they're slowing down -- the most recent flashpoint was at the Hong Kong International Airport, they resolved that situation, they secured the airport -- and now, we have protestors at this MTR station, barricading themselves inside.

As you can see, they are prepared for a standoff. They're wearing helmets, they're wearing goggles and masks as if they're getting ready for this potential for pepper spray or tear gas or any sort of deployment. Some of them have what appears to be body armor to defend against nonlethal ammunition that Hong Kong police have used as of late.

[10:50:01] And you have police officers saying that they're going to intervene with police, using as minimal forces as necessary. And yet you have protestors that we can see here, who appear to be prepared to use much more than minimal force.

So you have the potential here for a flashpoint, the potential for interactions between Hong Kong police and protestors that could devolve into something that we don't, frankly, know at this stage, what's going to happen.

SCIUTTO: We should be clear that, by and large, the protests over these many weeks in Hong Kong -- you referred to as a "summer of discontent" -- have been largely peaceful marches through the streets, often shutting down parts of central Hong Kong.

There's been a smaller group of protestors who've taken more aggressive action, including invading the Legislative Council building there, and events like this one.

And Will Ripley, my colleague, referenced a clash a month ago between protestors and members of Hong Kong gangs who attacked them more violently. The suspicion among the protestors is, somehow those gangs were being used by the government to exact punishment on the protestors.

Not confirmed, but police as well have, in some of these encounters, used quite amount of force: batons, tear gas, et cetera. Of course, you could see the protestors there, prepared for just such an encounter, the helmets, the goggles, the gas masks and, as I mentioned earlier, fire extinguishers, which they may use or at least threaten to use against police as they come.

I want to show on air a tweet from Joshua Wong, who is a young Hong Kong resident, or -- well, let me just quote from it. He's been a leader of these -- of this pro-democracy movement, there, for a number of years now. And he sent out a tweet earlier today, that "We will join hands tomorrow in the name of freedom, democracy and for a better future for Hong Kong. Will you be there?"

So "tomorrow" -- and keep in mind, it's already late at night in Hong Kong, local time, late Wednesday evening -- that tomorrow, they have plans for larger protests.

Whether this is connected to that, it's not clear, but as Will Ripley said, this, marking one month since a violent clash between Hong Kong gangs and the protestors there.

Will Ripley, you've been covering this for some time. The background here, are laws proposed by China, particularly an extradition law, that Hong Kong residents see as putting Hong Kong, which has its own law, its own representatives, under China's more authoritarian system here. The Hong Kong leader backed off instituting that law.

But to be clear, Will, China maintains a great deal of control in Hong Kong, does it not? There was someone who was extradited recently, and then questions being asked.

RIPLEY: Yes. Certainly, mainland (INAUDIBLE) exert influence, here in Hong Kong, and we've actually seen that intensify in one of the most important sectors of life here, which is the financial sector, fairly recently.

Am I still on the line now?

SCIUTTO: You are, Will. We can hear you.

RIPLEY: OK. The line was ringing on my end.

So as I was saying, there have been some incidents recently involving Beijing's influence on the financial sector. For example, Cathay Pacific, they had employees participate in a -- in a demonstration, and then mainland China said that any Cathay air crew who participated in the illegal protests in Hong Kong, would not be able to fly over Chinese airspace or in and out of mainland China, which would cut into like 50 percent of Cathay's business.

So what did the airline do? They fired a couple of pilots --


RIPLEY: -- they warned employees, not to participate in, you know, these kinds of political events. And, you know, their CEO resigned.

So you're seeing a company operating in a free economy like Hong Kong, under the influence of Beijing, and there are going to be other examples like that as well, as the mainland obviously continues to, you know, not encourage this type of activity. For example, Alibaba, they were going to do a $15 billion listing here

in Hong Kong, which they have now postponed as a result of the political unrest, that's the reporting by Reuters.

SCIUTTO: We Should note for viewers who may not know the background here, Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997, it had been a British colony for more than a century. And as part of that agreement, Hong Kong maintained its own laws, representatives -- a policy known as One Country, as in China, but two systems, with a Hong Kong system distinct from China's authoritarian system, rule of law.

Just as we're watching, you can see protestors pulling down a metal barrier there, and firing those fire extinguishers towards police. Again, this is taking place live, these are live pictures inside a Hong Kong subway station. It is late in the evening there, just about 11:00 p.m.

[10:55:00] As you can see, these are protestors, protesting that there was no prosecution of gang members who attacked protestors violently a month ago. That's what they're protesting here.

The bigger picture here are Hong Kong residents coming out in force, sometimes by the hundreds of thousands, to support more democracy, the rule of law in their country as they feel that China is exercising more control over them.

CNN's going to continue to watch this very tense situation on the ground there, Hong Kong protestors, putting up a barricade, blocking access to a subway station there, part of 11 weeks now, every weekend, big public protests there. CNN will stay on top of it. There's much on the breaking news out of Hong Kong, right after this quick break.