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President Trump Speaks At The Pentagon; Multiple People Wounded In Stabbing In Tallahassee, Florida; House Judiciary Approves Gun Violence Prevention Legislation. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired September 11, 2019 - 10:00   ET


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: -- [10:00:00] even the midst of the attack, the world witnessed the awesome power of American defiance.

40 passengers and crew were in Flight 93, rose up, fought back and thwarted the enemy's wicked plans. In their final moments, these American heroes thunderously declared that we alone decide our fate.

We saw American perseverance in the valiant New York firefighters, police officers, first responders, military and every day citizens who raced into the crashing towers to rescue innocent people.

One such American was retired Army Colonel Rick Rescorla, who gave his life on 9/11. Rick earned the silver star and the purple heart for his service in Vietnam. He later became the vice president for security at Morgan Stanley in the World Trade Center. On the day of the attack, Rick died while leading countless others to safety. His selfless actions saved approximately 2,700 lives.

Today, I'm honored to announce that we will soon be awarding the late Rick Rescorla, the presidential citizens medal for his extraordinary sacrifice.

Though Rick has left this earth, we will ensure that the memory of his deeds will never, ever be forgotten. His memory will forever endure. Thank you. Thank you, Rick. Thank you, Rick. Thank you, Rick.

Here in the western side of the Pentagon, we saw brave men and women rush into the fire and race into the scorching flames to rescue their colleagues. When evil seeks to do us harm, the incredible men and women of the United States military answer with unyielding valor and unstoppable resolve.

Navy Admiral David Thomas crawled through live wires and helped lift a wall of debris to save the life of a colleague. As Admiral Thomas remembers, it was the worst day of my life, but the heroism and selfless disregard I saw that horrible morning is forever burned in my heart. Admiral Thomas, America salutes you and every patriot who defied evil that day. Thank you very much, Admiral. Thank you. Thank you, very much. Thank you very much.

Army ranger Chris Braman repeatedly went back inside the burning building rescuing one injured person after another. Before he entered, he said a prayer and asked God to give him strength and then he dove into the suffocating smoke and fumes and flames.

At the same time, Sheila Moody had just prayed that someone would find her. Then she heard Chris' voice as Sheila says, God sent Chris as her guardian angel. To Sheila and Chris, America is strengthened by your goodness and your grace and your bravery. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.

To fulfill our unbreakable promise to every survivor and family of 9/11, earlier this year, we fully reauthorize the Victim's Compensation Fund to the tune of billions and billions of dollars.

Since September 11th, nearly 6 million young men and women have joined the United States Armed Forces. They have crossed seas, climbed mountains, trekked through deserts and rushed into enemy compounds to face down the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.

Nearly 7,000 service members have laid down their lives to protect our home, our flag and our American way of life. American freedom survives only because there are patriots willing to sacrifice everything in its defense. No tribute [10:05:00] is sufficient to convey the infinite debt of our nation's gratitude.

On this solemn day of remembrance, our thoughts also turn to the 200,000 valued soldiers, sailors, airmen, coast guardsmen and marines who are now at this very moment stationed overseas. We do not seek conflict. But if anyone dares to strike our land, we will respond with the full measure of American power and the iron will of the American spirit, and that spirit is unbreakable.

We had peace talks scheduled a few days ago. I called them off when I learned that they had killed a great American soldier from Puerto Rico and 11 other innocent people. They thought they would use this attack to show strength. But actually, what they showed is unrelenting weakness. The last four days, we have hit our enemy harder than they have ever been hit before and that will continue.

And if for any reason they come back to our country, we will go wherever they are and use power the likes of which the United States has never used before, and I'm not even talking about nuclear power. They will never have seen anything like what will happen to them.

No enemy on earth can match the overwhelming strength, skill and might of the American Armed Forces. And we have rebuilt and strengthened in the last two and a half years, spending $700 billion, $716 billion and now just approved $738 billion, more money by far than ever spent on our Armed Forces. You are the fearless sentinels who stand, watch over all that we cherish and everything we hold sacred, priceless and dear.

This morning, we also give thanks to the dedicated men and women at the Department of Homeland Security. Their department was created after 9/11 to help secure our immigration system and ensure that those who threaten our people are denied entry to our shores.

We're indebted to every law enforcement official, state, local and federal who devotes their life to keeping America safe. As we gather at this moment, and at this incredible memorial, we are reminded that there is no greater testament to our fallen heroes than the presence of their families who knew and loved them so much.

Among the family members, here today is Stephanie Dunn. Her husband, Navy Commander Patrick Dunn, was one of the patriots who gave his life right here 18 years ago. Before he left that morning, Patrick gave Stephanie a big beautiful kiss. Then for the first time, he leaned down and kissed her pregnant stomach. Stephanie was just two months along with their first child.

Earlier this year, their daughter, Allie, celebrated her 17th birthday. Allie grew up into a strong, truly remarkable young woman. She mentors the children of our nation's wounded warriors. And recently, I was honored to give Allie the president's volunteer service award for her hundreds of hours of community service. We are blessed to have Allie here with us at today's ceremony. Thank you, Allie. Thank you. Thank you.

And, Allie, I know your dad is watching over you. He's right up there. He's watching from heaven, looking down right now with love and pride. He is so proud of you. Thank you very much. Incredible.

Also joining us is the Vigiano Family. For generations, the Vigiano Family has served in our military [10:10:00] and in the New York fire and police departments. These are two great departments. I grew up with them. I know.

On September 11th, NYPD Detective Joseph Vigiano rushed into the World Trade Center and died rescuing his fellow citizens. His brother John was a New York fire fighter. He also gave his life that day at ground zero.

At the time, Joseph's three sons were just young boys ages eight, six and three months old. This morning, they are with us. The youngest, John, just finished his freshman year of college at Sunni Maritime College and he plans to join the military. Joseph Jr., is a marine reservist, and just like his father, he is a proud member of the NYPD. And James is a corporeal in the Marines.

On his last deployment, James was stationed on the USS New York, a ship made using 24 tons of steel from the World Trade Center. Every time he left the mess hall on his way to his bunk, he passed a picture of his dad.

To John, Joseph and James and to the Vigiano Family, you have sacrificed beyond measure and you will never, ever stop giving back to this country and thank you very much for being here. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. I'm very proud of you. Thank you. Thank you very much.

The heroes present today remind us of an immortal truth. The future of our nation is secured through the vigilance of our people, the brave men and women who tore through the gates of hell to save the hurt and the wounded, the service members who honor the friends who perished by continuing their exceptional life of service, the mom and dads who endure the loss of their soul mates and fill their children's lives with all of the adoration in the world, the sons and daughters who suffered grave loss, and yet, through it all, persevered to care for our neighbors, defend our homeland and safeguard our nation. Each of your lives tells the story of courage and character, virtue and valor, resilience and resolve, loyalty and love.

This morning, we make a sacred vow to carry on this noble legacy. Today and every day, we pledge to honor our history, to treasure our liberty, to uplift (ph) our communities, to live up to our values, to prove worthy of our heroes, and above all, stronger than ever, to never, ever forget we are now and will forever be one American family, united by patriotism, bound by destiny and sustained by the faith of almighty God.

Thank you, God bless you, God bless our military and God bless the United States of America. Thank you all. Thank you very much. Thank you.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: There, you have the president's remarks on this 18-year mark since the 9/11 terrorist attacks to this nation speaking there beside the first lady at the Pentagon, again, where 184 people perished when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. We are, of course, waiting for that final moment of silence, 10:28 A.M. when the north tower fell.

TOM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: And you can hear taps (ph) being played there now at the Pentagon, a great military celebration.

Interesting, the president bringing up his now rescinded offer to the Taliban to come speak at Camp David around the time of the 9/11 attacks. Of course, the Taliban has never condemned the 9/11 attacks.

We do have other news that we're following, and this news just breaking in the last few moments. Police in Tallahassee, Florida are responding to an incident where there are now multiple stabbing victims.

HARLOW: Our colleague, Nick Valencia, joins us. Nick, I know this is just crossed. They are in the middle of figuring out exactly what happened. But police do believe they have a suspect in custody, is that right?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. I just got off the phone with the Tallahassee Police Department, and they tell me that about 8:37 this morning, multiple people were stabbed outside of Dyke Industries in Tallahassee. They say this incident happened outside of Dyke Industries in between the Coca-Cola plant. I asked about the extent of the injuries of those that were stabbed this morning. [10:15:00] the police officer I spoke to declined to comment only to say that those victims had been transferred to the hospital.

I did ask about this suspect. As you mentioned, Poppy, the suspect is currently in custody. I asked if I can get any other details, if this suspect was perhaps an employee of either Dyke Industries or Coca- Cola. The officer I spoke with declined to comment only to say that more details would be released in the coming hours. But, again, just to repeat here, Tallahassee Police Department telling CNN, multiple people were stabbed this morning outside of Dyke Industries in Tallahassee in between the Coca-Cola plant. And, Poppy, we'll get out there to get more details.

HARLOW: Okay. Nick, thank you for that reporting. Get back to us when you have more.

All right, we have a lot ahead this hour. Republicans waiting for the president to say what he will and won't sign when it comes to gun legislation. Many say they're in the dark (ph) over what the president wants to do. We'll discuss that next.

SCIUTTO: Plus, the American Lung Association issuing, really, an alarming warning, do not use eCigarettes. This is the number of vaping-related deaths grows. It's quite an alarming warning. We'll have more.



Well, as Congress faces pressure from so many Americans to act following more mass shootings from El Paso to Dayton, to Odessa, the House Judiciary Committee voted yesterday to approve a series of gun violence measure. They include red flag legislation, also a ban on high-capacity magazines.

Republican lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are just waiting on the president here, waiting for a sign from the president on what he would support. The White House has not made that clear yet.

With me now to talk about that and a lot more, Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland. Good morning, sir. Thanks for being with me.

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Good morning, Poppy.

HARLOW: Let's begin on what today is. It's the 18-year mark after the 9/11 terror attacks. It feels like yesterday. It's a similar September morning, clear blue sky, crisp morning. We have learned a lot. We have grown a lot as a country since then. What do you think about when you think about today?

HOLLEN: Well, Poppy, like you, it feels like it was just yesterday. I remember being at home when the planes flew into the towers and then shortly after the hit at the Pentagon. And I represented at that time a congressional district in Maryland. A lot of employees work at the Pentagon lived in our district, Montgomery County, Maryland. Rescue operations were sent to support the operations at the Pentagon.

So, look, this was a moment where the country came together at a terrible hour. But we were united and again even today, at this moment, the country stand united. We are going to have a moment of silence in the United States Senate within the next few hours. HARLOW: Well, we remember that moment when President Bush walked up

on that pile of rubble near ground zero with that bullhorn and really worked to unite the country. And on that point of uniting the country around something, so many Americans, Senator, Democrats, Republicans, independents are calling on Congress to do something on guns.

The president says that he is reviewing options. We don't know specifically what he supports and what he does not. But what we're hearing from sources is improving the national background check system, looking at straw man purchases, funding mental health programs, implementing capital punishment for mass murderers, overhauling domestic terror laws, something actually Adam Schiff has proposed.

Any of those options that you are backing that you think would make a difference?

HOLLEN: Poppy, there are a whole range of options that we need to take action on. And we really should have taken action long ago on many of these issues.

As you indicated on this question of doing something on gun safety and gun reform, the country is united. There was just a national poll showing 90 percent of the American public, all political parties and backgrounds support a common sense universal background check, right?

Let's close the gun show loophole. The West Texas shooter had originally been denied access to firearms because of the normal rules but then used the loophole, the private sale loophole. We have a bill in the Senate right now that was passed by the House well over 100 days ago that would close that loophole. The country's overwhelmingly in support of it.

Mitch McConnell should not be contracting the Senate's decisions out to the White House. We're a separate branch of government. Let's take this up. Let's vote. If McConnell wants to vote no, that's his choice. Don't bar the Senate from acting.

HARLOW: So, Senator, Jim and I had two Republican members of the House on yesterday, Adam Kinzinger and Tom Reed. I want you to listen to what they both said on areas where they see compromise, where they might be willing to give on background checks and red flag laws. Here they were.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I've seen some universal background check bills that are bad. I think we can make some good ones which doesn't overburden the American people, especially in private transfers [10:25:00] but still goes through a background check system, and it's not going to stop all these mass shootings.

But I think if we can mitigate this problem as defenders of the Second Amendment, we have a responsibility to put forward solutions to do that. REP. TOM REED (R-NY): I am supportive of psychopathic individuals that have been adjudicated, losing their Second Amendment right as they get the treatment that they rightfully and we should provide to them.

HARLOW: Except without red flag laws, don't you lose some of the ability to identify those people?

REED: Well, that's where we are potentially open to a conversation on that, Poppy, to be sincerely honest with you. And that's where -- if we engage on the who, you bring more people together. And that's where I think maybe there is some common ground.


HARLOW: Those are two Republicans in the House, Senator, who were not on that page just a matter of weeks ago, so they are shifting. Do you feel like enough Republicans in the Senate are moving where this could actually happen, something could actually be different this time?

HOLLEN: Well, Poppy, I do believe sentiment is shifting in the Senate because the American public is demanding action on this. So, for example, on the universal background check law that passed the House, there is a small exception for transfers among immediate family members. If that's what Congressman Kinzinger is referring to, then that's something we can work out. But if you expand that private sale loophole broadly, you are going to have a situation like we had with the West Texas shooter.

So, again, the president, you know, right after these awful mass shootings, says publicly that he wants to do something. He even says things like universal background checks are common sense. But then he gets that call from the gun lobby. He gets that call from the NRA and he retreats. And then Mitch McConnell and Republicans in the Senate, you know, they want to advocate their responsibility here and just point to the president.

So let's just act. Next week, Senate Democrats will, again, call for unanimous consent, asking the Senate to bring up the House bill and pass it.

HARLOW: Senator, we have one minute left. My question to you finally is on John Bolton. You just spoke with the council on foreign relations in May, you know, talking, again, against any military action in Iran without congressional approval. We know where John Bolton stood on Iran. Are you glad to see him out of the White House?

HOLLEN: Poppy, yes, I am. Good riddance to John Bolton. Him having that close access to the president definitely increased the risk of unnecessary war with Iran. He had called for the destruction of Iran and bomb Iran.

But let's be really clear, the problem with the chaos in our foreign policy starts at the top. John Bolton was the third national security adviser to President Trump. Right now, our allies and friends are wondering what the hell is going on. Our adversaries have a big smile on their face. So President Trump has only himself to blame for the chaos in American foreign policy and the undermining of our credibility around the world.

HARLOW: Senator Chris Van Hollen, I appreciate your time this morning.

HOLLEN: Thank you.

HARLOW: We'll see you soon, thank you so much.

SCIUTTO: Good riddance, he says to John Bolton.

HARLOW: Not a fan.

SCIUTTO: Strong words.

HARLOW: What's interesting to hear, Democrats sort of, I guess, praising the president on that front for getting rid of him.

SCIUTTO: Exactly, same in the previous hour.

It is the smallest island in the Bahamas but it sustained some of the worst damage from Hurricane Dorian. Just look at it. Our CNN crews have been going door-to-door with rescuers. It's just harrowing what they saw. We're going to have that coming up.