tv CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto CNN August 8, 2019 6:00am-7:00am PDT
owning an ak-style semiautomatic weapon. the police told her it was legal and that was that. the big question, would a national red flag law made a difference? could that have saved lives? let's get to cnn's brian todd in el paso. she clearly was concerned but the police told her there was no recourse. >> a potential red flag missed her. this information coming from our investigative team who spoke to lawyers for the family of the alleged shooter. these lawyers are saying in the weeks before the shooting here at this wal-mart the mother did call the police department iptheir hometown of allen, texas, and expressed concern her son had arb where quote, ak-style firearm, of course a reference to an ak-47 the assault rifle and she was concerned about his age, his maturity level and his lack of experience in dealing with that kind of a weapon. but according to the lawyers wreshe did not express concern that he might have been a threat
to anyone. now, how did the police respond? that's a key question. according to the lawyers for the family when she was transferred over on the phone to a public safety officer from the city of allen, that public safety officer listened to her concerns and said based on her description of the situation her son was legally entitled to have that weapon. now, according to the lawyers the police have not asked her anymore information other than just telling her that. she did not give her name. she did not give her son's name. the police department in allen has not really responded at all to cnn's request for additional comment or cnn's request for documentation of that phone call, jim. if there were any other nuances to that conversation we don't have that right now, but according to the lawyers and this is an important point they make, they were no red flags regarding this young man. wn of the lawyers said it was not like he was a volatile or explosive or erratic behaving kid. there were no red flags here.
but again what made the mother call and express concern that her son might be buying or might have already bought an ak-47. >> well, that sounds like a red flag to me, then probably everyone else watching this b d broadcast. an ak is a russian designed weapon, a weapon of war, ended up in a wal-mart. also the same weapon used by the gilroy, california, shooter. for more than a year white house officials rejected -- that's right, they rejected efforts by the department of homeland security to make combating domestic terrorism including threats from white supremacists a high priority. one source tells cnn the trump administration wanted to focus solely on the jihadist threat. cnn's justice correspondent jessica snider joins me now. what's amazing about this, first of all it's department of homeland security run by a trump appointee here and it's based on numbers because they saw this being a growing problem and the trump administration said we don't want to focus on it. >> they did.
and we heard a few weeks go from the fbi director chris wray it's a growing problem. and really what we've learned over the past year dhs officials have battled with the white house to really recognize this growing threat of domestic terrorism. this is coming from several former and current senior administration officials. this is what they're telling jake tapper. and while dhs officials wanted to surge these resources to combat this threat, they really had a lack of support from the white house, and it's really evidenced in this 20 plus page report, the national counter terrorism strategy. it was released by the white house just about a year ago last fall. in that 20 plus page report it really focuses on the threat from islamist terrorists. it doesn't in fact mention white supremacy at all. it does mention domestic terrorism just twice, but it doesn't really go into detail here, and some of the senior officials that jake had been talking to said that, you know, the president of course is reluctant to recognize the threat from white supremacists
and they put it this way of saying you know it will trigger it boss if it's something that was included in this broad report. so, right, the concern is there from dhs officials, however it's not being truly recognized or prioritized by the white house. you know, a senior administration official, though, pushing back, telling jake tapper yesterday, they put it this way. they said it was the first ever report to include domestic terrorism and they continued saying this issue continues to be a priority for the administration and the national security counsel had launched an interagency process focused on combating domestic terrorism in support of the president's counter terrorism strategy. that's the report i mentioned that came out last fall. again these former and current administration officials are really raising the alarm here, saying that we are trying to surge resources, dhs is trying to surge resources but they're getting this lack of support for the white house and really not listening to the fact this is a
growing threat as acknowledged by the fbi director saying one more thing. last month he said that the number of arrests in the first three quarters of the fiscal year for domestic terrorism were the same as international terrorism. and a majority of these issues came from white supremacist violence or threats. >> it was in his testimony, most of them white supremacists. the thing is, this is consistent with the president's public comments calling this a small problem, not a major problem. and of course that influences policy. jessi jessica snyder, thanks very much. the nra is getting president trump's ear amid renewed talk of expanded background checks of these three horrible in fact mass shootings. nra chief wayne lepierre spoke with trump on tuesday. a day later notably the president said this. >> well, i'm looking to do background checks. i think background checks are important. i don't want to put guns into the hands of mentally unstable people or people with range or
hate, sick people. i'm all in favor of it. >> according to "the washington post" lepierre told trump a background check bill would not be popular with trump's base. cnn senior washington correspondent joe johns, he's outside the white house here. listen, joe, this informs our sense of whether the president is going to get behind this. because in the past after parkland he raised the possibility, spoke with the nra, he backed off. we know the president's political strategy for 2020 is a base strategy. with what wayne lepierre telling the president this will damage his support with his base, are you hearing from the president again? >> we know the president has said there's a real appetite for background checks. there's also a question raised whether there's a bit of chaos going on in the national rifle
association right now. but, look, we've heard of variety of things over the white house the last 24 hours including the idea that the white house might consider sort of a nascent idea that the white house might consider some type of executive action on gun control. and this is something that people have told us on both sides may be a good idea, maybe not. and we talked also to people in the gun lobby who suggested that virtually any of the idea that's been floated around on capitol hill including that very simple idea of a red flags is a nonstarter as far as they're concerned. because they're concerned about due process for individuals who might get red flagged, how are they going to get noticed in a hearing? so all of this suggests that as washington continues this debate, it's something that nobody knows where it's going right now. back to you.
>> executive action to do what specifically? >> executive action of some sort. now, what that means, we don't know. we've asked kellyanne conway, just yesterday. in fact i talked to her right out here on the driveway. i asked is the president talking about sweeping new measures in an executive action or is he talking about something like red flagging? and she picked up on the red flagging idea without going too far on the idea of broader movement by the president. >> joe johns at the white house, thanks very much. let's discuss now with the white house reporter for "the washington post." delivering him this message, does this put a fact to where we've been before, the president raises it publicly, speak tuesday the nra, tells him it could damage his support and therefore the effort disappears? >> it depends how strong the
voice of the opposition are. advocating against these background checks i will tell you we have talked to senator mantion, senator toomey who are the chief authors and now they told the post the president has not explicitly endorsed that bill. toomey has talk today the president at least three times and they said the conversations are very encouraging. the president wants to do something. but even toomey had knowledge this vote would not pass if it were to come up in the senate right now. it failed in advance in 2013 when democrats -- >> are you saying there's not a majority in the senate for a background checks bill? >> i think there were only four republicans that supported this particular background checks bill in 2017. two of the senators are gone, so it's actually two republicans that supported that bill. and any sort of measure
restricting gun access there's going to be an outcry from capitol hill. i've actually heard a lot of crumbling from the so-called red flag legislation which seems to be the most antei ittop dine legislation -- >> daniel, politico reported earlier this week that republican lawmakers on the hill privately -- of course all this kind of commentary comes privately say they could get behind this gun legislation, including background checks if the president were to publicly support it. is that what you're consistently hear something. >> look, it really depends on the feeling of the president of the day. in different times over the past few months he's expressed support of background checks, and right now he's saying there's a great appetite for it. i am still skeptical that we're going to see something immediate despite calls from democrats.
there's just a lot of pressure and a lot of voices in president trump's ear right now saying different things. and there's a divide between republicans and democrats on this. >> also there's a divide within the republican caucus on this that is being exposed here. i mean mike turner granted he had a personal experience of the dayton shootings. his daughter was across the street. he had 100% rating from the nra, and now he's come out with the distant possibility at this point which would be an assault weapons or military-style weapons ban. the republican governor of ohio introduced steps. is that a real division within the republican party or something likely to disappear by the time they're back from recess? >> it's not only just whether you've had a personal experience in your backyard but also a split among republicans between gop lawmakers that represent
areas where gun rights are so important plus republicans who represent suburban areas, swing voters where this had become such a hot issue. particularly we saw a lot of democratic candidates run on very aggressive gun safety platforms in the last mid-terms and subsequently won, so subsequently won republican districts. and a lot of smart political strategists and a republican donor told us in our story today that republicans really do need to start considering their political weakness in the suburbs because of their stamp on guns which i think is really a fascinating development. pat toomey didn't speak too extensive about the policy of this. remember he won pennsylvania in 2016, he outran trump and a lot of that was his forward leaning stance on gun control. >> shannon watts of course leads a group for moms for action. in the statehouses and some of those key congressional races that gun control advocates won
republican seats. >> yeah, and look this is the -- this is a discussion that's happening in the deciding area of electoral politics right now, the suburbs. this is where democrats or republicans will really gain a majority. so if gun control is the dominating issue as it seems to have been in the last mid-terms, then that's going to be something that is going to swing the pendulum one way or another either to democrats or republicans. and if republicans can get onboard and figure out a way to pass some kind of gun bill, they'll probably gain some seats. >> i think some people expect some massive change, but if it's seat by seat, statehouse by statehouse maybe that makes a difference over time. still to come this hour, growing pressure on congress to act, but will mitch mcconnell even allow anything to reach the floor in terms of meaningful gun reform? we are live in the senate majority leaders home state of
kentucky. and 2020 candidates, today joe biden set to give his soapbox speech. will we see more of his blistering attacks on president trump. plus a massive immigration raid in mississippi leaves children crying for their parents. it's believed to be the largest raid of its kind in the nation's history. nearly 700 arrests. we're going to be live there. hay other company out there. they give us excellent customer service, every time. our 18 year old was in an accident. usaa took care of her car rental, and getting her car towed. all i had to take care of was making sure that my daughter was ok. if i met another veteran, and they were with another insurance company, i would tell them, you need to join usaa because they have better rates, and better service. we're the gomez family... we're the rivera family... we're the kirby family, and we are usaa members for life. get your auto insurance quote today.
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the senate majority leader has an enormous amount of power. one man could decide even whether the senate considers gun controllers in the wake of these shootings. of course majority leader mitch mcconnell, is there enough pressure for him now to move on this, to allow consideration of any gun control measures, many of which have a great deal of support among even republican voters? well, there's a caravan moving now down to his hometown in
louisville, kentucky. cnn's lauren fox is there right now. we have a number of people taking part in this, lauren. do we expect this to move the senate majority leader based on the politics of this issue? >> well, democrats are going to try, right, jim? democratic presidential contender tim ryan is leading this caravan to louisville tonight to hold a rally to try to pressure mcconnell. but he's not just getting this pressure from democrats. we know the president publicly and privately has been pushing for background checks. that's something that could be difficult for republicans to swallow and gop aides i'm talking to say that could be a difficult thing for conservatives to get behind. we know the president has been talking to republican senator pat toomey on his proposal on background checks. there may be other changes they have to make to it to get enough votes. i've been hearing from aides it's more likely they move forward with incentivizing states to pass so-called more
red flag laws to keep gunds out of the hands of potentially dangerous issues. there's some concerns from conservatives about that issue. i've been told members are doing their homework. but there's a perception right now the nra is a little bit weak. they've had a leadership reshuffling and if there was ever a moment to do something on guns, this would be it. of course there's a month long recess. it's very hard to see whether the momentum will stay persistent in the next couple of weeks. >> it's a good question. the pattern has been set after past shootings like this. we'll see if it's different with a lot of forces aligning as we've seen so often. we know you're going to stay on top of it. there are new deiltas this morning about a huge i.c.e. raid across mississippi. nearly 700 undocumented immigrants taken into custody in a short period of time. their families standing outside as they were led away. and we're opening moments
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welcome back. after a month long investigation i.c.e. officials arrested close to 700 people during huge raids over the span of a few hours across mississippi. they used confidential informants employed at several food processing plants to gather intelligence, round up undocumented workers. some have already been released according to officials, but those sprgs as they happen, the arrests causing emotional responses from families including children. cnn's diane gallagher in morton, mississippi, where one of these raids took place. and diane, the president telegraphed this last month that these were fweeg to happen on a particular weekend. they didn't happen then, they appear to be happening now. >> yeah, this is according to the u.s. attorney, the largest
single -- the largest single state operation in the nation's-lace. and i can tell you it is just reverberating through this community this morning. there are people actually parked in cars in a parking lot just beyond this plants here waiting for what they hope are going to be buses dropping off their loved ones whoorn detained yesterday. late last night they say two buses returned to this site and dropped off several of the people who were detained. but, look, we have got all sorts of family member who are still waiting to find out what's going on. the scenes around the situation, seven different sites and six different cities. and here's the thing, it was the first day of school in this area, so there were children who didn't have mom or dad to pick them up. they were left at day care. so people in the community stepped in. one man opened up his gym and allowed children to stay there through the night and in the afternoon until they could find guardians or until their parents may have been released. outside here where i am in morton, there was a young girl
whose godmother came and got her from school so she could try and see her mother as they were loading her onto the bus. i want you to take a listen to that scene and what that little girl told that i.c.e. officer. >> my dad did nothing. he's not a criminal. >> their mom has been here for 15 years. she has no record, no nothing. a lot of people have no records. >> reporter: now, look, people here in mississippi right now are kind of grappling what this means. 680 people who work in these plants who are part of this community here, and look there's also the fact that many consider this just simply tone-deaf in
general because of what's been going on. these raids happened just before the president touched down in el paso to allegedly go and comfort individuals who are grieving because a white supremacist posted this racist screed targeting latinos. since 22 people were killed most of them latinos, jim, and people here grappling with what happened in their community and of course what's going on in this country right now especially for the hispanic community. >> diane, you captured it there in the words of that little girl, it's breaking families up. the hateful racist rhetoric in the el paso shooting has latinos across the country worried about their own safety, some even afraid now to go outside. pablo sandoval, he's been speaking to families like this. i heard from families from el paso talking about their children not wanting to go to
school because they thought they would be targeted. >> it's really more of an intimidation here according to people i spoke to. and this fear and intimidation is actually going to be quite serious enough that the mexican government is now turning to the u.s. government asking for any and all information on the el paso shooting. they want to know if any mexican citizens living on this side of the border are in danger and we found that fear is quite palpable. particularly at make the road new york, an organization that helps migrants especially get their paperwork together to process that. and when you hear from the organizer, he tells me his waiting room has been full of families right now. before it was concern about deportation, but now there seems to be something else that's heavy on their mind. >> it's real now. it's not like we can connect those dots and people know
they're in danger just because of the color of their skin. >> the gun is real, the bodies are real. >> exactly . it's not facebook anymore or tweeting. it's guns. >> and the comments being made here about 2,200 miles from the walls of that wal-mart where so much bloodshed happened. not everybody feels that way, however. cnn also spoke to several hispanic americans here in the city who say they do not fear anything additional and they also believe at this point the deranged actions should not be tied to the president's rhetoric. two very different sides but a majority of people feeling fearful right now. joe biden back on the trail in iowa one day after his blistering rebuke of president trump's rhetoric. will we see an encore today? if you have moderate to severe psoriasis,
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this just into cnn, "the washington post" is reporting that none of the eight survivors of the el paso shooting still being treated agreed to meet with the president there. the white house responding this morning saying the president and first lady met with victims of the tragedy while at the hospital. i'd also point you to the video the white house posted this evening which shows the president and first lady being received very warmly by not just victims and their families but again "the washington post" reporting that none of of the survivors of that shooting,
wounded survivors would meet with him directly. we're going to continue to follow this story. 2020 contenders gearing up in iowa as the state fair gets under way there. the state fair a great and important opportunity to speak directly to voters there. they care in iowa about these meetings. today biden and steve bullock will be the first democratic candidates to appear on those fair grounds. attacking president trump for his reaction to these shootings, divisive rhetoric. in total nine candidates will host events all over the state today. all are expected to appear at the fair over the weekend. one of the big campaign tests early on cnn's jeff zeleny and ara arawa signs. they listen hard, they ask important questions. how important are these next few days to the democratic candidates?
>> there's no question the next few days are important. and this is the reason why. iowa voters of course have been taking a measure of these candidates for really several months but this race is now at a few phase. voters here have been paying attention and in fact the field of candidates have already broken in several tiers. the top tier, the middle tier, the lower tier. of course the ones on the lower tier, those candidates are trying to make their way into the next debate. the ones in the middle tear are trying to rise up. and of course the top tier elizabeth with an, bernie sanders, kamala harris, they're trying to make their case to voters they are the most electable. one of the most interesting things about the iowa state fair, these democratic voters will come face-to-face with voters who don't necessarily agree with them. iowa of course a swing state went for president trump four years ago. and speaking of donald trump, jim, just as i was walking the grounds of the state fair i was thinking back to that moment four years ago this week.
when donald j. trump came here as a candidate with his helicopter giving rides to a lot of families and kids, that was a moment it was clear donald trump was catching on, when he was taking iowa seriously. so it is an opportunity. i don't expect any democratic candidates to bring helicopters today but it is a chance to connect with voters. it is early but for joe biden he of course is trying to sustain his lead and others are trying to make their urgent plea to voters. >> yeah, to survive in this race. arlette, should we expect the same from the former vice president during his so-called soapbox speech there today? >> jim, i think that's the big question. will joe biden go as hard on donald trump as he did yesterday when he accused him of fanning the flames of white supremacy in this country. biden throughout his campaign has painted this as a battle for the soul of the nation. starting out with that campaign
video where he criticized president trump's response to the clashes in charlottesville saying there were fine people on both sides. and biden has really tried to frame this not as a battle for the soul of country but as a campaign between himself and the president. he's saying the country's character is at stake under this white house. biden has been a frequent fixture here at the iowa state fair dating back to the 1980s when he first ran for president. i've been to state fairs with biden in the past. it's always a scene as he runs from booth to booth mingling with voters. today biden is going to be trying to sell the voters here at the state fair on his message for the campaign and also trying to maintain tat position top most of the polls. >> in iowa they're already paying attention. a group of mothers demanding change after the most recent mass shootings, real change this time. they're not heading to washington, though, but to the senate majority leader's
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the calls for gun reform are growing louder and louder even among some republicans. this after dayton and el paso and gilroy. and mitch mcconnell is under intense scrutiny now under political pressure to act. in order to push the senate majority leader to do something about gun reform tim ryan and the grass roots group moms demand action are starting a caravan of protests. the destination, mitch mcconnell's hometown of louisville, kentucky.
joining me now is shannon watts. she is the founder of moms demand action. shannon, so good to have you on the broadcast this morning. >> thank you. >> i found it remarkable and you noted this in your "the washington post" editorial that your group moms demand action as well as students demand action, you were in washington. you were having your annual meeting to discuss these issues. you hear the news about el paso and you hear the news about dit dayton. i know we as a country have asked this before after mass shootings like this. do you sense that the politics are different this time so that action will actually happen? >> look, the politics are different every time because as these horrific shooting tragedies continue to mount in our country, we do see hearts and minds change. we've seen that in the last few days among republican governors and members of congress who realize we don't have to live this way. and i'm grateful for their support because time is of the essence.
over 100 americans are shot and killed in this country every day. it's not just the mass shootings and school shootings. it's city gun hmtss and rural community suicides. all of it matters and it needs to be addressed immediately. our lawmakers have the power to stop this, and we need them to do so immediately. >> now, i'm sure you saw "the washington post" reporting that the president met or spoke with wayne lepierre, the head of the nra. the nra president told him his base does not want background checks. we know the president is counting on re-election in 2020 based on a base strategy. is that where real gun action dies? >> well, first of all gun lobbyists should not be writing our nation's gun laws. that's what got us into this mess in the first place, but also we know 90% of americans support stronger gun laws and that includes people who voted for donald trump. so if the president is serious
about passing stronger gun laws and protecting americans which he says he is, then he needs to tell mitch mcconnell to pass background checks and a strong red flag law mchld and americans who want to call their senators should text the word checks to 64433 and we will patch you in to make that call. >> you noted something that is interesting because i think folks at home, we all have a tendency to throw our hands up in the air, say nothing is changing here. if you look at the mid-terms actually that gun control advocates helped flip seven statehouses. that's key. a lot of laws written in the statehouses but also helped democrats win many swing congressional districts. is that a sign-in your view, particularly when you look at suburban voters who tend to favor gun control measures, is that evidence to you that the politics of this are changing? >> it's such an important point. you know, everyone is waiting for this cathartic moment in
congress i understand. but we have made such significant strides in statehouses and in boardrooms. and as you said we not only out maneuver the nra in the 2016 elections, we state legislators, we've gone into the states and passed stronger gun laws in many cases. we are winning and we'll go into 2020 stronger than we've ever been. there's every reason to have so much hope on this issue but we need to get off the sidelines and vote specifically on gun safety. >> so you're going to louisville and you're going to challenge the senate majority leader mitch mcconnell, who often in these situations won't even allow a vote on it, let alone try to get a republican majority to push through measures like this. how does a caravan in this context make a difference with mitch mcconnell? >> we're so grateful that congressman tim ryan started
this grass roots caravan and we're happy to go with him all the way from ohio to kentucky today. but it isn't just that. this is about making sure we're having this national conversation for a long time. we're going to be meeting in district with all of our members of congress throughout the month of august as moms demand action and students demand action volunteers and we're going to keep the pressure on. we need the senate to come back and vote on these bills. and we're also going to be focusing -- there's a huge election in 2019 and what these senators decide will have an impact on that. every single seat in the virginia assembly is up for election. and then obviously building momentum going into 2020. we're having a forum, a gun sense forum in des moines on saturday. 14 presidential candidates are coming and we're going to shine a spot light on this issue. we are going to keep this at the forefront of the national conversation. >> final question. we learned that the shooter, the el paso suspect's mother called police weeks before the shooting
concerned that her son had this ak-style weapon, a weapon of war. i've seen it in war zones myself. the police said it's legal, nothing we can do. what is your reaction to that? >> first of all, governor abbott in texas, they suggested that he pass red flag laws after the santa fe high school shooting and he backed down a because the nr put pressure on him. texas doesn't have a red flag law and that really speaks to why we need one at the federal level. in the 17 states where they've been passed we see that they work for gun suicides and homicides and it would save lives and it certainly could have helped in this situation. >> shannon watts, thanks so much for coming on. we appreciate the passion for the work that you do. >> thank you. a billionaire businessman now facing calls for a consumer boycott because he wants to host an expensive fundraiser for president trump. oh! oh! oh!
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welcome back. the chairman and majority owner of the miami follow fins now faces criticism for his decision to host a high-dollar fundraiser for president trump in the hamptons. members of steven haas's gyms and other companies are calling for a boycott. christina joins me with more reaction to this.
tell me what you're learning. >> the reaction on social media has been fast and furious and that's because consumers and customers of soulcycle and eek wi knocks, both high-end gyms feel betrayed like a slap in the face. that's because these brands are incorporated inclusion, diversity, lgbtq rights into their marketing. for example, during june during pride month they hosted several pride rides. so these customers really feel betrayed and the social media backlash is just very forceful at this point. celebrities weighing in. they see it as hotel hypocrisy that steven ross, who is a billionaire developer and has a partial ownership stake in both companies is hosting this fundraiser. he's very close to donald trump. and one of those celebrities that i mentioned is billy eichner. we just had his tweet up on air. he said what's your policy for canceling membership once a member finds out your owner is enabling racism and mass murder?
meanwhile, eek wi knocks and soulcycle to trying to distance themselves from stephen ross who owns part of the company. they put out a statement saying they do not have anything to do with the event this week and do not support it. as is consistent with our policies, no company profits are used to fund politicians. this is a fairly disingenuous statement to put out there, because i think our viewers are smart enough to know even though official company profits aren't used, people do not want to indirectly support a billionaire real estate developers who has brands that promote inclusion and diversity, meanwhile they believe that this administration is essentially antithetical to those values. so that's what's going on here. it's unclear how much of a hit they're taking to their bottom line. i've asked the company to tell me if they've seen an increase
in membership cancellations. i have yet to hear back. jim. >> the boycott becoming a political tool, weapon even in this highly divisive environment. thanks very much. >> of course. a very good thursday morning to you. i'm jim sciutto in washington. poppy harlow is off today. the president's team called his visits to hospitals in ohio and texas moving, all while he's accused critics of misrepresenting how he was really received. the "washington post" reports this, and this is truly remarkable. none of the eight survivors of the el paso shooting still being treated at the university medical center agreed to meet with the president of the united states on his visit there. let's get right to cnn's sarah west wood. she is at the white house this morning. sarah, the white house portrayed a very different reception. they even released a sort of propaganda-like video on social media showing a warm io