Return to Transcripts main page


Death Toll Rises To 31 In Mass Shootings; El Paso Shooter Remorseless; Trump Condemns Racism, Bigotry, White Supremacy But Hasn't Acknowledged Divisiveness In His Rhetoric; Interview With State Representative Cesar Blanco (D-TX) On The Grieving Community Of El Paso; Biden: Trump Playing A "Dangerous Game" With Rhetoric; Trump: "Mental Illness And Hate Pulls Trigger, Not The Gun." Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 5, 2019 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I'll see you tomorrow.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Happening now, breaking news; unapologetic: we're learning new details about the man accused of killing at least 22 people and wounding dozens more at an El Paso Walmart.

Police officials tell CNN he's shown no regrets and no remorse. We're awaiting a news conference with the latest on the investigation.

Mystery motive: investigators in Dayton, Ohio, piece together the movements of a now dead gunman, who killed nine people, including his own sister.

Why did he open fire?

And did the people he rode into town with know anything about his murderous plans?

Calls for gun reform: outrage builds as Democrats demand action and most Republicans keep silent. President Trump sends a tweet, floating the idea of tying gun reforms to immigration bill but backs off talk of gun reform when he goes before cameras at the White House.

After so many deaths, will Washington act this time?

And climate of fear: in a rare public statement, provoked by the mass shootings, President Obama calls on Americans to reject, and I'm quoting now, "language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments." He doesn't name names.

But will President Trump see it as a personal attack?

I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking developments in the investigations of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, as well as the political fallout right here in Washington. The combined death toll now, 31: nine in Dayton, 22 in El Paso, where two victims died in the hospital today.

El Paso police tell CNN the suspect has been cold in his interactions with them and has shown no regret or remorse for the shootings. We're awaiting a news conference with the latest on the investigation.

President Trump is blaming the mass killings on mental illness, video games and the media. He went on camera to call on the nation to condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy but, at no time today, has he acknowledged the divisiveness of his own rhetoric.

I'll speak with Cesar Blanco, a member of the Texas state legislature, and CNN's full resources are devoted to covering all aspects of this important breaking story. We have multiple crews in El Paso and Dayton and over at the White House.

Let's begin with CNN's Brian Todd, he's on the scene in El Paso.

Brian, you're learning more about the suspect in Saturday's mass shooting.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. Speaking with several police officials in El Paso today, they're working furiously to put together clues about the gunman's planning for this attack and more information about his motive.

What they're also giving us tonight is a horrifying new account of how cold and calculating he was during the attack and while in custody.


TODD (voice-over): El Paso police tell CNN tonight, the man who allegedly carried out the slaughter at the Walmart has been unapologetic. Officials say Patrick Crusius, the suspected shooter, has shown no regrets, no remorse for killing nearly 2 dozen innocent people and has been cold emotionally while talking to investigators.

That is consistent with how police are telling us he carried out the attack.

COMMANDER STEVEN LOPEZ, EL PASO POLICE DEPARTMENT: The reports that we received is that it was a calculated attack. And it was well- planned out. And the reports that are coming out is that he showed no emotion. And it appeared, according to the videos and the eyewitness testimonies, that he had some type of training on how he approached his victims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Training, you said?

Can you be more specific? LOPEZ: No, not specific on the training part but it looked like he had it pre-planned. He knew exactly what was doing. So whether it was weeks or months in planning, he had a mission.

TODD (voice-over): Another police official tells CNN tonight he came face-to-face with the shooter when he was arrested.

Quote, "He had a stone cold look. It was nothing short of evil."

Police are giving a general description of the weapon they believe he used to gun down his victims.

COMMANDER JULIE INCIRIAGA, EL PASO POLICE DEPARTMENT: What was reported, that it was a model that looked like an AK-47.

TODD (voice-over): The 21-year-old alleged shooter, who is a white supremacist, is charged with capital murder and the shooting is even being called an act of terrorism.

JOHN BASH, U.S. ATTORNEY: We are treating it as a domestic terrorism case and we're going to do what we do to terrorists in this country, which is deliver swift and certain justice.

TODD (voice-over): Authorities are also investigating a racist, anti- immigrant document they believe was posted online by the suspect. That document states it took less than a month to plan the shooting. The four-page document posting on the online message board, 8chan, about --


TODD (voice-over): -- 20 minutes before the shooting. The author says he opposes race mixing and encourages immigrants to return to their home countries, speaking of a Hispanic invasion. Authorities say the shooting began in the parking lot of the Walmart and the shooter then entered the store.

Panicked shoppers slid under tables; others ran for their lives. And a heart-wrenching story of two young parents, who were killed saving their infant child, 24-year-old Jordan Anchondo was caring her 2- month-old son, Paul, inside the Walmart. Their aunt and uncle tell us Jordan and her husband, Andre, had an instant to react.


JESSE JAMROWSKI, JORDAN'S UNCLE: From what we understood, the shooter came in and pointed a gun at my niece, Jordan, and Andre was quick to jump in front of Andre -- in front of Jordan and Paul, the baby. And from what we understood, a bullet went through Andre and Jordan.

TODD: They both basically shielded the child, is that correct?

And then the child fell as they fell?

ELIZABETH TERRY, JORDAN'S AUNT: Yes. Under Jordan is where I think the broken fingers occurred and the bruising occurred, from what we understand. When they pulled baby Paul out, he was covered in their blood.


TODD (voice-over): Police say the shooter was arrested without incident after getting out of his vehicle and approaching police unarmed as they arrived at the Walmart. He's currently being held at the El Paso County detention facility and the new El Paso district attorney says they will seek the death penalty.


TODD: Tonight police are telling CNN they're investigating the shooter's route from the Dallas area to El Paso and they hope to be able to tell us soon exactly when he arrived in El Paso. Right now, they are telling us they do not believe he had any accomplices -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, you also have some heart-wrenching information from the family of that young couple, who died saving their baby.

What have they told you?

TODD: That is right, Wolf. Speaking to the aunt and uncle, Jesse Jamrowski and Liz Terry, they're the aunt and uncle of Jordan Anchondo and her husband, Andre Anchondo, both of them were killed saving their child.

They have two other children and they're trying to figure out, the entire extended family is trying to figure out just how to tell these children that their parents are completely gone. The oldest child is 5 years old. She just turned 5 years old on the day of the shooting. They have no idea how to break the news to the children.

BLITZER: A heartbreaking story. There are so many unfortunate stories like this. Brian Todd on the scene, for us, thank you. We'll get back to you.

I want to go to CNN's Ryan Young, he's in Dayton right now, where a gunman killed nine people, including his own sister, in less than a minute before police shot and killed him.

Ryan, police have released some surveillance video that contains graphic images.

What are investigators learning?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is still very disturbing, Wolf. In fact, it was 24 seconds when the gunman opened fire. Right now people are still trying to figure out the motive in this case.

I just walked across to the memorial across the street here and I've been talking to some family members, who say, when they close their eyes, they're having a hard time dealing with this because they lost a loved one senselessly. They want to know why.

That's something that police are still trying to work on but right now, when you watch this story, just know, some of this video is very disturbing.


YOUNG (voice-over): Tonight, the motive remains a mystery as chilling new details emerge about the gunman who killed nine people, including his own sister, and wounded dozens of others in less than 30 seconds.

The terrifying moments show the masked gunman with a bulletproof vest unloading on innocent people, wrapping up a night out early Sunday morning in Dayton, Ohio. Police say they found at least 41 spent shell casings from the gunman's weapon but the carnage could have been much worse.

CHIEF RICHARD BIEHL, DAYTON POLICE: If all of those were completely at full capacity, including the loose rounds found on the ground near him, as well as in a backpack that he carried, he would have had a maximum of 250 rounds in his possession at the time.

YOUNG (voice-over): The victims range in age from 22 to 57 years old. They say the gunman and his sister arrived together with a male companion but the siblings separated at some point.

BIEHL: It seems to just defy believability that he would shoot his own sister. But it is also hard to believe that he didn't recognize that was his sister.

YOUNG (voice-over): The male companion was wounded during the shooting and remained in the hospital. Two law enforcement sources tell CNN they don't believe he had prior knowledge an attack was going to take place but have more questions for him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 9-1-1, what is the address of the emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're in downtown. We're on Fifth Street in Dayton, Ohio.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, what is going on there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was shots fired. There was people hurt. There is somebody hurt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, do you see what the person looks like?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you see what the person looked like?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No because there was shots and everybody laid down and I don't know where my friends are.

TODD (voice-over): You can clearly see the gunman being shot by police. Surveillance video shows the moment panic sets in, as people realize they're being shot at and run for shelter. Seconds later --

[17:10:00] (voice-over) -- Dayton police, who were in the area at the time, were able to stop the gunman. That is him wearing a mask, about to enter a bar before he's brought down to his knees by officers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As soon as the gunshots started, I started running. Then the direction I was running, some guy got shot in the head and he fell right in front of me.

DAMON DAVENPORT, COUSIN OF VICTIMS: My cousins did not deserve to lose their life. They had children, hardworking people. All they were doing was enjoying a night on the town and they're dead.

TODD (voice-over): Tonight four former classmates paint a dark picture of the man behind the attack. As a high school student in Dayton, they tell CNN he had a hit list of classmates he wanted to kill or hurt and a rape list for girls.

SPENCER BRICKLER, CRUSIUS' FORMER CLASSMATE: My freshman year I saw him get pulled off the bus after school one day. And apparently he had made a kill list and I happened to be on it. I don't know why.

TODD (voice-over): Perhaps even more confusing is why he would have this type of high-capacity rifle and ammunition.

NAN WHALEY, MAYOR OF DAYTON: The shooter had a gun that he got legally with magazines that he got legally and I really don't understand why a gun of that magnitude is really needed on the streets of Fifth Street.


YOUNG: And many of the victims are African American, Wolf. But right now police are -- are not willing to speculate on the motive. I can also tell you, though, there is also a data dump going on with all of his cellphones and information like that.

So maybe in the next coming hours or so we'll learn more information about this. But a community is definitely searching for answers.

BLITZER: Ryan Young in Dayton for us. Ryan, thank you very much.

There is also breaking political news as President Trump and the nation's leaders try to come to grips with the latest eruption of gun violence. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is over at the White House.

Kaitlan, what is the president saying?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This morning, the president seemed to open the door to tougher gun measures. But when he addressed the nation just hours later, he made no mention of background checks or any major new gun laws.

Instead, in that speech to the nation, condemning bigotry and white supremacy and vowing to act. But now, Wolf, there are questions about how.


TRUMP: Our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.

COLLINS (voice-over): Tonight, President Trump is condemning white supremacy after two mass shootings in less than 24 hours.

TRUMP: These sinister ideologies must be defeated.

COLLINS (voice-over): But he's offering few details on what he'll do to stop another from happening. In a solemn address from the White House, the president said he's directing the FBI to examine ways to identify and address domestic terrorism.

But he stopped short of calling for new gun laws, instead turning his focus to mental health.

TRUMP: Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.

COLLINS (voice-over): Trump making no mention of his morning tweet, suggesting tying background checks to immigration reform. The president did reference the El Paso shooting suspect's manifesto that warned of an immigrant invasion and advocated views, he said, pre- dated the president.

TRUMP: The shooter in El Paso posted a manifesto online consumed by racist hate.

COLLINS (voice-over): Today, Trump ignored how some of this language echoes his own.

TRUMP: I was badly criticized for using the word "invasion." It is an invasion.

But how do you stop these people.

You can't. There is --



TRUMP: That is only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement.

COLLINS (voice-over): Democrats aren't brushing off the similarities.

BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I don't know, like, members of the press, what the (INAUDIBLE)?

Hold on a second. It's these -- it's these questions that you know the answers to. I mean, connect the dots about what he's been doing in this country.

COLLINS (voice-over): Instead, Trump said other factors are to blame. TRUMP: We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. We must recognize that the Internet has provided a dangerous avenue to radicalize disturbed minds and perform demented acts.

COLLINS (voice-over): Today he repeated a talking point from House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, that video games play a part in increased violence in America.

TRUMP: This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.

COLLINS (voice-over): It is an old claim not substantiated by any research and was even dismissed by Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia in 2011.

For the most part, Republicans are staying silent. And those who are speaking are struggling to propose new solutions.

REP. TED YOHO (R-FL): Bad people are going to do bad things if they're hell-bent on doing that.

COLLINS (voice-over): Democrats are calling on Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to reconvene the Senate for a vote on stalled gun legislation, they argue, could prevent the next shooting, a step sources say he's unlikely to take.

The president is also facing some --


COLLINS (voice-over): -- criticism after misstating the location of the Ohio massacre.

TRUMP: May God bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo and may God protect them.

COLLINS (voice-over): That city is 150 miles north of Dayton, Ohio, where at least nine people were murdered and dozens injured. It is a mistake Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden also made, who was forced to correct himself after referring to the tragic events in Houston and Michigan.

The question now is what happens next?

Trump has called for gun restrictions in the past...

TRUMP: I think it is something you have to think about.

COLLINS (voice-over): -- but later backed off of them after sitting down with NRA leadership.


COLLINS: Now Wolf, former president Barack Obama has issued a very pointed statement, calling on the country to, quote, "soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments."

He does not mention Trump by name in the statement but, Wolf, this is certainly one of the most forceful statements we've seen from President Obama since he left office and it's hard to see the president doesn't see how this is directed at him.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. Kaitlan Collins, a very powerful statement from President Obama, thank you, Kaitlan, very much.

I want to go back to El Paso right now and bring in Cesar Blanco, he's a Democratic member of the Texas state legislature.

Cesar, thanks so much for joining us. You represent El Paso where we've seen the death toll rise today.

How is your community doing?

CESAR BLANCO (D), TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Well, our community continues to be sad, Wolf. Two more people, as you just mentioned, passed away today. And several people still remain in the hospital battling for their lives. Just a tragic day and we're all trying to work together here in El Paso to get through this.

BLITZER: When we last spoke, you described a community that is majority Latino, a community where many, including yourself, has served in the U.S. military.

What goes through your mind, knowing the suspect specifically targeted your city?

BLANCO: Naturally, it brings fear to communities, not only Latino communities but African American communities, to communities of color throughout our country. There is fear that more white supremacists will do more acts of violence like this.

And it is unfortunate that our leaders, while they condemn it, one specific leader has used a lot of racial division in his language when he's campaigning. That does not help heal the wounds of communities such as El Paso, when people are dying as a result of a white supremacist coming and shooting them.

BLITZER: I know you're referring to President Trump. As you know, he laid the blame today in his address on mental health, on video games, the perils of the Internet.

How do you respond to the president?

BLANCO: You know, Wolf, video games didn't kill the 22 people here behind me in El Paso. An angry man did that, somebody who had access to high-powered automatic rifles that killed these individuals, not video games.

Many countries around the world have video games. We don't see that kind of violence in those countries. So it is very irresponsible for the president to mention video games as a source of the terror that has rained down in our community here in El Paso. BLITZER: You mentioned yesterday when we spoke that you've seen the so-called manifesto prepared by this shooter. The author says his views on immigration pre-date President Trump but the document does reflect some of the president's rhetoric on immigration.

It warns, for example, of the Hispanic invasion and it says Democrats want open borders and free health care for undocumented immigrants.

If you could speak directly to the president, Cesar, what would you say to him about the impact of his words?

BLANCO: Well, they're hurtful. Those words hit home for me. I'm the grandson of a Mexican immigrant, who came to this country for a better life for himself and his family. His sons served in the military. Many of his grandsons, such as myself and my cousins, served in the Persian Gulf in Iraq and Afghanistan and have given our time and our life to service to this country.

It is a shame for a president, who has never served in uniform, to criticize immigrants. Immigrants give so much to this country. And they have --


BLANCO: -- throughout the history of the United States and we're going to continue to do that.

Make no mistake, Wolf, El Paso is going to continue to be an open community with its arms open, welcoming to immigrants because El Paso will remain, despite this tragedy, a beacon of hope for immigrants who are seeking refuge here in the United States.

BLITZER: A very special city indeed, El Paso.

As you probably know, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, who used to represent El Paso in the House of Representatives, he tweeted this just moments ago. Let me read it to you and to our viewers.

"This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday's tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso. We do not need more division. We need to heal. He has no place here."

Do you agree with Beto O'Rourke?

BLANCO: I agree, Wolf, because there are still -- this is still an investigation -- investigative scene. There are still people in the hospitals that are battling for their lives. There are still families who are mourning. The community and is still planning vigils and things like that.

Right now we need time to heal. We need time to act as local and state governments. I think the president coming here would just be a distraction to all of that.

BLITZER: Cesar Blanco, thank you so much and please, please express our deepest thoughts and sympathies and our condolences to the families in your beautiful city of El Paso. Thanks so much for joining us.

BLANCO: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: A quick note to our viewers: CNN has reached out to at least 60 Republican lawmakers. Almost all of them have declined our invitations to come on camera and discuss the shootings and what the nation should do about gun violence.

Some have accepted but not many.

Let's get the insights of our legal and law enforcement experts.

Jim Sciutto, you are there in El Paso for us. You just heard what this lawmaker had to say. At least 31 people are now confirmed dead and dozens more wounded.

What, if anything, have you seen that has changed in America since we've learned about these mass shootings in these two American cities?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we learned a lot today. The president's reaction and the reaction of the one Republican lawmaker, who agreed to come on our broadcast earlier this morning.

As Kaitlan noted earlier, the president teed up the idea, the possibility of discussing background checks, possibly linked to immigration reform, and then dropped that idea by the time he made his public comments.

I spoke to a Republican Congressman from Florida, Ted Yoho; of course, Florida experienced its own horrible shooting in Parkland and heard really a succession of talking points on why gun control, background checks, et cetera, don't work or aren't enough or we shouldn't rush to judgment.

I even had what amounted to something of a bizarre conversation with him, him making the argument that knives and arson are as dangerous as high-powered weapons and high-powered ammunition with high-capacity magazines.

But that seems to be where the conversation is. So from a political point of view, based on what we heard today from Republican lawmakers and the president and, by the way, a lack of desire from Republican lawmakers to come on the air and even address the issue, it doesn't seem that a remarkable three days of deadly violence have changed the political calculus and that is -- it is truly remarkable.

I'll tell you, here in El Paso, where people are suffering through the effects of 22 people being gunned down, they're shaking their heads. They're frustrated and a little amazed.

BLITZER: Everybody I want to -- I want everybody to stand by. I did speak to Republican Congressman Will Hurd over the weekend, one of the few Republicans willing to come on camera and discuss what has happened.

We're going to take a quick break. We have a lot going on. We're awaiting a news conference updating the mass shooting in El Paso. We'll have live coverage of that.

Also just in to CNN, presidential candidate Joe Biden tells our Anderson Cooper that President Trump is playing a dangerous game with his rhetoric. We're going to bring you some of this one-on-one interview with the former vice president. Much more right after this.





BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news on the mass murders in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Let's continue the discussion with our law enforcement and political experts.

Anthony Ferrante, you're a former FBI special agent. The suspected shooter in El Paso, according to police, has shown no remorse, has been stone cold in his interactions. He's answering questions during these interviews.

What does it tell you about the kind of information he'll likely share?

ANTHONY FERRANTE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Wolf, it doesn't surprise me he's not cooperating with investigators. Considering what he's done --

BLITZER: He is cooperating --

FERRANTE: -- but it doesn't surprise me he's showing no remorse. Considering what he's done, these are some pretty gruesome acts. But I would say two things.

[17:30:00] One, investigators will continue to lean on him, continue to talk to him, build rapport, try to get whatever information they can get out of him to continue their investigation.

The other thing I'd say is that investigators at the city, state, and federal level are really looking into every single aspect of his life, every single associate that he has. And they -- and they're -- they're going to leave no stone left unturned when it comes to looking into this matter.

BLITZER: Or -- whatever he says to them, he's answering their questions, they have to take some of that with a grain of salt. That's what you're saying?

FERRANTE: Absolutely. BLITZER: Yes. You know, Shimon, a separate case, a very separate

case, but potentially also very significant, just a little while ago, a lawyer representing Cesar Sayoc -- he was sentenced today to 20 years in prison for sending these pipe bombs to prominent Democrats (ph) -- Democrats and others, members of the news media, including to CNN -- the CNN bureau in New York, CNN headquarters in Atlanta.

The lawyer for Cesar Sayoc says, and I'm quoting him now, that they believe that the President's rhetoric contributed to Mr. Sayoc's actions. How significant is that?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Look, when this first started happening and the investigators started looking at this, they were very concerned because of the rhetoric. And they were concerned about his almost -- his fascination with the President, with Trump.

He had all sorts of material, if you remember, when he was arrested on his van. He was arrested, he had a van, so -- and had Trump decals on it. There were stickers. So, they have always been very concerned that perhaps this man was somehow, you know, just extremely -- listening to what the President was saying that was kind of perhaps -- maybe in some ways, there were some thinking that, was there something that the President said that inspired this?

Did this -- of course, Cesar Sayoc, he's written letters to the judge, asking for leniency. But it is very significant because for investigators, for people at the FBI, for people on the local level, they are concerned about the conversations that are going on in this country right now and if that is, in any way, inspiring folks to act.

BLITZER: The -- in the case in El Paso, it's now being considered a domestic terrorism case. Legally speaking, Susan, what does that suggest?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: So, a domestic terrorism designation is usually significant, mostly for the actual investigation. It allows the FBI to conduct a different type of investigation called an enterprise investigation.

A lot of people ultimately end up being surprised when big shootings like this with political motivations aren't actually charged in court as terrorism. That's basically because there is no such thing as a domestic terrorism offense. It's not a stand-alone crime, and so that -- a lot of people think that that means that the government isn't taking it as seriously. They don't understand sort of the political gravity.

That's not the case. It's just a matter of sort of a legal technicality that the way the law approaches terrorism, it usually requires a foreign nexus. So, it's unsurprising to see this being investigated as a domestic terrorism investigation at this point. That said, those will not -- there will -- we will not see domestic terrorism charges ultimately.

BLITZER: I want to bring in Charles Ramsey, a CNN law enforcement analyst, former Washington, D.C. police chief, former commissioner of police in Philadelphia.

Chief Ramsey, when we take a look at what happened in Dayton, Ohio, it just took about 30 seconds, maybe a few seconds more, for this gunman to go ahead and kill nine people, injure, wound so many others. And it could've been even more deadly if local police had not stopped him so quickly. Give us your analysis of how this happened.

CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER COMMISSIONER, PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, they were very fortunate. I mean, that's an entertainment area. And like many cities that have an entertainment area, especially on Friday and Saturday night, you have additional personnel assigned because you deal with the crowds, you deal with people that may be intoxicated, and so forth.

So, they had what we call an on-view situation. In other words, they were right there. They were witnesses to it. They heard it; they were able to react very, very quickly. But even though reacted quickly, under 30 seconds, he did an awful lot of damage, which gets to the heart of the issue and that is these assault weapons.

I mean, I listened to the President this morning. How can you blame video games as part of the problem and not see assault weapons as part of the problem? I just don't get it. It's not a partisan issue. The shooters in either one of the cases, neither one of them stopped to ask whether or not a person was a Republican or a Democrat before they killed them.

I mean, this is an American problem, and we've got to be able to deal with it. We were just lucky the cops were there that close to be able to minimize the impact this guy would've had because, believe me, we would have had a body count probably in excess of what we had in El Paso had they not been there.

BLITZER: And explain -- Chief Ramsey, we have a picture of a gun with what's called a double drum magazine, which is apparently what was used. Explain how potentially deadly this is.

RAMSEY: Well, it carries a hundred rounds. And I mean, it fires a 0.223-caliber weapon. I don't know what level vest those officers had, but if he turned that gun on them, I don't -- their vest probably would not have protected them. It's a very dangerous weapon.

[17:34:54] And when a bullet impacts the body, it actually expands and causes a tremendous amount of tissue damage, and a lot of the victims simply bleed out from the wounds. It is devastating. And you can fire rapid fire -- I mean, it is incredible.

I think Chief Biehl said he had 250 rounds in total at the scene, is what they actually were able to recover. I mean, just think about the carnage that could've been brought as a result of a weapon like that. It has no place at all in our society on the streets.

It's for -- it's for the military; it's not for civilian use. You can't hunt -- the only thing you can hunt with it are other people. That's it. I mean, you try killing a deer or something with it, there'd be nothing left to eat. I mean, it is absolutely ridiculous to even think about having this

stuff out here, and yet we've got an embarrassment on our hands, which is our United States Congress, that just refuses to do anything. And it's a shame.

BLITZER: Let me get David Chalian to weigh in on that specific point. Is there any indication the United -- the House of Representatives has passed some legislation on background checks, but there's no indication that the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, is going to allow any of this to come up for a vote.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: No indication whatsoever, and I doubt that will surprise anyone watching who's observed these incidents over the years. No matter how gruesome, no matter how tragic, no matter what these mass killings are, there doesn't seem to be a way, yet, to break the gridlock in Washington.

And I think what the President's -- what the President proved today with his words is that he's incapable of being able to break that gridlock as well. He's incapable because of his rhetoric. Because of the way that he injects division into much of what he says, he has now sort of given up on the role of being the healer-in-chief for the nation at moments like this as well.

Which is why I think you're seeing a sort of totally different response from Democrats running for president, from Barack Obama, than we've seen before. I think they are looking past, now, anything President Trump can say because for them -- and I would say probably for, you know, half of the country or so -- politically, he has no credibility anymore with which to speak about that.

BLITZER: But very quickly, in his tweet earlier in the morning, he spoke about a need to come together and get strong background checks. Then when he addresses the nation from the White House, makes no mention of background checks.

CHALIAN: Right. And I think he was tying that perhaps to immigration reform as well, something that some folks in the White House did not want to see him do and so, therefore, it didn't appear.

You know, Wolf, also, the history on this. He has signaled interest in background checks before, only to walk away from it hours later. So, I don't think it's particularly new that the President would float something and then walk away from it. I do think there -- right now, across the landscape, we just haven't seen any appetite to actually upend the stasis that has existed into something that is more action.

BLITZER: Everybody, stick around. There is a lot more we need to discuss, and we will right, after a quick break.


BLITZER: Just a reminder, we're standing by for a news conference. Authorities in El Paso, Texas, getting ready to brief us on the latest in the investigation. We'll have live coverage of that. That's coming up in a few moments. Also, our own Anderson Cooper, he just had an opportunity to speak

with the Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden, and they discussed these latest developments. Listen to this.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: That may be behind the rhetoric, you're saying, an effort basically to stoke White supremacists or White nationalists to at least give them a dog whistle?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it is -- they do have a dog whistle. They do have a dog whistle. Look, this is a president who has said things no other president has said since Andrew Jackson. Nobody said anything like the things he's saying.

And the idea that this doesn't contribute to or legitimate or make it more rational for people to think that we, in fact, can now speak out -- we can speak out and be more straightforward and we can make this an issue, we've been through this before.

We went through this before in the -- in the '20s with the Ku Klux Klan and 50,000 people walking down Pennsylvania Avenue in pointed hats, in their robes, because they, in fact, decided they didn't want any Catholics coming into the country. We went through it after the Civil War in terms of the Ku Klux Klan and White supremacy.

This is about separating people and the good and bad in his mind. It's about making -- it's about an access to power. It's a -- it's a -- it's a trait used by charlatans all over the world, divide people. Divide them, pit them against one another.

COOPER: If that's the case, I mean, it is a very dangerous game then that he's playing.

BIDEN: Oh, no, no, there's no question it's a dangerous game. There's no question that his rhetoric has contributed to, at a minimum, at a minimum, of dumbing down the way in which we as a society talk about one another. The way we -- we've always been -- look, we've always brought the country together. We've never -- you know, we, the people.

We hold these truths self-evident. He flies in the face of all the basic things that we've never really met the standard, but we've never abandoned it before. He looks like he's just flat abandoned the theory that we are one people.


BLITZER: So, discuss, David Chalian, what do you think?

[17:44:57] CHALIAN: Yes. So, you know, Joe -- this is getting to the point I was discussing before.

Joe Biden is now reacting in ways, and so are many Democrats, that we haven't seen before, which is, like, not -- there's no credit being given to the President -- and I'm not suggesting there should be -- by these candidates that he did denounce White nationalists -- no, he's long past that because he's lost all that credibility. So, they're in a different place.

Now, Joe Biden doesn't go as far as Bernie Sanders or Beto O'Rourke who called the President a White nationalist. Joe Biden, you heard, says there's no doubt that he contributes -- his rhetoric contributes to the climate in which these people behave. So, he's -- he wasn't quite as out there in taking on the President as the others are.

But what you see there is a belief that this isn't just about this one incident, Wolf. This is a belief by these Democratic candidates that the President of the United States has completely abandoned the notion that we are one people, that he is all about division. And it is that that is the sort of existential threat, the danger, that these candidates see the President imposes.

BLITZER: Let me get Ryan Lizza to weigh in on this. This is a sensitive issue going -- especially into the 2020 election.

RYAN LIZZA, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, ESQUIRE: Yes, it is, Wolf. I mean, look, I think that, you know, the starting point here with Trump is that the Republican Party, up until Trump came along, was in a very different place.

You know, we live in a rapidly changing country demographically, and the Republican Party was at the cusp of dealing with that by reaching out to the fastest-growing groups, right? Hispanics and Asians. Trump came along and he said, no, we're going to turn up -- we're going to turn up out the White vote, and a whole political strategy flowed from that decision since 2016.

And you jump on that treadmill of trying to crank up that vote, and it leads you to some very dark places. And I think that's what we've seen in the last few years, is Trump just pushing the envelope, pushing the envelope on these race-based issues and inflaming White grievance politics. And that -- and he's just not backing down.

And it's not just Trump anymore. We now see other Republican candidates jumping on the same thing. Trump has been running Facebook ads with this word, "invasion," in it, thousands of them. And if you look at the Facebook archive of political ads, other Republicans are jumping on that same rhetoric, so it's trickling down to the entire Republican Party, not just Trump.

I think a lot of Democrats in the last couple of days, you know, have just -- as David was saying, are not holding back in any way as they describe what's going on.

BLITZER: Sabrina Siddiqui, lots of outrage right now, lots of anger. Anything legislatively going to happen?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: Well, I think that the conversation around gun control has very much remained stalled on Capitol Hill.

But I want to go back, for a moment, to the President's response because we just hit, in June, the three-year mark of when Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign by declaring that most Mexicans were rapists and killers. In recent weeks leading up to these shootings, he was tweeting that four congresswomen of color, all of whom are U.S. citizens, should go back to where they came from.

And those are just the bookends. This is a president who has repeatedly demonized non-White immigrants, Muslims, and other people of color. And so, he can stand there today and condemn White supremacy, but it's remarkable that for him to do so is somehow noteworthy. I think it really reinforces the fact that the bar is so low.

And the real question is, is the President going to stop stoking fears around immigrants, migrants who are fleeing poverty and violence in Central America? Is he going to stop retweeting anti-Muslim propaganda on his Twitter account? Is he going to stop referring to majority Black cities as war zones and using words like infested to describe them?

If past is prologue, I think the answer is no. And unfortunately, the President's comments today were simply the exception to the rule.

BLITZER: Everybody, stick around. Coming up, we're going to have much more on all the breaking news. We're standing by for an update on the mass murder in El Paso.


[17:51:45] BLITZER: We're following breaking news, the aftermath of two massacres in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. At least 31 people were killed by the gunfire.

And Democrats are demanding congressional action, but President Trump is blaming much of this on mental illness. He says that's responsible for the carnage, not necessarily guns. We're joined now by psychiatrist Lise Van Susteren to discuss.

I want you to listen, Lise, to what the President had to say today. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.


BLITZER: -- Association says, and I'm quoting now, the rates of mental illness are roughly the same around the world. But the rate of gun deaths here in the United States, mass murders along the lines of what we've seen over the weekend, are enormous here compared to other countries.

DR. LISE VAN SUSTEREN, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: Yes. I think most of us recognize right now that this is just a handy excuse to say mental illness for not taking action. It's just a giant fig leaf that people use so they don't have to do what they need to do, obviously, which is to reduce the availability of guns.

And I'd like to say that, yes, mental illness is a problem in the U.S. and we can't get help oftentimes, but the idea -- this is what's so naive, especially for somebody who's been in the business as long as I have. To think that you can find people who, quote, have mental illness and then what -- even high-functioning people won't come in for therapy -- you're going to get them into therapy and they're going to talk about their problems, maybe take medicine, join a group, talk about these issues? It's absolutely ridiculous.

BLITZER: Let's talk about the 21-year-old White male suspect in El Paso. He posted this horrific anti-Hispanic -- what the police call a manifesto only about 20 minutes before the shooting. What do you gather about his mindset?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's the same whether it's targeted at a particular ethnic group, religious group, or some other kind of group. When you see mass murders, the people who engage in mass murders, mass shooters, what they have in common is that they all are full of self- loathing. They feel like losers. And what they do is they project, in order to get rid of the feeling of being a loser, onto other people, and then they scapegoat those people.

And, again, sometimes, it's anonymous as the lone wolf type is, but here, with a new social platform where they can gather, it's like mob psychology. They can encourage each other, and they become part of a group, a mass movement, a mob.

BLITZER: The suspect wrote down his thoughts in considerable detail, drove about 700 miles from Allen, Texas to El Paso. When you see that kind of planning, that kind of preparation, what do you say?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's consistent with what we have seen with other mass murderers. Sometimes, you'll have someone who is very psychotic. That means they're out of touch with reality. And they can't plan, and you see a very disorganized crime scene.

But in a situation like this where a person is not psychotic, not mentally ill in the -- in such -- to such a degree -- and the line between madness and badness is always difficult to draw, but what you see is simply that he was very determined to do this. And indeed, I'm sure he expected to get a lot of credit for the rest of the people on those sites.

[17:55:00] BLITZER: In Dayton, we saw a 24-year-old White male, the suspect, with a high capacity of -- set of magazines, a very crowded bar. He killed his own sister in this attack. What stands out in your mind when you see the details that we have so far and clearly, the investigation is continuing?

VAN SUSTEREN: That it's the same sort of process. He has a long history of not feeling like he has been a success. He is -- by any stretch of, I think, anyone's imagination, he's had a long history of feeling like an outsider. He's angry about it. He's full of the self-hatred. He projects it on others. And somehow getting that revenge is going to allow him to feel

superior, which is why they talk about White supremacy. The reasons these words are being used, why they have disdain for elites, so- called. It's because they're trying to feel important themselves, and this is one of the ways that they can get all the attention.

BLITZER: Lise Van Susteren, as usual, thanks for coming in. Appreciate it very much.

We're standing by for an update on the mass murder in El Paso. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Happening now, stone-cold look. As the death toll rises, police say the man charged with the mass shooting in El Paso is showing no remorse. What is he revealing to investigators about the domestic terror attack?

[17:59:59] Hit list. Classmates say the gunman in the Dayton massacre had a list of people he wanted to kill and rape when he was in high school.