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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Aides Say Visits to Grieving Cities Didn't Go Well; Interview with Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), Intelligence Committee, on the Wounded Refusing to Meet with Trump; NRA Warns Trump; Interview with John Delaney (D-MD), Presidential Candidate, on Trump Visits; Video Surfaces Showing President Trump Bragging About Crowd Sizes; McConnell Won't Call Senate Back from Recess Amid Calls for New Gun Legislation; Billionaire Owner of NFL's Dolphins and Fitness Chains SoulCycle and Equinox Under Fire Over Trump Fundraiser. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired August 8, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Bill Weir, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
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JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST (voice-over): Happening now, breaking news; bragging about the crowd: new cell phone video undercuts President Trump's claims his visits to grieving cities weren't political. He was caught on camera, bragging about the size of the crowd at his El Paso political rally.
Behind the scenes some of the president's top aides say the trip didn't go well and the media coverage wasn't favorable.
NRA's warning: CNN has also learned the president has spoken to the NRA's top executive multiple times this week and he's being warned this talk of expanding background checks won't sit well with his supporters, despite the mass shootings or new gun restrictions going nowhere.
Raided: families are torn apart after federal agents detain hundreds of undocumented migrants in Mississippi on the first day of school. Children came home to find their parents gone.
What happens to them now?
And 2020 soapbox: the Democratic presidential candidates with Joe Biden leading the pack flock to the Iowa State Fair to make their pitch to the voters in person, as a brand-new Iowa poll shows minds may be changing.
Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Jim Acosta and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
ACOSTA: Breaking news tonight: top aides to President Trump are conceding his visits to Dayton and El Paso, cities shaken by mass shootings, did not go well. This comes after embarrassing cell phone videos surfaced with the president's stop at an El Paso hospital. It shows him pivoting away from praising the medical staff to brag about the size of the crowd at his political rally in El Paso several months ago.
A hospital official who spoke with CNN confirms the eight patients being treated for their wounds declined to meet with Trump, so two discharged patients were brought in, including a baby who lost both parents as they shielded him during the attack. We'll get reaction from Democratic congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois, a member of the Intelligence Committee, and our correspondents and analysts have full coverage of the day's top stories.
Let's begin with CNN's Kaitlan Collins.
Kaitlan, what are you hearing about the president's trip?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We're hearing that not even the president himself is pleased with the coverage from that trip and he's blaming it in part on his staff for letting the cameras to capture the interactions that he did have with some of those discharged patients and some of the medical staff.
But in turn the president's own aides are conceding that that video showing the president bragging about his crowd sizes when he was in El Paso the last time, shows that trip did not go how they thought it would.
COLLINS (voice-over): Tonight some of President Trump's own aides are conceding his visits to two cities in mourning didn't go as planned after new video shows him bragging about crowd sizes while at a hospital in El Paso.
TRUMP: We met with also the doctors and nurses, the medical staff.
COLLINS (voice-over): The White House stopped reporters and their cameras from capturing the president's visit. But new cell phone video shows Trump praising medical staff before turning the conversation to himself.
TRUMP: I was here three months ago, we made a speech and we had a -- what was the name of the arena?
TRUMP: The judge is a respected --
What was the name? (CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: That was some crowd.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for what you do.
TRUMP: We had twice the number outside.
And then they had this crazy Beto. Beto had like 400 people in a parking lot. They said his crowd was wonderful.
COLLINS (voice-over): The president bragging about how many people attended his February rally, where he boasted of booting undocumented immigrants from the country.
TRUMP: They go in to our country. The good news is we have great law enforcement and many of these people, we know where they are and we're going to get them the hell out.
COLLINS (voice-over): The president still owes the City of El Paso over half a million dollars in unpaid fees for police use and public safety costs for that trip. CNN has learned that Trump lashed out at his staff for keeping the cameras away during his visits to two hospitals, complaining he wasn't getting enough credit, though aides said it was out of the respect for the patients.
"The Washington Post" reports that none of those eight patients at one Texas hospital Trump visited agreed to meet with him, while two who had been discharged did return for his visit.
The president's trip now being followed about new questions on what's next for gun control. Trump has told aides and lawmakers he's open to endorsing extensive background checks.
TRUMP: I think background checks are important. I don't want to put guns into the hands of mentally unstable people.
COLLINS (voice-over): It's a position he's taken before but never followed through on.
TRUMP: We're going to be very strong on background checks.
TRUMP: We certainly have to strengthen background checks. Everybody agrees with that.
We're really, I think, going to have the support of the NRA having to do with background checks, very strong background checks.
COLLINS (voice-over): New reporting might explain why.
TRUMP: There's no bigger fan of the Second Amendment than me and there's no bigger fan of the NRA.
COLLINS (voice-over): CNN has learned that the president has spoken with the NRA chief Wayne La Pierre several times in recent days. La Pierre warned Trump that his supporters in deep red areas don't want expanded background checks.
The NRA spent more than $30 million to get Trump elected in 2016, according to financial records, and has swayed him on gun control in the past.
TRUMP: They're very close to me, I'm very close to them.
COLLINS: We also have some new reporting coming in to CNN tonight and that's the acting DHS secretary Kevin McAleenan came to the White House about six weeks ago, prepared to resign after President Trump had threatened to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.
In a tweet, McAleenan came arguing to the chief of staff and his staff that essentially that was too big in scope and the president shouldn't be disclosing it the way he did in a tweet. Obviously he did not resign because he's still on the job today. But the episode does reveal just what a tough time McAleenan has had in that position, because, at times he agrees with the president strongly.
Other times they do not agree or see eye to eye on certain issues and this is a job that Kevin McAleenan never thought he was going to get in the first place.
ACOSTA: Kaitlan Collins, thank very much.
A hospital official at El Paso's University Medical Center said none of the eight patients who were on hand for the president's visit wanted to meet Mr. Trump or have any visitors at all.
Quote, "Some didn't want any visitors," the official told me, before adding, quote, "Some did not want to meet him."
We have confirmed two patients who had been discharged were brought back to the hospital to meet with the president. CNN has learned one of those patients was the 2-month-old baby who was shielded by his parents during the shooting.
That baby has been identified as the child of Jordan and Andre Anchondo, who died protecting him. According to the hospital official, the president displayed a, quote, "absence of empathy" during his visit. That hospital official went on to say the president made other comments similar to his remarks about former Congressman Beto O'Rourke, that left some staffers thinking Mr. Trump was not focused enough on consoling people.
That hospital official went on to say about the patients, quote, "The stories and retelling of their experience at that Walmart will chill you to your core and break your heart."
CNN's Brian Todd has been on the ground in El Paso all week.
What's the reaction the day after the president's visit, Brian? BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, there's some support here on the ground for President Trump's visit but the overwhelming majority of the people here in El Paso, who CNN's teams have talked to, were either angry about the president's visit or flat-out just didn't want him to come here.
Meanwhile tonight, we have some jarring new information about possible warning signs missed and some very serious questions being raised.
Could a little bit more information from the suspect's family and a few simple questions asked by police of that family have prevented this attack?
TODD (voice-over): Tonight, as authorities piece together a profile of the alleged shooter, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, CNN is learning more about possible warning signs in the works leading up to the massacre.
Lawyers for the suspect's family tell CNN his mother contacted police weeks ago in their hometown of Allen, Texas, because she was worried about her son owning an AK-style firearm. The family attorneys say her warning was more innocuous in nature, concerned about her son owning the weapon because of his age, maturity level and inexperience with such a firearm but not out of concern that he posed a threat.
MIGUEL VEGA, FORMER EL PASO POLICE DETECTIVE: If the call came in here in El Paso, a police officer would respond to the home and speak to the mother more in detail.
TODD (voice-over): The suspect's family's lawyers say Allen police took the mother's call but based on her description of her son's situation, she was told her son was legally allowed to possess the weapon. The mother did not give her name or her son's name, the lawyers say, and they say police didn't ask for any more information. Former El Paso police detective Miguel Vega says he doesn't want to pass judgment on how the Allen police responded. But he says if he had taken the mother's call...
VEGA: Me personally, I would have tried to inquire more information, names, address, a bit more information to, you know, to warrant a further investigation, a further look into it.
TODD (voice-over): Allen police tell CNN they always ask if a person calling with those concerns wants to give more information, wants to file a formal report or wants them to investigate further. But they say, in this case, they're not certain what happened, because the mother gave so little information.
One lawyer for the suspect's family tells CNN, quote, "This was not a volatile, explosive, erratic behaving kid. It's not like alarm bells were going off."
There are currently 17 states --
TODD (voice-over): -- and Washington, D.C., most of which lean Democrat, that allow extreme risk protection orders or red flag laws, allowing authorities to confiscate firearms from those deemed to be a risk to themselves or others.
Those orders are generally prompted by warnings from relatives and must be approved by a judge. Texas is not one of the states that have red flag laws. But it's also not clear the warning from Crusius' mother would have been urgent enough to require confiscation. Experts say the best way to help a loved one you're concerned about is to seek out help immediately.
DANIEL LIEBERMAN, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: People can be worried that if they call the authorities it will have a negative influence on someone they care about a great deal. They have to remember that the truth is exactly the opposite.
Getting the help, getting the treatment that they need can have a dramatic effect for the better on their lives.
TODD: Meanwhile, tonight we're told the FBI is stepping up its efforts to monitor these kinds of threats in real time. The FBI we're told has started hiring specialists to gather and feed the bureau data from platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in real time, as threats are made on the platforms.
We are told the FBI actually started doing this about a month before the attacks in El Paso and Dayton.
ACOSTA: Brian Todd, thank you.
Also breaking tonight, new details about the unprecedented sweep, targeting hundreds of undocumented immigrants in Mississippi. It came on the opening day of school, separating families without warning. CNN's Dianne Gallagher is in Mississippi.
What is the latest on these ICE raids and what about all those children who are suddenly stranded without their parents?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, we just got numbers from the government. If you remember, 680 people who were detained from seven different sites in six cities around Jackson, Mississippi, 377 remain in custody, either in Mississippi or in Louisiana.
They have released 303 people either here onsite or after they processed those individuals and then they said they took them and dropped them off back at the arrest site. I have talked to some people they were dropped off at a different site, more than an hour away, and people had to come and get them.
We learned that they found 18 juveniles working inside these plants, like the one you see here behind me; one of them as young as 14 years old. When you're talking about children, Jim, you cannot ignore what happened on the first day of school yesterday.
All of those kids who just didn't have their parents to come pick them up, although we're told that law enforcement let the schools know as the raid was going on. There were people who opened up their homes, even a man who opened up his gym for kids that were in daycare and school and didn't know where their parents are.
Listen to the trauma in these children's voices.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governments, please for your heart, let my parents leave me with anybody else, please. Don't leave the childs with crying this and everything. I need my dad to me. My dad is not a criminal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, can I just see my mother? Please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please.
GALLAGHER: Now look, that little girl who was looking for her mother at that ICE bust, she's been reunited with her. I spoke with both of them just a little bit ago. They're back together. ICE says they feel like they understand that people are kind of concerned with the timing of this, that the first day of school had nothing to do with it.
I want to read you something we were told here. They said this was planned for months, well before El Paso, well before the shootings happened. The dates just happened to be after El Paso.
On our end, this was months and months of planning by intel agents, locals. We did this under past presidents. This is business as usual for us.
A lot of people say it was insensitive, it was cruel to do something so soon after a racist massacre that targeted Latinos in El Paso, that it just retraumatized a community that was already afraid and shell- shocked -- Jim.
ACOSTA: All right, Dianne Gallagher, thank you very much.
Joining us is Illinois Democratic representative Mike Quigley. He's a member of the Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thank you for joining us. Let's start with the president's trip to El Paso.
What does it say that so many patients who were wounded in that shooting did not want to meet with the president?
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL), MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think they've seen the president in action before. This isn't a trip about comforting. It wasn't an empathetic, sympathetic trip.
It was a trip about the president, our narcissistic leader, unfortunately, who put himself and his politics above the needs of those who have suffered so miserably in the last few days.
ACOSTA: And Congressman, as you were seeing there, he was fuming he didn't get credit for his visit yesterday.
How does that reflect on his leadership in times like these?
QUIGLEY: You know, I think a true leader would not want a camera anywhere near his activities there and talking to these individuals one on one. I wouldn't even want them to --
QUIGLEY: -- talk about it after the fact. These are private moments that mean so much to those who have suffered. The fact that he doesn't understand that really reflects on his lack of leadership.
ACOSTA: CNN has learned that the El Paso suspect's mother called police a few weeks before the shooting. She was concerned about her son having an AK-style gun.
Do you think warning signs were missed?
QUIGLEY: I think all too often warning signs are missed in these mass shootings, given the sheer volume of them. It means law enforcement needs more resources and more training.
I was at the Supreme Court when they were debating the Chicago gun case, the arguments. It was very clear that they were going to stand for the Second Amendment. On the other hand, though, they were very clear, when they wrote the opinion, that, despite the fact that there was a Second Amendment right, it's not unlimited and that everyone should be able to have any kind of gun that they want.
I think the Supreme Court was talking about instances just like this.
ACOSTA: And you probably had heard this week, President Trump has expressed support for background checks and red flag laws but he's also been speaking to the NRA chief.
Is it realistic to expect any action on this?
QUIGLEY: I don't expect it from the president. If he was serious about it, he would have Mitch McConnell in his office and talking about voting on the bill that the House has already voted on and passed dealing with background checks. The president has been in office for some time now.
And for much of that time, over half of it, he had the majority in the House and the Senate. We could have acted any time and passed those measures before yet another disaster like this one.
ACOSTA: Congressman, as you know, officials at the Department of Homeland Security have been urging the White House to make the threat of domestic terrorism a higher priority. But they have been rebuffed.
What does that tell you?
QUIGLEY: That they're not as focused on it as they should be. They don't recognize where the threats are. The fact is there are more resources need to be devoted to this. The FBI director talked about this just the other day, they need more analysis, more resources.
And we need to look at the laws as related to this. There appears to be gaps that need to analyzed, particularly material support for those who commit domestic terror acts like this, there's clearly, at this point, not even a law that relates to domestic terrorism. That's work that has to be done.
ACOSTA: Representative Mike Quigley, thank you for joining us. We appreciate it.
Stay with us for more on the breaking news. Inside reaction: President Trump's visits to Dayton and El Paso, his aides concede things did not go well and an hospital official says the president displayed an absence of empathy.
ACOSTA: Breaking news: an official at El Paso's University Medical Center tells CNN that none of the patients at the hospital wanted to meet with President Trump yesterday. Instead, two previously discharged patients, including a 2-month-old baby, were brought back to meet with the president.
We're joined by presidential candidate John Delaney, who is in Iowa at the State Fair, a crucial campaign stop for Democrats.
Congressman, thank you for joining us.
During the president's visit yesterday, he went after Democratic officials, at the hospital he boasted about the crowd size during his last visit to El Paso. On the way home, he apparently fumed about not getting enough credit for his visit.
What message does that send to the families, who are still grieving right now?
JOHN DELANEY (D-MD), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a terrible message, Jim. Once again, the president is saying it's all about me. And that's at the core of his failed leadership. He thinks this is all about him. He's a narcissist. This is an extraordinarily difficult time for the families affected by this.
No words can describe the pain they're experiencing. And for the entire El Paso community. And for the president to make those kinds of comments is consistent with his failed leadership and the terrible tone he sets at the top ever since he's become president. And it's just terribly unfortunate that this is who we have representing our country at this time.
I feel bad for the families that they had to endure whatever kind of circus was created by him going to the hospital, making the comments he did.
ACOSTA: It looked like the president might be open to background checks and red flag laws. But he's getting pushback from the National Rifle Association. You say the president has bowed to the NRA.
What is your plan to address the NRA's influence?
It seems even though the organization may seem weakened around Washington, it is still a potent force out there.
DELANEY: I tell you what I wouldn't do. I wouldn't be consulting with the NRA in terms of what I wanted to do going forward. That's the last thing I would be doing. He shouldn't be talking to the NRA.
He should be talking to the leaders of Congress, McConnell, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, all in a room, talking about how we actually pass --
DELANEY: -- universal background checks. Background checks are the law of this country. We just have an enormous loophole with these gun shows. He should be closing that. That's what I will do as president.
He should be putting limits on certain military-style assault weapons, which we did before on a bipartisan basis. That used to be the law of the land. And we need to be doing that again.
Then there's other things we need to do -- red flag laws, a whole variety of things. I won't be consulting with the NRA in making these decisions with respect to keeping the American people save in their shopping malls and in theaters and schools.
ACOSTA: Joe Biden, the former vice president, your rival for the Democratic nomination, had this to say on the issue of white supremacy. Let's watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Do you believe that the president is a white supremacist?
JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe everything the president says and has done encourages white supremacists. And I'm not sure there's much of a distinction. As a matter of fact, it may be even worse, in fact, to be out there, trying to in fact curry the favor of white supremacists or any group that in fact is anathema to everything we believe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Do you agree with that assessment, Congressman?
DELANEY: Yes. I mean, I do agree with the sentiments that the vice president is putting forth there. This is the point. The president has the most important microphone, most important loudspeaker, bully pulpit, whatever you call it, not only in the United States of America but around the world.
A president should be using that to unify our country, appeal to our better angels, as Lincoln famously said, try to inspire people, lift them up wherever they are and a president should be projecting an image to the American people that has us move forward, and is always talking against hate, bigotry and talking for unity.
The president has used this loudspeaker in many ways to do the opposite, right?
He has said repeatedly racist things. He's said things to create equivalency between individuals who protest racism and people who are attacking protesters against racism, like he did in Charlottesville.
His has consistently used this cherished and sacred loudspeaker that he has to do the opposite of what he should be doing. A real leader would be inspiring the American people to unify, appealing to the better angels in who we are and they would be reminding the American people that our enemy is not each other but we're in this together, united we stand.
That's really the beating heart of this nation. And the president fundamentally does not do that.
ACOSTA: Congressman, you're polling at 1 percent of this new Monmouth poll of Iowa caucusgoers but you've been running the longest of any Democratic candidate in terms of the campaign.
Why do you think you're not breaking through?
And if you don't qualify for the next Democratic debate, are you going to pull the plug?
DELANEY: No. I'm in this -- the only poll that matters to me is the Iowa caucus. And I'm in it to the Iowa caucus. We think it's early and only a handful of the candidates are getting the majority of the attention right now. The field is very large. I think the last debate that CNN hosted showed some of the contrasts that exist within the party.
I think the American people have a very important question to ask themselves, when they nominate the Democratic nominee, who can beat Donald Trump and who can be the kind of leader this country needs.
To beat Donald Trump we need someone who can build a big tent party with an economic vision that a majority of Americans can get behind. The next leader we need is someone to restore decency and honor to the White House, someone who will unify our country and someone who will start getting things done not with a bunch of impossible promises but with real solutions.
That's what I'm running on. That's what I believe most Americans are looking for. I believe most Democrats are looking for that. I think it's still early and we're very committed to the race.
ACOSTA: OK Congressman John Delaney, thank you very much for joining us and hope you have a good time over at the Iowa State Fair. We appreciate it, thank you, sir.
DELANEY: Thank you, Jim.
ACOSTA: Coming up, the NRA has been working the White House phones as the powerful gun lobby warns President Trump against supporting background checks. Plus some are boycotting the popular fitness chain Soul Cycle after news breaks that the owner is a Trump supporter and he's putting his money where his mouth is.
[17:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: Breaking news, new video shows President Trump bragging about his crowd sizes as he met with medical staff at an El Paso hospital where eight victims of Saturday's mass murder were still recovering. Let's discuss with our political experts.
And, Ryan Lizza, we're getting a look inside -- and you've seen this video earlier in the day, President Trump meeting with medical staff and first responders in El Paso. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was here three months ago. We made a speech and we had a -- what was the name of the arena? That place was packed, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hawthorn.
TRUMP: That was some crowd. And we had twice the number outside.
MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you for (INAUDIBLE). Thank you.
TRUMP: And then you had this Crazy Beto. Beto had like 400 people --
TRUMP: -- in a parking lot. They said his crowd was wonderful.
You know, I just love to have made a speech here about three months ago, and we could've sold it out four times. So I have a good feeling, you know that, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: What do you make of that, Ryan? RYAN LIZZA, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, ESQUIRE: Well, Beto (ph)
ACOSTA: What's your assessment there?
LIZZA: It's Beto, not Beto.
[17:35:00] LIZZA: And at that point, I don't think Beto was even running for president. I don't he had announced yet.
ACOSTA: That's right, yes.
LIZZA: But -- and, look, when the President made that speech -- that teleprompter speech earlier in the week, a lot of us who have seen Trump make speeches like that before warned people and said, whatever he says in that speech, don't make that the story because we've been through this before. Trump is Trump. We know what his obsessions are. We know what his -- how he grapples with major news stories and tragedies. And look at his actual statements to people and his tweets, not a speech that his speechwriters wrote and he read on a teleprompter.
So I'm not surprised at all that he went to a hospital and talked about the things that obsess him all the time. Top on that list is crowd size, right below what people on cable news are talking about with respect to him. So that's who Donald Trump is. He's obsessed with crowd size, even in the middle of a tragedy and even when talking to first responders and physicians who are dealing with it.
ACOSTA: What did you think, Jeffrey Toobin, when you saw that video today?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I thought it was great. I thought it was totally appropriate. No, I mean, like, Brother Jim, you work at the White House. You see this every day. Like, we need to put this in a time capsule because people will not believe this, that this actually went on in the United States.
It's not that presidents don't behave this way. Human beings don't behave that way. I mean, you know, we've run out of adjectives and, you know, may -- but I mean, like, who talks that way at a place where they are trying to save people's lives after a mass shooting? It is just not normal.
ACOSTA: And, Sabrina Siddiqui, I mean, some of the patients at the hospital, we're told, did not even want to meet with the President. Some didn't want to meet with anybody because they're recovering, but what does it say that some of these patients said, no, I don't want to meet the President of the United States?
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: Well, when you look at the circumstances around this shooting, there's still a lot we don't yet know, but this is a gunman who attacked a predominantly Hispanic community. And authorities are investigating this manifesto that he allegedly wrote with a great deal of anti-immigrant, hate- filled language that was reminiscent of some of the rhetoric we've heard from the President.
And so I think that, for a lot of people, he's not the person or -- and especially if you're talking about the victims, that they want to hear from him at this point. And if you even look at the way in which he's responded to this -- again, we've seen who Trump is, so I don't think anyone was expecting a pivot. The pivot's not going to happen, we know that, but there's been no attempt to reach out to the Hispanic community.
In that speech he delivered to the American public on Monday, no mention of the contributions that immigrants make to society. In fact, the one time he was even asked about the manifesto, he deflected and said, well, I'm talking about illegal immigration. I don't want illegal immigration or open borders. He was right back to the same message that we're going to continue to hear from him at these rallies because that's who he is, that's what he's running on. It's very clear.
And I think there is just a refusal on the part of the President or the White House to even acknowledge the role that his rhetoric may have -- may play in inciting violence. And that's why you're seeing, I think, that rejection of his visit, those protests that you saw yesterday.
ACOSTA: Yes. And, Rebecca Buck, should we be surprised anymore? Or shocked anymore when this happens?
REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: No. As Ryan said, I mean, this is just Donald Trump, and voters supported him in 2016. They'll make the decision again in 2020, but with Donald Trump, what you see is what you get. There is no empathy, there is no sympathy, in times of crisis like this, in times of great tragedy.
He is never going to be that consoler-in-chief. He is never going to be a president who has this sort of -- demonstrates this moral leadership in an event like this. And so it's always going to be about him, and that's kind of where this went off the rails. If he had shown some compassion for the people who were suffering, I think he would've gotten a lot of brownie points for it and really surprised a lot of people, but he made it about him.
TOOBIN: But isn't there another possibility, that a lot of people like this behavior? And, you know, he is not as different from other Americans as we may think. I mean, that's the thing. You know, here we are clutching our pearls, isn't this so terrible? You know what, maybe --
ACOSTA: You think they like bragging about crowd sizes in the hospital? In the hospital?
TOOBIN: Well, you know what -- I mean, you know better than I the list of outrageous things he said during the campaign, and he is the -- you know, he won the gold medal in that -- in that election. So, I mean, the idea that Donald Trump is some aberration? I think the most chilling thought may be that he's not and that other people -- lots of millions -- millions of other Americans think exactly the same way.
ACOSTA: OK. Stand by, everybody. We're going to talk about more of this and the breaking news right after this. We'll be right back.
[17:39:56] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ACOSTA: And welcome back. We're just hearing in the last few moments that the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will not be calling the Senate back to take up gun legislation during their recess and that the NRA chief, Wayne LaPierre, has been speaking with the President a few times this week. So some of the new developments coming in.
And, Ryan Lizza, it seems like we've seen this movie before.
LIZZA: Yes. Look, there's this -- we all knew or assumed that the Senate -- that Mitch McConnell was not going to listen to Chuck Schumer and get everyone back here from their August vacation, but what happens now?
[17:44:58] This sense of urgency and outrage starts to dissipate. The Senate comes back in the fall. They have other issues on their agenda. Even the Democrats, they have a full slate of issues they're campaigning on, not just guns.
And so, you know, Congress often needs to be, you know, like -- it needs like electrocution to be -- to do anything, right? It needs to be shocked into doing anything. And we have seen this movie so many times before, people outraged, everyone in the media covering it 24/7, Democrats seized by this, and then the sense of urgency dissipates.
ACOSTA: And let's put up the "TIME" magazine cover for this week. It says, "Enough." It mentions all of these mass shootings that have occurred over the last several years here in the U.S., much of it propelled sometimes by White supremacists or far-right extremists.
Rebecca Buck, I mean, this sort of punctuates what Ryan Lizza was just saying a few moments ago. Tragedy after tragedy, mass shooting and massacre after mass shooting and massacre, and yet, it seems, in Washington, the fix is in.
BUCK: Right. I mean, you think about what happened after Sandy Hook, nothing. You think about what happened after Parkland, essentially nothing. And so you have -- Las Vegas is another great example. And --
ACOSTA: Although the administration will say they got rid of bump stocks during that.
BUCK: Right, but minor changes here. And so the status quo holds because the politics haven't changed for Republicans. Frankly, many Republican voters don't support stricter gun laws. The President doesn't support stricter gun laws. And Republicans, right now, support the President right now, and so none of these Republican lawmakers really have political incentive to go out on a limb. And until there's some sort of political uprising, the status quo is going to hold.
ACOSTA: Do you think so, Sabrina?
SIDDIQUI: Well, look --
ACOSTA: You don't think it could change this time?
SIDDIQUI: Not really because I -- at the risk of sounding cynical, we have been down this road before, at least when it comes to the federal level. You know who could make a difference is the President of the United States who has the bully pulpit as his -- at his disposal.
Now, President Obama was criticized in his first term for not making gun control a priority. Sandy Hook was obviously a moment that really changed that -- the consciousness of this nation as well as his administration's strategy. They couldn't get it through, but he did build the case to the American public. Donald Trump could do that now; he chooses not to do so.
ACOSTA: All right. Thanks to all of you. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.
Coming up, sour notes in the land of SoulCycle, Equinox, and the Miami Dolphins after it's revealed that billionaire owner Stephen Ross is planning to host a political fund-raiser for President Trump.
[17:47:44] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ACOSTA: Tonight, the man who owns pro-football's Miami Dolphins, as well as the Equinox and SoulCycle fitness chains, has stumbled on to a new way to get his customers all worked up. But not in a good way.
Let's bring in CNN's Cristina Alesci. This has to do with plans for a political fund-raiser, it turns out. And no backpedaling, it seems.
CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Stephen Ross, who is a billionaire real estate developer and an investor in some high-end gym concepts including Equinox and SoulCycle, is hosting a fund-raiser for President Trump tomorrow at his Hamptons home.
Here is the problem. Equinox and SoulCycle specifically incorporate inclusion, diversity, LGBTQ rights into their business model. It is part of their marketing. For example, in June, they hosted a bunch of pride rides in celebration of Pride Month.
So this is -- the consumers of these brands really feel like this is a slap in the face, and they do not want to support anything, even indirectly, that supports President Trump. So the company put out a statement today saying, essentially, neither Equinox nor SoulCycle have anything to do with the event later this week and do not support it. As is consistent with the company's policies, no company profits are used to fund politicians. But they're making this technical distinction that just doesn't hold
water, Jim. It doesn't matter to these people whether the company's profits are directly going to the fund-raiser; they don't want to indirectly support the President either. Unclear, however, what the backlash will really bring. There was a lot of it on social media, for sure.
ACOSTA: OK, Cristina Alesci. Half of Washington works out at SoulCycle, so I imagine a lot of people are raising questions about this. Cristina, thank you very much.
ALESCI: Of course.
ACOSTA: Coming up, CNN has learned that none of the eight shooting victims recovering at an El Paso hospital wanted to meet with President Trump during his visit yesterday, so two previously discharged patients were brought to meet with the President instead, including a two-month-old baby.
[17:54:27] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ACOSTA: Happening now, breaking news. Absence of empathy. That's how an El Paso hospital official describes the President's demeanor as a new video of Mr. Trump's tour shows him focusing on himself instead of the gun massacre. We have new details on how he was shunned by shooting victims.
NRA pressure. We're learning more about Mr. Trump's conversations with the head of the NRA as the powerful group is campaigning against any new gun control measures. Is the President feeling the heat?
Impeachment push. The House Judiciary Chairman clearly signals he's in favor of an impeachment inquiry as his panel is scrambling to make a decision in the weeks ahead. Are top Democrats closer to taking action?
[18:00:00] And on the road in Iowa. As many 2020 Democrats are converging on the lead-off state caucus, CNN is traveling is with Senator Kamala Harris. We'll hear from her --