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Ross Tied to Russia Firm; Trump Blames Mental Health Problem; Texas Church Massacre; Trump Says Patience is Over; Senator Paul's Assault. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired November 6, 2017 - 09:30   ET




ALESCI: So this is a very direct link. And at the end of the day, against the backdrop of all of these investigations and questions into the administration's link, financial or otherwise --

HARLOW: Right.

ALESCI: To Russia, this is a significant development. And Democrats are very upset because they feel like this should have come up in confirmation hearings, that Wilbur Ross should have been more up-front about this in the confirmation hearings.


ALESCI: Senator Blumenthal on Twitter today called this inexcusable and intolerable. Americans are owed answers on this cabinet's troubling failure to disclose links to Russia, Russian interests.

HARLOW: So I was just reading through his confirmation hearing. And, I mean, they talked a bit about the shipping company, but not the details. The name, for example, didn't come up. The ownership stakes didn't come up, et cetera. What is Wilbur Ross saying this morning?

ALESCI: Poppy, that's an excellent point, just to go back to the confirmation hearings.


ALESCI: This is what happens when confirmation hearings are rushed. And, you know, the Democrats had very little time to go through Wilbur Ross' financial disclosures, which were, by the way, one of the most complicated I have ever been through. As far as Wilbur Ross' response to this, he's trying to distract from all of this saying, hey, I disclosed it. I put it in my financial disclosures. He's saying reports that -- his spokesperson is saying, reports that Secretary Ross did not disclose his Navigator holdings are completely false. Secretary Ross works with the Commerce Department's ethics officials to ensure the highest ethical standards. And then he goes on to talking about restoring the economy. But this misses the news here. The news here is the link between this

company and the fact that a high-level senior Trump administration official is financially benefiting from a Russian -- from Russian business interests.

HARLOW: And, by the way, he could have divested himself in this one, too. He held on to this.

ALESCI: Exactly.

HARLOW: He (INAUDIBLE) like 80 companies and held on to this and a handful of others.

We'll also going to talk about Jared Kushner, the son-in-law, FaceBook and Twitter with you next hour.


HARLOW: So stay around for that.

ALESCI: Right.

HARLOW: There's a lot to get to. Cristina Alesci, thank you.

Joining us now is political analyst April Ryan and Margaret Talev.

Nice to have you both here.

I re-read everything this morning just to make sure it didn't get too jumbled in my sleep last night because this is incredibly complex. But there's a really sort of big picture to all of this, Margaret, and that is I think outlined really well by "The New York Times" this morning that writes, until now, no business connections have been reported between senior administration officials and members of Mr. Putin's family or inner circle. And that may change, right? That changes now because this outlines what -- you know, not illegal, but people feel like this is completely muddying the water. This is sort of the swamp, if you will, Margaret. How do you see it?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, we knew during the campaign, of course, that President Trump's family business had had some conversations or involvements over the years in Russia or with Russian business people. But this takes the conversation to a new level. And when you start to look at all the various footholds inside the administration that had some sort of business relationships with Russia, you see a more complex picture.

Now, what is it all add up to? That's completely unclear.

HARLOW: Right.

TALEV: And the point that Secretary Ross is trying to make is, so what? You know, basically, I'm a billionaire. I have a lot of investments and one of the investments has some connections to people in Russia that are appropriate. Now, I will say that Secretary Ross now saying and told "Bloomberg"

this morning he probably will not retain his stake in that investment. He said that he had already begun selling it for other reasons. Did not detail what those other reasons are.

But I think there is a sensitivity now throughout the administration to the idea that all of their individual connections to Russia, even if completely legitimate by any sort of business or reporting standards, are now going to be viewed through the political lens that connects them to this probe.

HARLOW: It's interesting you bring up that he might divest. We'll watch that. That's some new reporting.

April, to you. Let's listen to what Wilbur Ross said. He did an interview with CNBC in London this morning. And his last answer, I think, was the most telling, deflecting on the media. Listen.


WILBUR ROSS, SECRETARY OF COMMERCE: There's nothing wrong with it at all. I think it's just an example of the press trying to find anything they can, however remote or silly, to attack the president and somehow link him to Russia. This is nonsense.


HARLOW: Silly, April?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There's a lot of deflection. There's always deflections, particularly when it comes to Russia. I'm just thinking about yesterday, with that contentious conversation with Brian Stelter (ph) and Kellyanne Conway. I remember when he said, when I say "Russia," you say "Clinton." And this is going back to that yet again.

But like Margaret just said, there are sensitivities to this. I talked to a Republican source this morning who said, you know, quietly, people who are close to Secretary Ross are very concerned.

[09:35:00] The question really is, did he lie during his Senate confirmation hearings? And that will be investigated. This is now probably going to be a piece of what Mueller will be looking at.

Yes, the press gets the information and we put it out there. But the issue is, there is something there that needs to be examined. The question is, is it what you're saying or is it something else? So, you know, people want to use us as the scapegoat. We're just reporting on what is there or possibly a question.

HARLOW: Yes. That's fine. They can keep doing that. It doesn't stop the hunt for the facts and the truth.

RYAN: That's right.

HARLOW: To you both, I want to get you quickly on something very important. The words the president used this morning, Margaret, to you first, on the horriful (ph), horrible, horrifying mass shooting in Texas at that church. He said, this is a mental health problem. He went on to say, this isn't a gun situation. That's similar to his response, Margaret, after the Las Vegas massacre. Your take?

TALEV: Yes, that's right. And, I mean, of course we're seeing this horrific spate of these sort of mass killings. What we've seen on the policy side is for the Republican controlled Congress and for the White House, an unwillingness to seriously revisit this, although there was some discussion after Las Vegas about moving forward with some potential, you know, almost baby steps on possibilities for gun control. We'll see whether there is any appetite for that now.

This has nothing to do with tax reform, other than to say that the calendar is very tight and that the house now is under this very, very strong pressure from the White House to spend the next four days doing a tax plan.

HARLOW: Right.

TALEV: You can only imagine inserting gun control into the middle of that and what it does to the calendar. And so the question is, is there going to be any kind of ground swell of a public call for some sort of action that would change their thinking on the calendar.

HARLOW: April, very briefly, your thoughts before we go?

RYAN: Those who are watching this and critics of this gun issue who want gun control are concern. Yes, you know, there's an issue. Gun rights, you know, gun rights are important. But there are also rights for other people to have freedom of assembly, to be able to have the right to free religion without having to worry about being killed. And they're saying that, look, we need to have something. It's not necessarily take guns away, but there needs to be something. And they've said that if nothing happened after Sandy Hook, that was a big telltale sign when our babies were killed. And they said, that's a big telltale sign. If children are killed, nothing happened then, nothing will probably happen right now.

HARLOW: April Ryan, Margaret Talev, we appreciate your reporting. Thank you very much for that.

And, John, I'll send it back to you now in Texas.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, Poppy, we just met a woman from a nearby community who told us she lost 14 friends in this church behind us yesterday. Think of that. One woman lost 14 friends. That's the scope of what they're dealing with right here in Sutherland Springs. We have much more information, new developments. We'll be right back.


[09:42:35] BERMAN: John Berman in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the site of the horrific mass shooting yesterday. Twenty-six people dead.

We are getting some new information. The sheriff here tells us that the killer's in-laws did attend this church. They were not inside during the shooting, though they did arrive after. The governor says it does not appear this church was chosen at random. So that's some more information about the killer.

We're also learning much more about the victims. Again, 26 people ranging in age from five to 72 years old. And so many of them were children.

I'm joined now by Pastor Mike Clements. He runs the First Baptist Church in nearby Floresville, Texas, about 15 minutes from here.

And, pastor, you do so many things with this church. And your wife just told us something that took my breath away. She told us you lost 14 friends yesterday.

MIKE CLEMENTS, PASTOR, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH FLORESVILLE: Yes. And it's -- it is so difficult, obviously, and, you know, we're still trying to process all of this. And I'm trying to process it as a pastor. But, yet, I didn't lose an immediate family member. So how difficult it must be for the people who lost a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a son, a daughter, a grandparent. And that's why one of the things that I wanted to appeal to your audience today was to pray. To please pray for the people here at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs and their families because they are really hurting badly. And it is a very, very difficult time. And we need people to pray for us.

BERMAN: Prayer and empathy. Think about what it must be like to be a mother or a grandmother or a sister or a brother or a child of someone who was killed in there.

We know you run a church camp with the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. And the sheriff has been saying this morning that many of the victims, maybe more than ten, were children.

CLEMENTS: Yes. There's a good number of the people at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs that lead in a children's camp every summer, for little boys and little girls. A lot of these kids get to go swim in the river and learn how to use a bow and arrow and do crafts. But they also get to hear about how God loves them. And year after year after year after year, a lot of the people in this church take their vacation time and their planning and take these kids to go.

[09:45:10] And we were just following along with them. They were doing all the leading. There's some wonderful people in this church. I've known some of them for many, many years. And it is very heartbreaking to know that they're not with us anymore.

But we know where they are. They're with the Lord. And we know they're with the Lord, not because they're a member of a Baptist church, but because they had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Because Christianity is not a thing, it's not about a building, it's not about a denomination. It's about a person. And that person is the resurrected living Lord Jesus Christ. And they had a relationship with him. And that faith that they had is what we have to sustain us through this time. BERMAN: Tell me about the people of the First Baptist Church in

Sutherland so it's not just a number. So we don't just keep saying "26."

CLEMENTS: It's just hard to bring up somebody's name individually. I just hesitate to do that. I feel like we're on holy ground. And this is such a time of reverence. And I want to be so respectful of every person that was lost in this time. It's just so difficult to do.

BERMAN: Look, Pastor Mike Clements, we're so sorry for your loss. I'm glad you're here. I'm glad you're here for them. I'm glad you're here for the people of this community. And I'm glad you're here for the people of your own community who will need you in the coming days because they're going to look for answers. And there aren't always answers to this. So, Pastor Mike, thanks so much for being with us.

CLEMENTS: Thank you, John. Thank you.

BERMAN: I really appreciate it.

Again, it is so hard here when you hear, again, the number "26," it doesn't necessarily register. But when you hear that there were 26 people who were friends, there were more than a dozen who were kids, who may have attended these church camps, swum in the rivers nearby. Pastor Mike told us before, these were kids who just wanted to go to church and this morning they're gone.

Much more here from Sutherland Springs, Texas. We'll be right back.


[09:51:47] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The era of strategic patience is over. Some people said that my rhetoric is very strong, but look what's happened with very weak rhetoric over the last 25 years. Look where we are right now.


HARLOW: That was President Trump reaffirming his tough talk on North Korea, while he is in Japan. He's also pushing Japan to further arm itself amid the growing tension with North Korea.

Let's go to our Nic Robertson. He joins us now traveling with the president in Tokyo.

So, Nic, just the response on the ground to the president pushing Japan to, frankly, buy more arms from the United States, arm itself further against a threat from North Korea?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Sure. I mean Prime Minister Abe really seems to support this idea. He said that the situation -- the security situation in the area, in the Asia-Pacific region, is less secure than it was. That North Korea is less secure than it was. That Japan needs a qualative (ph) and quantative (ph) improvement in its weapons system. He talked about buying F-35 aircraft. He talked about buying Aegis naval vessels. But he also talked about a new missile system that will come online. The Europeans are using it near Poland. It will come online there next year. It's the latest in the missile defense systems. It flies further. It covers a bigger range. It has a bigger warhead. It's more effective.

So, yes, from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he likes that idea. This is something he says he'll do.

HARLOW: So, North Korean officials also, just in the last 24 hours, told our will Ripley they are, quote, watching Trump's Asia visit very closely. And the president used the same language that Vice President Pence used during his visit in April to South Korea, which is the era of strategic patience is over. Any indication something is different this time or is this just the administration reiterating that stance?

ROBERTSON: Well, we've heard from the administration that they will, at some point in the near future, make a determination on whether or not to, you know, call North Korea a terrorist threat. That decision seems to be waiting until after the president makes his visit in Beijing because, of course, he wants to put more president on President Xi there -- more pressure on President Xi there to increase and strengthen sanctions on North Korea.

But what is different here is President Trump will have had time to see how effective or ineffective his strategy has been. So will he now seek with others to try to bring North Korea to the table for talks? We're not hearing that in the language, but that's being talked about behind the scenes by others as a potential strategy.

HARLOW: OK. Nic Robertson in Tokyo for us. Thank you very much for that reporting.

Also this morning, we are learning that Senator Rand Paul's injuries from an attack are much more serious than originally thought. The Kentucky Republican attacked by a neighbor on Friday in his own home.

Our Sunlen Serfaty has more. What are you learning?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, we still have so much more to learn about this incident. But according to Senator Paul's office, on Friday afternoon, at his home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, he was blindsided, tackled and assaulted by his neighbor, leading to some pretty severe injuries, including five broken ribs, some bruised lungs, and some small cuts to his nose and around his mouth on his face.

[09:55:08] Now, his political strategist in Senator Paul's office describing this injury to something that's caused by high velocity, severe force. So clearly there a clue that this was a significant injury, much more than we originally thought.

Now we know his neighbor in Kentucky has been charged with one count of fourth degree assault. At this time there is no specific motive. Certainly that investigation will continue. We know that investigation is being launched not only by Capitol Hill Police, but by the FBI as well.

Now, Senator Paul on Twitter saying that he thanks people for the well wishes. At this time, though, Poppy, not sure when he will return to Washington.


HARLOW: Our thoughts are with him and his family.

Sunlen, we appreciate the update. Thank you very much.

We're going to take you back to that small community in Texas next. Twenty-three people murdered in the middle of their church service yesterday. A hero running after the gunman. Much more of that straight ahead.