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At Least 26 Killed In Shooting In Texas Church Massacre; Trump: Shooting A Mental Health Issue, Not Guns; Trump And Japanese P.M. Condemn North Korea; Donna Brazile Defends DNC Tell-All. Aired 5:30- 6a ET

Aired November 6, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Their statement goes on to say quote, "We do not recognize the campaign she portrays in the book."

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, fascinating. Thirty minutes past the hour.


ROMANS: EARLY START continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BRIGGS: Troubling new questions about the man who carried out the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history. Twenty-six are dead. The gunman allowed to buy a weapon after being court-martialed and discharged from the Air Force for assaulting his wife and child.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That mental health is your problem here. This was very -- based on preliminary reports, a very deranged individual with a lot of problems over a long period of time.


ROMANS: The president -- President Trump on his trip to Asia. A high-stakes meeting with the prime minister, and he weighs in on the Texas shooting -- the shooting there -- saying the issue was mental health, not guns.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Good morning. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

We start with another American community torn apart by gun violence. At least 26 people were killed in Sunday's church shooting in the small Texas town of Sutherland Springs, near San Antonio.

The dead range in age from five to 72, about 20 others wounded. We're told eight of the dead were from one family. ROMANS: The shooter, 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelly, is dead. Kelly had been court-martialed by the Air Force and given a bad conduct discharge in 2012.

He leaves behind an unfolding mystery. What set him off on this rampage?

Let's bring in CNN's Dianne Gallagher, live this morning for us in Sutherland Springs.

Dianne, just five weeks after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, here we are again.

Do we know why he chose that church? What are we learning about what happened?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, no, Christine. In fact, that's one of the resounding questions amidst all of the grief here right now -- the disbelief -- is why us? Why do this? What is the reason behind this?

Why did a 26-year-old man basically dress up for war -- all black, a tactical ballistic vest -- come in, open fire on the church before he even walked into the sanctuary? And, of course, we know what happened in there. We know 26 people lost their lives simply trying to worship on a Sunday morning.

Now, there are a bunch of veins to this story here, one of them being that a man who lived next door to the church actually came out with his own gun and confronted that suspect, Devin Kelly. He went after him. He chased after him and kept law enforcement abreast of where this suspect was going.

Now, he lost him but law enforcement eventually did find Devin Kelly's vehicle. They say that he ran off the road about eight miles from here and he died of a gunshot wound, we are told. They don't know if it was self-inflicted or if it was a wound from the gun of that neighbor.

But inside, they found multiple firearms. Now, we are told that the one used in the shooting, that Ruger AR-556, was purchased legally back in April of 2016 at an Academy Sport and Outdoors store in San Antonio.

That's raising even more questions because you mentioned that court- martial for the assault of his spouse and a child.

TEXT: Texas church shooter: court-martialed in 2012, assault on spouse and child, received bad conduct discharge, confinement for 12 months.

GALLAGHER: He served one year for those crimes. He was -- he went down in rank to an E1 and he got a discharge, leading many to wonder why he was able to legally purchase that weapon. Now, again, these are answers and questions that law enforcement are having to go through right now. The people in this community -- this is a tiny town. We're talking

fewer than 700 people here. So if you think of it in that way -- 26 people massacred in a church -- that is roughly four percent of this town's population.

This is something that's going to take a long time. Perhaps, they will never fully recover from what has happened here.

ROMANS: It's just awful. All right. Dianne Gallagher, thanks so much for that.

We're also hearing from a witness, Johnnie Langendorff, who chased after the shooter after a neighbor briefed him about what happened in the church.


JOHNNIE LANGENDORFF, CHASED TEXAS CHURCH GUNMAN: I was on the phone with dispatch the entire time. I gave them direction -- the direction we were going and what road and everything, and that the vehicle was in sight and I was picking up -- getting closer and closer to him. And we did about 95 going down 539 trying to catch this guy until he eventually lost control on his own.


BRIGGS: A couple of brave souls there. All right.

Joining us from Philadelphia, CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey, former Washington, D.C. police chief and a former Philadelphia police commissioner. Good morning to you, sir.

ROMANS: Good morning.

BRIGGS: All right. The search for a motive --


BRIGGS: -- obviously first and foremost. Where does the investigation turn to try to find some answers why, again, this happened just five weeks after the Las Vegas shooting?

RAMSEY: Well, I'm sure that as they execute search warrants, they're looking for anything that might lead them to a motive, whether it's from his computer, social media sites that he used or any Websites he may have gone to. Maybe there's something written.

[05:35:13] But they're trying to find a motive right now. Why that place or why any place, for that matter, would he want to do something like this? I mean, you know, almost 50 people shot when you think about it. We are focusing mostly on the dead but it's almost 50 people that he shot --

BRIGGS: Yes. RAMSEY: -- during this incident, any one of which that were wounded could have easily died.

ROMANS: What --

BRIGGS: Yes. Some reports floating around about a direct connection to that church. CNN's not yet confirmed those.

ROMANS: What is so striking to me, you talk about the numbers here. I mean, you've got what, more than 500 people shot in the last five weeks? Ninety-two dead in the last five weeks in mass gun violence.

You know, you tick through these numbers. The Pulse nightclub was 49 killed; Sandy Hook, 27; Harvest Music Fest, 58. I'm just going through some of the biggest ones ever. San Bernardino, that was 14.

One of the common denominators here is the kind of weapon used. The semi-automatic weapons that can fire so many bullets so quickly.

RAMSEY: Well, you know, part of it is keeping the guns out of the hands of people who would use them the way that this individual and others have used them to commit crimes. Maybe they're mentally unstable -- whatever the situation is.

But there doesn't seem to be any desire at all to do anything. I have zero confidence that the president or Congress will do anything at all to address this issue.

I mean, you've already heard it. Well, it's too soon. Well, when is the right time because the only time we pay attention to this is when we have a mass shooting?

There are people who die on the streets of our cities across the country every single day as a result of gun violence and we do absolutely nothing about it.

BRIGGS: And to be clear, both Democrat and Republican presidents, both Democrat and Republican-controlled Congress have done nothing about these mass shootings.

RAMSEY: Right.

BRIGGS: This is a 'both' party problem.

ROMANS: But didn't you say there was some -- there were some new rules that went into effect --

BRIGGS: In February, the president rolled back some Obama-era protections that would have kept guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, so there may be some blame there.

There's also something called the Lautenberg Amendment, sir, that covers 26 states that would keep people from buying guns that have a domestic abuse arrest, but that's 26 states. Texas is not one of them.

Should there be some overlap, though, between your military background when it comes to a background check about your criminal record?

RAMSEY: Well, absolutely, there should be some overlap. But the bottom line is you need to know the history of an individual before they purchase a gun. We want guns in the hands of responsible law- abiding people.

People that we feel aren't capable of handling a gun properly or using it to commit a crime should not have access to a gun. Now, they can get it illegally but we shouldn't be legally selling it to them.

Pennsylvania, where I'm from, we can't even -- there's no requirement for a person to notify the police if a gun is lost or stolen. I mean, you know, that should be a clue that perhaps the gun is the wrong hands. Why not report it? I mean, those kind of things are just outright silly.

My earlier comment was not partisan because I don't put either party above the other.



RAMSEY: I don't think any of them do anything, quite frankly.

ROMANS: Well, we know that Congress made it illegal for the Centers for Disease Control to even study the overlap between public health and gun violence. And you would think that's a place to begin, right, to look at the public health implications of gun violence, especially if you're talking about numbers like this. I mean, these numbers are astonishing -- the number of people who are shot in this country.

RAMSEY: Well, it is. But again, how often do we have to go through this? This is not a problem that's going to fix itself.

And, again, I'm not trying to get rid of all guns, not trying to take guns away --

ROMANS: Of course not.

RAMSEY: -- from responsible people.

But at some point in time, we've got to recognize we have a problem and we need to deal with it. And that's why we elected people to be in office, but these guys sit around and don't do anything and we just have these sessions over and over again. I mean, I was -- a few weeks ago about Las Vegas.

What about the family right now that is intact but they may not make it to the end of the year because they're going to be shot down by some crazed gunman somewhere? I mean, you know, there's somebody out there right now that will not live to see the new year because of the gun violence we have in this country and it's pathetic.

BRIGGS: We do want to point out in the search for a motive this is very different than Las Vegas. This shooter has a vast social media history that investigators can search. There's some anti-Semitic -- some atheist rants out there on social media, as well.

Charles Ramsey, thanks so much for the insight. We appreciate it.

RAMSEY: Thank you.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a state dinner right now in Tokyo. Earlier at a news conference, the president spoke about the shooting during his trip there.

[05:40:07] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It's so sad. Sutherland Springs, Texas, such a beautiful, wonderful area with incredible people. Who would ever think a thing like this could happen?


BRIGGS: Here we are, five weeks removed from the deadliest mass shooting in American history. The president says guns are not the issue, standing alongside the Japanese prime minister. We're live in Tokyo, ahead on EARLY START.



TRUMP: We cannot put into words the pain and grief we all feel, and we cannot begin to imagine the suffering of those who lost the ones they so dearly loved.


[05:45:00] BRIGGS: Brand new reaction there this morning. President Trump, in Japan, reacting to the mass shooting at a Texas church. He's ordering flags across the U.S. at half-staff through Thursday night.

Asked about the shooting, he says guns are not the issue, mental health is.


TRUMP: We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries. But this isn't a guns situation. I mean, we could go into it but it's a little bit soon to go into it.

But fortunately, somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction. Otherwise, it would have been as bad as it was. It would have been much worse.

But, this is a mental health problem at the highest level.


ROMANS: Now, the president, right now -- you can see him there. These are live pictures. He's giving a toast at a state banquet with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The shooting is taking away some of the focus of the president's trip.

Let's turn it over to senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny. He is in Tokyo for us.

The president giving a toast there at the podium, Jeff. He's got -- this is a very important trip for him and he's got an awful lot of diplomatic dances to dance here, and his reaction to this shooting.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. You're absolutely right about this.

And these pictures from the state banquet we're seeing are happening right now in the evening here in Tokyo is really underscoring the strong relationship between the president and the Japanese prime minister, but North Korea taking center stage here, among other issues.

But it is that shooting back home in Texas that the president was asked about at a news conference earlier here in Tokyo and he did say that it is mental health. Well, if it indeed is to be blamed on mental health -- and, of course, there's not one reason for any of these shootings -- he said it's too early to discuss anything about guns or gun control.

But you know that this debate will begin again. We have seen this happen time and time again. Unfortunately, a playout without any results.

The different equation her is Donald Trump. He has been, in fact, on both sides of the gun issue. He was supportive of gun control about four or five years ago before he ran for president. He is not supportive of it right now but that is something that, of course, is weighing over this.

But the White House is saying he's not going to adjust his schedule or change his plans here. He's going forward on this. So after this state banquet here, the president will be heading to Seoul later and he will have meetings there tomorrow.

Of course, just 35 miles from North Korea and that threat hanging over this entire region --


ZELENY: -- and certainly, his presidency -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Jeff Zeleny for us in Tokyo this evening. Thank you so much for that.

Well, let's bring in CNN political analyst David Drucker, senior congressional correspondent at the "Washington Examiner." Good morning to you.

You heard Jeff say that, you know, this president, over the years, has been on both sides of the gun violence debate here. He says it's not time to talk about guns, it's time to talk about mental illness.

Rate for me, I guess, his reactions over the past week or so.

Last week, we had a terrorist attack in New York and he immediately had a policy prescription about immigration. Here, you have all these people killed -- many more people killed in a domestic act and he doesn't.

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, there's nothing wrong, Christine, with a president being circumspect about reacting quickly to tragedies like this where there are so many facts that we may not know yet.

But as you point you, the president is always quick to react to acts committed by radical Jihadis, either domestically or overseas. He's always quick to comment on the reaction of officials to those kinds of attacks, either domestically or overseas. Things committed -- acts like this -- tragedies committed by American citizens without a radical Islamic terrorism aspect to them, he is much more careful about how he talks about them.

But this issue of mental health, I think, is what you're going to see from a lot of Republicans and what many of them have discussed over the years when these shootings have occurred. I think the question is whether or not they'll be any impetus for some sort of legislative prescription after we sort of figure out all of the facts surrounding what happened in Texas.

BRIGGS: Well, the president did do something about mental health related to guns. Back in February, he rolled back some Obama-era protections that would have kept guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. So he's done something completely the opposite to what his comments might suggest.

But Democrat and Republican presidents have done nothing.


BRIGGS: Democrat and Republican-controlled Congress have done nothing.

David, what does it tell you that in the wake of Las Vegas, even the NRA sounded open to changing the bump stock sales and regulations and nothing was done?

DRUCKER: Well, I think -- you make a good point there but I think all it does is show you the potency, politically, of the gun issue, meaning that what really animates Democrats when it comes to dealing with guns is to try and get them off the streets to the sense that if you're a law-abiding citizen it becomes increasingly hard to purchase a gun.

[05:50:07] And if you're a Republican, you will do anything to make sure nothing gets in the way of a law-abiding citizen purchasing a gun to the point where you're worried about slippery slopes. ROMANS: Sure.

DRUCKER: If you look at somebody with possible mental health issues or possible other issues in their background, you're always worried about a slippery slope that makes it harder and harder for law-abiding citizens to purchase guns.

Both sides are in their corners. We saw, about four or five years ago, Sen. Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia; Sen. Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, try and compromise on guns to make it a little bit tougher for people to get them -- to try and keep them out of the hands of bad guys. That fell on its face even though we had a Democrat in the White House, and so this is just a very difficult issue to address politically.

ROMANS: Yes, it has been and maybe always will be.

Let's talk about North Korea. The president has a lot of diplomacy -- careful diplomacy to do here -- maybe not exactly on the same page with the South Korean leadership. He's got -- really has to work hard with the Chinese to figure out how to work with the Chinese on North Korea.

Let's listen to something the president said about, you know -- really, talking a lot about how Japan is our primary ally here.


TRUMP: The United States of America stands in solidarity with the people of Japan against the North Korean menace. History has proven over and over that strong and free nations will always prevail over tyrants who oppress their people.


ROMANS: You know, the president will be going on to Seoul after this dinner tonight in Tokyo. What is the deliverable he needs here on the North Korea issue?

DRUCKER: Well, I think the president has to find a way to solve a problem that his predecessors couldn't solve and that, quite frankly, is very difficult to address, which is you have a madman with a North -- with a nuclear weapons programs with no incentive to give it up.

The only thing that props the North Korean regime up, as bad as it is, is the fact that it has nuclear weapons, that it can threaten Seoul. Never mind South Korea -- Seoul, the largest city in South Korea is just below the DMZ and there's officially an ongoing state of war between the United States and North Korea and that's why this is so hard to solve.

I think that you will see more of this unifying talk from the president when he visits South Korea. I think his biggest challenge remains how to try and get China to do something that they don't really think is in their interest, which is to help the U.S. solve this problem which helps maintain the U.S. as the preeminent power in the Asia Pacific, which is exactly what China wants to be.

BRIGGS: The president also has to sell this issue of trade imbalances. He wants reciprocal trade but we'd need another 30 minutes to get through all of that.

DRUCKER: We would.

BRIGGS: David Drucker from the "Washington Examiner." Thank you, sir.

ROMANS: Happy Monday.

DRUCKER: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Donna Brazile's message to critics of her new book, "go to hell." But will she face backlash if Democrats don't come out to vote tomorrow in key races?


[05:57:05] BRIGGS: Former Democratic party chair Donna Brazile standing firm against mounting criticism of her new book and its damning accusations against her own party.

Brazile reveals she considered removing Hillary Clinton from the 2016 ticket after the candidate fainted and replacing her with then-vice president Joe Biden, although she acknowledged to "ABC NEWS" she didn't have the power to do that on her own.

ROMANS: Some leading Democrats are furious, saying the party needs a big turnout in Virginia and New Jersey this week and can't afford bad blood or distractions. Brazile pushing back hard.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ANCHOR, ABC "THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS": Do you think this helps for the book to come out now?

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER INTERIM CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, George, I mean, this is a lesson of 2016. If I released it next year, they would say, Donna, you're impacting our 2018. If I released it the following -- Donna, you're impacted --

George, for those who are telling me to shut up -- they told Hillary that a couple of months ago -- you know what I tell them? Go to hell.


ROMANS: Nearly 100 former Clinton campaign staffers accused Brazile over the weekend of buying into quote "false Russian-fueled propaganda."

All right, let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning.

Global stock markets beginning the week mostly lower, stepping back after another strong week on Wall Street. Dow futures are up. Eight weeks in a row gains for the S&P 500 and the Dow -- eight weeks in a row.

And, Apple shares pushed to record highs last week. Apple up almost three percent as that iPhone X arrived in stores. Big profits for Apple last quarter.

But now we have earnings seasons winding down so this week the focus is tax cuts. The House Ways and Means Committee will start marking up the bill it released last week.

All right. Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

"NEW DAY" starts right now. Chris Cuomo live in Sutherland Springs, Texas with the latest on the church shooting.

We'll see you tomorrow.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. To our viewers in the United States and around the world this is NEW DAY, but we are facing a horribly familiar tragedy.

It is Monday, November sixth, 6:00 in New York where Alisyn is, 5:00 a.m. here in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the site of another mass shooting in America. Twenty-six lives lost, 20 others hurt.

A gunman opening fire with a military-style rifle at a Baptist church during Sunday services. He apparently would spare no one.

The youngest victim was five years old, the oldest 72. Among the dead, the 14-year-old daughter of the church's pastor. Eight people from one family alone affected.

The scale here has to be considered. This is a very small town, just a few hundred people, and we saw them come out last night for a candlelight vigil to remember their victims.

In a few hundred people population, this man affected such a huge slice of this community and now, it is reverberating across this entire country.

What we know about the killer was that he was a veteran of the United States Air Force. He had been court-martialed five years ago for assaulting his --