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Trump Blames Mental Health for Texas Church Massacre; Interview with Sen. Ben Cardin; Russian Layer's New Claim about Trump Jr Meeting; Sen. Rand Paul Attacked by Neighbor; Saudi Royal Family Members Arrested in Anti-Corruption Sweep; Houthi Missile Attack on Saudi Airport Raises Tensions with Iran. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired November 6, 2017 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's really something that is maybe for lawmakers a more worry some number than the individual horrific events, as bad as they are, they may not tell us about the gun violence overall. The basic number we're getting from the CDC, the latest update, that does tell us something. That it is increasing -- Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Very significant.

Thanks very much for that, Tom Foreman.

President Trump said the mass shooting in Texas that left 26 people dead does not represent a gun problem in the United States. Speaking in Japan, the president put the blame elsewhere.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that mental health is your problem here. This was -- based on preliminary reports, a very deranged individual. A lot of problems over a long period of time. We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries. But this isn't a guns situation.


BLITZER: Joining us now, Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland.

Senator, a true tragedy in Texas. What do you think of the president's assessment that it's a mental health and not a gun problem?

SEN. BEN CARDIN, (D), MARYLAND: Wolf, it's good to be with you. There's no simple answer to gun violence in America. There are a lot of contributing factors. Mental illness is part of it. But where I disagree with the president, gun safety would make a difference. We need to take steps that at least try to help protect our communities from gun violence. We do know that universal background checks means less people that shouldn't have guns will have guns. That will make us safer. We do know the military style weapons and the high-capacity magazines all add to the tragedies of the shootings. So, yes, we can take steps and gun safety that will make the community

safer. Yes, we should deal with mental health. There is lots of issues to deal with, the drug problem and gang violence. All that is contributing to gun violence in America, but we have to take action.

BLITZER: He spent a year in a military prison in a brig after assaulting his wife and young little kid. Then he was dishonorably discharged for bad conduct. But in the four years that followed, Senator, he bought four guns, one each year, and didn't have a problem getting those guns despite that background. How do you deal with that?

CARDIN: It will be interesting to see how he could have legally gotten those guns. A background check should have picked that up and he would not have been eligible to purchase weapons. That's why we need a universal background check. No loopholes. Regardless whether you buy on the Internet or gun shows, you have to go through the background checks. Those who are not entitled to have guns don't get them.

BLITZER: Is it your understanding -- because we have to check -- that the U.S. Air Force and military would automatically notify the authorities about criminal behavior while serving in the military? Is that relayed to states in terms of ability to purchase weapons legally?

CARDIN: I don't know the specifics of this case. But I know those are involved in domestic violence and those involved in criminal activities should be flagged, and are not eligible to have hand guns. There are statutes that prohibit this. I'm not sure exactly what this particular person's background was, whether it would have been picked up or not.

BLITZER: The president tweeted right after learning about the Texas attack, he tweeted this, he said, "May god be with the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI and law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan."

In contrast to that, his first tweet after the New York terror attack last week was this, "In New York City, looks like another attack by a sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. Not in the USA!"

Some suggest there's a difference in tone based on the reaction to what happened in New York and based on the president's reaction to what happened in Texas. Your thoughts?

CARDIN: We have seen the president react differently in circumstances where we would have hoped he would have been there to unite the community. No one supports this is type of behavior. As a community, we need to come together first for the victims and their families. This is a horrible situation to have to deal with. We need to come together as a nation and make it clear we will stand with those who have been victimized and unite to do everything we can to keep America safe. Not try to advance a political agenda. At times, it looks like the president is more interested in advancing a political agenda than bringing our country together.

BLITZER: After the Las Vegas massacre, 58 people were killed and hundreds injured, there was a call to outlaw the bump stocks that allow a weapon to, in effect, become an automatic weapon and kill a lot of people within a matter of seconds. A couple of weeks ago, Democrats in the House introduced a bill banning these high-capacity magazines. Do you think there is a realistic effort that there will really be any change as far as legislation is concerned?

[13:35:18] CARDIN: We are waiting. You are exactly right. Bump stocks have no legitimacy in the private market place and should be outlawed. You would think it would be a quick response to make sure they are no longer legal in the United States. I would have thought the large-capacity magazines would have been outlawed by now after Sandy Hook and other tragedies in which the large-capacity opportunities caused multiple deaths. These are common sense laws that should be on the books. For reasons that, to me, has to do with the politics of guns in America, we can't seem to bring the bills up for votes. Republican leadership refuses to do that.

BLITZER: A quick question on North Korea while I have you. You are the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And during his visit to Asia this week, the president is planning to sit down with the Russian President Vladimir Putin to talk about North Korea among other subjects. What do you think the message needs to be right now?

CARDIN: This is a dangerous situation. In regards to North Korea, I hope we all would look for an off-ramp where we get things calmed down and we can start with North Korea stopping their tests and not advancing their capacity and ultimately leading to a non-nuclear Korean peninsula. Russia can be helpful to weigh in and say, look, we don't want to see a military campaign in North Korea. Let's find a diplomatic way, working with China and working with Russia and North Korea to find a way that we can get things to a neutral state and stop the development in North Korea of their missile capacity.

BLITZER: Senator Cardin, thanks for joining us.

CARDIN: Thank you. It's good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you.

A Russian lawyer now providing new details on the Trump Tower meeting. With Donald Trump Jr back in the summer of 2016. What she says Donald Trump Jr said he could do, and what he asked for in return.


[13:41:40] BLITZER: A desire to reexamine an anti-Russian law and a search for evidence against the Clinton campaign, both are part of new information from this woman, Natalia Veselnitskaya. She is the Russian attorney at the center of the Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr in the summer of last year. She revealed the details in a new interview with "Bloomberg News." Let's discuss this and more with Rachel Bay, congressional reporter

for "Politico," our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, and our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

Gloria, this interview, Natalia Veselnitskaya, she said that Donald Trump was receptive to perhaps recommending a change in those earlier sanctions that had been imposed against the Russians.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: She said a lot of things in this interview. She said, to Bloomberg, I believe, that he was expecting some evidence, that a Clinton donor had evaded U.S. taxes, and that is the information that perhaps she was coming armed with. However, when you look at the e-mail exchanges, as we have all done by now, and you read them from the intermediary, it doesn't sound like they were talking about a donor of Clinton's. It says that, "This meeting would provide the Trump campaign with official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father."

It seems to me that now her story is changing, that the so-called dirt was about a donor and not about Hillary Clinton herself. That's not the way it was represented to Donald Trump Jr.

BLITZER: The way it was represented to Donald Trump Jr, Dana, was that they said they had dirt on Hillary Clinton and opposition research and that was intriguing.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: She sat down with Bloomberg and suggesting that Don Jr, according to her account, that that the donor got a tax benefit and that benefitted the Hillary Clinton campaign, and that is why Don Jr said show me the documents and do you have documents to back that up? She said no. This is where the stories matchup. The meeting was quick, 20 minutes, and it ended pretty quickly after that.

The question about whether or not Don Jr offered to change a very, very controversial law, something that she and many others in and around the Russian government have been trying to change the Magnitsky Act, that's a different question. Whether he said, yes, we will look into it, as a way to be courteous, or as much more of a potential quid pro quo. That's a question, if Robert Mueller and his people are listening, they are going to want to ask her, as well people on Capitol Hill.

BLITZER: Apparently, she's willing to testify, this woman, Natalia Veselnitskaya, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, maybe other committees, but she said she is ready if it's an open hearing.

[13:44:57] RACHEL BAY, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: They are champing at the bit to talk with her. Senator Grassley sent her 80 questions. They want to speak with her and she said she is open to it.

This is follows news about Wilbur Ross, the Commerce secretary, potentially having financial ties to a Russian oil company close with Vladimir Putin. We heard that Senator Richard Blumenthal went on "Morning Joe" and said, "I want him to testify on this." It's just more of the drip, drip, drip. Hearing more information about Russia. And they have a lot of questions.

BORGER: I must say I loved reading in this interview, Paul Manafort fell asleep in this session. It was so scintillating to him that he couldn't keep his eyes open.


BORGER: Hate when that happens.

BLITZER: A disturbing development. Rand Paul was beat up by a neighbor of his down in Kentucky in Bowling Green. Originally, we didn't think it was that serious, but there are broken ribs. It's very serious.

BASH: That's right. It is very serious. Several broken ribs. He is being told by doctors not to do very much activity. It sounds to me like he doesn't necessarily have to be told that because he is in a lot of pain and can't get on a plane and so forth.

The circumstances of this assault are so weird, frankly. Mysterious. We don't know yet exactly why this neighbor went after him. The Senator was mowing his lawn, sitting on a lawn mower and had earplugs, and was blindsided by this neighbor, who is also a doctor. There are reports he had a Facebook page where he was very outspoken about his dislike for Donald Trump. But whether or not these two men had previous interactions or whether it was personal or political. I know the capital police and FBI are looking into it.

BLITZER: As they should.

BLITZER: It should be a federal issue for them.

BLITZER: We will continue to report on it. Obviously, very disturbing. We wish Senator Paul a speedy recovery.

Guys, thank you very, very much.

Just a short time from now, we're expecting two press conference on a massacre in a Texas church, including from the hospital and a church where the gunman once attended. Stand by for that.

Plus, nearly a dozen Saudi princes arrested on corruption charges and being detained in a Ritz-Carlton Hotel. We have details, and we are going live to Saudi Arabia when we come back.


[13:52:11] BLITZER: Nearly a dozen members of the Saudi royal family are now under arrest, including Prince al Waleed bin Talal, one of the world's richest men. Authorities say the arrests were part of the anti-corruption sweep targeting some of the country's most prominent businessmen.

CNN's Becky Anderson is joining us from the Saudi capital of Riyad. Becky, Prince al Waleed, very well-known figure in the West, makes a

lot of appearances on business news networks, a big shareholder of major U.S. companies like Twitter Apple, Citigroup. What do we know about what's behind all of these arrests?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And a man I've interviewed on a number of occasions. Those caught up in what was an extraordinary weekend here in Riyadh could not have been more high profile. As you point out, government ministers, businessmen, members of the royal family, including Prince al Waleed, whose companies, Twitter, Apple, News Corp., detained in what was an unprecedented anti-corruption sweep that officials here, Wolf, insist is in line with the country's plans to diversify and modernize this economy by 2030. And while cynics will and have said that this is less about graft and more about a power play by the young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, turning the screws on those who oppose him, the foreign minister told me in our exclusive interview that is nonsense. He said zero tolerance on terrorism. Zero tolerance on corruption.

And this was a move, Wolf, that was well flagged earlier in the year. I an interview with an Arabic-language TV station, Mohammed bin Salman warned that every person that was engaged in corruption, regardless of their status, he said, will be held accountable, provided, he said, the evidence of wrongdoing exists. But it really has sent shock waves, not just through this city, but beyond through Saudi and across this region.

BLITZER: A major move by the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

There's another major moment, Becky. Saudi Arabia said it had to defend itself against the missile attack at the international airport in Riyadh that is blamed on Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. This is escalating tensions not just with the Houthi, but between Saudi Arabia and Iran. How serious is this?

[13:54:47] ANDERSON: Yes, and this is an ongoing issue, isn't it? And one that we see the Saudis very muscular in their policy with regard there for Iran. This is what the foreign minister told me earlier on today about what happens next effectively. They say they have evidence that the weapons being used by the Houthis in Yemen against Saudi Arabia, witnessing the ballistic missile attacks this weekend, this is -- in fact, I thought we could hear from him. But basically, he said, he described this missile attempt as an act of war. He said the Saudis have evidence that these weapons are coming into the Houthis from the Iranians. In fact, at a press conference last night, the defense ministry here said they have evidence that these missiles, these weapons are coming from Lebanon, going through Syria into Iran, and then by sea to Yemen, which is why the Saudis have closed the ground, air and sea space around Yemen today. This is an effective blockade -- Wolf?


BLITZER: It is a major escalation between Saudi Arabia and Iran. We're watching it very, very closely.

Becky Anderson, joining us live from Riyadh, thanks very much.

We'll have much more on the breaking news out of Texas. CNN will speak live with the cousin of the man who fired shots at the gunman during the rampage. You're going to hear what happened during their chase.