Return to Transcripts main page


Texas Officials View Video, Piece Together Shooting Timeline; Pompeo Threatens Iran U.S. Will "Crush" Through Sanctions; Did Trump Blink in His Trade Standoff with China; Trump; Interview with Rep. Francis Rooney: U.S. to Help ZTE to Keep China from Losing Jobs; Trump Grappling with Political Risks of Kim Meeting; Pope Reportedly Tells Gay Man "God Made You Like This". Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired May 21, 2018 - 13:30   ET



[13:31:17] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Investigators in Texas are still searching for answer after Friday's deadly school shooting that left eight students and two teachers dead. Today, they are going through school camera footage, the investigators, trying to piece together a timeline of exactly what happened when a student opened fire shortly after the classes started.

All of this as many students cry for change. And the state's lieutenant governor blames the shooting on everything from abortions to violent video games, but not on guns.

CNN's Nick Valencia is joining us live from Santa Fe, Texas.

First, Nick, what's the latest.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this shooting lasted a terrifying 30 minutes, according to investigators. We're told, by the local sheriff's office here it took first responders four minutes to respond to the first 911 calls. And it was the next 20 minutes, according to the sheriff, they engaged in a gunfire with the shooter. What they have not been able to clear up for the crews here is whether any of those victims, those killed or injured during the shooting, were caught in that crossfire. If any of the investigators are closer to a motive, they haven't made it public.

But I did speak to the mother of one of the students killed. She says she knows why her daughter was targeted. Shana Fisher, she says, was harassed by this alleged gunman for four months. And he became so aggressive that she finally had enough, standing up in the middle of class rejecting his advances and apparently embarrassing him in front of his classmates. I spoke to her about the memory of her daughter.


SADIE BAZE (ph), MOTHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM: My daughter was going up to my mother, telling my mom, the past four months, and my brother that he had been making advances on her, and that she finally stood up to him because her younger sister was being bullied in school and she was showing her, look, this is what you do, you got to stand up to him and tell him, no, it is not right. And this is the outcome.


VALENCIA: Just gut-wrenching there, Wolf.

With respect to what the lieutenant governor was saying here, not blaming guns for the attack on Friday, it's not just him. It's also many of the residents we've speaking to here, saying it's not about guns. It's about inclusion and getting to know your neighbors. That was the message over the weekend at a community potluck. They say that is the answer to stopping these school shootings -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Heart-wrenching, indeed.

Nick Valencia, thank you.

Family and friends have started to bury their loved ones. These are the faces to remember, the eight students and two teachers that were killed. The first funeral was held this weekend for Sabika Sheikh (ph), a foreign exchange student from Pakistan. Listen to the very strong message the president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston delivered at her funeral.


[13:34:01] M.J. KHAN, PRESIDENT, ISLAMIC SOCITY OF GREATER HOUSTON: All of you young people sitting in the audience, don't look to Austin or Washington to solve your problems. You are must solve the problem yourself. Take the lead from the students in Florida. They stood up and they said, no more.



BLITZER: The United States is vowing to crush Iran unless it changes its behavior in the Middle East. Today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined the administration' new very hardline stance and its effort to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: We will apply unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime. The leaders in Tehran will have no doubt about our seriousness.

Thanks to our colleagues at the Department of Treasury, sanctions are going back into full effect and new ones are coming. The Iranian regime should know that this is just the beginning. The sting of sanctions will be painful if the regime does not change its course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen to one that rejoins the League of Nations. These will, indeed, end up being the strongest sanctions in history when we are complete.


BLITZER: Let's bring in our senior diplomatic correspondent, Michelle Kosinski.

Michelle, what is your take on this so-called Plan B that the U.S. has towards Iran?

[13:39:53] MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: there's a lot in it. Just in that passage that we heard, words like "sting," "crush" and "pain." This was a tough-talking speech. It was a good speech. It was clearly laid out. But the plan itself, starting by looking at the position the U.S. is in right now. It ripped up the deal that it crafted only a few years ago, infuriating Iran and seriously angering the U.S.'s own closest allies. Now it's in the position of starting from scratch. It wants to start out with the biggest asks. It laid out 12 points that Iran must do, and it was kind of all or nothing. The problem is, once you've laid this all out on paper now, these 12 demands, it's going to be tough to go back on them. Like when you say no enrichment of nuclear material at all, no support of rebels around the world, you need to do all -- it's hard later to go back and say, OK, you can support some militias, or you can enrich some uranium. So that's tough.

The U.S. is really banking on these unprecedented sanctions regime, getting very tough on Iran economically. However, sanctions work best when everybody else is on board. And already the U.S.'s closest allies in Europe are dead-set against this. They are already actively looking for ways to help Iran stay in the existing nuclear deal. So if this is going to work, it could take a lot of time. I mean, the U.S. wants this to either economically crush Iran or, maybe, better yet, in the U.S.'s view, topple the regime. But sanctions now, you have to ask how tough they're going to be when the U.S. is virtually alone, potentially, and also when you have Russia and China trading with Iran.

BLITZER: The question now is, how far will the U.S. go imposing sanctions on European companies, for example, that deal with Iran?

KOSINSKI: Yes. That's a huge question here. So today, Pompeo wanted to lay out, this is what we believe, Europeans know our stance, yes, we're prepared to sanction, but we want to hear your input. So they're having conversations. He left the door open to have plenty of exemptions for European allies. Europe's take is, OK, well, those sanctions could be tough. Let's see where it goes. But in the meantime, we're going to work ways to not only protect our own companies so that they can keep on trading with Iran, but we're going to help Iran's central bank so maybe we can keep the original Iran nuclear deal.

BLITZER: Michelle Kosinski, it's a tough story. Thank you for joining us.

The White House says the trade war with China is now on hold. Some are wondering if the United States blinked first. I'll ask a key Republican if he agrees. Stay with us.


[13:47:15] BLITZER: U.S. stocks are moving higher today on news that the Trump administration has a new agreement with China, which includes a promise from Beijing to buy more U.S. goods, averting a potential trade war, at least for now. President Trump has been celebrating the deal on Twitter all morning. But earlier, the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin admitted that the agreement is still short on specifics.


STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: It is a framework agreement. It is an agreement Secretary Ross has to go over and turn that in to a signed piece of paper with the company. As I described, this is not a government-to-government purchase order, but we have an agreement with them as to what will be executed. And Secretary Ross is going over there, I believe, next week on the --



BLITZER: President Trump said China had agreed to spend more on U.S. agricultural products, a sector where Beijing was preparing to slap new tariffs on U.S. products.

Joining us now, Republican Congressman Francis Rooney. He's a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He's a Republican from Florida.

Congressman, thank you for coming in.

REP. FRANCIS ROONEY, (R), FLORIDA: Thank you for having me on.

BLITZER: What do you think about this tentative deal with China?

ROONEY: If it offers a way out of all the talk that's been had about with tariffs and things, I'm all for it, because the discussion that's been launched about tariffs around the world is not a particularly good one. We've seen some real positive results from globalization and expanding of trade networks. It's good for our country and good for the rest of the world.

BLITZER: What about this huge trade imbalance that the U.S. has with China? The president threatened all sorts of tariffs to try to narrow that trade imbalance.

ROONEY: There are areas where China doesn't compete fairly, like in the I.T. area and technology area, and I think we should focus on those rather than things like steel and aluminum.

BLITZER: What do you think of his tweets last week about this Chinese telecom company, ZTE, which the U.S. intelligence Community is deeply concerned about, a national security threat. But the president was saying, the leader of China, President Xi, want us to help ZTE because the sanctions against ZTE are losing a lot of jobs in China.

ROONEY: The only thing I could think of that offers any positive result of that would be that if it's under the table helping with the North Korea situation. But it seems a little dangerous to me to help a company that our military and intel people say, we won't use those phones.

BLITZER: So you were a pretty surprised when you saw the president tweeting about let's help ZTE get some new jobs?

ROONEY: Yes, since the focus has been on our jobs.

BLITZER: Right. The focus is on U.S. jobs. All of a sudden, he's worried about Chinese jobs. A lot of us were pretty surprised when we saw that. But you're suggesting maybe he did that to convince the Chinese, who have a lot of influence in North Korea, to get involved in this denuclearization of the Korean peninsula? Is that what you're saying?

[13:50:01] ROONEY: It's possible. He's got China in a better place than anybody else has gotten them as far as sanctions in North Korea, cutting off supplies of things exported to North Kora. So maybe this is a continuation of that.

BLITZER: Having said that, the president tweeted this about China this morning. Let me read his tweet: "China must continue to be strong and tight on the border of North Korea until a deal is made. The word is that recently the border has become much more porous and more has been filtering in. I want this to happen, North Korea to be successful, but only after signing."

I think he's referring to signing a denuclearization deal. What is he talking about?

ROONEY: I think he's saying we want to keep the North Koreans pinned down as hard as we can in the hope of having more negotiating leverage when he goes to Singapore.

BLITZER: He doesn't want to make any concessions to North Korea, until North Korea signs an agreement completely ending its nuclear program, is that what you're hear something.

ROONEY: That's what Secretary Bolton and the president have said. I'm sure they, deep down inside, know this is going to be more of an evolving cut back nuclearization for other positive attributes given by us. It's not going to be all or nothing.

BLITZER: You're talking about the new national security advisor, John Bolton, who, in the past, as a private citizen, was talking about regime change. The president is saying if the North Korean regime of Kim Jong-Un agrees to these U.S. demands, he will protect the North Koreans and there won't be regime change.

ROONEY: Right. Rex Tillerson said that last year, too. We are not interested in regime change, we are not interested in anything but making Korea join the community of nations and stop nuclearizing.

BLITZER: You think there's going to be a meeting on June 12th between President Trump and Kim Jong-Un. ROONEY: So far, I do. It may be a little unfortunate that each side

has staked out in positions that are so absolute at this point in the negotiations. I think they'll go ahead and do it.

BLITZER: You saw the reports over the weekend, the president is perhaps getting cold feet.

ROONEY: I did see that, but there's a lot to gain by making a -- by at least meeting with North Korea. If you can't make a deal and it's going to be another deal like President Obama, President Bush and President Clinton made, it didn't out for us, OK, leave.

BLITZER: But is it really realistic to assume that the North Korean regime is going to give up its nuclear program?

ROONEY: I don't think they're going to give it up. I don't think anybody really believes that.

BLITZER: That's what the president says. He's not going to ease any sanctions until they do.

ROONEY: I think that's probably a negotiating ploy. There was an article in the paper today that the State Department and CIA never felt he would give up his nuclear weapons. But he might, in the spirit of the Iran agreement, stop testing, stop expanding them, and allow verification of what he's got, maybe get rid of some fuel in exchange for joining the community of nations and having trade.

BLITZER: Congressman Rooney, thanks for coming in.

ROONEY: Thanks for having me on.

BLITZER: Francis Rooney, of Florida.

Just in, we're getting word that the FBI Chief Christopher Wray and the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will be heading over to the White House is in the next hour as President Trump demands that the Department of Justice investigate whether the FBI spied on his campaign. New details just ahead.


[13:57:16] BLITZER: Reported comments by the pope could signal a major shift for the Catholic Church and its views on homosexuality. A survivor of clerical sexual abuse, Juan Carlos Cruz, says that when he told the pope he was gay, the pope responded, quote, "God made you like this, God loves you like this."

For more, I'm joined by CNN's Vatican correspondent, Delia Gallagher.

Delia, what more do we know about this potentially extraordinary conversation?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that's right. Juan Carlos Cruz met with Pope Francis at the end of April. He was invited to the Vatican by pope because he's a survivor of clerical sex abuse in Chile. They were discussing that. And in the course of that conversation, Juan Carlos Cruz said, when they talked about him being gay, the pope's response, "It doesn't matter, God loves you like this, God made you like this."

The Vatican this morning, Wolf, says they don't comment normally on the pope's private conversations. Although it's notable they didn't issue a denial or a correction, which they sometimes do if they feel the comments are very far afield from what the pope might be thinking.

But the point of the whole discussion is that if the pope were to say, God created you like this, it's going beyond what any pope has said before on the question of gays and doesn't square so easily with the traditional Catholic Church teaching that homosexuality, the inclination to homosexuality -- their language -- is disordered. So it opens up a host of other questions on the Catholic position on gays.

So this is the question that is being debated right now, amongst many. Of course, one interpretation, Wolf, is simply that the pope was having a private conversation with a gay man, doing what Pope Francis does, which is offering some pastural support to him. Another interpretation, we've seen in times in the past, the pope doesn't mind if these comments get out into the public because it's a way of changing the public perception on an issue, without having to change the official church teaching, which Pope Francis has given no indication he intends to do -- Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, potentially, very, very significant. The pope saying, "God made you like this, God loves you like this."

Delia Gallagher, thank you very much.

We're following breaking news. President Trump expected to meet with the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the FBI Director Christopher Way in about an hour from now over at the White House as President Trump demands the Department of Justice investigate whether the FBI spied on his presidential campaign.

That and a lot more, that comes up right now.

[14:00:11] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Wolf, thank you so much.

Hi, everyone. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Good to be back. Thank you so much for --