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EARLY START

At Least 26 Killed, 20 Wounded In Church Shooting; Gunman Identified As Devin Patrick Kelly; Trump: Shooter Was "Very Deranged Individual"; Trump And Japanese PM Condemn North Korea; North Korea Tops Agenda On Five-Nation Tour. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired November 6, 2017 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: He didn't just create it. In fact, when you compare Trump-era job gains the last few months of the Obama presidency, Trump is actually lagging just a tad behind.

The U.S. created 1.5 million jobs since Trump took office. That's a strong performance, but it added 1.7 million during the last nine months under former President Obama. The trend is your friend as they say in markets and economics. The trend has been great, but it wasn't just created the day that Donald Trump was elected.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: You're lucky he is abroad. That might incite a tweet storm. EARLY START continues right now with the latest on this Texas church shooting.

ROMANS: We are learning more about the man who carried out the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history, 26 dead are dead. That gunman was allowed to buy a weapon after he was court-martialed and discharged from the Air Force and served time for assaulting his wife and child.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: President Trump on his crucial trip to Asia, high-stakes meeting with the prime minister. He's also weighing in on the Texas shooting saying the issue is mental health, not guns. President Trump and Shinzo Abe, very close relationship, almost a bromance some are saying.

Good morning welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Except you really hit him on selling cars in the U.S. on the trade issue --

BRIGGS: Reciprocal trade.

ROMANS: On the trade issue, we'll see. I'm Christine Romans. It's Monday, November 6th. It's 5 a.m. in the east, 4 a.m. in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Let's begin there. Another American community torn apart by gun violence, at least 26 people were killed in Sunday's church shooting in a small Texas town of Sutherland Springs near San Antonio.

The dead range in age from 5 years old to 72. About 20 others wounded among them children. We are told eight of the dead were from one family.

BRIGGS: The shooter 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley is dead. Kelly was 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 Diane Gallagher live for us this morning in Sutherland Springs. Diane, just five weeks after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. This one very different than Las Vegas and this is one tiny Texas town torn apart.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tiny is the word there, Dave. We are talking fewer than 700 people lived in Sutherland Springs, Texas. So, 26 people massacred in a church while they are worshipping on a Sunday morning. That's about 4 percent of the population.

The lingering question among the grief here is why. What caused Devin Kelley to come basically dressed for war wearing a tactical ballistic vest, walking up, opening fire into the church that is still roped off behind me as they continue investigating and take down 26 people.

Now we can say a man who lives next door to the church actually came out. He engaged, brought his own gun out and followed Kelley, as he tried to escape. He let law enforcement know where this person was going. He lost track of him, but the police found him about eight miles away.

Kelley had gone off the road and crashed the vehicle. He died of a gunshot wound. They don't know if it was self-inflicted or from that neighbor, but we're told that inside they found multiple firearms. We do know, however, officials tell us that the firearm that was used, it's a Ruger AR-556 in that shooting was purchased legally.

It was purchased back in April of 2016 in an academy sport and outdoors store in San Antonio, and that's where the questions really start to come about here. You mentioned that court-martial. We are talking about assault on his spouse and child. He served a year of confinement because of this.

He was busted down in rank to an E-1. Why was he able to legally obtain that weapon? And that's one of the questions unfolding here right now in Texas. As this community tries to come to grip the with what has happened here, you really cannot overstate the impact of 26 people killed.

More than 20 who were injured in this church, and again, it just goes to say people just simply trying to worship. Just any place that they should feel safe. Dave, Christine, a lot of questions remain here.

But right now, most more importantly than anything, you have the town of Sutherland Springs kind of trying to come to grips with what happened and figure out how to move forward and knowing that they will never be the same.

[05:05:04] BRIGGS: It won't. In a town that size, you'd imagine everyone knows someone that was in that church. Diane Gallagher live for us. Thanks so much.

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

Let's talk about where this investigation goes from here. There is a digital footprint unlike we saw with Stephen Paddock in the wake of the Las Vegas. What's the first thing investigators looking for right now?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, they're still to find a motive. They're still looking for evidence right now. Probably executing search warrants, going through all of his computer files, social media, websites that he may have visited. Just trying to get a handle on who he is and what would have caused him to commit this crime.

ROMANS: One thing that is surprising some people is he served time. He was bounced from the Air Force. He had -- he was court-martialed in 2012 yet he bought this gun, the primary weapon used in this case in 2016. Does that surprise you?

RAMSEY: It doesn't surprise me because it really just points out a problem that we have. That is that all the databases that are available to be checked aren't connected necessarily and information is not shared. So, if the ATF runs a background check, obviously that information did not come up. So, that's just a larger issue that we have right now in trying to deal with this whole gun issue.

BRIGGS: Even if they were connected the two systems, we do have what's called the Lautenberg Amendment, 26 states prohibit those convicted of domestic abuse of buying certain types of weapons, but Texas is not one of those states. It's not clear if they were connected that this man would have still been able to buy a gun.

We do have video of a church service in this very church just a week ago. So, might this shooting be on videotape and how might this video you see here help in the investigation?

RAMSEY: Well, videos always helpful. I mean, on any homicide case, if you can find video, it goes a long way towards showing you exactly what took place during that period of time. When he entered the church, did it look as if he was targeting a particular individual? Was he just spraying bullets? I mean, all these things are going to be very important for investigators as they begin to really put together all the pieces of this puzzle. ROMANS: The president in Tokyo said this is not a guns issue. This is a mental health issue. He stopped short of any kind of policy prescription though. In other terror attack last week, he had a policy prescription right away regarding immigration.

Is there a policy prescription in your view that would fit or match these terrible shootings, Pulse Night Club, 49 killed, Virginia Tech, 32 killed, The Harvest Music Festival, 58 killed, I mean, we just keep exercising this madness over and over again?

RAMSEY: Yes. It's not going to stop. I mean, you know, I think it's both the mental health issue as well as a gun issue. But there's got to be serious discussion followed by action. Otherwise, we're going to be doing this over and over again. It's not going to fix itself.

We have to keep guns out of the hands of those people whose mental condition may be such that it makes them a threat. We have to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and protect our Second Amendment Rights.

I'm not anti-gun from the standpoint of having responsible people, law-abiding people have guns, but the guns fall into the hands of too many people that should not have them, period. We've got to have that discussion, but it's got to take action as well.

BRIGGS: Critics of this president would point out that the president in February rolled back some Obama-era gun protections that would have kept guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. So, that would be an essential part of this debate as we move forward. Charles Ramsey, CNN law enforcement analyst, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. Here is the president speaking about the shooting during his trip to Asia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: And it does with all too much frequency. Only five weeks removed from the deadliest mass shooting in American history. The president says guns are not the issue. We go live to Tokyo.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:13:45]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: In tragic times, Americans always pull together. We are always strongest when we are unified. To the wounded and the families of the victims, all of America is praying for you, supporting you, and grieving alongside of you. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Brand new this morning, President Trump in Japan reacting just a couple of hours ago to yesterday's mass shooting at a Texas church. He's ordering flags across the U.S. at half-staff throughout Thursday night. Asked about the shooting, he says guns are not the issue. Mental health is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: So, the shooting certainly taking some of the focus away from the president's Asia trip. Senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, joining us life from Tokyo with the latest. Jeff, good to see you. Is it a binary choice? Is it mental health or guns? Can it be both?

[05:15:09] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, I think we've seen, as we've seen so many of these shootings in recent years, of course, Las Vegas the most recently, but, Newtown, so many others, Virginia tech, et cetera. We do know it's both. We do know that it is not one simple issue.

It's not mental health. It's not gun control only. Now, certainly, we're going to be learning more about this shooting in the days to come, but, if the president is going to talk about mental health, then he is indeed opening up a conversation for funding for mental health programs and other matters, which he has not strongly supported his budget squeezes some funding on those matters.

So, this, of course, is not simply one discussion, mental health or guns, but the president said it's too soon today to be talking about any type of gun law. The question here is will he be open to something in the future.

He now is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. He is -- you know, he was endorsed by the NRA. But in earlier parts of his life, in fact not long ago, about five years or ago, Donald Trump was on the other side of the gun issue. So, does he have the capacity to sort of broker something here? We'll see.

But it is one thing that is certainly dominating his news conference just a few hours ago with the Japanese prime minister. Of course, the president on a very important swing here through Asia where the threat of nuclear threat from North Korea is certainly looming larger.

The president right now, as we speak, you can hear the helicopters overhead here is going to a state dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his biggest ally in the region. From here he heads to Seoul later today.

BRIGGS: Yes. Tight relationship developing between those two. They talked about trade and speaking with one voice on that North Korean nuclear threat. Jeff Zeleny, thanks.

ROMANS: All right. Now let's bring in CNN political analyst, David Drucker, a senior congressional correspondent of the "Washington Examiner." Good morning. Nice to see you. You know, the president making those remarks about the shooting in Texas, as he's there no Tokyo. No policy prescription.

Last week, right after the terror attack in New York, he had a policy prescription on immigration immediately. He said it's too soon to talk about that here. How do you rate his response?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look the president always deals with radical jihadism differently than he deals with domestic terror attacks or terror attacks in the United States that are not committed by radical jihadis. I think this was more of the same from him.

I think the issue is going to be weather not Las Vegas and then what happened in Texas together creates any impetus for movement in Congress that addresses massacres like this that are committed with guns.

You will see both sides stick to their issues and stick to their positions because they are so politically embedded in the culture of each party with Democrats going after guns and wanting to control their proliferation and Republicans standing by gun rights.

And you will hear Republicans talk about the fact that the shooter in a sense was stopped from doing even more harm by a citizen, who legally obtained a gun and chased him out of the church, and ran him down. So, that is going to be a part of the discussion.

BRIGGS: As well as the fact that this shooter, this Texas church, was discharged from the military because of domestic abuse. He abused his wife and his child. People are asking how are these two things not related. The two systems do not overlap.

Of course, the Lautenberg Amendment which prevents those who are convicted of domestic abuse from buying weapons doesn't cover Texas. A lot to discuss on this gun legislation. But if there's anything the president has done, David, is to roll back Obama-era protections that would have kept weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill. That happened back in February.

DRUCKER: Yes. And look, that goes to the philosophical positions of Republicans and Democrats on this issue. We haven't seen anything change that whether it was Newtown, Las Vegas or other shootings that have happened in the past 10 years or so with increasing frequency.

What Republicans always focus on is the fact that you cannot limit law-abiding citizens from purchasing guns and that people that intend to do harm are going to find a way to do it. I'm not standing up for any of the positions here, but explaining to you the corners that you are going to see both parties in.

Both in a sense have been rewarded by their voters for sticking to these positions and that's why I think it's very hard to see compromise a movement on either side when it comes to try to address this issue.

What will be interesting here, though, and important is to see if the president talking about this as a mental health issue right out of the gate can loosen up any wheels for dealing with the mental health aspects of this and any of the breakdowns in the background checks that might have come out of this.

BRIGGS: Yes. None of us holding our breath on anything being done.

DRUCKER: And you shouldn't.

ROMANS: I mean, by law, this is -- you know, by law, Congress passed a law that the CDC can't even study the public health fallout of gun violence. So, if we can't even study it, I mean, how you're going to -- I don't know. That's a different story.

BRIGGS: From guns to nuclear weapons.

ROMANS: Let's talk about delicate diplomacy right now that this president is going to have to do. Talk to me specifically about what are the challenges for this president as he's trying to deal with North Korea and our partners and ally there.

DRUCKER: Well, the big challenge is that we're relying on China who has no interest in solving a problem that causes us issues in the Asia-Pacific region. China is a competitor of the United States and it really wants to be the regional ego mon.

It wants to displace the United States as the pre-imminent influential power in the Asia-Pacific region. Whatever pressure we put on China because of North Korea's nuclear threat and whatever discomfort that causes China, that's still bumps up against their other priority, which is supplanting the United States.

And helping the United States solve the problem in Pyongyang, only serves U.S. interest to keep us as a preempt meant power, globally but particularly in Asia, and that's why I think it's always been precarious for the U.S., which we've seen under previous presidents to rely so much on China to help us neutralize Kim Jong-un and the nuclear weapons threat out of North Korea.

BRIGGS: One thing is clear, though, President Trump and Shinzo Abe, a tight relationship, seeming to almost speak with one voice on that North Korean nuclear threat. But on trade, that's maybe not the case. The president talked a lot about reciprocal trade.

That's what he desires. Hammered home that word reciprocal about a dozen times, but prior to that he had some interesting comments about sales of Japanese cars here in the United States. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We love it when you build cars for your Japanese firm. We love it. Try building your cars in the United States instead of shipping them over. Is that possible to ask? That's not rude. Is that rude? I don't think so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: OK. David, David, David, what concerns me about that comment is it doesn't seem like the president understands the trade relationship between the U.S. and Japan. Try building your cars in the U.S. instead of shipping them over here.

Three quarters of the Japanese branded cars sold in the U.S. are made in North America. They are made here and they employ thousands and thousands of people. I think Toyota's biggest factory is in Kentucky. This is the largest factory in the world.

DRUCKER: The Japanese build millions of cars throughout the south, a Trump strong hold. Christine, I got nothing for you here. I mean, I feel like I'm going to steal that line from Obama, which didn't end up working out too well with him relating -- it's related to Russia.

But I think the 1980's called and I think they want their trade policy back because this was issue decades ago. Since then Japanese have built a ton of factories in the United States. Most Japanese cars that you purchase in the United states were made in the United Sates.

And so, there's nothing wrong with pressing our allies to have a fair trade policy with the United States. I just don't see where this particular thing applies here.

ROMANS: If you were on the streets of Japan, you don't see very many -- very few, if any American cars. It's a small car market.

BRIGGS: Our cars don't necessarily fit their market. North of 80,000 jobs here building Japanese cars. David Drucker from "The Washington Examiner," see you in 30 minutes.

ROMANS: All right. It's 23 minutes after the hour. Turns out the injuries sustained by Senator Rand Paul in an attack outside his home are worse than first thought. More next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:28:21]

BRIGGS: Some frightening news out of Kentucky over the weekend, Republican Senator Rand Paul was assaulted outside his home. This morning, we're learning that Senator Paul's injuries are worse than originally thought. An adviser to the senator tells CNN he has five rib fractures including three displaced fractures and lung contusions.

The adviser says it's not clear when the senator will return to work. Kentucky state police say Senator Paul was assaulted by a neighbor in his gated community. They say 59-year-old Rene Boucher tackled the senator from behind. U.S. capital police and the FBI are both investigating the attack.

ROMANS: 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 faded. She considered removing her and replacing her with then Vice President Joe Biden. Although, she acknowledged to ABC News she did not have the power to do that on her own.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think this helps for the book to come out --

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER INTERIM CHAIRWOMAN, DNC: Well, George, I mean, this is a lesson of 2016. If I released it next year, they would say, Donna, you're impacting on the 2018. If I release the following -- Donna, you're impacting. George, for those who are telling me to shut up, they told Hillary that a couple months ago. You know what I tell them? Go to hell.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Nearly a hundred former Clinton campaign staffers accused Brazile over the weekend of buying into, quote, "false Russian-fueled propaganda spread by Moscow and our opponent about Clinton's health. Their statement goes on to say, quote, "We do not recognize the campaign she portrays in the book."

ROMANS: All right. Fascinating. It's 30 minutes past the hour. EARLY START continues right now.