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EARLY START

Political earthquake erupting in Saudi Arabia; Shooting in Texas. Aired 3:30-4a ET

Aired November 6, 2017 - 03:30   ET

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


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Troubling new questions about the man who opened a fire on a church full of worshipers, killing 26. Why was he allowed to buy a weapon after being court marshaled and discharged from the air force for assaulting his wife and child?

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S PRESIDENT: Mental health is the problem here. This was a very based on preliminary reports, a very deranged individual, and a lot of problems over a long period of time.

CHRISTINE ROMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Brand new reaction from the President just an hour ago, the President on his trip to Asia says the shooting is not a gun situation; it's a mental health problem. That puts more on his high stakes meetings in Japan before he heads to South Korea. Welcome back to "Early Start" this morning, I'm Christine Roman.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Dave Briggs. 31 minutes past the hour. We start with the deadly shooting in Texas just five weeks after Las Vegas, the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. Another community has been torn apart by gun violence. At least 26 people killed in Sunday's church shooting in the small Texas town of Sutherland Springs near San Antonio. The victims range in age from 5 to 72. About 20 others wounded.

ROMAN: The shooter, 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, he is dead. Kelley was court-martialed by the air force and given a bad conduct discharges back this 2012. He leaves behind an unfolding mystery. What set him off on this rampage, and why was he allowed to have a weapon in the first place, given his history and his court-martial? I want to bring in CNN's Dianne Gallagher live this morning for us in Sutherland Springs. Dianne?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN RESPONDENT: Hello, Christine, these are all questions that people here in Sutherland Springs and really everywhere surrounding are asking this morning. You can see again, it's a little after 2:30 in the morning. And there are plenty of people, a lot of them media. But lots of law enforcement out here today.

About 15 hours ago, at 11:20 on Sunday morning, someone spotted the suspect wearing all black in a tactical vest at a gas station. He then came across the street to this church, began opening fire before he even walked in. Now once in there, he committed the worst mass shooting in the history of the state of Texas. As he exited that church, we're told that a man who lived next door to the church actually began engaging himself.

He got his own gun, went after him. That suspect then left, the police and a neighbor began to chase him. They found him about eight miles away in a neighboring county. He died on a gunshot wound. They're still trying to figure out if it was a bullet from that neighbor or if it was self-inflicted.

But inside that car, they found multiple firearms, we're told. Sources tell us though that he used an Urge AR 556 in the church shooting where he killed 26 people. A source tells us that he bought that weapon back in April in 2016 at an Academy sports and outdoor store in San Antonio, Texas.

Now back in 2012, he was court marshaled. He was in the air force on charges, one, that he assaulted his wife. And another that he assaulted his child. Not only was he given a bad - excuse me, not only was he given a discharge, but he also was sentenced to 12 months confinement. He was buckled down in rank to an E - 1. So, you have this bad conduct discharge. But apparently none of that showed up on any sort of background check report.

We're told that there was no sort of disqualifying information when they ran the report. That's according to a source. And that he did not check off that box that said that he had some sort of past that would not allow him to have that weapon. So at this point, there are a lot of questions about that. And we're trying to sift through that as is law enforcement.

Here, though, back in Sutherland Springs, they're trying to come to grips with the fact that just the magnitude of this. One family we're told by somebody, eight people were killed in just one family in this shooting. So this is something that is going to touch this community forever.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMAN: A 4-year-old wounded. Five years old the youngest victim. A pregnant woman with her other children. It just is heartbreaking. And it's heartbreaking the frequency with which this happens in this country. So many questions this morning. Thank you so much, Dianne.

BRIGGS: The shooting has left the tight knit Texas community struggling for answers even as they rely on their faith and each other.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And be with us here as we learn to deal with this the days to come.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My heart is broken on this. I mean, I would never think where it can happen. And it does happen. It doesn't matter where you're at. I mean, in a small community real quiet and everything. And look at this what can happen.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: We were flabbergasted there is - there is just no reason for something like that to take place, especially here where everybody's family. You know we all help each other out. We all know each other. This is just devastating.

ROMAN: All right (so we have someone on the phone right now), CNN law enforcement analyst Cedric Alexander, the past President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

Good morning, so sorry to have to speak under such terrible circumstances.

CEDRIC ALENANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes.

ROMAN: Another mass shooting, 26 dead, victims from the ages 5 to 72. Even younger victims, casualties wounded here. Your initial first blush reaction here, how someone who was bounced out of the military for assault would be able to get a hold of a weapon like this.

ALEXANDER: That is a real critical question, and one in which I believe we're going have to answer, because you wonder where the overlapping information sharing between the military and the civilian world? Is that considered very different in cases filed out here as a civilian? Or and are those records kept separated?

But hears the bigger question, I think that we need to make some determination when he was charged in the military, how was that case tried and how was it adjudicated. And if those files would have been open to civilian records and background checks. That becomes the 54 thousand dollar question. But it is a horrific event that will look too small community, but not only that community, but also this country. Because it is absolutely horrible and painful to watch such a small community, or large community, any community have to suffer in such a horrific way.

BRIGGS: Not clear even if there was sharing between the military and others, if this would prevent him from buying a weapon. The Lautenberg amendment, which prohibits the sale of weapons to those, convicted of certain domestic abuse crimes. 26 states have that. Texas is not one of them. So it's not clear if that would have changed this situation at all. Where does this investigation go right now?

ALEXANDER: Well, they want to continue to look into who is he? Who is Mr. Kelley? What was his history in his community more recently? Did something happen with him that they can determine that set him off, that would have sent him specifically to this church on this particular Sunday to do the harm that he's done.

Is he from that community? Is he connected to people inside that church through a family or through friendships? We just want to know more about who he is and what could have happened to him that led him to create such a horrible, a horrible event that occurred there in that city. So that's goings to be very, very important. ROMAN: Sure.

ALEXANDER: And also, how did he get possession of those other weapons is going to be critically important as well.

ROMAN: You know, a church is just the ultimate soft target. You have people who are worshipping, looking to the front of the building. We're told he began shooting before he even got in the building. We know that the pastor's own child was among the victims, just heartbreaking.

This is a church that would put its Sunday services on YouTube. Even last week, last week it had its Sunday services on YouTube. And there it is. I mean, that's a picture from inside the church, not from this week, but from the week before. Presumably, law enforcement will be able to have a pretty good video to begin their investigation with as well.

ALEXANDER: That will be true. And having that video would tell us a lot about what occurred. But here is the sad part of all that. Is that if that church service was being watched, live by people through the internet, I am however -- they could have seen that assault actual will take place.

That's very disturbing. And you have a church full of people who were killed and injured and traumatized, those who survived. And then you have those who may have been watching that assault take place right on the internet, even make it just that much more a tragic and horrific.

ROMAN: My impression was that they post it after the service on Sunday. Not live stream it right?

ALEXANDER: So the video footage will be there.

BRIGGS: That is correct they post this after the fact and they may have video of this deadly assault, 26 killed. Cedric Alexander, CNN law enforcement analyst, thank you very much.

ROMAN: Thank you sir.

BRIGGS: All right ahead, President Trump speaking about the shooting during his trip to Asia.

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

BRIGGS: Sound just into CNN only five weeks removed from the deadliest mass shooting in American history, the President says guns are not the issue. We're live in Tokyo.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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.

BRIGGS: That's just in to CNN 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 through Thursday night. Asked about the shooting, President Trump 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.

[03:45:00]

ROMAN: Interesting, so the President has made that declaration this is mental health probably at the highest level. Yet the centers for disease control, the CDC of the United States by law cannot even study or examine the intersection between community health, community mental health issues and guns.

BRIGGS: Yeah, it's not mental health or guns. It's mental health and guns.

ROMAN: The President saying that one wonders if maybe he would change the focus of the government to try to use the resources to investigate types of ways to fix that.

BRIGGS: You know a lot of people just say the reactions are so different when you look at how he reacted to the New York terror attack, how he has reacted to now Las Vegas and Sutherland springs, Texas, in terms of taking action right now.

ROMAN: Right, the shooting now taking some of the focus away from the President's trip to Asia. Let's bring in CNN Alexandra Field live in Tokyo with more. The President is traveling to a region where he will be talking trade and security in a place where we have an awful lot of trade deficits and security concerns.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORROSPONDENT: Yeah, certainly concerns about North Korea have been topping the agenda on this trip. The President has been talking a lot about pursuing more fair trade deals. But it is those discussions about north Korea that have dominated a lot of the trip. It will continue to dominate his five- country sweep through Asia.

There was a joint press conference with the Japanese prime minister arguably his closest ally in the region. They couldn't have said it enough times. They like each other. They're working closely with one another. They talk on the phone all the time. And they say they are on the same page 100 percent when it comes to developing a strategy for countering the mounting threats from North Korea.

The Japanese Prime Minister announcing there would be new Japanese sanctions against North Korean individuals and entities, also going on the say that Japan would be buying more defense equipment from the United States in order to further protect itself in the face of that threat from North Korea. That's something that U.S. President Donald Trump has also been pushing.

Prime Minister (Abe) echoing a lot of the language that we have heard President Trump use when it comes to talking about North Korea, saying he supports the idea that all options are on the table. He also says that now is not the time for dialogue. You can't have dialogue just for dialogue's sake, and that partners in the region need to continue to apply maximum pressure.

You didn't hear President Trump taking that fiery tone he typically takes with North Korea, but the two leaders certainly talking about how grave the security concerns posed by North Korea are. The President also had a chance to meet with Japanese families who have had family members kidnapped according to the Japanese government by North Korea.

He sent a message to Kim Jong-un saying Kim Jong-un should release anyone being held there, that that could really be the start of something. And he said something that we've heard him say two day's in a row that the North Korean people are great people, living under a very repressive regime and that he hopes it all works out for them, Christine.

ROMAN: All right Alexandra Field for us, our woman in Tokyo. Thank you.

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

Advisers say 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 Renee Boucher tackled the senator from behind. The Capitol Police and the FBI are both investigating the attack.

ROMAN: Former Democratic Party Chair Donna Brazile standing firm against a 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 Vice President Joe Biden. Although she acknowledged to ABC news that she didn't have the power to do that on her own.

BRIGGS: Some leading democrats are furious saying the party needs a big turnout in Virginia and New Jersey for tomorrow's Election Day, and can't afford bad blood or distractions. Brazile pushing back hard.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, AMERIAN JOURNALIST: You think this helps for the book to come out?

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

BRIGGS: Strong, nearly 100 former Clinton campaign staffers accuse Brazile over the weekend of buying into quote false Russian fueled propaganda spread by Moscow or opponent about Clinton's health. Their statement goes on to say, quote we do not recognize the campaign she portrays in the book. We have is not heard this of this debate.

ROMAN: No we have not. All right the holiday shopping season is almost here. Amazon has a new plan to compete to compete with low cost rivals, details on CNN MoneyStream next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: All right, an earthquake in Saudi Arabia of the political type. Some of Saudi Arabia's most high profile princes and businessmen swept up in an anti-corruption probe. At least 38 former, current, and deputy ministers now under arrest, accused of corruption. CNN has obtained a list showing the names of at least 17 of the princes and top officials arrested by a newly formed anti-corruption committee initiated by Saudi king Salman. The committee also removed three ministers from their positions. Let's get to CNN's Becky Anderson with more palace intrigue literally in Riyadh. Walk us through it.

BECKY ANDERSON CNN: That's right. A series of bombshell arrests here in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh over the weekend providing further confirmation if any were needed, Christine, of exactly who is in charge here. Fidics might call this a power play. But supporters of the young crown prince will tell you that the messages that an era of elite indulgence here is over. And that starts at the top. And to be quite frank, this was a move that was well flagged earlier in the year.

In an interview with an Arabic language TV station in which Muhammad bin Salman warned that every person who has engaged in corruption regardless of their status will be held accountable. Provided he said at the time that the evidence of wrongdoing exists. The most high profile of these targets, well, many of our viewers may know the name of prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the billionaire businessman and owner of Kingdom Holding.

That company has stakes in companies like Citigroup, Twitter, Apple and News Corp. Other big name business people, the chairman of the Bin Laden group, a major construction firm here in the kingdom, and a Saudi media mogul big name, Waleed al Ibrahim. Also out, as you rightly point out, not just business people, but Prince Miteb bin Abdullah from his post as head of the elite national guard.

Critics are going to say that the crown prince has taken the opportunity to remove any challenges to his leadership. But let's just consider within the wider context of the past couple of years. I clamped down on the religious establishment, curbing the powers of the religious police. I was here only - what - six, seven weeks ago when the public space was announced as being opened up to the women driving by next summer, for example.

So, Christine, we're looking at a consolidation of power, yes. Pushing back on the religious establishment here, yes. A two-wronged approach in the name of reform in a country carving out a future here as more modern. Music to the ears of many of the youngsters. 70 percent here are under the age of 30. Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All happening as the economy trying to wean itself from the dependence on oil and become more modern and diversified. A lot there, Becky, thank you so much for that.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A the high profile roundup in Saudi Arabia just part of a chaotic weekend in the Middle East. The Saudis also intercepted a ballistic missile targeting the Riyadh airport. That missile fired from Yemen. This after the prime minister of Lebanon resigned with some harsh words for Iran. CNN's senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman live in Beirut with the latest.

Ben, good morning to you. So, the Lebanese prime minister resigns, but not in Lebanon. Give us more on this story.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN REPORTER: In fact he made that announcement from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on a Saudi backed television channel, El Arabia. And of course, Saad Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister does hold both Lebanese and Saudi's citizenship. Now he is blaming Iran for interference in Lebanese affairs. But of course Saudi Arabia is also deeply involved.

One might say is deeply interfering in Lebanese politics as well. So it's a bit like the kettle calling the pot black in this instance. But nonetheless, he is accusing Iran of involvement in Lebanese politics. But of course since December of last year, he led a government that did include several ministers from Hezbollah, which of course is linked to Iran.

So it's a complicated situation. But the fact of the matter is Hezbollah is a major player in Lebanese affairs. And whether you like it or not, that is a fact of life. Now regarding that ballistic missile fired from Yemen toward the airport in Riyadh, yes, the Saudis are saying this almost amounts to an act of war. Iran does support the Houthi rebels in Yemen while Saudi Arabia, of course is supporting the government in Aiden which is in the southern part of Yemen and that's a very complicated situation.

Muhammad bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia is the main force behind that bogged down effort by the Saudi military and its gulf allies in Yemen. But the Saudis, of course, are very concerned about the situation across the Middle East where they've seen Iran's influence continue to grow. But the Iranians are planning for the long game. And the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the gulf sheikdoms are really playing catch-up when it comes to Iran's plans for the region.

BRIGGS: All right, Ben Wedeman live for us in Lebenon, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right, just about top of the hour, let's get a check on CNN money stream this Monday morning. Global stock markets mostly lower today. But it was another strong week for Wall Street. The S&P 500 and the Dow each had their eighth consecutive weeks of gains. Apple pushing stocks to record highs. Apple's shares rose 2.6 percent as the iPhone 10 hit stores. They report of big profits last quarter. But earnings season is winding down so this week the focus is tax cuts. The House ways and means committee will start marking up that bill it released last week.

ROMANS: There are 48 days until Christmas, if you're counting. 48 days, Briggs, I'll send you my list. Amazon is already discounting items. But for the first time, it's slashing prices from third party sellers. Amazon typically only discounts items it sells directly. But this allows Amazon to sell at lower prices while still giving the sellers full price. Some independent merchants say this devalues their products, but discounts helps Amazon compete with low-priced rivals like Wal-Mart. So, watch this space. 48 days. I did not need to know there were only 48 days left.

BRIGGS: I already have my first Black Friday e-mail-

ROMANS: Do you really? I just see the first like holiday sales event for a car company already so.

BRIGGS: All right, Early Start continues right now with the latest on the shooting in Texas.