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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  August 5, 2019 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT

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will now forever be associated with gun violence and the loss of innocent lives. that is our broadcast for this monday night and as we start this new week, thank you so much for being here with us. good night from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. good to have you with us. to be totally honest with you, i did not expect to be here tonight. this is still technically my vacation, but i'm back along with my colleagues tonight because of the news, because of this dark and unnerving turn in the news and in the life of our country. and so we are going to do something a little bit different tonight. we are live right now from new york, but we have correspondents and experts and local viewpoints from all over the country tonight, as we bring you this special coverage of domestic
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terrorism in america, a nation in crisis. >> we are following this breaking news of an active shooter. >> a mass shooting at a walmart. >> an unfortunate reality in america. >> at this time, we do have one person in custody. >> authorities say it was an ak-47. >> one of the most deadliest days in texas. >> two mass shootings in less than 48 hours. >> this was a domestic terrorist attack that was fueled by white supremacy. >> they take our peace from us. >> is america at a tipping point? >> thank you for being here with us tonight. i'm rachel maddow along with my colleagues, brian williams and nicole wallace. tonight, we are going to look at the surge in mass shootings in our country and in particular, at the white nationalist terrorist threat that seems to have driven the el paso massacre of latinos this weekend,
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possibly the gilroy shooting a week ago, and the phenomenon which the fbi says is now the predominant domestic terrorist threat in the nation. >> over the course of these next two hours, we'll be hearing tonight from jose diaz balart in el paso, texas. kate snow, dayton, ohio. jacob soboroff is in gilroy, california. cal perry is in tapachula, mexico. and our justice correspondent, pete williams, is in our washington, d.c., newsroom. and we'll hear from congressman veronica escobar in el paso, as well. and from democratic senator chris murphy, a leading voice on gun reform in this country. >> joining us now from el paso is telemundo anchor and host of "nbc nightly news" saturday jose diaz balart. jose, thank you very much for joining us tonight. i spoke to georgina perez, a member of the texas board of education from el paso earlier today in the 4:00 p.m. hour. i asked her what she needed from
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the country right now and she said what she needed from the country was for people to stop talking about immigrants as criminals. what are you hearing in that community tonight? >> reporter: i think -- you know what, we're sick and tired of being labeled anything but patriotic americans. people who are here to make this country better. we're here so that this country can progress. so that our children have a better life. that's what we want to hear. and the people that are here today, the people that are here today represent the best of this country. el paso is a city 85% latino that opens its arms and it opens its hearts to everyone. it has done so forever. we have been here since just sunday and the people that i have met, the people that are here in this iconic restaurant in el paso really have a deep, deep hurt in their heart.
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we're going to be talking to some of them tonight. >> jose, there's also an undeniable -- i hear the emotion and the anger, but there's an undeniable resilience in that community. just give us some anecdotal evidence. i saw it in the interviews i did today, but you've been there longer than me. you're there right now. tell us about that. >> reporter: well, one after the other after the other. el paso strong. we see it reflected in so many ways. and we're going to be meeting some of the people tonight that have really taken this to heart and are suffering, but say, this is not going to define us. you know, yesterday i was at a blood bank and a lady said -- it was 3:00 in the afternoon, she got there at 8:00 and was giving blood after so many hours waiting. she said, i'm giving blood because so many much of my countrymen's blood was spilled. and i want this color, the only color of blood of all humans, to be what people think about. progress and love, not hate and death. >> jose diaz balart, telemundo anchor, host of "nbc nightly
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news" saturday. we're going to be talking to you throughout the evening. thank you very much for starting us off. >> over the past few years, as the number of mass shootings in america has risen and risen and risen still further, the response to mass shootings has gotten stuck between the gears somehow. our public officials roar and gnash their teeth, but nothing ever catches. policy doesn't change. one of the questions being asked now after this particular spate of mass shootings is whether that stasis will still hold, even now, even as this crisis takes on a frightening new form. [ gunfire ] >> reporter: it happened again this weekend. [ screaming ] >> reporter: and then again. where else in the western world do these shootings happen with such numbing regularity? the answer is nowhere. >> this is also a mental illness problem. these are really people that are very, very seriously mentally ill.
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>> reporter: the mental illness argument is a convenient retreat, but it's not like other countries are free from mental illness or violent video games or disaffected youth or any of the other proxies we blame after every new mass shooting. it's only in america where the combination of a young man and a loaded gun have led to so many tragedies, so many dead. >> just another day in the united states of america. >> reporter: when there's an attack by an islamic extremist, we have no problem calling that terrorism. the american war on terror has identified a very specific enemy. in this case, the shooter in el paso was on a different kind of terrorist mission. this was homegrown domestic terrorism. the targeted murder of immigrants and latinos, to try to spread the ideology and the aims of white nationalism. >> this is disgusting, intolerable. it is not texan. >> reporter: white nationalism is an american terrorist movement as old as the klan, as
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old as slavery, as old as the nation. but now unfettered online and with an increasing reach into far-right politics, its modern spread is a current and violent american crisis. >> the majority of the domestic terrorism cases that we've investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence. >> reporter: on the day of the attack in el paso, the gunman posted a 2,000-word diatribe online, railing about his fears for the white race and his hatred of immigrants, his desire to target hispanics. he said he drew inspiration from an attack against muslims in new zealand that killed 51 people. and from racist anti-immigrant arguments that white nationalists have been
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circulating online for years. just 20 minutes after posting that online screed, that gunman killed 22 people in a walmart in el paso. >> no! >> reporter: it was the worst terrorist attacks specifically targeting the latino community in modern american history. the survivors' families in el paso and the survivors' families in dayton, which was attacked just 14 hours later, have struggled to follow the same tragic script that so many other families have. by remembering the victims, by trying to make sense. >> she was just a wonderful person. she's give anything for those kids.
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anything. even her life. >> reporter: and the two communities rallied. citizens came out in droves to help. lines formed around the corner at blood banks. >> the first thing that goes through your head is, get out of your house, go out there, help someone, help your neighbor out. >> we are a strong, strong community. and they'll never break us. >> reporter: but this time, something felt different. something felt new. >> we are strong. and this ripple effect is going to be long lasting and it's going to impact generations here. >> a recognition that something has been forever changed and our new normal is neither normal nor welcome. >> it's affecting our entire way of life. to the point where if people aren't in that sort of security apparatus, if they're not constantly being surveilled and secured, they may feel vulnerable to this sort of violence. so what kind of a world have we really created in the end whenever terrorism has affected us in such a way. >> reporter: the federal government is pursuing the shooting in el paso as a possible hate crime, but the u.s. attorney for west texas, john bash, went beyond that. >> as a statutory definition of domestic terrorism, this meets it. it appears to be designed to intimidate a single population, to say the least. >> reporter: now on top of that
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epidemic, american gun massacres carried out by domestic terrorists, organizing online, spreading white nationalism through social media, through extremist media, up through the ragged edges of american politics, this is a challenge of a different order. >> today, if you look at what's going on in the united states, you have an ideology, they are motivated, they have capability. they know what to do and they have access to weapons. and they are willing to commit violence against other americans to advance their cause. i think that's the significant change we've seen over the last ten years. >> brian and nicole, that warning there from former fbi agent clint watts there at the end about the rise of american ideology violence, saying they are motivated, they have the capability. obviously, we have all covered mass shootings, we have all covered this incredible phenomenon that we have in our lifetimes as americans of these
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mass shootings. there does seem to be something that may even be politically different when it comes to mass shootings that are inflected by a domestic terrorism movement. >> yeah. look, i mean, you talked about the manifesto. you talked about the language of the manifesto. i'll just say it, the elephant in the room is the intersection of the killer's manifesto, language of an invasion from mexicans, and the person who happens to be the american president right now. >> cut and paste dialogue. >> right. if i was an algorithm, metadata was one of the tools we had. i worked in the white house on 9/11, and all of the policies we put in place were controversial, we don't need to debate them tonight. but one of the tools was metadata, it looked for information between phone numbers, conversations, speech. if i were an algorithm and looking for intersections between the language on the manifesto from the killer in el paso and donald trump's twitter feed or donald trump's maga rallies, i would be going, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. they're undeniable and they have to be part of the conversation. >> and to hear your voice say, this time feels different, which
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is a line we have all uttered before, but for the fact that this time it feels different politically. and given this backdrop and given the dialogue of all of this. which naturally leads us to this. after radio silence spent at his new jersey golf resort, including dropping in on a wedding reception over the weekend, we then heard from the president. first via twitter, where he largely blamed the news media and suggested that what we really need is immigration reform. and then prepared remarks on teleprompter this morning from the white house. >> in one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. we must recognize that the internet has provided a dangerous avenue to radicalize disturbed minds and perform demonstrated acts. we must stop the glorification of violence in our society.
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this includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun. may god bless the memory of those who perished in toledo. >> obviously, the second shooting of the weekend was in dayton, ohio, and not toledo. that appearance today launched a whole new conversation about teleprompter trump versus rally trump. the president's remarks included but one mention of white supremacy, mostly spreading the blame among the internet, video games, and mental illness. no mention, for example, of universal background checks for gun purchases. a few hours later, we heard from a former president, however, barack obama wrote and posted this. "no other nation on earth comes close to experiencing the frequency of mass shootings that we see in the united states. no other developed nation tolerates the levels of gun
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violence that we do. we should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments. leaders who demonize those who don't look like us or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life or refer to other people as sub-human or imply that american belongs to just one certain type of people. it has no place in our politics or our public life and it's time for the overwhelming majority of americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much, clearly and unequivocally." barack and michelle obama's statement with no subtle references there to the current occupant, the current vocabulary of "invasion," "nativism" -- i'll get that right, and divisiveness. one of the most shared pieces of writing during this day came from "the new york times."
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the editorial board did not mince word. quote, we have a white nationalist terrorist problem. if either gunman had adhered to the ideology of radical islam, the resources of the american government and its international allies would mobilize without delay. no american would settle for thoughts and prayers as a counterterrorism strategy. in recalling the words of president george w. bush in the wake of 9/11, we must be a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. our grief has turned to anger and anger to resolution. nicole, you've already mentioned this. your former boss has been invoked. of all of us, you were the only one who was communications director on 9/11. >> listen. to see that page, that "new york times" editorial page invoke -- and that page was really tough on the george w. bush administration, particularly some of the programs that i've
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already mentioned, metadata, specifically. but the point is well taken. the point is actually more powerful by invoking george w. bush and the approach. because the attack of 9/11 was viewed as an attack on our nation. now, this would be the second attack on the nation since donald trump has been on the scene. the first was the russian attack on our democracy. and we all know how he reacted to that. he appeared to row against american intelligence agencies. he appeared to row against american law enforcement, to the degree that then acting director of the fbi, andy mccabe, opened a full field investigation to find out if donald trump was a witting or unwitting agent of russia. you now have the second high-profile threat, attack, if you will, on our country. this time it's white supremacy-inspired domestic terror. you have donald trump's hand-picked fbi director chris wray testifying to that, really i think the day before robert mueller. and it's another test for this president. will he row with christopher wray, or will his language, which mirrors almost exactly the language of this moment of white supremacy make the job of the
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fbi more difficult? >> and to that point, i think you've made this point very eloquently, both on your show today and already since we've been on the air tonight, this idea that the president has been speaking the same language, at least of the el paso shooter, if we take the el paso shooter's written word at his intention. now, that is horrific in terms of us the diagnosing what's going on in this country right now and what we have for national leadership, i'll just say that bluntly. does it also offer an opportunity to curtail this, to cut it off? to not only stop inspiring and it stoking it, but to reach that extremist movement in this country, from a point where no other president ever could. presumably, this president is in a position to speak to white nationalist terrorist groups, in a way that could reach them. in a way that no other president or politician ever could. it's horrifying to think that that could be strategic or
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necessary, but it could actually make a difference. >> i only know what i've learned from covering him, and this was a time during the campaign when jake tapper had to go at candidate trump seven times to condemn david duke. they went back and forth. it was rhetorical torture. do you condemn? yes, i condemn. he went back at him, gave him five, six -- yes, i condemn. i remember calling a source who worked on the campaign and said, listen, it's donald trump's way of winking and nodding and saying, i welcome your support. and jim comey writes about that eloquently on the same "new york times" editorial page. that we haven't conquered racism well enough or long enough for any of our leaders to wink and nod at any element of the white nationalist movement. all they need and clint, i know we'll bring you in a minute, but the fight against domestic terror is to frail, so fragile, so nascent that to have the most powerful, most prominent politician in the country winking and nodding is
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treacherous. >> also talking about whether or not he is going to be pulling in the same direction as the fbi and intelligence agencies, part of what we need to talk about over the course of this show tonight and we will is the question of whether the trump administration has actually meaningfully weakened efforts to counter violent extremism. they have dissolved, for example, the office that's supposed to be working on that and defunded the organizations that are working to deradicalize specifically white supremacist organizations. the fact is, if we are looking about stuff to do, boy, is there a lot of low-hanging fruit, because of how many wrong steps have been taken already. >> absolutely. >> joining us now is the man responsible, frank figliuzzi, former fbi assistant director for colleges. clint watts is with us here tonight, former fbi special agent. and james alan fox, criminologist at northeastern university. frank, i would like to begin with you, and a prediction, as you shared with nicole and her guests at 4:00 p.m. eastern
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time, a prediction you made in the op-ed pages of the "new york times" that you didn't want to be correct. what was that? >> i saw a threat unfolding and i saw it particularly in relation to my experience in international terrorism and radicalization, which is to say that i saw people aligning themselves with a leader, i saw them inspired to act, and i saw them egging each other on. and we saw that in islamic jihad radicalization and we're seeing it now in white hate, white supremacist radicalization. and unfortunately, that person that's helping to egg them on, helping to construct that path to violence happens to be our president. it doesn't mean that he wanted to see this happen. it doesn't mean that he directly ordered or encouraged violence,
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but that distinction is not, is -- falls on deaf ears with regard to unstable people who feel compelled to act and belong to a cause greater than themselves. so the president plays a unique role in stopping that path to violence and i have to tell you, brian, he hasn't today taken the adequate steps to disrupt the radicalization process. >> well, frank, let me put this back to you and i'll ask our other guests to jump in, as well. is the president in a unique position, in which he could say, listen, if you think you are doing this in my name, you are not. if you think this pleases me or serves me or serves my political cause to act violently, you need to know i'm not with you and i denounce you and i think this is repugnant and it's against what i stand for. isn't he in a position to meaningfully affect the course of some of these -- >> it would be the single biggest strike against white supremacist terrorism if the leader comes forward and says, i do not accept this. we have seen this before. john mccain, birtherism, president obama is a muslim. what did he do? he stopped someone at his own
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campaign event and said, no, ma'am, that's not correct. and if that were the case, that would be fine. and that leadership right there pushed back racism. that is leader pushing back racism. racism that could have benefited him, particularly, right, for building the base and he shut that down. the president can do that today. he could do it tomorrow. he could do it about russia and the russia investigation. it would have gone away. he could do that about white supremacist terrorism and make a major dent, but he never does. who should have been the first guy landing in el paso on sunday morning? the president of the united states? who can get there faster than anybody in the world? the president of the united states. was he in dayton? no, he couldn't make it, but you know, we got some chips in out of the sand trap. i don't understand it. he is the president he's the leader of this country. even -- even if he shares some of these ideological beliefs, he should never condone violence, should never let it go. and when asked, what do we do about the invasion and someone
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said, we shoot them, he laughed. and he went even further and said, well, you can only get away with that in the panhandle. what is the message to americans? the laws are different, the rules are different for certain kinds of people. and if you support me, maybe i'll look the other way. he's sending that tacit message out to society. >> and in this campaign -- i just want to ask you about a story that broke since we sat down tonight. "the new york times" is reporting that the trump campaign is using facebook ads to amplify the campaign. this isn't an accident. this isn't an overlap we found as investigative journalists. it's an ad buy. they're buying ads. >> more than 2,000 ads on facebook using that rhetoric. >> you know, white supremacy existed before trump took office, certainly. but he's normalized it and made it mainstream. and that's where he can turn the clock back by repudiating it. unfortunately, he's deflecting. deflecting to mental illness issues, and most mass killers, by the way, are not mentally ill. he's deflecting it to violent video games, which is not a cause of mass killing. even though there are some mass killers who enjoy violent video games, they're violent individuals and enjoy violent entertainment in their free time. unfortunately, he's going in all of those directions and not at the appropriate direction of projecting this.
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>> frank, let me ask you to jump in on this. the idea that the president, while potentially being a catalyst or at least a point of focus for this form of domestic terrorism, does that put him in a position to be uniquely effective? it's stopping it if he chose to use his powers for good. >> there's no question -- look, the president has been playing with matches every day for two years and now he cannot be surprised that a fire has started. and in order for -- to prevent our house from burning down, he needs to put the matchbook away. and he does that by coming out and using first-person active tense speech. today he said -- what did he tell us? he directed, our nation must condemn racism. you know what that translates to if you're a white supremacist? ah, he's paying that lip service. he read a script that he has to read. he didn't say he condemns it. he didn't say "i condemn it," "i rebuke it,," "i reject it." that's not what we've heard from him. >> frank figliuzzi, clint watts,
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and james, really appreciate you being part of our coverage. >> one more point here about one small thing we can do that's important is to get rid of this term, the manifesto. a manifesto is a document by someone of prominence, not a killer. the one smart thing that dylan roof, the shooter from south carolina said was, my words are not a manifesto, they're rants, not manifesto. that makes it seem much more important. to all the other people who praise what this person does. there are, unfortunately, people out there who applaud the act. and the more we evaluate it, as a manifesto, it makes it seem -- >> rather than a screed or a rant or a diatribe. >> exactly. it is a rant and that's all. >> when we come back, we're going to be joined by a trio of the nation's top counterterrorism officials and they have some very specific ideas about what the country do about gun violence and this nexus to white nationalist terrorism. do stay with us.
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forgimpbs. forgiveness. welcome back. that was maribel latin. the shooting killed 22 people, injured more than two dozen others. federal law enforcement has charted a rise in white nationalist violence over the past few years. they are now investigating this shooting as a case of domestic terrorism. for more on this front, we want to bring in our justice correspondent, pete williams. pete, how does that designation change the work they have to do, the investigation in front of them. >> it changes the people who do it. there's a special cell of people in the federal government who will do this. of course, it doesn't change on the ground for texas. this is a murder investigation for them. and it could lead to murder charges in the federal system, as well. it seems pretty likely that it will. legally, where it ends up, it doesn't change it much. but because patrick crusius, according to the authorities, have been talking so much, not
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only will this apparently be a strong criminal case, but that it will also be an insight to allow them to go back and look at the anatomy of this attack. and we learned an interesting fact today. authorities now say that patrick crusius left allen, texas, drove 10 to 11 hours, got to el paso in the early morning hours of saturday and was hungry. he got lost in a neighborhood, saw the walmart, and according to the police, went into the walmart, ate, then came back out, and we assume, suited up, got his weapon, and started firing. so they have lots of information about him, brian. >> but that doesn't mean to inject any last-minute plans on his part. this is still being treated, is it not, as a premeditated massacre on this has part. >> the desire to kill certainly was premeditated. he says in his own essay, and i agree with jim fox, we shouldn't call it a manifesto, he says
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he's been thinking about this for at least a month. what we don't know is whether he had chosen that target. apparently it was el paso, but did he choose that walmart or was it a target of opportunity when he got to town looking for something to eat? that is something we are still waiting to find out. >> pete williams, our thanks. pete williams joining us from our washington bureau. just weeks before the deadly mass shootings this weekend, in july, fbi director chris wray was asked in the u.s. senate about the current threat of domestic terrorism. >> white supremacists were responsible for more homicides from 2016 than any other domestic terrorist movement. there is a concern that this is not being taken as seriously as it should be. >> our focus is on the violence. we, the fbi, don't investigate ideology, no matter how
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repugnant. we investigate violence. any extremist ideology, when it turns to violence, we're all over it. >> fbi director chris wray saying the fbi doesn't investigate ideology, except when it turns to violence. he went on, of course, to say at that hearing that a majority of domestic terrorism cases the fbi has investigated are, in his words, what you might call white supremacist violence. after the violence of this past week and this weekend the question is fully open as to whether the federal government right now is doing all that could be done to prevent these shootings, particularly shootings fueled by right-wing terrorist ideology. six former senior directors for counterterrorism at the national security council, directors that served under both democrats and republicans as president, they have now issued a statement calling for urgent reform in terms of the way the nation handles this kind of threat. these six counterterrorism directors are calling for, quote, a significant infusion of resources to support federal, state, and local programs aimed at preventing extremism and
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targeted violence of any kind, motivated by any ideology or directed at any american community. quote, we call on our government to make addressing this form of terrorism as high a priority as countering international terrorism has become since 9/11. quote, we simply cannot wait any longer. joining us now are three of the ex-national security council counterterrorism directors who put their names to that statement. joshua getzer, javad ali, and jeremy rasmussen. i really appreciate you all being here. mr. rasmussen, let me start with you. you're calling for domestic terrorism to be given the same priority status as countering international terrorism. is that just because of the urgency of these recent attacks? how do the international and domestic threats compare in terms of numerical threats? >> well, again, i think chris wray's testimony in recent weeks in front of the congress was -- you know, answers that question for you, rachel. he talked about basically a rough parody in terms of the number of case investigations that the fbi maintains, between cases tied to domestic terrorism, including white supremacy, and cases tied to
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overseas terrorist groups like al qaeda. part of what drove the group of us to write this or produce this statement yesterday was this sense that we looked to the fbi to solve this problem for us. the fbi is the preeminent law enforcement organization in the world. and yet, as chris wray said, if they don't get involved until it gets to the point where there's violence involved. and obviously, there's much that can be done left of that, before we get to that point when a gun has been fired or a bomb has been exploded. and that's what we're doing on the international terrorism side, but not on the domestic terrorism side. >> mr. getzer, mr. ali, on that point, to hear director wray say, we're not interested in looking at ideology, we're interested only when it turns to violence, what we are seeing here is not necessarily -- look particularly at the el paso shooter, not somebody who was a member of a group who had a patch and a vest that said he was part of something.
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not somebody who was going to meetings or turning up at buildings that could be identified as hosting meetings for these groups. this was someone who participated in an online community, was motivated, had the resourced to do it, said he was about to do it before he actually did. how do you intervene at that point and who does it for our government? >> that's the hardest form of a terrorist to stop. you don't have communications to intercept, you don't have a long tail ahead of the attack. it's hard on the international level, but especially hard here at the domestic level. and that's in part because the trump administration has rolled back some of the efforts to get at this problem earlier. you had a countering violent extremism unit stood up at the end of the obama administration quite deliberately to tackle forms of radicalization, not just by al qaeda or by isis, but this type, too. under the new administration, there was an effort to take away grants awarded to groups trying to help with this part of the problem and to focus exclusively on the international. >> mr. ali, in terms of the
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fbi's resources, but also the broader resources of the government, have those sorts of rollbacks been meaningful in terms of our capacity? >> i was in the fbi for 11 years and i saw internally how the fbi was trying to manage, smartly, the sort of prioritization of the domestic terrorism threat, with multiple manifestations of it to include the far-right threat, but also the international terrorism component. and since 9/11, the scales tipped on that much more towards the international terrorism side. after the past few years, it's had to rebalance and re-shift. i still think there's a discrepancy there. but the fbi is doing yeoman's work to try to combat this threat. but again, it doesn't have enough resources on that pure domestic terrific side. so they would have to make an internal decision to shift more
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agents, analysts, investigators in the field to take a look at this and potentially take risks on the international terrorism side. so these are tough choices. >> can i ask you? one of the things that sped the resources, the authority, the changes in the law around the patriot act or what not to make these jobs easier, to make combatting terrorism easier after 9/11 was the political will. i mean, how do you do any of this with the deafening silence on capitol hill from half of the country's representatives? >> you need leadership. you have a president here who's not only not responding to this growing threat, but indulging it. using language that seems to align with the people engaging in this. at the same time, it strikes me there's a responsibility for those on the hill to do what they can. they can pass a law that would take the existing federal law definition of terrorism and add criminal penalties to it. those would apply to acts like this, as well as to al qaeda and isis-inspired acts. >> i have a question for mr. ras mussen.
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and i'll speak plainly. how on earth do we expect our feds to figure out who the next loser is? who's the next loser kid who just tonight is angry at something, just tonight lost his girlfriend, learned he won't make a certain team at school. he's been slighted and it just happened in the privacy of his own room. he may be the next name we're broadcasting here. >> well, josh pointed earlier to some of the difficulty law enforcement has in identifying that kind of actor before he takes action. but the story is probably not a lot different than what we saw with isis-inspired characters. what would turn out in the aftermath is someone would emerge afterwards and say, i knew something was wrong. i knew that individual was off. i knew that individual had withdrawn from normal interaction. i knew something was not right. i wish i had done something. i wish i had spoken to a family member. i wish i had called the cops or spoken to a pastor. it's not if we are helpless in this area. but the hard power tools we use overseas are not the tools that
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are going to help us here in the homeland. what's going to help us here in the homeland are community engagement tools, the kinds of things that brings communities into the process of keeping themselves secure. because, brian, they're the ones that are going to figure out who that young man is long before the fbi is. >> and that's the conversation about red flag laws and the like. gentlemen, thank you all for being with us. we are going to take a break in our special coverage. when we come back, the scene on the ground in el paso tonight. we have a live report. (client's voice) remember that degree you got in taxation?
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on saturday morning, el paso, texas, suffered an unspeakable tragedy. back with us tonight from there is jose diaz balart. my friend, tell us about the people you've met there. >> reporter: brian, here with us tonight are people that, well, either knew someone who lost their lives, knew someone who is going through that process of
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grieving for a loved one. or someone who was there. this is the case of two friends of mine who had the presence of mind to film actually what was going on when they were sitting, having some food at the walmart. sylvia salsalvo and her 91-year-old mother are here with us. sylvia, what were you thinking when this was going on? >> i was very scared when i saw that evil satan walking in. i just saw him from the knees down. and i was hiding under the table. he started shooting. >> and what were you thinking when this was happening? >> translator: since we saw him pass by, i said, they're going to kill us now. i turned, i turned and i said --
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and we just hugged and i just prayed to god, take care of us. and please take care of everybody who is here. sylvia, what do you want to see happen? >> we need to stop the violence, the racism, and the hate. >> how do you do that? >> stay united. >> reporter: you're here with your son. when you see him, that you're able to be home and to be with him, but you were telling me earlier that you still cry over those who didn't make it, something needs to happen. >> something needs to happen. we need to gather together and stop all of this nonsense, this violence. >> sylvia, gracias, thank you for being with us. it's very, very difficult. i know, and i applaud you for
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having the strength to come out and be us. it's a very difficult thing. andrew james torres lost family in the shooting and andrew, come on over. you told me that it was important for you to be here today. >> yes, it's very important for me to be here today, speaking on the -- on behalf of my family, on behalf of the millennial generation that we are living in a world that is so full of this violence, my grandfather is a beautiful mexican american man. he's 94 years old -- >> he fought in the war, didn't he? >> he fought in world war ii. and for me, it's crazy, because he told me with his own words that it's not about immigration status, it's not about the things that he's -- president trump is trying to make this out about. it really is about racial violence. it's about a white supremacist,
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a white man coming into this community and inciting this violence against a community that we are a peaceful, loving community. my father, he lost his cousin, my family, they are mourning the loss of her and her husband. and it's something that it makes me realize, this is what it means to be american, to experience something like this. it seems that this is what an american experience is like, to suffer alongside people and mass shootings and make yourself a person who can relate to the list of victims. it's very, very sad. >> very, very difficult. we'll be back, but i want to send it back to you. >> jose, thank you. and our thanks to the torez and saucedo families, as well. >> in terms of the ways that we're looking about this as a country, obviously, the fact that this is the worst-ever terrorist attack on the latino community in the united states is a huge portion of what we have to contend with here as a country. obviously, the gun reform issues and the gun policy issues are something that we are instantly both confounded by and
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confronting. but there is also, as jose's guest there was just saying, there is this issue of white nationalism, of there being a domestic terrorism movement here, about it dovetailing in some ways with the ragged edge of right-wing american politics and right-wing media right now in a way that is, that is a different kind of challenge. i'll tell you that in terms of the gun reform piece of this, the -- as we are routinely confounded by the fact that we don't make changes, that when there are gun massacres, that as much as anybody expresses a need for there to be some sort of change, for some reason, things always get stuck. the nra always leads the charge, the republican party always sides with the nra, no matter how urgent the need is for some sort of reform, that need seems to dissipate. ultimately, it is the nra that is the -- still the strongest bulwark against change in this country. and interestingly, the nra right now is in one of the weakest positions it's ever been in in its history.
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it's got a huge legal war with its own ad agency. they've had top officials leave in scandal. how does that affect, if it does affect, what might be possible in terms of the ongoing and confounding fight over gun policy reform? all 30 declined to apyrpeaappea. senator more murphy, thank you for making time tonight. you were galvanized by this. can you tell us where you are and what we've been through over the past week?
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>> as you can imagine, i got emails from the parents of kids that got murdered in sandy hook. they live in terror every time they watch another community go through this. you do not recover from this. el paso will not recover and newtown has not recovered. ultimately this is a collection of political muscle. i thought newtown had changed everything. i thought people had woken up to the fact that our weak gun laws were getting kids killed. that wasn't the case because in part the nra was strong and still is and the movement was not. as you know, things are changing. the reason the nra is having this massive infighting at the border level is because they are losing members. we have thousands of activists around the country, and fortunately, we will probably recruit thousands more this week. that's why the nra doesn't win elections like it used to.
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i wish the emotional power of these shootings would move congress to action. that's unfortunately not how this works. this is about building a political movement and the tragic reality is every time one of these episodes, one of these mass shootings happen, our movement gets stronger. i wish that weren't how it works, but it is. >> senator murphy, you're one of the authors, one of the co-authors of the background check legislation. that is one of the issues where gun owners and the nra are out of step with one another. rachel talked about that's where they're weakening, but they're not weakening enough. did you hear from any republicans today? did you add any support to your legislation? >> i've spent a bunch of the weekends reaching out to my republican colleagues in the senate. no surprise, i haven't gotten any new takers to my legislation, nor much interest at all in trying find other
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middle ground. you know, ultimately this will be the republican party's undoing. they need to catch up to where the american public is right now. in 2018, the second most important issue to anyone in this country who voted for democrats was guns. number one was health care. and there just aren't a lot of issues like this. background checks are supported by 95% of americans, and they still can't move the republican senate to action. mcconnell doesn't want to bring this vote up because he doesn't want to put his members in between 95% of their constituents and the gun lobby. i'm going to keep on calling and emailing and texting this weekend, but my expectations are low. >> and we're going to keep calling and trying to book them, so we're running a parallel effort here. joining our conversation now is shannon watts, founder of gun safety action, an organization founded in the aftermath of the newtown shooting. thank you so much for being here. what goes through your mind with a conversation like this? >> obviously last weekend was
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another tragedy in north america. it's the daily gun violence that kills hundreds of americans in this country, and all of it must be addressed. gun homicides in city centers, gun suicides in rural communities. moms taking action is now the largest grassroots action in the country. we're going toe to toe with the gun lobby. we outspent them in the midterm elections and i'm quite certain we will beat them again in 2020. >> people talk about getting numb or immune. i don't hear about that. parkland was like a kaleidoscope, and it gets more serious. do you see that? >> there isn't a parent in the country that isn't afraid it will be their child. >> isn't a far parent in the country sending a child younger than 3 having active shooter drills. parents have to send their kids to school and they pretend to
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die in the bathroom of their first grade classroom. >> unbelievable. unbelievable reality. >> in terms of what senator murphy just said there where he was talking about the strength of the nra as i put that to him, he suggested that, yes, the nra still is absolutely strong, and the way that they will be beaten is not by trying to separate republican politicians from the nra but by beating republican politicians and replacing them with democrats. that is a scorched earth partisan approach to this in terms of what seems possible. do you think that it is justified to give up hope that republican politics will allow republican politicians to side with commonsense gun reforms? >> no. i believe we can change hearts and minds, even if it's for reasons of political expediency. we have seen even some of the presidential candidates who are running used to have "a" ratings from the nra. this year we stopped stand our ground twice in arkansas. they have a republican
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supermajority. the reason they said was the nra's majority was too extreme. >> thanks to chris murphy, governor of the state of connecticut, to shannon watts, founder of moms to action. thank you both. we're approaching the top of the hour, 10:00 p.m. eastern time as we enter our second hour of coverage after this weekend of domestic terrorism, of violence in this country. a member of congress will join us from el paso in just a moment. this was me six years ago... and this is me now! i got liberty mutual. they customized my car insurance, so i only pay for what i need. then i won the lottery, got hair plugs, and started working out. and so can you! only pay for what you need.
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ good evening once again from our nbc headquarters here in new york. tonight much of our nation remains shaken, depressed, peev

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