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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
New Information About The Troubled Past Of The Man; President Obama Ordered Flags Lowered At Federal Offices Nationwide; What To Do In An Active Shooter Situation; Remembering The Victims; GOP Grapples With Idea Of Trump; Trump Campaigns In Houston; Some Republicans Looking For Ways To Block Trump; GOP Split, Worried About Trump; Can Anti-Trump Republicans Thwart Nomination?; Fmr. Pres. G.W. Bush Steps In To Help GOP Senators. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired June 17, 2016 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:11] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Good evening from Orlando. John Berman here in for Anderson.
There is a memorial just down the street from where we are standing right now. It's not the only one, not by any stretch. You are looking at live pictures right now of people paying their respects. It has been a sneering week here. It will be a somber weekend for funerals and remembrances, and of course full of regular moments, moments that will be missed by the 49 people killed at the Pulse nightclub last weekend. That's the worst of it.
And behind me here at Orlando regional medical center this weekend will be very busy, still very busy. As of our latest update, they are still treating nearly two dozen badly wounded patients with six in critical condition. We will be joined shortly by a doctor who runs the trauma unit and who, like the shooter, is an immigrant's child.
We begin though with breaking news, new information about the troubled past of the man who took all these lives.
CNN senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin just obtained the details, and joins us now from the killer's home in Fort Pierce.
Drew, we have been hearing about missed signals all week. It seems to be adding up.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is another glaring example of that. In 2007, John, we have been reporting that his shooter was expelled from a law enforcement academy at the same time he was fired from his job at the Florida department of corrections. Both fellow students said it involved some sort of perceived threat. The school, the Indian River State College was refusing to give up records.
Tonight we have the records and it could explain the reluctance of officials. Not only was this killer falling asleep in class multiple times but shortly after the Virginia tech massacre he engaged in a conversation with another cadet in which he talked about bringing a gun to school. The report we have says in light of recent tragedy events at Virginia tech, this talk about bringing a weapon to class is at best extremely disturbing. This event took place in 2007.
We also have new details, disturbing details about what was going on in the planning up to this. Because now, John, it appears not only was this killer planning his attack, he was also planning for his death.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Law enforcement sources say the weeks leading up to t attack, the killer made numerous preparations, including making sure his wife had access to bank accounts and adding her name to important documents like his life insurance policy. He bought his wife an expensive piece of jewelry and transferred his share of a home where his sister and brother-in-law currently reside for just $10.
FBI agents visited the mosque today where the Orlando shooter prayed. Mosque officials telling CNN the agents were looking for anyone who knew him or know anyone he associated with. And the FBI director visited the crime scene in Orlando for the first time as his investigators continue to examine what the killer's wife knew about his attack and when.
CNN has learned the couple communicated during the attack. According to law enforcement sources, Noor Salman called her husband multiple times after news broke of the shooting. At around 4:00 a.m., two hours after the shooting began, he texted her asking if she saw the news. At one point she responded telling him she loved him.
Police notified the gunman's family, first knocking on his sister's door at 4:00 a.m. She called her parents breaking the news to the rest of the family. Sources tell us in weeks leading up to the attack, the gunman spent a significant amount of money, including money spent on weapons used for the attack.
And we are learning more about his background. According to school records obtained by CNN, the Orlando shooter was disciplined 31 times in elementary school. One report from third grade called him quote "verbally abusive, rude, aggressive, much talk about violence and sex." In high school he was suspended a total of 48 days. Among the incidents are two that involve quote "fighting with injury."
Meanwhile in Orlando officer Omar Delgado was one of the first responders to pulse nightclub and pulled several victims from the club.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OFFICER OMAR DELGADO, ORLANDO POLICE: I had my flashlight. We kind of looked around and somebody yelled out this person is moving.
GRIFFIN: A co-worker told him one of the victims he pulled to safety was in a press conference at the hospital.
DELGADO: One of the ones that helped you get out of harm's way. I need a big hug, come here, man.
GRIFFIN: The two reunited on Thursday.
DELGADO: It was amazing. It was a feeling that you can't describe, knowing that you helped save someone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:05:04] BERMAN: All right, we are also learning about the friend that the killer supposedly called during the actual rampage. Do we know anything about who the friend was?
GRIFFIN: Yes. The information comes from law enforcement sources. The friend, a person in the medical profession who was in Washington, D.C. noticed this Facebook post from his friend, the shooter, during the attack and reached out to him. They had a phone conversation. The FBI has talked to that friend. They don't believe he had any advanced knowledge of the attack. The conversation, John, centered around medications, we were told - John.
BERMAN: All right, Drew Griffin, thanks so much.
Joining us now, CNN law enforcement analyst Art Roderick, former assistant director of the U.S. Marshal Service and CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Mark O'Mara, and C our national security analyst and former secretary of department of homeland security.
Juliette, let me start with you. We are learning so much about this killer as far back as elementary school now, high school, all of these discipline problems that he spoken to the FBI in 2013, 2014. Yet it doesn't seem like there's any new information, any more information of a direct link with the terror group or ISIS other than consuming a lot of terror propaganda. Is that surprising to you at this point and of what value is all of this information about his past?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it is not surprising at all. I think pretty early on it was clear that he was ISIS inspired in part. I mean, there's a lot going on with him but not ISIS directed and that he was a passive recipient of what he viewed as what ISIS would have wanted him to do. ISIS now is more than happy to take credit for anyone that does something like this, in particular someone who has a successful attack in the United States.
So none of this is surprising that he had no sort of active involvement with ISIS, but remember you know as I said yesterday he is a guy who was buying hate and ISIS was selling it, but he was -- you know, he wanted -- he was getting hate from everyone, right, Al-Qaeda at one stage, Hezbollah at one stage. Obviously, his hatred of the LGBT, which may have something to do with his own personal background. I don't think we are going to find a direct link to ISIS except for the one that he wants us to know about.
BERMAN: And all of this information we're getting, though, perhaps can be a value because it shows you what kind of person might be susceptible to their propaganda and rhetoric.
You know, Mark, let me ask about this news that we are getting that the killer had been planning for some time this attack, including making financial preparations, you know, for his wife, spending a lot of money in the last few weeks. When you add all of this up and then you add up that fact that he was texting with his wife during, all of the data points for the wife was involved.
MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, here is what the FBI is doing. This is sort of like having pieces of a puzzle without knowing the picture yet. They take each one, place it where they think it goes, and wait until they get enough to come up with someone of a picture. And the picture that they are focusing on is her culpability or liability. So all of this information, and I'll give you quick example.
If he just added her on the bank statements or the bank account, little different if she had to go to the bank to actually sign a signature card, like usual. That type of information, the fact that she may have been aware of the life insurance, the fact that she got a very expensive piece of jewelry, all of that is going to start working first as circumstantial evidence, then as evidence to prove that she knew what was going on and she cannot use the excuse of being willfully blind of it. And that's what she's going to try and argue, I presume.
BERMAN: Haven't put the puzzle together yet, but one thing is clear, she seems to be connected to a whole lot of pieces in this puzzle.
O'MARA: A lot of them.
BERMAN: All right, Art, we also got information tonight, I don't know if you already had a chance to mention it, but the FBI has surveillance footage from inside the nightclub, extensive footage. They're looking at it now. What are they doing with this? And what more will they will be looking for? How will they use this?
ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think the first thing, the video gives a blow by blow, second by second view of what occurred in there. And you put that together with the commander (INAUDIBLE) interview. And I am sure the bureau has lengthy interviews with him, along with Chief Minas' interview, and this gives you a complete picture of what occurred inside.
Now, generally companies and businesses go with the expense of putting video cameras inside the facility, they generally put them outside especially in a facility like this. You want to cover the doors, entrance door, back door and the parking lot. So I wouldn't be surprised if we heard here in the next couple of days that they have exterior video also which would give you a complete picture of what occurred on the outside as well as what occurred on the inside.
Now, the secondary point to this video which I think is going to be very helpful to law enforcement is law enforcement will look at this as training. OK, what did we do right, what did we do wrong. And I think as it did in the active shooter training where we changed from standing back, and waiting, and assessing to immediately going in to neutralize the threat, this could have some effect on standing operating procedures of our SWAT teams around the United States. Should they have waited? Should they not have? The standard procedure right now is to wait. And because of his
vocalizing and calling 911, they thought they might been able to negotiate. So this could very well change SWAT tactics, and make them go in a lot sooner.
[20:10:38] BERMAN: You know, Juliette, as you look in all at the information that we have learned right now, we are just talking about some of it, the question of missed signals, missed opportunities to stop this. Over the last few years are there any that are glaring that jump out to you?
KAYYEM: Well, there's a couple of questions I still have and I think we deserve answers in these after action reports that we are talking. But first, it is not clear to me how much the Orlando police knew about not one, not two, but three interviews by the FBI of one of their citizens. I am not saying this would have stopped him, but part of what the intelligence staring apparatus is supposed to do is to give local police officers some constructive knowledge of who in their, you know, orbit is someone that the FBI is concerned about. So I think that's one of the sort of unanswered questions at this stage.
The second is about the employer. You know, we are talking it raises privacy concerns. And we are going to have to figure stuff out. But, if the FBI has done not one, two, but three interviews, so this is more than one, and they know that he is employed by a security company that has federal contracts, they were never notified directly by the FBI. In fact, they only knew of interviews from him himself. So those are two major questions I still have.
BERMAN: All right. Juliette Kayyem, Art Roderick, Mark O'Mara, thanks so much.
All over the country, flags are flying at half-staff this week, just one of many ways, people around the country and in fact all over the world have chosen to express their sadness over what happened here and show their oneness with the people here. It has been true in every state, to the best of our knowledge, every county in every state except Baldwin County, Alabama.
President Obama ordered flags lowered at federal offices nationwide. Alabama's governor did the same for his state. And a county commissioner in Baldwin County, Alabama said no.
Joining us now with the details on why he have said no and what he is saying said about uproar over it, Jean Casarez.
Jean, what is going on here?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Baldwin County commissioner president said it doesn't meet the criteria for when you should lower the flag to half-staff. Now, saying that, the Alabama governor asked all counties in the state to follow those orders until noon yesterday. So it is a really moot issue. They can't retract now. They can't change their decision.
But one other county we know of in the country, it was Comb County, Missouri. They county commissioners also made a decision to not lower to half-staff, and they are (INAUDIBLE) just absolutely hit the roof. There was a lot of feedback. And so, they said we need to listen to our constituents. We are going to lower the flag to half-staff.
BERMAN: This is not the first time this county commissioner in Baldwin County has done this, correct?
CASAREZ: No, it is not. He didn't do it for San Bernardino. He didn't do it for parachuting. And he is really saying there is an emotional argument and statute argument. He is really saying emotionally that when we lower the American flag to half-staff that we are really lowering ourselves to the level of the terrorist.
Here's what he said on his Facebook posting. It says quote "when the flag is at half-staff, our country's head is figuratively held low, and quite frankly I am not willing to hang my head down because of a terrorist attack against our people and our allies. I am not willing to hang my head down because evil shoots up a church, school or movie theater. We need more than a gesture as a response."
And as far as the flag statute, the flag code, he says the flag should only be half-staff for presidents, government officials, Memorial Day, and the 9/11 first responders, John.
BERMAN: Jean Casarez, curious thing to take a stand on. Thanks so much, Jean.
So even as people ask why this public official in this county stand- alone in denying that small gesture of solidarity and perhaps comfort, we may have the antidote. Next, we are going to be joined by the doctor who is trauma unit save so many lives here. This will be his first televised interview and frankly we are just honored to have him.
And later the question anyone seeing this video would asked, what should I do in a situation like this? What to do with a gunman on the loose and seemingly no good way out?
[20:18:13] BERMAN: You may notice our next guest speaks with hint of an accent, a Tennessee accent. He is also the son of a Muslims immigrant. As a wounded survivor though ask her family as chances are, they only to speak of the Tennessee upbringing nor Egyptian roots, he typically say thank you.
He and the trauma unit, he heads up here at the Orlando regional medical center. They have roots far and wide. They serve a diverse community. And in the hours after the shooting, they served with every ounce of skill and humanity they could muster. Dr. Joseph Ibrahim joins me now.
Doctor, thanks for being with us. Thank you for everything that you do. I want to take you back to last week. You were here when you first heard what you were dealing with was a terrorist attack. What was your first thought? DR. JOSEPH IBRAHIM, TRAUMA MEDICAL CENTER, ORLANDO REGIONAL MEDICAL
CENTER: Honestly, the first thought is I hope is as just probably some of your read is that I hope the name Ibrahim is not involved, it is very commonly (INAUDIBLE) involved in this day and age. But, you know, we didn't realize the magnitude of it. We were just taking care of patients. And we knew that basically after it was over, we realized it was something much larger than we would have ever seen before.
BERMAN: But you didn't want your name to be the name also of the guy that did this.
IBRAHIM: Of course.
BERMAN: When you are doing your job dealing with so many patients here, are you just dealing with the operating table or are you awe of the greater magnitude of the event. Do you have any time to think of the larger impact?
IBRAHIM: At the moment, especially when that many patients are coming in and that severely injured, you really don't have time. You're addressing what the needs are, trying to get some stabilized, trying to get them to the proper location, and we will deal with the rest later.
BERMAN: How many patients do you think you interacted with yourself?
[20:20:03] IBRAHIM: Probably eight or nine, I mean immediately.
BERMAN: Immediately. And then the dozens and dozens came through over the course of the night. It is so remarkable that as you are dealing with this, you also take a moment to think, my God, I know how people are going to react to this. Are you surprised at the greater national reaction to this?
IBRAHIM: A little bit. A little bit surprised at the amount of support that we have gotten. You know obviously there is some controversy that goes along with -- potentially a Muslim terrorist large portion of the injured are from the LGBT community, so you just never know, but the outpouring has been amazing.
BERMAN: You have a diverse staff. This is a diverse city. That's an understatement. You know, the patients you were dealing with, you know, are an example of diversity as well. I mean, this speaks to what, in many ways, Orlando is about.
IBRAHIM: Absolutely. People from multiple different countries, even you know, their families, some, you know, we need interpreters to speak with their families, but that's not anything new to us. We have to do that a lot because as you mention the city is diverse, frequently visited city. We get people from all over the globe. We have direct flights from Dubai here now. It is something we are used to dealing with. Hospital has a lot of things in place to help with that. But you're absolutely right, a very diverse group. Even the workers themselves is a very diverse group. But, you are absolutely right, very diverse group. Even the workers themselves right goes a diverse group.
BERMAN: So you no doubt are aware what's going on in the political landscape right now. There are some who are suggesting a ban on Muslim immigrants all together. You know, had that been the case, you know, decades ago your father never would have come to this country, you would never be here in theory. How does that make you feel?
IBRAHIM: It is very difficult. You know, I have never thought of myself as really the son of an immigrant. I'm an American. I was born here. I grew up her. All of my friends are American. I grew up in a very small town in Tennessee. Great people there. Treated me just like one of them, you know.
But then you hear about the political ramifications of all these things, again, I don't know why they can't see some of the other side, you know. There are a lot of people like myself that are no threat, that maybe, you know, are not even Muslim faith or at least radical Muslim faith that can contribute greatly to this nation. And you know, I have a lot of Christian friends, myself included, who are Egyptian or Arab descent and we all get along well, whether Muslim, whether it id Christian, whatever.
BERMAN: Six patients still on critical condition here.
IBRAHIM: Actually, one got moved out of ICU today.
BERMAN: So fun. That's good news. We have five patients left in critical. One did move out today.
Doctor, Ibrahim, thank you for being with us. And thank you for the work you have done in the last week and that you always do at his hospital.
IBRAHIM: Thank you, John. Thanks for having me.
BERMAN: An honor to have you with us.
So tonight there are wounds that will take far more than stitches to heal. For that, there's counseling, there are psychiatrists and psychologists that specialize in trauma and grieving, their service is deeply welcome. There are those services everywhere. Tonight we want you to meet a different breed of healing.
We think Gary Tuchman provides the introduction.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Look at these eyes. And multiply them by 11. Specially trained golden retrievers arrived in Orlando to help those suffering emotionally after the weekend shooting rampage.
These are K9 ambassadors of kindness. This is (INAUDIBLE). These are the comfort dogs.
Children at this Orlando summer were ages five to nine. Not all understand what happened this weekend but many do. Darcy Rios is one of the counselors.
DARCY RIOS, GIGGLE FACTORY SUMMER CAMP: One little girl has been crying, devastating at home, headaches, migraines, mini anxiety attacks. And today, I mean, it was just so wonderful to see her with the dogs and finally, you know, move past a little bit.
TUCHMAN: So how do these dogs make people feel better?
TIM HETZNER, PRESIDENT, LUTHERAN CHURCH CHARITIES: They are actually comfort rugs with a heartbeat.
TUCHMAN: Tim Hetzner is the president of the Lutheran Church charities which runs the comfort code ministries. These dogs are among 130 golden retrievers who travel to disasters in the country.
HETZNER: Used to have a dog in elementary school every day since the school opened up.
TUCHMAN: An Orlando hospital took this video of comfort dogs helping to brightening the days of patience carter, one of those injured in the shootings.
[20:25:02] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My goodness. They have been busy last couple days.
TUCHMAN: Dogs brought out smiles for people that work at an Orlando theater company, who were volunteered to help victims and their families with food and supplies. Megan Boetto is one of the volunteers.
Tell me how you felt being with the dogs today.
MEGAN BOETTO, VOLUNTEER, THE VENUE THEATER: I rushed here. I knew they would be here. And I just lost my dog yesterday morning. So I'm very happy to see the dogs, even for five minutes.
TUCHMAN: Lola Selsky is also helping families and is realizing the emotional toll.
LOLA SELSKY, VOLUNTEER, THE VENUE THEATER: It was awesome. It really nice to be able to just hold them and feel them lean against you, hug you back. And it was really nice.
TUCHMAN: Tim Heltzner says the reason this all works is because --.
HETZNER: Dogs have this capacity that they're great listeners, they're confidential, don't keep records of right and wrong and they are nonjudgmental. How many friends do you have with all those characteristics all the time?
TUCHMAN: Indeed, no one stands by those characteristics better than man's best friend and little girl's best friend, too.
BERMAN: Gary Tuchman joins us now. Gary, any sense how long these comfort dogs is going to stay herein
TUCHMAN: These group of dogs will head out Monday. But another group then will come in next week and the week after that, depending on the emotional needs of the community.
What's interesting, John, and sad, is that they're constantly on the go these dogs because they go to every major disaster in the United States and lots of minor disasters, too. This all started in 2008, only eight years ago with four dogs. Now 130 dogs. They live in 23 states and get to places by going on planes with owners, sit in the main cabin and great dogs on planes because they're trained never to bark.
BERMAN: I got to tell you. I met with people that who have already seen the dogs, and they're very welcome here. They would like to have them for some time.
Gary Tuchman, thanks so much.
TUCHMAN: Thanks, John.
BERMAN: All right. Up next, to Gary's point about the dogs being dizzy, bit lessons learned from too many mass shootings. We are going to walk you through a simulation, a training course designed to show people what to do in an active shooter situation.
[20:31:17] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: No one who went to Pulse Nightclub last week, and never could have imagined they would end up with an active shooter situation. Each time something like this happens there are difficult questions to confront.
What would you do if you found yourself in a situation like that? What should you do? There are no easy answers, but there are lessons that have been learned.
Randi Kaye reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As disturbing as this looks, it's only a simulation. A training video designed to teach people how to respond to an active shooter threat. No plan and experts say your chances of surviving drop dramatically.
A training program known as ALICE was developed by a Dallas/Ft. Worth police officer whose wife was an elementary school principal. ALICE is the first training program of its kind that teaches proactive survival strategies. ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate.
The worst thing potential victims can do is wait to act.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible), he's got a gun out there. There's a gun out there.
KAYE: Once you're aware of the shooter, alert others and call police if you're in a safe place.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this 911? Yeah. There's shooter I think outside the building, everybody is screaming.
KAYE: Dozens at Orlando's Pulse Nightclub did the right thing and quietly contacted loved ones and police.
TIARA PARKER, ORLANDO SHOOTING SURVIVOR: She was calling and he was on a phone with the cops.
KAYE: Lockdown is also key. Silence all cell phones, lock doors and barricade rooms. In Orlando, the bathroom doors didn't lock, allowing the gunman to barricade himself in there with club goers.
Victims are also supposed to inform law enforcement about injuries and location of the shooter which those at the Pulse Nightclub did. Experts also suggest trying to negotiate with the gunman. Club goers did that, too.
NORMAN CASIANO, ORLANDO SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Begging him, like please, please, don't shoot. Like, we haven't seen your face. We don't know what you look like. You haven't spoken. We don't know anything. Just please let us go.
KAYE: If that doesn't work, try to hide or play dead.
ANGEL COLON, ORLANDO SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I was prepared to just stay there laying down so he won't know that I'm alive.
KAYE: He survived, but others who played dead at the club were killed. Only as a last resort should you counter the shooter, throw anything you can at him to distract him.
The ALICE program doesn't encourage civilians to try to overpower an active shooter, but in a life or death situation, countering the suspect maybe their only chance to survive. It's unclear if anyone inside the Orlando club tried to take down the shooter.
Lastly, if you have an opening, make a run for it, evacuate, even if others don't go with you. Sadly some who did get out safely from Pulse ran back in to find friends and loved ones only to be killed.
But if you do get out, remember, keep your hands up outside where officers can see them so they don't mistake you for the shooter.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: It sad than anyone when you has to think about this, but it seems as if we do.
Here in Orlando, the funerals are just beginning. There were at least 11 funerals and visitations today. They will continue through the weekend and the days to come.
Coming up for us next, we're going to take a moment to end the week the way we started on this program by honoring each of the victims of the nightclub massacre,49 names, 49 faces, 49 live. We remember them ahead.
But first, Donald Trump set to speak at a Houston rally any minute while the Republican Party grapples with what to do with their presumptive nominee who has a higher unfavorability rating of any candidate for a major party in history.
[20:39:08] BERMAN: The attention of the nation has been focused squarely here on Orlando for the past week as it should be, but this is an election year and the political show goes on.
Donald Trump has been using the aftermath of the massacre to repeat his claim that Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment, which she doesn't.
Now, with the Republican convention just a month away, we're getting word that the Never Trump Movement is alive and well, with some Republicans looking for new ways to block his nomination.
Tonight Trump is campaigning in the Houston area. Jason Carroll joins me now.
Jason, I think Donald Trump has yet to take the stage but did he give any sense of what he would talk about tonight?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in the report he said yesterday is any indication expecting to step up his criticism at Hillary Clinton and the President as you mentioned there.
He's been going after Clinton not to say yesterday's rally in Dallas but a previous rallies, telling the audience -- telling audiences that she wants to abolish the Second Amendment, which is not true as you mentioned.
[20:40:07] She does not want to do that. She wants to strengthen gun laws. She does not want to abolish the Second Amendment, but it's popular whenever he says it here.
He's also been going after the President saying that he doesn't know what he is doing, calling the President weak on issues such as terrorism.
So he hasn't taken the stage here yet, here outside the Houston. I would expect him to step up similar criticisms when he does take the stage.
BERMAN: You know, Jason, all during the primary, Donald Trump loved to talk about the polls which he was usually leading in during the primary.
It is a different situation now. He seems to be trailing in many polls, does he's been bringing it up lately?
CARROLL: Well, he does. He does have this tendency to bring up polls at a number of his rallies. And as you know he tweeted out a little earlier today that he's just a few points behind Hillary Clinton in one of the polls saying, "We haven't even gotten started on Clinton yet."
But at the end of the day, this early in the election cycle, John, as you know, polls don't mean all that much. It would be a mistake for any candidate to hang his or her hat on a poll at this stage in the game.
The reality is he's not polling well against Clinton, not polling well with key groups such as Latinos and women, African-Americans, the LGBT community. He's going to have some work to do, in fact struggling within his own party polling into him to his own party to bring people in to unify the party.
As you mentioned, some of these GOP delegates, making some sort of an effort to try to stop him at the convention, but Trump weighing in on that as well saying that that move would be illegal and would disenfranchise millions upon millions of people, people like those who are sawing up here who actively support him. John?
BERMAN: All right, Jason Carroll for us in the Houston area. It sounds like Donald Trump is getting close to taking the stage. We'll keep our eye on that.
On the subject of polls, Donald Trump has the highest unfavorability rate of any major party candidate ever. That is 70 percent according to this week's Washington Post/ABC News poll.
And it's not just the electorate at large that has it unfavorable of view, but it's also some high level Republicans who trying to distance themselves from Trump and some even looking for a new ways to stop it.
Jeff Zeleny reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: And I'm going to save your Second Amendment, folks. I'm going to save your Second Amendment.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump in search of a life line, trying to rally Republicans behind his full threaded support of the Second Amendment.
GOV. RICK SCOTT, (R) FLORIDA: The Second Amendment, it's killing anybody.
ZELENY: Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Trump ally, telling CNN's Pamela Brown the Orlando shooting calls for a different conversation.
SCOTT: The Second Amendment has been around for over 200 years it didn't, you know, that's not what killed innocent people. Let's have a conversation about how we destroy ISIS.
ZELENY: The Orlando massacre is thrusting the gun debate to the front of the political agenda.
A new Gallup poll find 79 percent of Republican say the nightclub shooting was an act of Islamic terrorism, while 60 percent of Democrats interpret it as domestic gun violence.
With Republicans increasingly divided over his candidacy, Trump hopes guns will galvanize his support inside the GOP and beyond.
TRUMP: And Hillary wants to abolish the Second Amendment, remember that.
ZELENY: But Hillary Clinton never said that. She does say she wants new and stronger gun laws, but that's far from abolishing the Second Amendment.
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: These are demonstrably lies. Like he feels compelled to tell them because he has to distract us from the fact he has nothing substantive to say.
ZELENY: But, what he is saying is riling up Republicans. On NBC's "Meet the Press," House Speaker Paul Ryan offering a permission slip for Republicans to vote their conscience for or against Trump.
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: The last thing I would do is tell anybody to do something that's contrary to their conscience. Of course, I wouldn't do that.
ZELENY: Ryan is not rescinding his endorsement, but that doesn't mean he likes what Trump is doing to the party.
RYAN: He is a very unique nominee, but I feel as a responsibility institutionally as the Speaker of the House that I should not be leave some chasm in the middle of our party.
ZELENY: Yet the chasm among Republicans is widening, several top Republicans are looking beyond Trump in hopes of salvaging the party Senate majority.
Former President George W. Bush who said he will not support Trump is campaigning for vulnerable Republican Senate candidates across the country. But some Republicans are focusing on Trump, exploring last ditch efforts to block his nomination at next month's convention in Cleveland.
CNN has learned a plan is under way to push some delegates to break their allegiance to Trump.
One organizer is New Jersey Republican and former Cruz supporter Steve Lonegan who told CNN, "These delegates have a moral obligation to nominate a candidate who best represents the values of the Republican Party. Right now, Donald Trump is taking the party into a catastrophic loss."
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[20:45:01] ZELENY: And John, tonight, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is reaching out to state GOP leaders to see how serious this block Trump talks really are, but with only 31 days before the Republican convention in Cleveland, they're running out of time and they have no single alternative yet to Trump.
Now, as for Trump, he released a statement a short time ago saying, "Any move to block him would be totally illegal and rebuke to the 14 million people who voted for him in the primaries." John?
BERMAN: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much.
You know, Donald Trump, he did just take the stage tonight in Texas. He says he is ready to run with or without the backing of his party. And a big question does loom over never Trump circles, if not Trump, then who?
We joined now by CNN Politics Anchor John King.
John, I have to say within the last 24 hours, I've heard more real concern from Republicans than I have heard to date during this campaign. So there is real concern. The question though, is there a real path to blocking Donald Trump at this point?
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS: John, we lived through the primaries, right? The Stop Trump movement failed. Then it was Never Trump they were going to find the conservative third party alternative. That has failed.
Now, it's dumb Trump at the convention. I would say as we speak tonight, as Jeff just noted, it's a month away. The odds are slightly better than winning the parable, but that doesn't mean it's not -- that doesn't make it insignificant. These are some serious people trying to do this. It shows you the disaffection, the disillusionment, the fear of Trump among many Republicans.
The top strategist, the Republican National Committee tonight Sean Spicer tweeting out, "This is mostly immediate creation." Sean knows that's not the case. This is a Republican creation. Yes, mostly by people who opposed Trump in the primaries that couldn't beat him making one last ditch effort.
The odds are very much against them, John. Trump has such an overwhelming delegate lead, but it does show you Trump had a hostile takeover of the Republican Party and a lot of the people who got beat are still mad.
BERMAN: You know, he's just one in a million chance. So, you're saying there's a chance, that's essentially the logic right there.
John, there are a lot of Republicans who wish that he would just rain it in that if Trump would act a certain way, a different way then they could fall in behind him. But, is there anyone that Trump will listen to, any party elder that has influence?
KING: Most of the party elders, John, frankly not that they won't keep trying, but they have given up that Trump is going to listen.
He has a good friend from Los Angeles, a real estate developer Tom Barrett. A lot of Republicans try to go through him.
Reince Priebus, the party chairman has on more than a dozen of occasions told Mr. Trump, "We cannot win without non-white voters." And Trump has told him repeatedly, John, "I get it, don't worry." And then he goes out and says things that offend those very voters.
Speaker Ryan has talked to Trump about this. Leader McConnell of the Senate has talked to Trump about this. If you talk to them privately or people close to them privately they say that every time he promises, "Don't worry, I got it," that it collapses when his top campaign team says them, he's going to moderate, he's going to recalibrate, it might last for 24 hours, one or two teleprompter speeches then it is back to it. They just think they're stuck with him, John, and they're going to try to ride this out.
BERMAN: There is a new candidate who is going to be on the trail soon, not, you know, for Donald Trump, but in some ways in lieu of Donald Trump.
George W. Bush is planning to campaign directly for U.S. Senate candidates, almost circumventing Trump. What is this going to do?
KING: Well, what it tells you, again, is the level of disillusionment with Trump in the party in each of the key battleground senate states.
If you go to Wisconsin, if you go to Ohio, if you go to Pennsylvania, you go to Arizona, you go to New Hampshire, and in each of those states, I'm told over the past two weeks Trump's numbers have dropped significantly, in some cases precipitously.
And so inside those states they're worried that even if Rob Portman in Ohio for example runs a perfect campaign. If Trump loses Ohio by six or eight points, Portman will get washed away.
So, George W. Bush not all that popular in the country if you look at the polling, but more popular than Trump they think, especially given the provocative nature, the controversial nature of what Trump says, Republican candidates think Bush can come in, he can some raise money, he gives you some star power, because the Trump organization think about it.
Joe Biden, the Obama's, Elizabeth Warren, the Democrats -- I mean, big bench of surrogates. A lot of these candidates think Trump is simple toxic, John.
BERMAN: All right, John King, thank you so much.
KING: Thank you.
BERMAN: Just ahead for us, we're going to end the week as we began by honoring the 49 people killed in the nightclub massacre. They were loving, they were loved, full of hopes and dreams
[20:53:03] BERMAN: Monday night in his first broadcast from Orlando, Anderson began with the victims' names and faces and that's where we are going to end the week, with the 49 people who loved and were loved. Who had families and friends, and dreams.
Forty nine unique souls who cannot be replaced and will not be forgotten. Just listen to people they've left behind.
Now, the music that you're going to hear is the new song released by Christina Aguilera called "Change." Proceeds from downloads through September 14th will go to the National Compassion Fund to benefit the victims and their families.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We lost a great person, we lost a caring person. I don't understand why God took him away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What could (inaudible). That's my baby, that's my baby and I won't see him again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to live without him. And I can prove to you when I clean my home when I listen to salsa, he is right here with me. It's going to be all right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll never forget his name. I'll never forget what he did for me and my family.
[20:55:11] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A mother of 11. Just, super hero.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just loved life and he constantly went out of his way to make sure that everyone was having the best possible time and enjoying every adventure for the most it could give you in life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She had everything going for her, everything, perfect student.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was just love there was no other word you could use to describe it. I mean we were talking earlier and when they were together, no matter how many people were in the room, it was like one person was there.
CHRISTINE LEINONEN, SON WAS KILLED IN ORLANDO SHOOTING: He was fun, he was happy, he was Orlando's child.
(END VIDEO CLIP)