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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Republican Revolt?; Florida Mass Shooting Investigation; Officials: Terrorist Made Premeditated Plans Before Attack. Aired 4- 4:15p ET
Aired June 17, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: He was preparing to die.
THE LEAD starts right now.
Breaking news: brand-new details of how the Orlando killer was preparing to commit a massacre, including updating bank accounts and adding his wife to his life insurance policy that may have signaled an attack was coming.
Plus, a convention plot brewing -- some Republicans hoping for a last- ditch chance to block Donald Trump's nomination. Is a delegate revolt in the works?
And parents showing their children the exact same spot as a 2-year-old was snatched away by an alligator. Now Disney is making changes, so it doesn't happen again.
Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jim Sciutto, in again today for Jake Tapper.
And we begin with breaking news in our national lead. We're getting chilling new information on the terrorist behind the worst mass shooting in modern American history. CNN is learning that the killer had carefully devised plans to launch the massive, making elaborate preparations, suggesting he knew that he wasn't coming home that Sunday morning.
Today, more of the 49 Orlando nightclub shooting victims were buried. Sadly, there are still many more funerals to come. Just a day after President Obama and Vice President Biden met with victims' families, FBI Director James Comey is in Orlando today here offering his condolences.
As the community mourns, we are learning more about the shooter's actions in the days leading up to the attack, including the vast amount of money spent and the preparations he made.
Let's now go to CNN senior investigative Drew Griffin in Fort Pierce, Florida.
Drew, you look at this news here and it looks like he was making preparations to die. DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely,
preparations to attack and then preparations for his family in the life after the attack, which he apparently knew was not going to include him.
We know that he spent a lot of money on weapons. We now know he bought an expensive piece of jewelry for his wife. We also know he was making sure his wife's name was on certain financial documents, including a life insurance policy. And he even transferred a portion of a home that he owned with his sister and brother-in-law, he transferred to them for just $10.
This all seems to indicate, according to law enforcement sources, some kind of preparation for his death. And that has been going on at the same time, Jim, continues to scour his hometown here in Fort Pierce, Florida, for more clues and more possible people.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): 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.
The FBI director was visiting the crime scene in Orlando for the first time today, as his investigators continue to examine what Omar Mateen's wife knew about this attack and when she knew it. 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, 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. During the ordeal, the gunman was also communicating with 911 dispatchers.
CPT. MARK CANTY, ORLANDO SWAT COMMANDER: He was saying what his allegiance were and that he was -- he had made peace and that he had a bomb vest. When he said that, we believed it. So we kind of take him at his word and we prepare for that situation.
GRIFFIN: Sources tell us, in the 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 the gunman's background.
According to school records obtained by CNN, Mateen 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 involved -- 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.
OMAR DELGADO, EATONVILLE POLICE OFFICER: I had my flashlight and 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: I'm one of the ones that helped you get out of harm's way. I need a big hug from you, man.
GRIFFIN: The two reunited on Thursday.
DELGADO: Oh, my God. It was amazing. It was a feeling that you just can't describe, can't put into words, knowing that you helped save someone.
GRIFFIN: Jim, I did reach out to a source close to the shooter's family on the news that he was preparing for death. That source told me: "The news is twisted. We have no comment" -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Drew Griffin, thanks very much.
Well, imagine the man in charge of keeping you safe in your home, your neighborhood, even your local courthouse turning out to be a mass murderer. That is the shocking revelation for some Florida residents who lived and worked alongside the terrorist until the very day of that Orlando massacre.
CNN correspondent Brian Todd has been digging further on the killer's background.
So, Brian, were there signs of violence and disturbing behavior when Mateen worked as a security guard and even before that?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, there don't appear to be any -- have been any signs when he was working here.
But residents here are outraged that this man was just working feet away from their doors and in charge of guarding them. We're right outside PGA Village. We are not allowed to go inside.
That's one of the guardhouses back here where Omar Mateen worked. You can see the gates going up. It's a very secure place, but when Omar Mateen was here, people here had really no clue about his background. Our photojournalist Eddie Gross is going to kind of take in there where he worked there as a security guard.
There are three guard houses here. We're told that he rotated between those three guard houses. There was a contentious community meeting here two nights ago, we're told, when residents here were grilling one of the G4S officials. That's the company that hired Omar Mateen.
Really contentious meeting. They were firing questions at this man and some of them feel apparently like he stonewalled them and wasn't giving them proper answers. Some of them asked him, when is the contract up? We're told that a lot of residents here are very upset. They want G4S out as their security firm.
It's -- what we're told is that Mateen actually came to work on Saturday, that he finished his shift here right at these guard houses in mid-afternoon. That was just hours before he went on that murderous rampage. I spoke to Larry Lee. He's a state representative, but he's also a resident here at the PGA Village. He lives, he says, just a short distance away from a guard house that Mateen guarded.
Take a listen to what Larry Lee said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY LEE, FLORIDA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Many of them are very afraid, and -- but I think not just in our development. I think that this is a wakeup call to anyone in America.
Just because a guy is a security guard, you don't know, if such incidents happened at a prior location, that our homeowners association should know about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: I asked Larry Lee if the homeowners association here had been informed by G4S about Omar Mateen's past issues. Larry Lee said he couldn't say.
We called the security company G4S. No word back from them on whether they informed the homeowners association. When we called the homeowners association here to ask those questions, we were hung up on -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: So, I know you have been also looking back even as far as his childhood. Were there warning signs about violence then as well?
TODD: Jim, there were dozens of warning signs.
We have been digging into documents, going all the way to at least third grade in the school systems of St. Lucie County and in Martin County. Today, we were told -- we actually combed through some records from the Martin County schools -- saying that Omar Mateen had been suspended for a total of 48 days when he was in high school.
And in two of those instances, that -- the suspensions involved fighting and injury. We also combed through his records from elementary school. We found 31 instances of discipline toward him between 1992 and 1999. There were just several incidents of him being disruptive in class. At one point, a classmate told us in fifth grade he threatened to bring a gun to school and kill everyone -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: So many layers to his motivation. Brian Todd, thanks very much.
Joining me now is former Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Mike Rogers, also former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes. Mike has got a past in the FBI as well. You know a thing or two about this.
So, help us digest this new information. In addition to the buying of the guns, the ammunition, all this kind of stuff, now we know he put his wife on a life insurance policy, bought her a big ring, transferred ownership of the house for 10 bucks, all these kinds of things.
From your perspective, are these the kind of signs that people close to him, Mike, should have seen coupled with what they have said about his past sort of jihadist tendencies, anger, et cetera?
MIKE ROGERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, given the information that the FBI went out to his -- to the mosque and interviewed people at the mosque about his associations and this information that as far back as April he began making these financial decisions, that tells me that it is highly likely that someone around him, somebody in his pattern of life knew more than they had told law enforcement and police, at least up to this stage.
SCIUTTO: And we know, at a minimum, they are looking at his wife right now, right now for possible charges.
Tom, in your experience -- and this is a big priority in counterterror efforts now, is trying to get communities, those closest family members to give warnings.
What, in your experience, keeps people back from sharing that kind of information? To be fair, it's not as clear-cut? You may see something, worry about something, and not know for sure, but is it fear? Is it loyalty? What holds them back?
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think part of it is denial, that family members, parents, spouses just don't -- think, it can't be true, he can't be planning this kind of an event.
But in a case like this also, you have a woman that was abused by him. So her fear would be, let's say the night of the attack., there's some indication that he was texting her and vice versa to verify that it was him, that he was doing this attack.
Well, if she didn't know that positively, then she's not going to call the FBI or the police and say, I think my husband is going to go out and do something bad, unless she knew positively he was, because if they go grab him and he's at a friend's house, he's going to come home and beat her.
FUENTES: And so she's going to have that legitimate fear of retaliation from him if she's inaccurate.
SCIUTTO: Or their child, their young boy.
SCIUTTO: Tom and Mike, stay there. We have got a lot more to discuss on this going ahead, why the terrorist's wife has not been charged yet. This is a key question in the investigation, because there's a lot of smoke there. The question is, why didn't someone see there was fire?
Stay with us.
[16:15:20] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Five days after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, there are still so many unanswered questions. What exactly did the terrorist's wife know before the fact? What were the motivations, perhaps multiple motivations, that led a twisted killer to slaughter 49 people at a gay nightclub? And could police and the FBI have done more to prevent the attack?
We're back with my panel of experts, former Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, also, former assistant FBI director, Tom Fuentes.
Let's start first on motivations here because you're getting so much information now, the fact that he visited the gay club before, he had befriended people on gay dating apps, there was even talk that there was porn on his computer, including gay porn. There are these past anger issues our reporters have been learning back, going back to childhood. There is spousal abuse. There is frustration he expressed when he was denied entrance to one of these police academies there. You've got a lot of anger on different levels before he pledges allegiance to ISIS.
In your view, perhaps, Mike, I could start with you, because you've seen a lot of cases like this. Was it too early to call this a jihadi attack from the moment we heard about it?
MIKE ROGERS (R), FORMER HOUSE INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: I don't think so, for this reason. So, when you look at what motivates a recruit to jihad in the first place, they have in a sordid past normally, everything from criminal behavior to noncriminal behavior, you have people who are doctors and education -- college-educated individuals with no criminal past or no behavioral past get recruited.
So, he sought a permission slip for his behavior and he found in Islamic jihadist obviously propaganda that they found on his website, that they found on his personal computer. He had talked about it. He had obviously had conversations at the mosque, the same mosque, by the way, where someone went over to Syria from that mosque and blew themselves up.
So, there is clearly a pattern here and he was attracted to that ideology, and a lot of people are attracted to that ideology because it's empowerment, makes them stronger than their neighbors and stronger around them.
SCIUTTO: Gives them an identity.
ROGERS: Absolutely. So, I wouldn't say it was too quick and I wouldn't let people give a pardon to the fact that this was a jihadi- inspired event.
SCIUTTO: OK. Tom, if I can ask you, there's been a lot of questions about the FBI here, warning signs, et cetera. One of the most recent was a gun store owner saying that he had come weeks before, tried to buy body armor, tried to buy a lot of ammunition. They said they had called the FBI. Now we are learning that they didn't call but the FBI did go to visit the store. What do you think is important about that?
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Right. I talked to senior executives at the Department of Justice earlier today and what I was told happened in this case is that he didn't call. What happened is, other gun shop owners in the area called and said there are four men in here, very suspicious, Middle Easterners, they're looking at guns and police equipment.
And so, the FBI immediately responded, went to numerous gun shops in the area, tracked down those four individuals and turned out they were police officers from the Middle East. So that turned out to be false. But in the process of making the rounds for the gun shops, they went to this gun shop and then they were told, oh, yes, this guy was in here a couple of weeks ago, he tried to buy body armor, he tried to buy ammunition and he didn't and he got away.
They didn't call. And not only didn't they not call, they didn't record his license plate number, they didn't record a description of him and the video surveillance camera that they had in that gun shop, they overwrote it. They didn't even save that video.
SCIUTTO: So, that wasn't exactly one of the most valuable tips you can give law enforcement.
FUENTES: On top of that, the gun store owner is saying I didn't sell him body armor. It turns out he didn't sell it anyway. He doesn't have it. So --
SCIUTTO: Well, let me ask you about this. Of course, we're getting into the gun control debate and I want to step away from the politics for a moment. But General Stanley McChrystal, former commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, he wrote an op-ed today talking about this issue and here's what he said in that op-ed.
He said, "In my life as a soldier and citizen, I have seen time and again that inactions have dire consequences and in this case, one consequence of our leaders' inaction is that felons, domestic abusers and suspected terrorists have easy access to firearms."
Let me just ask you, I don't -- you're not -- you were a politician, but let's step away from the politics for a moment, as to what works. In your view, are there incremental legal fixes that don't keep guns out of the hands of all bad guys but can help keep them out of the hands of some bad guys? Mike, you first.
ROGERS: Yes, first of all, I think we're going to have to have a national debate from policy makers. What gets you on the list? Is it consistent?
[16:20:01] And then, once you're on the list, what things can you not do? And then, is there a due process for that individual at a certain point of being on that list?
SCIUTTO: You're talking in addition to the no fly list, a no buy list that people talk about it?
ROGERS: Yes. You know, there's a TIDE list and all of these other lists. A, we've got to better integrate them. I know that 2004 asked for better integration but that integration and technology and getting it in the hands of agents in real time is a very different story. We haven't quite perfected that yet.
Those are the kinds of things without this big -- you're going to have a lot of chest thumping debates on the Senate and the House floor that are not going to do -- candidly, they're not going to fix the problem. If we can get a screwdriver and get in there and fix this thing, I think you can make and leverage up law enforcement's ability to be -- to intercede in these events much earlier.
SCIUTTO: Tom, is there a fix? General McChrystal's point is that he's a soldier. No point for assault weapons.
FUENTES: He's absolutely right. You know, if I could go back to a bigger point that's come up many times in the last couple of years, the militarization of the police, we talked about that. I became a sworn officer, as a police officer in 1973 and later an FBI agent for 30 years. John Dillinger and the others have Thompson, the FBI had revolvers.
Every stage, police had been playing catch up to the armament of the public. We talk about the militarization of the police. We don't want to talk about the militarization of our public. And that's what they're up against.
You saw the police officer in Orlando with a bullet. He was wearing an army helmet that saved his life, the Kevlar helmet that we issue our troops. They used the bear cat to break through the wall. They used explosives. That all was provided by the military to do a breach on that.
So, that was all military equipment and their full SWAT gear is military equipment. And people argue that the police shouldn't have it. Well, here's a case where, would you argue that now in Orlando?
SCIUTTO: Mike, I've got to ask you, because you've got a special project which is particularly timely in light of this attack, "DECLASSIFIED" coming up, starting this Sunday. Tell us about it.
ROGERS: Well, I think it's starting. If you like spy versus spy, if you want to know the personal side of espionage and covert action and operations around the world, including the hunt for Saddam, the hunt for Zarqawi, the first woman who goes to Moscow to be a spy and has the KGB chasing her trying to solicit information from Russian nationals, all of that intrigue is in these eight episodes.
And what we'll do is give you that personal side of espionage. The toll -- the individual toll on the lives of people who through duty and honor and their service to their country are living the intrigue you get to see in the James Bond movies. Only, they're not driving Aston-Martins, and Martinis, maybe Volgas and Carlsberg beer.
SCIUTTO: And it's real life. It is not Hollywood.
SCIUTTO: Thanks very much, Mike, Tom Fuentes, former House Homeland Security Chairman Mike Rogers and former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes.
Be sure to tune in to Sunday night's premier of Rogers' original new series, "DESCLASSIFIED: UNTOLD STORIES OF AMERICAN SPIES". That is Sunday night at 10:00, right here on CNN.
So, how much money does it take to stop terrorists like Omar Mateen? Senators this week agree the answer is more. The question is just how much more? That is today's segment, "American Debt and the Economy".
The FBI investigated Omar Mateen in 2013 and closed the case. Following Sunday's rampage, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has now proposed a broad $2.8 billion increase to the FBI's budget.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: FBI agents visited the mosque today where the Orlando terrorist prayed. Mosque officials telling CNN the agents are looking for anyone who knew him or know anyone he associated with.
The FBI director was visiting the crime scene in Orlando for the first time today. As investigators continue to examine what Omar Mateen's wife knew about this attack and when she knew it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Apologies. That was the wrong tape. But on this topic, Senate Democrats are hoping to boost the FBI's counterterrorism budget as well by slightly smaller scale, $175 million for personnel and equipment, with an additional $15 million for active shooter training.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), MARYLAND: Our tight allocation means we can't afford the resources to respond to the threats of America and stay within the budget caps.
(END VIDOE CLIP)
SCIUTTO: That was the right tape there.
Congress would designate the proposed money as emergency funding, conveniently since budget caps don't limit that kind of spending. But aside from budget concerns, the question is, is more money alone really the answer?
Disney now making big changes at all of their resorts after a gator drowns a toddler. What they are doing to prevent future attacks. That's right after this.
[16:29:26] SCIUTTO: Welcome back.
Our national lead now, Disney making changes adding just now these new signs around the lagoon where a 2-year-old was killed earlier this week by an alligator. We're also learning that the body of Lane Graves seen right here was released to the family. Arrangements now under way to bring him home to Nebraska.
Let's get right to CNN's Martin Savidge.
Martin, there were no swimming signs at the beach before. What are the signs going to say now?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRRESPONDENT: Hello, Jim.
Yes, let me read exactly what is on these new signs that are going up not just at the Grand Floridian, but all of the other properties that are on that lake front there. They read "Danger, alligators and snakes in the area. Stay away from the water."