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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Las Vegas Shooting Investigation; President Trump in Las Vegas; Senate Dems Back Bill To Ban Bump Fire Stocks on Guns; Feinstein: My Daughter Almost Went to Vegas Concert; Senate Intelligence Chief: We're Still Looking at Possible Collusion. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired October 4, 2017 - 4:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Joining us today are many of the heroes who were here during that horrible moment, that horrible night, including Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers Tyler Peterson (ph) and Tanner Gurlay (ph) and civilian Aaron Stalker (ph).
Officer Peterson was on his second day on the job when the shooting began. I just visited him in the hospital.
Within minutes, he joined a group of officers rushing between flying bullets to clear the fairground and save lives.
Officer Gurlay was off-duty attending the concert. Although she was unarmed, as soon as the shooting began, she threw on a yellow police vest and began evacuating victims.
And Aaron Stalker, a veteran, rushed to the scene to search for his loved ones. But when he couldn't find them, he began helping every person he could.
As he recounts: "We used the plastic barriers as gurneys to carry the injured to transportation. I made splints out of whatever I could find and used anything to stop the horrible bleeding."
Among the wounded was the mother of Aaron's girlfriend. She is still in the hospital, and we are all pulling for her.
To every hero we -- helped, every hero saved so many lives. And, believe me, a grateful nation thanks you.
The example of those whose final act was to sacrifice themselves for those they loved should inspire all of us to show more love every day for the people who grace our lives.
In the months ahead, we will all have to wrestle with the horror of what has unfolded this week. But we will struggle through it together. We will endure the pain together, and we will overcome together as Americans.
May God bless and watch over those who protect us. May God bring healing to the families of the wounded, the injured and the fallen.
And may God bless our great country, America.
Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you, Governor. Thank you very much.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Good afternoon, and welcome THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
You were just watching President Trump wrapping up visit to Las Vegas, Nevada, in front of police and first-responders and public officials from Nevada and Las Vegas, saying that words cannot describe the bravery and the valor that the world witnessed on that horrible night, talking about the first-responders and their heroism.
Earlier today, he was meeting with survivors and others from the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. He called the gunman in the Las Vegas attack, he called him a sick, demented man.
CNN senior national correspondent Alex Marquardt is covering President Trump's visit to Las Vegas for us.
And, Alex, in Puerto Rico yesterday, the president spent a great deal of time praising the Trump administration and its reaction to relief efforts. Kind of taking a different tack today in Las Vegas.
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, less talk about the work of the administration, but still heaping praise on others, this time on the first-responders who came out in the wake of this awful tragedy, heaping praise on the doctors who went immediately to work on the more than 500 wounded, and more than anything what the White House has called the civilian heroes of this incident, those who ran into the gunfire to help their fellow man.
Now, this was the second stop and the last stop in President Trump's visit here to Las Vegas. He started off by going to a hospital where some of those 500 people are being treated. He was surrounded by some of the doctors who have been engaging in those surgeries that have been taking place around the clock.
He said it makes you very proud to be an American when you see the job that they have done. He then moved on to the police headquarters, first meeting with the first-responders from EMS, from the fire department, from the police, even the dispatchers who were involved in that night, before moving on to give those very scripted comments, which he will probably get high praise for.
That was a very presidential moment, in the same way that the comments that he gave after the attack on Sunday night were exactly what you want a president to hear.
This president, for the second time in two days, and really the fourth time in a number of weeks, has had to act as the consoler in chief, in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and then the biggest massacre in American history.
[16:05:15] Now, he has also touched on the investigation itself. He asked the sheriff if there was any update on the motive. That is a big question right now. What drove Stephen Paddock to carry out this horrific massacre?
The sheriff said that they are following a number of leads. The president repeated a description of Paddock, calling him, again, a sick, demented man, but adding that the wires are screwed up.
Now, the president taking a break away from Washington today, but obviously could not escape the politics of Washington. As he was leaving the hospital, he was asked about that report that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson over the course of the summer during a meeting at the Pentagon had called him a moron.
Tillerson, of course, spoke earlier today, denying that today and praising the president's intelligence. The president said that he had total faith, total confidence in Tillerson and said that it was fake news made up by NBC, which had initially reported that Trump had called him a moron.
We should note that when asked directly whether he had made that insult, Tillerson did not directly deny it -- Jake.
TAPPER: Right. Of course, a State Department spokesperson did. But Tillerson did not that.
Alex Marquardt, thanks.
We would also note that CNN's Maeve Reston spoke earlier today with the CEO of the University Medical Center, Matt (sic) VanHouweling, who accompanied President Trump as he visited with survivors of the attack. And Matt (sic) VanHouweling described the president as being something of a statesman, taking a lot of time.
He heard a lot of laughter, the president really cheering up the patients at that hospital.
Another major part of this story, of course, is the investigation. As Alex Marquardt just mentioned, the motive of the shooter remains a mystery, but the gunman's girlfriend spoke to FBI just a short time ago.
I went to go to now to CNN's Martin Savidge. He's in Las Vegas.
Martin, do authorities believe the gunman's girlfriend could have an answer on this mystery of a potential motive?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they certainly believe if anybody could have an answer, it is girlfriend.
The authorities are not just relying on Marilou Danley. They are doing the traditional investigation. They're going through the cell phone of the gunman. They're going through the computer, all the electronics that establishes the electronic footprints of our lives. But it is certainly her that may give us the kind of personal insight. She knew him best. She was with him last. She was in the Philippines and flew back last night. You can bet this is going to be a long, long interview with a lot of questions being asked.
And she does have an attorney at her side, we're being told. Meanwhile, as to what happened on that terrible night, the information still coming up out, this time via body cameras from police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get down! Go that way!
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Police body cam footage now takes us inside the harrowing moment Sunday night when deadly fire rang out in Las Vegas.
Officers seen ducking for cover and directing others in the music festival melee. New images from inside Stephen Paddock's Mandalay Bay suite shows the shooter's body laying among some of the 23 large weapons police say were inside.
CNN has learned that Paddock legally purchased at least 33 weapons in just the last year, shopping at, at least nine locations in five different states. The owner of this shop in Las Vegas says, without modification, the shotgun and rifle he sold to Paddock this spring were not capable of this kind of shooting.
But investigators say more than half the weapons found in the shooter's hotel suite has been outfitted with accessories for rapid fire. All this as FBI investigators start to question the woman who the killer knew best, Paddock's longtime girlfriend, Marilou Danley.
She arrived in Los Angeles late last night from the Philippines. Paddock is seen here in previous from a previous trip to the country. Danley's emotional sisters, who wish to remain unseen, say she knew nothing of Paddock's plans. But her most recent trip was no accident.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He sent her away so that he could plan what he's planning without interruptions. In that sense, I thank him for sparing my sister's life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She wouldn't let that happen. She would definitely stop something, whatever -- what he was planning.
SAVIDGE: In the two weeks prior to Paddock's check-in at the Mandalay Bay, investigators say his girlfriend arrived in the Philippines from Tokyo, then flew back to Hong Kong before returning to the Philippines once more.
This as law enforcement sources confirm that the shooter had once wired $100,000 to the island nation.
HEATHER MELTON, WIFE OF SHOOTING VICTIM: I cannot let a monster like that overshadow the people that he took.
SAVIDGE: For those who survived Paddock's attack, the images are forever seared into memory.
MELTON: I kept feeling the shots all around me.
SAVIDGE: For so many desperate for answer, hope lies with a woman who may have more clues about the motive behind the massacre.
SAVIDGE: It is expected that Marilou Danley is going to issue some kind of statement perhaps later today.
I should point out, Jake, I have talked to a number of law enforcement officials here on background. And one of the things they caution is that while people look for a motive, while they may look for some grand cause that this gunman, twisted as it may be, had, it could be the only cause was actually something in his own mind; in other words, something in his head drove him to this, not some massive grand cause -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Martin Savidge in Las Vegas, thank you so much.
I'm joined by my panel now to discuss it all, former CIA counterintelligence official Phil Mudd and the former assistant director at the U.S. Marshals Office, Art Roderick.
Phil, I will start with you. Today, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe says the bureau still doesn't have any immediate thumbprints -- that's his term -- that would indicate a motive. Are you surprised they still don't seem to have any idea of why this was carried out?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: No.
And I'm not sure that's how I would characterize it. It's not a question of whether they have an idea of what happened here. It's a question of whether they have a level of certainty. You can almost think of this as phases of an investigation.
The first phase is fog, questions about who is the gunman, were there accomplices, how many weapons did he have, how many residences did he have? We are now in phase two where you're getting a volume of information that is hard to fathom, Jake.
That is all the cell phone information, texting, e-mail, every conversation you have with friends and family to try to piece together a picture of his life going back years. Whether you have visa card information, that is, credit card information indicating previous visits to the Strip.
What happened on the cameras inside the hotel. Amassing all that kind of information to put together a timeline is going to take a few days. I'm going to wager, by the way, that the girlfriend has some answers to those questions.
The question I have is whether she's going to speak about them and whether she's truthful when she does speak. She's got to know something.
TAPPER: Art, McCabe also said the FBI has hundreds of people working on this case. What angles would you anticipate investigators are right now pursuing?
ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, right now, we know that a year ago in October of 2016, he started purchasing these 33 rifles that he had.
So obviously they are going back and trying to make a timeline back to at least that time frame as to what he was doing over that period of time. This shows a very high level of planning on his part, not only on the purchase of weapons, but the modifications that he did to those weapons, the training that he had to go through, his selection of this particular location that's right over here to my right, but also the fact that he picked the location.
It's approximately a quarter-of-a-mile from the center of that venue, I think knowing full well that when he first started firing the shots, the shooter's distance to the target, and if the individuals that are being shot at cannot figure out where those rounds are coming from, the initial indication, the natural indication is sheer panic.
So we have over 500 injuries. A lot of those injuries are due to people scattering. And, I mean, we have heard the unreal heroic stories of all these people trying to help each other. But initially there was just sheer panic on the part of these individuals.
TAPPER: Phil, there are probably a lot of Americans out there probably, ones who are not gun owners, who are surprised that the killer bought 33 weapons in roughly the last year, and that that wouldn't raise any sort of red flag anywhere in some sort of system.
MUDD: Well, what red flag is it supposed to raise? I hear these questions myself, the same questions you hear.
Let's raise a couple of facts here. Number one, does this individual have a criminal record? Did he crop up in the records of the police? And they say no.
Number two, is it legal to acquire those weapons over time? The answer is yes. There's 330 million Americans, Jake. Every time I hear the kind of comments that you are making, I see people who are never in the investigative business looking at one specific case saying, why didn't you know?
And my question would be, don't look at the case. Look at 330 million people in this case to find those 330 million by two characteristics. No criminal record and somebody in the United States of America who wants to buy three dozen or more weapons. That's common in this country. And I don't know how you find somebody like that.
TAPPER: Art, the girlfriend, we have discussed her already on the show. We know that she made several flights in and out of the Philippines in the 2.5 weeks before the attack.
We also know about this $100,000 that was wired to the Philippines. This seems somewhat unusual, no?
RODERICK: It seems very unusual.
I mean, apparently, they had been together for six years. I mean, my first question to her would be, what was the nature of your relationship in the past couple of weeks? And it seems like she was flying in and out of the country quite a bit.
[16:15:03] I mean, the $100,000, it was transferred over to her or her family seems to me to be sort of a goodbye, this is it. I'm not coming out of this.
But she's going to hold, I think, a lot of key answers. We've been saying it from day one. She was the one closest to him in the last few weeks. She's going to have some very interesting information about psychological mindset at that particular time.
TAPPER: And, Phil, Danley sisters, they insist she knew nothing about the attack or the planning. What kind of questioning do you think that she's in for? The sheriff yesterday said she was a person of interest, which doesn't mean that she's under any sort of suspicion, just that they need to talk to her.
PHIL MUDD, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: Well, as someone who was in the business once, she's under suspicion to me. She lived with the guy for years. She lived with him during a period of time when he was acquiring those weapons, altering those weapons, presumably practicing, thinking about a target. She knows his financial habits. She knows his travel habits.
I don't care what the sisters said, Jake. I want to look initially for anomalies because I don't trust her. I want to find out all the information we have on things like phone records, when she called and when she emailed and when she texted. What other people who are disinterested, that is people like neighbors say about the nature of her relationship. And when I speak to her, I want to see if she says something different than we know from other sources. For example, if she says she had sporadic communication with him and we know from other sources, phone or email, that she didn't. I don't trust her right now, Jake, and I don't trust her sisters.
TAPPER: Phil Mudd, Art Roderick, thank you both. Appreciate it.
How are Republicans reacting to President Trump appearing to hint that he might be willing to discuss gun laws at some point? That's next.
But first, of course, we do not want to forget any of the 58 innocent people killed in the Las Vegas massacre. They were there to have fun, enjoy music and company, instead, of course, they were gunned down in the worst mass shooting in modern American history.
[16:21:15] TAPPER: Now, we're back with the politics lead.
The Las Vegas massacre is reigniting for many the long dormant debate further restrictions on gun ownership. Instead of saying no, even President Trump gave the issue three seconds of light yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll be talking about gun laws as time goes by.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Today, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democratic California and 26 co-sponsors introduced legislation to outlaw some after-market accessories that may allow gun owners to turn semi automatic weapons into essentially automatic weapons, making them even more rapid fire. For instance, what's called bump-fire stock. The accessory, the shooter outfitter on at least 12 of his guns, according to the ATF.
Let's go to CNN's Phil Mattingly who's live for us on Capitol Hill.
Phil, Republicans many of them saying it's not time for any debate over further restrictions on gun ownership. Are they pushing back on this Feinstein bill to ban certain accessories?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Interestingly enough, if they're not open to the bill, they're at least open to the idea, look, what's been I think the most intriguing element of the last 24 hours is talking to Republican senators and House members, many avid hunters, avid kind of defenders of the Second Amendment, they'd say that themselves who, A, didn't know much about bump-fire stocks. And B are not keenly aware of why they are necessary.
They are keenly aware of the 1986 ban on automatic weapons and essentially the fact that the existing automatic weapons have been cost prohibitive. And so, the idea that there's a modification, that through the use of pressure can essentially replicate one is unnerving to some Republicans. Now, they're not saying they want to pursue Feinstein's legislation or even that they're going to be supportive of it. But they are, including Senator John Cornyn, the second-ranked Republican, saying that a hearing should be in the offing, should be something to consider.
And, Jake, as you know well, based on how Republicans have acted mostly on legislation related to gun issues, the fact that there's a door open at all is interesting and certainly a significant development.
TAPPER: Senator Feinstein also relaying today, this Vegas shooting could have been particularly tragic, specifically for her own family.
MATTINGLY: Yes, that's right. Look, it's not often that tragedies like this touched members personally. But this one did. Just take a listen to what Senator Feinstein had to say earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: She was going to go with neighbors. And they for one reason or another both families decided they wouldn't. They were going to stay at that hotel. That's how close it came to me. And I just thank God. It's just -- it's one of those misses in life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: And it's always interesting up here, you remember, the members are actually people. And while Senator Feinstein didn't need a push or a prod one way or the other to start looking for legislative action related to the shooting, when there are personal elements to it, those resonate with other senators, other colleagues, certainly something that Senator Feinstein will be talking about as she pushes forward on that bill you were talking about, Jake.
TAPPER: Of course, gun violence is too common when it comes to some members of Congress, like Steve Scalise or Gabby Giffords.
Phil Mattingly, thank you so much.
Did the Trump campaign collude with the Russians? That's still an open question, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee chief. The latest on their investigation, next.
[16:28:29] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Sticking with our politics lead today, a rare joint press conference today by Republican chairman and Democratic vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, offering all of us a glimpse into the status of their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The duo today said that the issue of possible collusion by Trump associates and the Kremlin is still an open question.
CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown joins me now.
And, Pamela, Senators Burr and Warner said they have interviewed more than 100 witnesses and thus far, they cannot rule out collusion.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Jake. Nearly ten months into their investigation, both the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee say they are still looking into possible collusion, and an investigation that the senators say has expanded in scope. And while they made clear they still have work to do, they also said Trump campaign officials have been cooperative.
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-NC), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The committee continues to look into all evidence to see if there was any hint of collusion.
REPORTER: But do you have any evidence to suggest, to rule out that the president knew anything about any of these contacts that occurred between associates and the Russians? BURR: I thought I was pretty clear, that the issue of collusion is
still open, that we continue to investigate both intelligence and witnesses. And that we are not in a position where we will come to any type of temporary finding on that until we've completed the process.
BROWN (voice-over): Today, while the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee say they continue to investigate possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, one part of their investigation has hit a snag.