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Las Vegas Massacre Investigation; Trump Visits Vegas; Congress Victims on Gun Violence; Tillerson Dismisses Leaving; Senate Intelligence Committee Briefing. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired October 4, 2017 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:00:12] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. To our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you for sharing your day with us.
A very busy hour ahead.
President Trump about to land in Las Vegas, where the death toll stands at 58, and investigators now beginning to learn more about how the shooter compiled an arsenal of firearms and how he planned the massacre.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And, yes, they're learning a lot more. And that will be announced at the appropriate time. It's a very, very sad day for me, personally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Plus, no Rexit (ph). The secretary of state disputes the latest report about his deep frustration with the president and with the White House. The secretary of state insisting he isn't going anywhere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHRIS STEWART (R), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: You know, it doesn't take a very sophisticated KGB officer to realize that Michigan and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, some of these key states, would be places that they would likely target. The foundational thing that they were trying to achieve was breaking down the faith in the institutions, breaking down faith in our democratic process and in the electoral process and, oh, my heavens, they've certainly done that, haven't they?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The congressman there talking about another big event coming up this hour. Just moments from now, an important progress report from one of the congressional committees investigating Russian election meddling, including a sophisticated FaceBook ad campaign targeting states critical to President Trump's victory. We'll take you there live to Capitol Hill when that happens. Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Again, that's an update on the Russian election meddling investigation -- months' long investigation. The Republican chairman, Richard Burr, Ranking Democrat Mark Warner, promise to detail some of the conclusions. We'll take you to Capitol Hill when that happens.
First, though, let's get the latest on the investigation into Sunday's mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip. Authorities still don't have a motive for why the gunman, Stephen Paddock, opened fire on 22,000 concert goers. That might take a while according to the FBI's deputy director.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW MCCABE, FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: This individual in this attack didn't leave the sort of immediately accessible thumb prints that you find on some mass casualty attacks. Putting aside the somewhat dubious claims of responsibility that we see in each one of these instances, we look for actual indicators of affiliation, of motive, of intent, and so far we are -- we're not there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: President Trump arrives any moment in Las Vegas, which is grieving, of course, still dealing with the murders of 58 people, more than 500 others wounded. Investigators hoping to find clues or insight when they speak to the gunman's girlfriend, who returned from a trip to the Philippines late last night. Her sisters say she believes she was, quote, sent away by the gunman so she wouldn't interfere.
CNN's Sara Sidner is following the investigation closely. She joins us live now from Las Vegas.
Sara, what is the latest?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are getting more information and some pictures from inside his hotel room where Stephen Paddock had an arsenal of weapons. We are learning that among the 23 weapons that were inside of that room, there were also stages set up and what are known as bump fire stocks. Those allow you to turn a conventional weapon into an automatic weapon essentially allowing you to fire much, much faster and so much shorter of a time.
We do not know, though, from investigators as to whether or not those bump fire stocks were actually used, but there were 12 that were found inside that room.
We're also learning about some of the equipment he had set up to try and see outside of his room. There were cameras set up outside of his room, in his peephole. That was sort of jerry-rigged to try and be able to see who was coming and going towards that room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay.
Obviously this room looking like a sniper's den when you look at the photos that are coming out of the room where Stephen Paddock over days took in bags. Clearly those bags had firearms in them and equipment to allow him to build those platforms. We're also learning that some of those guns coming from three
different places. There were a total, according to authorities, of 47 guns that he owned. Some of those were found in two different residents' of his and 23 of them, almost half of those guns, found inside the room. We do not yet know how many of those guns were used in this massacre, but this killer clearly intended to declare war on innocents at that concert.
We also are learning a little bit about some of his funds and money. We understand from investigators that $100,000 was wired at some point to the Philippines. We don't know who it was wired to. Authors are still looking into that. But certainly that is a lot of money. And we know that his girlfriend was, at the time -- is from the Philippines and has made her way back over to the United States in Los Angeles with the federal authorities alongside her. She is expected to be questioned by local authorities here in Las Vegas or by Las Vegas Police.
But we have heard from her family members who have talked about whether or not she knew anything about his plan to massacre so many people.
[12:05:08] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I know that she doesn't know anything, as well, like us. She was sent away. She was sent away so that she will be not there to interfere of what he's planning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She didn't even know that she's going to the Philippines until Steve said, oh, Marilou, I found you a cheap ticket to the Philippines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: So, again, she will be questioned by authorities. And at this point we should also talk about the many people struggling, the families of 58 people trying to deal with the loss right now and hundreds of families dealing with those who have been hit by bullets or trampled during this terrible, terrible time in Vegas.
KING: Sara Sidner on the ground for us in Vegas. Sara, appreciate that reporting.
And let's echo the point, we should remember those still recovering and the families dealing with the pain of those lost.
And as we mentioned, President Trump will confront that. He's about to land in Vegas any moment from now. He'll meet with survivors and victims of the attack. The president, before leaving the White House this morning, praising the first responders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a very sad thing. We're going to pay our respects and to see the police who have done really a fantastic job in a very short time. And, yes, they're learning a lot more. And that will be announced at the appropriate time. It's a very, very sad day for me, personally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You see the president and the first lady there. As the president made his way to Vegas, talking points distributed to White House allies made clear Mr. Trump does not agree with Democrats who staged a morning event at the Capitol to make the case that this Vegas massacre and the weapons used proved the need for more gun controls. Among those on the Capitol steps, the former congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, who was shot back home in her Arizona district back in 2011.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GABBY GIFFORDS, FORMER DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSWOMAN: Stopping gun violence takes courage. Now is the time to come together, be responsible, Democrats, Republicans, everyone. We must never stop fighting. Fight, fight, fight!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Agree or disagree, the courage of Congresswoman Giffords there is quite remarkable.
With us now to share their reporting and their insights, Mary Katharine Ham of "The Federalist," CNN's Phil Mattingly, Kimberly Atkins of "The Boston Herald," and CNN's Dana Bash.
Let's get to gun control in a second. Let's talk first and foremost about -- the president was in Puerto Rico yesterday. There he was there to confront his critics in addition to trying to console people. This is very different in Vegas for the president. You have the largest mass shooting in modern American history. The president on the ground, he seemed to suggest this morning that he knows a little bit more about the investigation than we do publically yet. What is priority one, challenge number one for the president on the ground?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, "THE FEDERALIST": I mean this is such an incredibly gravely serious issue and you want the president to embody that grave seriousness and not be distracted and not perhaps go some of the directions that the president is won't (ph) to go on Twitter or where have you. It does sound like the tone that he was taking early on in this was exactly where you should be, thank you to the first responders and this is an incredibly sad day. And if he can stick to that, that's good.
But this is -- I don't think those kind of personal interactions are -- personal interactions are often where he's good. This particular kind, we'll see where that heads. But I do think that's the main thing, is just to stay in that place.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And this is probably pretty obvious, but I think we should, you know, take a step back and look at yesterday as a place and an area that desperately still needs and will need for a very long time federal help. Federal help when it comes to money, when it comes to personnel. This is a much more traditional visit of consoler in chief, or at
least the role that we have seen presidents take on, you know, since Bill Clinton in Oklahoma City and so on. You know, it is something that he did relatively well when he gave his speech at the White House after -- on Monday. And it's something that he's clearly trying to continue to do.
He talked about -- in those brief remarks about how this is tough for him personally. That, of course, that's going to be true. But this is the time when the country looks at him to reflect the somber mood of the country. And to be that consoler in chief. And that is -- certainly there are going to be a lot of political debates about, you know, gun control and so forth. But in this particular trip, that's what it's about.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's about being there. It's not that complicated in the sense of, be there, show your empathy, meet one-on-one with people. It doesn't have to be a camera related event. It's taking people into back rooms. President after president after president has done it after tragedies. And those have been some of the most important moments.
The people that are on the ground aren't looking for you to solve their problems. They're not looking for you to assuage their concerns or their fears or even their sorrow. They're looking for someone to be there with them.
[12:10:04] And, again --
KIMBERLY AKINS, "BOSTON HERALD": And that's -- that's the toughest thing for him, because we know that this is a president who likes wins, who likes to brag, who likes to show what a great job is being done by him, by his federal response. And he's going to have to really resist that urge.
I mean even -- he even drew some criticism by talking about the miraculous response of police, which kept more people from being killed. And people were like, yes, we appreciate our police, but if 59 people are dead, I don't know how that miraculous that is. He's going to have to really watch his words and his tendency to want to use superlatives, to want to praise people. Yes, it's good to praise the heroes that we saw in Las Vegas, but he really has to keep this somber.
KING: All right, back here in Washington, one of the interesting subplots is predictably -- and I don't mean that in a negative way -- the gun control debate comes back up after -- as it does after every mass shooting. The political math has not changed and there's no indication that this president, the Republican House or the Republican Senate are prepared to do it.
But what you saw at the top of the show, you saw Gabby Giffords. Again, whatever your views on gun control, it is remarkable, her recovery and her activism to get out in the debate and to be out in public about it. A shooting victim saying we need more controls. Well, Congressman Steve Scalise, the House Republican whip, just back
on the job after he almost died in that baseball shooting here in Washington, a very different view of the Second Amendment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Inevitably questions about the Second Amendment are raised by what happened in Las Vegas. Has it changed how you feel about any of that?
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R), MAJORITY WHIP: I think it's fortified it. The gunmen actually cleared background checks. So to promote some kind of gun control I think is the wrong way to approach this. And, frankly, what I experienced was, when there was a shooter, we had -- luckily we had Capitol Police there with their own guns.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Two very compelling people with very compelling stories. Again, whatever your opinion on the gun control debate, it adds a personal element to a debate in Washington that often just goes off into the partisan corners.
MATTINGLY: I think the value of that is it's very easy to turn this debate into the NRA says this and therefore lawmakers say x or y, right? That is a personal -- that is an individual who has had a very personal experience, who gives credence to the rationale for his beliefs. You can disagree with him.
MATTINGLY: Many people do. Many people are completely flummoxed. You can hear it from family members or people from any parts of the country who have no idea why lawmakers refuse to act on something. It's generally ambiguous what the something x really is.
HAM: One of the reasons (ph).
MATTINGLY: No question about it. But that this isn't just something that they believe because an interest group cares about it. This is an ideological stance that members grew up with this, they were raised with this. This is what they believe. And that's why it's not just a matter of, well, if the NRA would say this or if interest group x would say this --
MATTINGLY: They would change their minds. This is something that these individuals firmly believe and that's why the debate has been, a, so muddled, and, b, doesn't really have a clear pathway forward.
BASH: Yes. I mean, I think, look, if you have a school or classroom plus of first graders mowed down and massacred, and that's not going to change even people who are staunchly protective of the Second Amendment, change their view on that Second Amendment, it's hard to imagine even something as horrific as this. One thing that we are starting to learn, though, is the way that this
killer seemed to have manipulated the gun laws and tried to figure out ways to get around the current gun laws by sort of, you know, MacGyver-ing some parts and making guns that aren't allowed. Now, that might be something that even the NRA and staunch supporters of gun rights might be able to figure out how to close that loophole. Might.
BASH: Emphasize might.
KING: And I think that one depends on the president (ph).
Let's turn it again -- we want to remind you, we're waiting -- we're just moments away from a very big announcement on Capitol Hill. The chairman and the co-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee saying where they are so far in their months long investigation into Russian election meddling. That's going to take place in just a moment.
Also, a dramatic announcement here in Washington this morning. NBC News the latest to report -- we reported this back in July -- that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, so frustrated with his many disagreements with the president, so frustrated with his other disagreements with others on team Trump in the White House, was considering resigning again. And NBC saying he had considered resigning in the summertime, late July. The vice president had to intervene, NBC said, as part of an effort to get him to stay. Secretary Tillerson adding an event this morning at the State Department to say, never happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The vice president has never had to persuade me to remain as secretary of state because I have never considered leaving this post. I value the friendship and the counsel of the vice president and I admire his leadership within President Trump's administration to address the many important agendas of President Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What is the significance here? We may get -- be getting into a bit of a semantical battle with the secretary of state here in the sense that either several of his closest friends in Texas are lying or the secretary of state told them, as I reported in late July, that he was really frustrated, that he was fed up, that this is not what he signed up for and that instead of staying a year or so, he was thinking of packing it in sooner.
[12:15:13] Now, that has changed by all accounts. And by these friends and others in Washington, the secretary plans on staying at least through the end of the year, maybe into early next year, so he can say I stayed a year. Why did he have to come out today after this report? Why was it so important for that statement?
BASH: Because he knows who his boss is. If there's a report out there that says that he, Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state --
KING: It says he called the president a moron.
BASH: Called him a moron, true or not, if he wants to keep his job, he's got to get out there and say what he said. And it is remarkable for any top official like the secretary of state to come out and have a press conference just about a singular report. But especially this guy, because he is not one of those press friendly secretaries of state at all.
KING: He did not say, I never used that word.
BASH: He didn't.
KING: He said, I'm not going to talk about that petty stuff.
BASH: Yes. Right. Never denied.
HAM: Well, you can sort of get past the semantics and see that this is part of a pattern from the beginning of the presidency, which is that this is a problematic and very tough work environment, particularly for somebody like a Tillerson who is another alpha executive type. Donald Trump isn't always comfortable with that guy. And I think he tried to do his best to stay in a role that would make Donald Trump comfortable.
But, look, Donald Trump is going to -- the president is going to undercut you at times and that's going to be very frustrating for a Tillerson, who's attempting to do this job.
HAM: The report itself is not surprising and I think it shows like how upheaval will be the rule of this --
ATKINS: And it's not just -- it's not just the reporting that we've all heard about, how difficult it is to be in that position. It's the public undercutting.
ATKINS: It' the meeting. You know, sorry, Rex, you know, Kim Jong-un isn't going to listen to diplomacy type of outward tweeting. I mean all of that --
KING: Well, let's bring -- let's bring that in, because you make an important point. Yes, the president undercuts his people. He also does it at very sensitive times. Red Tillerson was in China meeting with Chinese officials who are critical -- take the behind-the-scenes role in China, force Pyongyang, whether it's the negotiating table, whether it's to stop the missile tests, whether it's to dial back the nuclear program, China is absolutely critical.
Rex Tillerson is at the table with them, acknowledges a big announcement, that the United States is in direct contact with the North Koreans trying to find some way to dial it back, saying how critical it is to turn down the volume, if they would stop testing missiles, that would be a first step. And the president of the United States tweets, I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful secretary of state, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with little rocket man. Save your energy, Rex, we'll do what has to be done. Being nice to rocket man hasn't worked in 25 years. Why would it work now? Clinton failed, Bush failed and Obama failed. I won't fail.
That's not just undermining your guy, that's ripping the rug out from under your guy.
MATTINGLY: It's interesting to hear, when you talk to people close to the administration who want to explain what he's trying to do. When you get the good cop/bad cop theory, you get the crazy person theory, Nixon-esque (ph) crazy person theory, all that type of stuff, and then you get the -- we're just not totally sure exactly what's actually going on here.
Look, it's difficult, as (INAUDIBLE) points out, it's difficult to be a cabinet secretary when you have a president that's not a traditional president, that doesn't operate traditionally.
And I will also note, what he may or may not have said, based on the NBC reporting, is something you hear from a lot of people that are involved in the administration. Not necessarily attacking his intellect or anything like that, but very frustrating with certain things that are happening. That's not a rarity right now and I think that's more of a reflection of, this is just a very different way of doing things. Obviously Red Tillerson isn't in this camp, but a lot of individuals who have served in past administrations or are used to Washington, used to how things work, are very confused at times by what is a very complicated environment. And so It's not a rarity that comments like that have been made by people inside the administration. It is a rarity perhaps when, a, the cabinet secretary, and, b, then has to hold a press conference afterwards and address it.
KING: And he says he's here to stay. The president tweeting out that NBC News owes the country an apology. NBC News saying we stand by our reporting. They're reporting solid reporting. But we'll see how this drama plays out.
We're going to take a quick break. We want to remind you, we're waiting, the chairman -- Republican chairman, and the Democratic ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, moments away from what they promised to be a big update on their investigation into Russia election meddling.
[12:23:06] KING: Welcome back.
Any moment now, an announcement in that room. The Republican chairman, the Democratic ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee coming before reporters to offer an update on their months long investigation into Russian election meddling. They say they have some key details they want to disclose. They are not done. But Chairman Burr, Ranking Member Mark Warner stepping into the room. Let's listen. [12:23:29] SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:
Thank you for being here. It's a busy day around the country. Mark and I recognize the tragedy of Nevada this week and am at this point am glad to say that it doesn't seem to have a terrorism nexus.
That's not always the outcome, but our hearts and our prayers go out to all the individuals who were affected, both directly and indirectly.
And I (ph) can assure you that, from an Intelligence Committee standpoint and in (ph) the agencies, they're providing as many assets to local law enforcement and to those people that are tasked with the investigation of this unbelievable act.
So we're here to update you about -- you and the American people, about the investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. When we started this investigation on 23 January of this year, we had a very clear focus. We were focused on an evaluation of the ICA, the intelligence community assessment, of Russia's involvment in our 2016 election.
Additionally, the investigation was to look into any collusion by either campaign during the 2016 elections. The third piece was an assessment of the ongoing Russian active measures, including information and influence campaigns that may still exist and may be ongoing. It -- the investigation started with those three buckets of interest.
Now we're over 100 interviews later, which translates to 250-plus hours of interviews, almost 4,000 pages of transcripts. Almost 100,000 pages of documents reviewed by our staff and some by members. It includes highly-classified intelligence reporting; it includes emails, campaign documents, and technical cyber analysis products. The committee has held 11 open hearings this calendar year, that have
touched on Russia's interference in U.S. elections. I can say that our dedicated Russia investigative staff have literally worked six to seven hours a day, since 23 January, to get us to the point we are today.
WARNER: Six to seven days a week.
BURR: Six to seven days a week, excuse me. So far, in the interview process, we have interviewed everybody who had a hand or a voice into the creation of the intelligence community assessment. We have spent nine times the amount of time that the community spent putting the ICA together, reviewing the ICA and reviewing all the supporting documents that went in it. But in addition to that, the things that were thrown on the cutting room floor that hey might not have found appropriate for the ICA itself, but we may have found of relevance to our investigation. We have interviewed every official of the Obama administration to fully understand what they saw, what clarity and transparency they had in the Russian involvement and, more importantly, what they did or did not do and what drove those actions.
Again, reminded (ph) that we will come out with a finding at some point and part of that, hopefully, will be recommendations as to changes we need to make. So we've tried to think as thoroughly through this as we can. We have interviewed, literally, individuals from around the world. So, for those of you that choose to stake out when the next witness is coming, there are some that have snuck through because you don't know who they are.
Now, it's safe to say that the inquiry has expanded slightly. Initial interviews and document review generated hundred (ph) of additional requests, on our part, for information. It identified many leads that expanded our initial inquiry.
The volume of work done by the staff has prepared the committee to look at some areas of our investigation that we hope will, very soon, reach some definite conclusion. But we're not there yet, we're not ready to close them.
One of those areas is the ICA itself. Given that we have interviewed everybody who had a hand in the ICA, I think there is general consensus, among members and staff, that we trust the conclusions of the ICA. But we don't close our consideration of it, in the unlikelihood that we find additional information through the completion of our investigation.
The Obama administration's response to Russian interference. As I said, we have interviewed every person within the administration. They have volunteered and they have been unbelievably cooperative, to come in and share everything they knew and, in most cases, were interviewed for over two hours. The meeting at the Mayflower. Let me be specific. These are not issues that are closed, we have not come to any final conclusions. We have interviewed seven individuals that attended the Mayflower event. The testimony from all seven were consistent with each other but we understand that, with the current investigation open, there may be additional information we find, that puling that thread may give us some additional insight that we don't see today.
Changes to the Platform Committee. And, again I'm addressing some things that have been written by you in this room and they may not have been on our chart but we -- we felt that we had to dig deeply into them. We have, the committee staff, has interviewed every person involved in the drafting of the campaign platform. Campaign staff was attempting to implement what they believed to be guidance, to be strong -- to be a strong ally on (ph) Ukraine but also leave the door open for better relations with Russia. I'm giving you the feedback we got from the individuals who were in the room making the decisions.
[12:30:59] BURR: Again, not closed. Open for the continuation.
The last one I want to cover is the Comey memos.