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CNN NEWSROOM

New Orleans Braces for Hurricane; September Jobs Numbers; Vegas Shooter Tried to by Tracer Rounds; Las Vegas Gunman's Barber on Girlfriend's Trip; Trump: Military Dinner May Be "Calm Before The Storm"; Trump Asks For Military Options At A "Faster Pace"; Officials: Trump Plans To "Decertify" Iran Nuke Deal. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired October 6, 2017 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Be any confusion, this is not Harvey, or Irma, or Maria, all of which caused so much damage already. No, this is yet another one. This is Nate, with New Orleans right in its path. Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, all under hurricane watches this morning. Nate already has claimed the lives of at least 20 people in Central America, bringing torrential rain, flash floods, mudslides and it could strengthen as it moves over The Gulf.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers tracking this storm in the CNN Weather Center.

Chad, here we go again.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I know. And, you know, landfall from the National Hurricane Center, tomorrow night, John, somewhere around 80 miles per hour. But that's still plus or minus 20 percent. Can't take your eye off the ball here. This could still be a category two hurricane. We don't know the intensity when it gets over this warm water.

Now, when the wind keeps blowing it, because it's moving so quickly, that's considered shear. That should tear the storm apart, or at least not allow it to get too much stronger than a category one. But we'll still see.

So this is 36 hours from landfall right now. You don't have a lot of time to put things up. Biloxi, Bay St. Louis, all the way over to, as you said, New Orleans, that's right in the cone. All of this is right in the cone right now.

Hurricane hunters are in the storm right now flying around. Those are those two airplanes right there. Finding 997 and 994 for millibars. Not that important, but right now this is not Harvey, this is not Irma, this is not Maria. But as it gets over the Gulf of Mexico, it could certainly strengthen, and that is the forecast.

The two models we look at, in very close agreement. That's the U.S. and the European model right over the same place.

Now, it's important to know that the storm turns to the right very quickly after -- or at least very close to landfall. So that means Plaquemines Parish, that means Biloxi, all the way over maybe over toward Dolphin Island, you could see some storm surge from this. There could be three to five feet of surge. Now, that's not the surge we saw from Katrina, which was somewhere in the ballpark of 22 feet in Bay St. Louis, but certainly enough surge to get into the land areas where people actually live. So don't just look at this as a category one hurricane. This is a land falling storm that will have surge, that will have wind damage.

And then the wind gets all the way into Mississippi, Alabama, maybe even bringing down power lines in Georgia with this wind because we're still at about 40 or 50 miles per hour right over Atlanta. That's never a good thing in a big city with a lot of old trees, power lines come down, John, and the surge here all the way from about Morgan City, all the way almost over to Mobile and the like, toward Fairhope. That could be three to five feet, maybe higher if this storm gets stronger. Right now, three to five is the number.

BERMAN: All right, Chad Myers for us in the Weather Center. The key is here, this thing will make a direct hit and it's coming very fast, so not much time to prepare. Appreciate it, Chad.

MYERS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: We have more breaking news this morning. A headline on the U.S. economy that really sticks out like a sore thumb. The U.S. economy lost 33,000 jobs in the month of September -- 33,000 jobs. Much worse than predicted. And the first decline in seven years. But there is a reason.

CNN's chief business correspondent, star of "EARLY START," Christine Romans here with that.

This is fascinating.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

BERMAN: There's a lot of conflicting numbers here.

ROMANS: Two reasons, Harvey and Irma. This is a hurricane report. No question. We knew that these hurricanes would just cause a lot of problems in these numbers, and it is true. I mean 11 million people with jobs lived in counties that were declared a disaster. So all of those really a big impact.

And 33,000 net new job loss -- net jobs lost. It's the first time we've seen job loss in private sector job loss overall in years, breaking an impressive, impressive winning streak. It took mother nature to do that.

When you look at where the jobs were lose, you can see the pain for paycheck to paycheck workers in Florida and in Texas. And 105,000 bar and restaurant jobs lost. Manufacturing jobs lost, 1,000 there. So some sectors were slowed, but bars and restaurants really took the brunt of it here. Health care, though, continuing to be that bright spot of job creation, 23,000.

But, john, let's look at the unemployment rate. This is important, 4.2 percent. Again, the lowest since early 2001. This is a really remarkable number. So we looked into this. What happened here? Well, 575,000 people entered the labor market.

BERMAN: That's good.

ROMANS: Most of them got jobs.

BERMAN: That's great.

ROMANS: So that pushed down the unemployment rate. So this is a tale of two labor markets. One that was hurt by hurricanes. The other that is still doing well here.

I will take a look at the overall job creation this year. It's slightly slower than it was last year. But, still, moving along in the right direction.

BERMAN: Got to wait and see what happens next month. You know --

ROMANS: Wages, 2.9 percent.

BERMAN: And that's good too.

ROMANS: Don't let me forget. That's very, very good, 2.9 percent wage growth.

And I think in the coming months you will see job creation pick up in Florida and Texas, especially high-skilled construction jobs. They're going to need those. And those jobs pay better.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, thanks very much. Great to have you here with us.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: New this morning, we're learning that the man who murdered 58 people in Las Vegas wanted to see what he was shooting at. This is a new piece of information about his movements and actions in his weeks before the massacre. A law enforcement source tells CNN, the gunman tried but failed to buy tracer ammunition at a gun show near Phoenix. Now tracers let you see where your bullets are going.

[09:05:15] As to a possible motive, new information that falls somewhere between odd and mystifying. "The New York Times" says there was a note left behind. This is not a suicide note or a manifesto, but a list of numbers. Needless to say, those numbers are now being analyzed.

All 58 murder victims have now been identified and are remembered by these new markers on the Las Vegas Strip, hand made by a man in Illinois and delivered yesterday.

CNN's Jean Casarez has the very latest for us on the investigation.

Jean. JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, law enforcement sources are

telling us that in recent weeks Stephen Paddock did go to Phoenix, Arizona, where there was a gun show and he wanted to buy these tracer bullets that allow you to race the bullet so you can identify your target. He wasn't able to purchase them. He did purchase a lot of other ammunition, however.

Now, our law enforcement analyst also explains to us that the tracer bullet, especially under the cover of darkness, would really provide that accuracy. And since he didn't have it, he would just be spraying into the darkness, not knowing exactly where he was going at all. And the accuracy just wouldn't be there.

But we do know that two rounds hit a 43,000 gallon jet fuel tank that was 1,100 feet from where the concert venue was. Now, it did damage the fuel tank. There was no public emergency at all. But we obviously don't know if he was aiming toward that or if it just happened to spray with all of the other bullets.

Now, law enforcement is not at all publicly saying what they believe the motive of all this was, why he did what he did. At a recent press conference, though, there was a question about a note, a piece of paper that was found in the room. And Chief Lombardo said, you know, there really -- it wasn't a suicide note and it really wasn't much to do with it. Well, we found out "The New York Times" is reporting that there were numbers on the piece of paper. And law enforcement analyst are trying to discern what those numbers may mean, at all, if anything.

John.

BERMAN: All right, Jean Casarez for us on The Strip.

Jean, thanks so much for your reporting.

We have one other interesting piece of information. CNN's Kyung Lah spoke with the gunman's barber in the southern Nevada town where he and his girlfriend lived. The barber says she learned two months before the attack -- or she was told two months before the attack that the shooter's girlfriend was going to the Philippines. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KALLIE BEIG, HAIR STYLIST: The last time I saw him was probably only two months ago. It was just about two months ago. He came in and he got his hair cut and, again, smelled of alcohol. And his girlfriend was with him. And, again, just kind of doing her thing. And he sat down and was telling me about her leaving to go to the Philippines. And he was going to be home alone hanging out for a while by himself. You know, it wasn't -- it wasn't anything weird or it wasn't anything that seemed off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right, joining us now is Tom Vemi, a law enforcement consultant, former New York City police detective. Tom, thanks so much for joining us.

We have this barber suggesting that the girlfriend knew she was heading to the Philippines two months before the attack, yet we'd been told that she was only sent there two weeks before. That timeline doesn't quite match, does it?

TOM VEMI, LAW ENFORCEMENT CONSULTANT: Right. There's a lot of inconsistencies that we're starting to hear and it's a little troubling because, first of all, this guy is a bit of an outlier to begin with. He doesn't fit the general profile of what we've seen in regards to these mass shootings that we've had in the past, right? So he hasn't been a law enforcement problem. He has no record, no criminal record. There was no -- he was a bit of a social recluse. He wasn't really friends with a lot of people, didn't talk to a lot of people. So there weren't many people aware, or really anyone at this point, aware of any issues that he had or something that made him snap. But clearly something did, right? And also something to make him send his girlfriend to the Philippines to get her out of the way while he was going to plan this horrific attack.

BERMAN: And, again, but one of the things we talk about inconsistencies. Again, we've been told that she was sent there in the weeks before. It turns out, she had an idea she was going there two months before. It's those inconsistencies that law enforcement will take a very close eye at. It's very important if they're not finding out accurate information.

VEMI: Right.

BERMAN: And it will perhaps lead them to other and different avenues to investigate.

VEMI: You know, well, there's been speculation as to whether or not she knew anything about this, right? So there -- look, anything's possible. Is it possible that she didn't know anything about this or some sort of a clue that something was going off the rails with him in the last year or so that he amassed over 30 weapons in, I believe, under 11 months? There's something. There's got to be a little pieces of the puzzle that she's going to be able to fill in.

[09:10:04] Now, her being able to be -- come -- forthcoming with that information, that's her choice. It would certainly help with investigators trying to piece this together.

BERMAN: We're also joined by Art Roderick, former assistant director of the U.S. Marshal Service.

Art, great to have you with us.

ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Thank you.

BERMAN: The other bit of information that CNN reporting overnight, that the killer tried to buy tracer bullets at a gun show. Two pieces here that are important. Number one, it was in the weeks before the shooting. RODERICK: Right.

BERMAN: So you know that he had been planning this for weeks. That, at this point, seems obvious. The second part of it is, you know, why do you buy tracers? You buy tracers so you can see if you're hitting what you're shooting at right now, which does tell you something about his mind-set?

RODERICK: Yes. I mean, as we know, when you look at the weapons that he bought, I'm not surprised. In fact, we kind of talked about it when we were out in Vegas about, geez, well how come he didn't have tracer rounds. Tracer rounds, I believe, are legal in Nevada. Arizona, they're very -- they're restricted. You have to register. You have to pay a lot of money because they're classified as sort of a dangerous munitions. They're for military use. I familiarize myself with them in law enforcement. Law enforcement doesn't use them here. They're usually every fifth round in a machine gun. Sometimes you put them in the bottom of a magazine so that you know when you're running out of ammo.

But, I mean, the casualty rate would have been a lot higher if he had those tracer rounds when he was firing into that crowd.

BERMAN: You don't need them necessarily if you're just firing into a mob and you want to kill as many people as possible. One idea would be you do want them or need them if you want to see -- if you want to target something specific. Now, we don't know if that's the case.

RODERICK: Right. Yes, I mean, I think that's exactly why he was buying them. I mean it allows you to keep your weapon on a -- not necessarily a specific target, but a specific area. That would have definitely helped him out in this particular case. There would have been a lot higher casualty rate if he had tracer rounds.

BERMAN: Art, what do you make of the numbers. This guy didn't leave behind a suicide note, didn't leave behind a manifesto, but "The New York Times" is reporting he left behind --

RODERICK: Right.

BERMAN: Some list of numbers. Obviously those are being analyzed right now. But the public, all of us, you know, keep on wondering, is there a motive? How much more do you think authorities know right now that they're not telling us?

RODERICK: I think they know a lot. I think they probably know or have an idea of what the motive is here. That's interesting, these numbers. Are they a code? I mean we know this guy's background. He's an accountant. He's an auditor. He's very organized. A very smart individual. Are those numbers reference to a code or is this just something he left behind to have law enforcement go down a rabbit hole instead of looking at the real -- the real investigation.

BERMAN: You know, Tom, one of the questions that people often ask is, why is this important? Is there some morbid curiosity to finding out, you know, why this guy did it? The important thing is, 58 people are dead.

VEMI: Yes.

BERMAN: You know, is the answer that you want to find out what was behind this to make sure, a, there's no one else connected to it.

VEMI: Right.

BERMAN: There's not an imminent danger to this. And also to learn what to look out for going forward?

VEMI: Yes. Well, I mean, for -- and not only that, but also you'd like some closure for the families and the victims of this horrific incident.

BERMAN: Right.

VEMI: But most importantly I think, as for a law enforcement perspective, we want to make sure that this guy was kind of a -- I hate to use the term lone wolf, but that he did this on his own with no connection to either domestic or international terrorism of any kind and that this -- the buck is going to pretty much stops here. And then maybe some of the information he leaves might be able to help us in expanding a profile of what sort of a maniac like this may do next time.

BERMAN: Yes, you always want to be looking for the future.

All right, Tom Vemi, Art Roderick, great to have you with us. Thanks so much, guys. I really appreciate it.

RODERICK: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: All right, an interesting, maybe ominous message from the president. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You guys know what this represents? (INAUDIBLE). Maybe it's the calm before the storm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: What storm you might ask? And why did he say it surrounded by the country's top military leaders?

And the special counsel, Robert Mueller's team, meets with an ex-spy behind that infamous dossier, the one that alleges Russian efforts to help Donald Trump win the election. Does the president still believe the dossier is totally made up.

And then this week (ph), rank (ph) hypocrisy. A pro-life congressman resigns after reports that he asked the women with whom he had an affair to get an abortion. And a Hollywood executive, a big donor to women's rights causes, apologies after reports alleging decades of sexual harassment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:18:32]

BERMAN: All right. New this morning, even the president of the United States just foreshadowed a great global conflict or he grouped a bunch of sounds and syllables together that mean absolutely nothing. You choose which is better for America.

Listen to what the president said while surrounded by nation's military leaders, women and men, whose job it is to keep America safe and put U.S. troop in harm's way all over the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Do you know what this represents? (Inaudible) maybe it's the calm before the storm. Could be the calm before the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What storm, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: You'll find out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So, is the United States about to face some serious military conflict? Did the president just essentially say that's in our next episode?

CNN's Joe Johns at the White House this morning. Joe, it's 9:19 a.m. Any sign of a storm yet?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: At least not so far, John. Look, what the president meant by that is anybody's guess. It's clear he was meeting with his military leaders. The White House just a little while ago put a readout of the president's meeting with the military leaders.

It doesn't shed that much light on what we already knew. We know the president talked about North Korea and the threat there. We know the president talked with him about Niger where three U.S. Green Berets were killed this week.

We know the president talked with him about ISIS and Iran. The president has been talking about decertifying Iran's nuclear agreement.

[09:20:07] And CNN has actually told he plans to do perhaps as early as next week because he doesn't think the plan goes far enough. It was signed during the Obama administration.

The president also issued a bit of a rebuke for his military leaders indicating that in his view they need to get him military options quicker when he asks for them. Let's listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRESIDENT TRUMP: Moving forward I also expect you to provide me with a broad range of military options when needed at a much faster pace. I know that government bureaucracy is slow, but I am depending on you to overcome the obstacles of bureaucracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: So, what storm was the president talking about? We also know from the read out this morning they did talk about actual storms. The military response to the hurricanes that have occurred here in the United States over the past few weeks. Maybe that's the storm they were talking about -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Joe Johns, thank you very much at the White House. Joining me now, Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon correspondent, Retired Major General James "Spider" Marks, a CNN military analyst, and Molly Ball is a CNN political analyst.

Barbara Starr, you know, you are better sourced at the Pentagon than anyone I know. Are your sources aware of any specific imminent storm that might be facing those military leaders gathered around the president last night?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, the answer to that would be yes, there are a number of things that the U.S. could face at any minute. Just think about North Korea, right? That could blow up, hopefully, not literally.

I am speaking figuratively. You have the situation in West Africa where Green Berets have just been killed. You have thousands of U.S. troops in harm's way around the world, in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

But that is the business that these commanders around the table you are showing are very calm about and capable of dealing with. These are commanders, men and women who are not particularly inclined to drama, to high-drama statements like the one the president made in front of tv cameras.

They are very calm and methodical. Many of them have been in combat before and under fire and commanded troops in combat, and work on military options around the clock every day.

Let me just mention two guys around that table, General Joe Votel, head of U.S. Central Command. This is someone -- who has made two parachute jumps in combat under fire, not a lot of guys can say that. You will never get him to talk about it.

General Tony Thomas, head of Special Operations, overseeing operations by Delta Force and SEAL Team 6. You will never get him to talk about it. My point being these are very calm, methodical commanders, not very inclined to drama.

BERMAN: Yes, probably, who do not look at this all as a big reality show. Molly Ball, one interpretation of this, and we have seen it beginning in the campaign, all the way now through the presidency, is that President Trump is a guy who says stuff, period, full stop. What do you make of it?

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, that has always been my analysis based on covering him is that we know that this is a president who doesn't have much of a filter, just says whatever comes into his mind.

It's so interesting hearing Barbara described that military temperament of cool under fire, calm, no drama. That's basically the opposite of the president's personality. He loves to create drama. He is always thinking of new ways to put people off balance and get under peoples' skin.

So, it's very that possible, you know, he is just thinking about the effect of a statement like this and how it will get people all spun up and tuned in for the next episode.

It's also possible he has something on his mind that he has not told the military about. We have seen him spring things on the Pentagon like the transgender troop ban that sort of occurred to him on Twitter one morning and the Pentagon had no idea it was coming.

So, it's also very possible that there's something on the president's mind that nobody else knows about and we will find out when we find out.

BERMAN: Yes, in the next episode as we suggest. I don't mean to make light of it when we are dealing with thousands of lives all around the world. General, something else the president said. This did seem deliberate and planned and not at all off the cuff.

When he suggested that he wanted advice from his military leaders more quickly and not filtered through the bureaucracy, which seemed or could it be interpreted as anything other than a bit of rebuke against the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, you know, Dunford, and maybe his own defense secretary, James Mattis?

MAJOR GENERAL JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RETIRED), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: You know, John, the one thing the military does exceptionally well. I mean, among the many tasks it has been asked to perform and it performs routinely, is the military plans very, very well.

[09:25:04] On the shelf today, there are multiple operations plans for different regions of the world and multiple scenarios and contingencies against which the military has to be prepared. That includes all elements of powers.

It's just not the military. It includes diplomatic efforts as well. So, to go to the military and say, look, I need plans more quickly, essentially what he's saying is take what's (inaudible). I want you to polish it and bring it to me, that's what the military does.

So, I am not certain I fully understand what is underneath the president's skin in terms of not having a DoD that's responsive to his requirements or is trying to anticipate what those needs are.

Again, that's what the military does. They reach out over the horizon in anticipation of what is coming up. They allocate and a portion forces and they come forward with an array of options. That's what the military does and is prepared to do. So, I'm kind of baffled by his criticism of the DoD at this point.

BERMAN: Well, maybe he's talking about Iran, which is a way of making a segue way into another topic here because we are learning the president intends to decertify the Iran agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, which doesn't mean throwing it out completely.

It just means he is going to say that he doesn't believe Iran is not carrying out its end of the bargain anymore. General, first to you on this, the international observers, most other countries, U.S. officials say that technically speaking the nuclear part of the deal, which is the deal Iran is complying.

MARKS: Correct. And I think decertification at this point would be a bad idea. My point being is, look, our relationship with Iran exceeds exclusively the JCPOA, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuke deal.

We have international signatories to that deal. That allows us to engage with Iran. Look what happened when we isolated Iran over the course of four decades. Four decades, we've really been distant from Iran and now we are work into Iran.

That's a good thing. That allows us to normalize our relationship, and then to build to see if we can build trust. This gives us an opportunity to do that so we can keep the military options alive, but what we want to do is have a diplomatic solution so we don't break more things around the globe.

The United States knows how to do that very well. When we break it, we own it. We have to police it up.

BERMAN: Barbara, you know, it seems over the last few days and weeks that among the people who would like the United States to stay in the nuclear deal include the defense secretary, James Mattis, National Security Adviser Henry McMasters, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. There's pressure from within on the president not shaking things up too much.

STARR: Well, I think there is. Secretary Mattis has been making the point if the deal is obeyed, if you will, if everybody obeys the rules of the road he believes it's good for national security.

I think it goes back to the point that Spider was just making, you will find around the world it's the U.S. military that is the biggest advocate of diplomatic solutions. They do not look for more military conflict. They want to see diplomatic solutions in Iran.

They want to see diplomatic solutions in North Korea. Before anybody starts talking about military options in a serious fashion, just contemplate this. You, right now, have so many military assets tied up, and it's a key point in hurricane relief in Puerto Rico.

The Pentagon yesterday said some deployments to Afghanistan could get delayed and some deployments to the Pacific could get delayed and the delays may go into next year because you have resources tied up in Puerto Rico, very responsibly tied up, but how much more are you really going to take on if you can't even do that?

BERMAN: You know, Molly Ball, one interesting aspect of what the president's plans seem to be, he will decertify the Iran nuclear deal, but it would be up to Congress to reimpose the sanctions on Iran, which would really tear the deal up completely.

How do you think Congress feels about this? Because we are getting these blind quotes and all the articles being written today where you have leaders saying thanks but no thanks, we don't want to be the ones to really tear this all apart.

BALL: Yes. And we've heard that on multiple scores from the Congress. The relationship with the White House is quite frosty at this point. They don't feel obligated to carry the president's water because they don't necessarily feel that he's been very supportive particularly of congressional leadership.

So, you have a situation where what seems most likely is that the status quo remains, but the president has a sort of a symbolic case to make that he has done what he promised to do, which was get rid of this deal that he was so critical of and said was the worst ever.

And so, you know, we have seen actually in multiple ways this administration trying to have it both ways, and try to keep the status quo and not disrupt things, but on the other hand fulfill the promise that was made to upend the status quo.

I think of DACA, for example, there's an issue where the administration really didn't want to take all the heat for actually cancelling it and so they have sort of left it in place or tried to keep in place.