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EARLY START

New Clues in Vegas Mass Shooting; NRA Says It Favors Regulating Bump Stocks; President Trump: "Calm Before the Storm"; Deadly Tropical Storm Threatens Gulf Coast. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired October 6, 2017 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:13] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, chilling new clues in a Las Vegas investigation, as authorities are still trying to determine a motive behind the massacre.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump's ominous warning as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Maybe it's the calm before the storm.

REPORTER: What's the storm?

TRUMP: Could be the calm before the storm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Cryptic message comes as the Trump administration prepares to decertify the Iran nuclear deal. The reality show continues.

Good morning, everyone. And welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Teasing to the next episode.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday, October 6th. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East, and 1:00 in Las Vegas.

He left no manifesto, no evidence of his motive, but investigators are now discovering disturbing clues behind Stephen Paddock's mass shooting in Las Vegas. One law enforcement official telling CNN this chilling detail: the shooter tried to buy tracer ammunition at an Arizona gun show in recent weeks.

BRIGGS: The tracer rounds like those you see here are completely legal. They have a coating or charge that burns brightly when they're fired, and could have allowed fun man to target his deadly fire much more accurately. Officials say the shooter bought other ammo at the gun show but could not obtain these tracer rounds, and there are new details about the note left in the gunman's room at the Mandalay Bay.

Clark County Sheriff Lombardo telling "The New York Times" the note contained numbers analyzed for their relevance, and it was not a manifesto or a suicide note.

ROMANS: It now appears that gunman was not just targeting people, as he fired from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay. A large fuel tank in nearby McCarran International Airport was hit by two bullets. One round penetrated the tank but officials say there's, quote, almost zero likelihood a bullet could trigger a fire of explosion in jet fuel, which is not highly flammable.

There's new information that may shed light on how the shooter was casing his targets. In August, someone named Stephen Paddock reserved a room at Chicago's Blackstone Hotel. That hotel right there was a view of the city's Lollapalooza Music Festival, right there at Grant Park. That person never checked in and it was not immediately clear whether it was the same man who killed 58 and injured hundreds in Las Vegas.

BRIGGS: Also new evidence of the moments following the attack, as Good Samaritans jumped into action to help transport several victims to the hospital. I do want to warn you, this video may be disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where's the guy with the double shots?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is, he is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) to the hospital now. It went through in his arm and he has a shot --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody else?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get in the truck. Get in the truck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get behind the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) pole.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get in the truck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not right this second. Hang on a second. What's that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is important. OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got a driver for this thing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: An unexpected twist in the battle over gun violence. The National Rifle Association announcing it's in favor of tighter regulation of bump stocks and other devices that allow semiautomatic weapons to simulate fully automatic weapons. The NRA statement comes amid calls for an outright ban on these devices. The gun rights group says in a statement, quote, the NRA believes that devices designed to allow semiautomatic rifles to function like fully automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.

ROMANS: The NRA statement calls for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives, the ATF, to review rapid fire devices. It doesn't mention Congress. President Trump is also signaling he is willing to look into the matter.

And listen to House Speaker Paul Ryan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: So, the point is we all have to get more educated as to what these are. How they became available in the first place? Was it a regulatory misstep by ATF some number of years ago? And we all know and believe that fully auto weapons are illegal. And so, is this a big gap that needs to be close, and if so, how to close it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo is planning to introduce legislation next Thursday to ban the sale of bump stocks. I can tell you, there has been a run on bump stocks. CNN reporting that most of these dealers can't keep them in stock. You know, there's a run on them because the assumption is that they will be restricted or banned in some way.

[04:05:04] And so, as we often see after a mass shooting, there is a mass rush to buy stuff.

BRIGGS: Even though you talk to most gun shop owners, gun enthusiasts, sportsmen, they say it's some gimmicky, silly, weird device we have no interest in.

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: More of a YouTube device.

ROMANS: Let's bring in former ATF executive Matthew Horace via Skype.

Good morning. So nice to see you this morning.

Walk us through here who has the responsibility for regulating these so-called gun stocks. Is it the ATF? Is it Congress? Who has the responsibility here?

MATTHEW HORACE, FORMER ATF EXECUTIVE: It's a complex web of technical nuances (ph) and we always took the position that we enforce the laws that Congress enacts. So, I disagree with Speaker Ryan's assertion that machine guns are illegal. They're not illegal. They're illegal if you are not authorized to own in. And in this case, this individual is not authorized to have a fully automatic firearm of any kind as I understand it.

BRIGGS: And those machine guns would have to be made prior to 1986 as well, in addition to being allowed to own them.

Here's what Kellyanne Conway told Chris Cuomo yesterday on "NEW DAY" about who is to blame here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: We are hearing from so many legislators and so many individuals in this country, and you read it publicly, too, Chris, they never even heard of a bump stock before. And so, I did know, I did know, and it's in the "New York Times" today as well that it was President Obama's ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, in 2010 that decided not to regulate this device.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: They decided not to regulate the device. You are former ATF agent. Your response?

HORACE: Yes, I'm not aware that did or did not happen. What I can tell you is that there are any number of devices like this that are on the market that some people who are gun enthusiasts know about.

As they said, this was not something that was widely known. But now, all of a sudden, after this tragedy, people are running out to buy them because there's a fear there may be some increased regulations, either by the ATF or by Congress through legislation.

ROMANS: You know, as former ATF, I mean, to me, you know, Dave was talking to a bunch of gun shop owners who said it's kind of a gimmick, you know, just kind of like go out and, you know, make YouTube videos with. But essentially, this device allowed this man in the 32nd floor to outgun hundreds of law enforcement people. I mean, he was -- he had more firepower than they did, didn't he?

HORACE: Well, yes, very true. But keep in mind, what the suspect had was methods, motive, means and intent. Whether he did it with this device or four semi-auto rifles or combination of rifles and pistols, that doesn't change the fact that he had the intent to inflict carnage.

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: Yes, those certainly would have saved lives had the bump stock not been available to this man, but there are many other devices that can automate a semiautomatic weapon. That's why the Dianne Feinstein legislation may be more important. It's more widespread, and it includes other devices. Whereas the Carlos Curbelo Republican legislation I believe just covers the bump fire stock.

But what about the other reporting that this Stephen Paddock may have targeted Lollapalooza, may have targeted Life is Beautiful Festival? What does that tell you?

HORACE: Well, it tells me that his intent was more broad-reaching than we may have initially thought. Now, investigators are going to go back and they're going to determine where he's been, where he's staying, where he purchased guns, what gun shows he might have went to. We might find, in fact, that he had been targeting any number of locations over the course of the past year or maybe even two years. But that's going to take some time to ascertain.

ROMANS: Yes, we don't have a manifesto. There's some interesting strange note covered with numbers that they found in his hotel suite. We don't know what that means. But they're trying to decode that.

I mean, it is almost as if this guy had a second life, you know, secret life and we don't have a motive here yet. He was clearly, you know, gunned up. He was armed to the teeth.

As a former ATF, I mean, how concerned are you that one individual can cause so much damage?

HORACE: Listen, when I go back to my experience in 27 years in law enforcement, I've been in people's homes who have hundreds of guns. And we keep talking about this idea of an ammunition -- 1,600 rounds of ammunition is not a lot of ammo for a gun that fires fully automatic, that fire -- OK, yes, it's just one of those things people have a lot of guns.

BRIGGS: All right. Well, yes, and that's not going to change any time soon.

ROMANS: No.

BRIGGS: All right. Thank you, Matthew. Talk to you in about 30 minutes.

All 58 victims who died in h the massacre have now been identified. While much of the focus has been on the gunman and his motive, it is important to remember and to honor the innocent lives lost.

Forty-year-old Rocio Guillen Rocha was a restaurant assistant manager, a long time Disney employee and a super mom.

[04:10:02] The Eastvale, California woman just gave birth to her fourth child last month. Her fiance Chris by her side when she died. Terrible.

ROMANS: Patricia Mestas was looking forward to spending her time with her grandchildren. The 67-year-old Menifee, California native was a retired store manager who loved travelling. She loved her family. She loved country music.

Thirty-one-year-old mother of three Keri Lynn Galvan works full time as a server in a local restaurant, somehow managed to always get her kids to their appointments and practices. The Thousand Oaks, California native took her children to Disneyland every month just like her own father did for her.

BRIGGS: Teresa Nicol Kimura had a heart bigger than most, according to her friends. The 38-year-old California woman was with six of her friends when the bullets rained down. They all survived. She did not.

Brett Schwanbeck, a retired 61-year-old truck driver from Bullhead City, Arizona, loved taking his two sons camping, hunting and dirt biking. He was at the concert with his fiancee. The kids say there was no one more fun to be around.

ROMANS: Twenty-four-year-old Austin Meyer of Marina, California, celebrating a birthday with his girlfriend. He recently moved to Reno to study. His sister says he was ambitious, smart and a joy to be around.

BRIGGS: Thirty-one-year-old Carrie Parsons, staffing manager from Seattle, in Las Vegas on a girl's trip. Friends say she just got engaged during a recent trip to Hawaii.

And Andrea Castilla's boyfriend was planning to propose to her right after the Route 91 Music Festival. The Huntington Beach, California woman celebrating her 28th birthday. She was killed while trying to protect her younger sister.

All right. Ahead, President Trump planning to decertify the Iran nuclear deal. He says Iran has not lived up to the spirit of the deal. This as the president warns of a calm before the storm.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: What storm, Mr. President?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You'll find out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:16:11] ROMANS: Welcome back.

President Trump plans to decertify the Iran nuclear deal next week. That's according to two senior U.S. officials. Once the president announces the move, Congress will have 60 days to figure out a way forward. According to one official, under the new strategy, the current deal would remain in place with efforts being made to strengthen nuclear inspections.

BRIGGS: Sources also tell CNN, national security adviser, H.R. McMaster invited a group of Democratic senators to the White House on Wednesday to discuss the president's plans. He hinted he's not so sold on this decertification is the right way to proceed. CNN has also learned Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is working behind the scenes with Congress to head off a possible international crisis as the October 15 certification deadline for the Iran nuclear deal looms.

ROMANS: Yes, America didn't sign this alone. There are partners who signed this with them.

BRIGGS: And James Mattis who also said it's not in the United States best interest to decertify.

ROMANS: All right. An ominous comment from President Trump during a photo-op with military leaders and their spouses at the White House.

Listen to what the president told reporters right before leaving the room for dinner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You guys know what this represents?

REPORTER: Tell us, sir.

TRUMP: I don't know, maybe it's the calm before the storm.

REPORTER: What's the storm?

TRUMP: Could be the calm before the storm.

REPORTER: What storm, Mr. President?

TRUMP: You'll find out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Trying to look at the faces of the military folks to see if they thought that was a joke.

You know, we asked the White House to respond for comment or clarification. They have not responded to our request.

Earlier, the president raised eyebrows, telling his top military officials he expected them to provide, quote, a broad range of military options at a much faster pace.

The question is, the calm before the storm you're about to find out. You know, the president, when he's in entertainer mode often says things like this. It might just be the president teasing to the next episode, trying to keep people's interest. But there are a lot of folks said it's just not presidential.

We have a world with so many -- North Korea, Iran, so many conflicts that are brewing, to be hinting about something big coming is not presidential.

BRIGGS: So, you're saying words should matter.

ROMANS: Words should matter.

BRIGGS: They don't right now.

ROMANS: But the president uses them no curious entertaining ways.

BRIGGS: It should matter.

CNN has learned also exclusively that investigators for special counsel Robert Mueller met with the former British spy behind the notorious dossier on alleged Russian efforts to aid the Trump campaign in the 2016 election.

We get more now from CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, David and Christine.

Investigators working with special counsel Robert Mueller met this past summer with Christopher Steele. Steele, as you remember, is a former MI6 officer who put together a series of memos detailing alleged Russian efforts to help Donald Trump's presidential campaign. The special counsel is now working to determine whether any of the series of contacts between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives broke U.S. law.

Now, we don't know what information Steele may have provided to Mueller's team, but we do know that Steele has previously provided the FBI with information to try to verify some of the sources he used to put together the dossier. Now, we're also learning that late last year, top officials at the FBI, the CIA, and te director of national intelligence, discussed including parts of this Steele dossier in the official intelligence document on Russian meddling. Sources tell us that the intelligence community didn't want to include it because they didn't want to explain what parts of the dossier they had been able to corroborate and they were also concerned about revealing sources and methods that they had used to do so.

So, while President Trump has called the dossier a hoax, his intelligence agencies have a different view -- Dave and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Interesting.

BRIGGS: Yes, the dossier --

[04:20:00] ROMANS: All of it.

BRIGGS: The fact that it's still in discussion, very interesting.

ROMANS: Tropical Storm Nate has killed 20 people in Central America. It's expected to intensify and heading toward the Gulf Coast. We have the latest track, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back.

All eyes on the Caribbean this morning tracking Tropical Storm Nate. It's already killed 20 people in Central America and prompted states of emergency along the Gulf Coast.

ROMANS: For the latest, let's bring in meteorologist Derek Van Dam.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Dave and Christine.

Unfortunately, I wish I had better news to report. Tropical Storm Nate has shown signs of organization and strengthening overnight.

[04:25:00] Current sustained winds, 45 miles per hour. Its center of circulation has just now moved off the shore of Honduras, into the warm ocean waters of the Caribbean Sea. It's got its eyes set on Yucatan Peninsula, tropical storm force winds, heavy rain, potential for flooding, Cozumel into Cancun. But after that, it's got its eyes set on the Gulf Coast states for late Saturday night and into the day on Sunday.

That is why the National Hurricane Center has hoisted hurricane watches from Central Louisiana eastward, towards the border of Mississippi and Alabama with tropical storm watches for much of the Florida panhandle. We also have storm surge watches across much of Louisiana and into the Biloxi region. This includes Lake Pontchartrain and New Orleans and the additional rainfall that is expected across this region could bring localized flooding as well.

Timeline again for the Yucatan Peninsula overnight on Friday. But as we look towards the Gulf Coast states, with the potential category one making landfall, that looks to be best chances late Saturday and into the day on Sunday.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Derek, thank you for that.

Investigators in Las Vegas looking into disturbing new details behind Sunday's mass shooting. He wanted tracer bullets. Can you imagine? We got more details next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)