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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
California Fires; Interview With Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy; 4 U.S. Soldiers Killed, Two Others Wounded; Officials: 50+ ISIS Fighters Attacked Green Beret Led Team; Fourth Soldier Found Dead Nearly 48 Hours After Attack; Hotel Room Contained Tracer Ammo, Incendiary Rounds; Police: Killer Shot Guard 6 Minutes Before Firing On Crowd. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired October 10, 2017 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. SEAN DUFFY (R), WISCONSIN: And Mitch McConnell's trying to accomplish it. And to throw Mitch under the bus, I think Mr. Bannon is misguided.
There's a few senators that, yes, he should focus on, but to throw all of those into that mix, when they have been trying to get a deal together to accomplish this agenda, I think, is shortsighted by Bannon.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: So, is it shortsighted by President Trump to be going after John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, Jeff Flake? I mean, I could go on and on, but -- I mean, Bob Corker.
I mean, he's going to need these votes for tax reform or for other things.
TAPPER: He's certainly not winning friends and influencing people that way when it comes to senators whose votes he needs.
DUFFY: So, Jake, you know I'm a House member. And I'm over here in the Senate. And the Senate this week is not in session.
And there no difference when the Senate is in session or out of session. Nothing happens over here. We have 300 bills that we have stacked up on the -- at the Senate chamber that they can't get done. I look at this and see a president who is frustrated with the inaction of the Senate. He's starting to push on them.
He's starting to publicly call them out. And I think that's a good thing if you want to get some action. And the president when he does this on Twitter, I think he riles up the Republican base and gets them on his side to start pushing these guys when they go home to their home states, whether they're doing parades or they're doing fund- raisers.
They hear from the people who gave them 25 bucks to run the first time for election. And these constituents are saying, get your act together. This is a chance in a lifetime to actually accomplish this agenda, to move our country forward, to reduce regulation, grow our economy, and put people back to work, and give us health care that actually works for the American people.
And when they don't do that, the president is leading the charge against this dysfunctional Senate, which I think is a good thing.
TAPPER: Except he's leading the charge against Congress. He's just leading the charge against Congress. He's throwing you House guys in under the bus as well.
DUFFY: It's both. It's been more of the Senate. He's not coming after individual House guys. He's going after individual senators that can't get the job done.
If you look at the House, we have actually passed health care and a lot of other bills, to boot. We're going to get tax reform done as well. The question about what passes doesn't come to the House. You know it actually goes to the Senate and can they actually accomplish these big agendas?
TAPPER: Congressman Sean Duffy, always good to see you. Thank you.
DUFFY: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: Entire neighborhoods wiped out. Thousands of people forced from their homes. At least 15 people have been killed as multiple fires have been raging through the state of California.
Will firefighters catch any break from the weather? Stay with us for that story.
TAPPER: We're back with breaking news in the national lead.
The deadly infernos tearing through California. The death toll this afternoon rose to 15 people. Two of the victims, an elderly married couple in Napa Valley.
Charles Rippey was 100 years old. His wife, Sara, was 98. Officials say a fire engulfed their home and they could not escape. Authorities expect to learn of more fatalities, with 150 reports of people missing.
There are at least 20 fires burning, mostly in Northern California. A bright orange, ominous glow fills the sky near Disney and Anaheim, the smoke and flames sparing nothing.
On right left, a Santa Rosa fire station before the wildfires. On the right, the building's shell barely standing after flames got to it yesterday.
This is just one of 1, 500 structures destroyed by these wildfires. I want to go to CNN's Dan Simon. He's in Santa Rosa, California.
Dan, the forecast called for winds to die down this afternoon. Has that happened yet?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The winds have died down, Jake.
So, hopefully, firefighters will begin to start making some progress with this. But it's unbelievable. We're in the Coffey Park neighborhood. Literally, Jake, not a single home is standing.
It is ash as far as the eye can see. Thousands have been evacuated. We were at a couple of shelters. They're absolutely packed. They need assistance, Jake. They need clothes. They need toys for kids. So many have been impacted.
SIMON (voice-over): From Northern to Southern California, more than a dozen wildfires still burning out of control.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trying to get out of here. We saw it. Now it's getting across the road. It's all bad.
SIMON: Fifty miles northwest of San Francisco in wine country, flames tore through parts of Santa Rosa, California, turning cars and subdivisions into ash.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were screaming, fire, fire, fire, get out, get out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just happened to fast. We just had time to just run away with nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have cars and Harleys and boats, and all kinds of stuff, all gone.
SIMON: Fast food restaurant restaurants, hotels and homes all destroyed.
Hospitals in the area evacuated. More than 15,000 acres have burned, much of in California's wine country, Napa and Sonoma Counties. These flames destroyed wine storage buildings at one historic vineyard.
Farther south near Los Angeles, fires in Anaheim have lit up skies over Walt Disneyland. Hurricane-force winds pushed the flames so fast, firefighters couldn't keep up.
BARRY BIERMANN, NAPA COUNTY FIRE CHIEF: On the eastern flank last night, we tried to go direct in a couple of different places, and we got outrun by the fires.
SIMON: Mill Valley, California, Fire Chief Tom Welch's own home near Santa Rosa burned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fires are still out there. They are still actively growing.
SIMON: And the firefighters are exhausted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Resources still continue to be limited. We have folks on the fire lines starting their third shifts right now that have not been relieved because there's folks not available to come in with so many fires in the area.
SIMON: The fierce winds, which have been spreading uncontrollably, died down Tuesday, the flames with it, but a forecast of dry weather and no rainfall for the week still a concern.
SIMON: And you can see the utter devastation here. Hundreds of homes in this one subdivision. You can see the burned-out vehicles and the chimneys.
And, Jake, the forecast does call for more wind tonight and tomorrow, but, hopefully, as I said, firefighters will begin making some progress. You talked about that elderly couple that died, Jake. Just the details are so horrific. They tried getting out in the middle of the night and the flames just overtook them -- Jake.
TAPPER: It's so horrible.
Dan Simon, thanks so much.
Joining me now is the sheriff of Sonoma County, Robert Giordano.
Sheriff, thanks so much for joining us.
Big picture, are you and the firefighters making any headway yet in fighting these fires?
ROBERT GIORDANO, SHERIFF, SONOMA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: My understanding is fire is working hard and they are making headway at it.
I think the important message out there for the community is that they are not contained and we are still working on protecting people's lives and keeping people safe from the damage. It's not over for us yet.
TAPPER: And you have warned residents in Sonoma County not to return home until the evacuation orders have been lifted.
Do you have any idea how long that might be?
GIORDANO: I don't at this point.
But what I will say is, we really want people back in their homes. It is a priority for us, too. The issue is downed power lines, hot spots. Safety is the number one concern. So, we're trying to get teams out there to check those areas. I was at a Cal Fire briefing this morning.
They want people back in their homes as soon as possible too. We're all working diligently to get them back.
TAPPER: Your county alone reported nine of the 15 fire-related deaths that are known in California as of right now, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office. You have 200 reports of people missing.
This time, many of the wildfires are tearing through major populated cities such as Santa Rosa. Do you fear that many people felt they would not be victims?
GIORDANO: You know, I think that's one of the things we have to realize about fires is, is, they choose to go where they want to go, and, unfortunately, the damage they leave behind is dramatic. And where we choose to build a house doesn't protect us sometimes.
TAPPER: Winds died down a bit today. It's also cooler. How much does that really help the situation?
GIORDANO: Yes, the weather, I understand, has been a big help. It's definitely cooler up here.
I'm really hoping it gives fire the edge they need to at least contain the fires.
TAPPER: And many deputies and employees of the sheriff's office and the county lost their own homes. It's really affecting everyone.
GIORDANO: No, it's actually -- I came in the night when the fire broke out, and I had many deputies out working coming in. And we were checking with all of them and many of them lost their homes.
TAPPER: It's just horrific. What is the biggest concern right now, Sheriff?
GIORDANO: So our biggest concern is finding those missing people and keeping those safe and out of the burned areas. We have a team of detectives out working on locating the missing. They have been successful in finding 57 people safely.
Communication breakdown is part of the problem. So, we've lost track of people. But we're working through that missing person list. So, keeping those -- keeping our people safe and finding the missing people.
TAPPER: Is there anything that you and those battling these fires need from the federal government or from the state government that you are not getting?
GIORDANO: No, we have great resources. Everybody's working hard.
I will tell you, I have been so impressed with the level of support from the Bay Area agencies. I mean, just as an example, there are probably 200 law enforcement officers working in this county right now from all over the Bay Area, San Francisco, Alameda. They've been great sending us support, agencies all over the place. That kind of mutual aid support has been great.
TAPPER: Sheriff Robert Giordano, thank you. Our thoughts are with your. Our thoughts and prayers with our brothers and sisters in California.
GIORDANO: Thank you so much.
TAPPER: The president has found time to pick on a GOP ally and go after a sports network. Nothing so far about the four U.S. soldiers killed in a mysterious ambush in Africa.
We are now finding out more about what happened in that terrorist hotbed. Stay with us.
[16:45:00] TAPPER: Back in our "WORLD LEAD," while President Trump has tweeted dozens of times since last Wednesday, attacking a Republican Senator, attacking an ESPN Commentator, going after the NFL, among other matters, the President himself has not tweeted a single thing, nor spoken publicly about the four U.S. soldiers who were killed in an ambush in a remote area near the Mali-Niger border last Wednesday. Now CNN is learning more about the routine patrol that went horribly wrong. CNN's Barbara Starr joins me now. Barbara, are we getting any better sense of how this happened and who might have been behind the ambush?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: We are, Jake. And indeed, for a President who likes to tweet about winning, he may not have any good news to report about this attack, where Americans apparently died at the hands of ISIS.
STARR: Four U.S. soldiers killed in an ISIS ambush in the West African Nation of Niger, coming home to their families. Half the 12- man team led by Green Berets killed or wounded in a surprise ambush attack.
STEVE WARREN, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: We assess risk before every operation. And the military has a very rigorous risk assessment process in place, but it's only an assessment.
STARR: Intelligence showed it was unlikely they would run into enemy forces, officials tell CNN. They were meeting with locals in advising Nigerian forces, but suddenly they were ambushed by more than 50 ISIS- affiliated fighters. The American troops' pickup trucks were shattered by gunfire. They had only rifles to fight back. The ISIS attackers had rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. But Sergeant La David Johnson, 25 of Florida, was separated from the others. He was found dead nearly 48 hours after the firefight. The Pentagon's Africa Command does not know for sure if this American soldier was wounded and alive on the battlefield and if he was even for a brief time in ISIS hands.
GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHIEF OF STAFF, U.S. ARMY: AFRICOM is reviewing very closely the security procedures.
STARR: The Army Chief of Staff openly acknowledging a full investigation is underway.
MILLEY: They're evaluating the mission, enemy, terrain, time, and all of that to come up with appropriate risk mitigation factors.
[16:50:03] STARR: A U.S. Special Operations Team quickly organized a high-risk rescue mission, ready to move in. President Trump was briefed. Military officials are now looking into reports that a locator beacon emitted a signal from the area indicating that someone might still be alive on the ground. They are not sure if that signal was really accurate.
WARREN: These are some of our most sensitive operations. The tactics, the techniques, and the procedures are something that we protect very closely because this is very delicate operation. In order to bring back a service member who has somehow been separated from his unit.
STARR: There were no U.S. armed aircraft nearby. French aircraft did arrive on scene, but there was no authorization from Niger to allow air strikes on its territory.
STARR: And CNN has learned the U.S. is now talking to Niger about the possibility of military operations against the attackers soon as they can locate them. Jake?
TAPPER: Barbara, the military uses this term, advise and assist. It doesn't get at how dangerous these missions are. How dangerous are they and how common are they?
STARR: Well, this is something the military is relying on more and more, to use special operations to conduct these missions. And you're right, Jake, they are very dangerous. They are often lightly armed. They happen across Africa, several places in Iraq and Syria, in Afghanistan. And they go in trying to help local forces get them trained up so that they can look after their own affairs and their own security, but it is very difficult business because, in so many of these places, there are so many different terrorist groups operating. Jake?
TAPPER: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us. Thank you so much.
Breaking this hour, new information about how the Vegas shooter was planning to escape after his murderous rampage, including special equipment he had in the hotel room with him. Stay with us.
[16:55:00] TAPPER: We have breaking news in our "NATIONAL LEAD" now. We're learning new details about the Las Vegas gunman's arsenal. Two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the investigation tell CNN that the shooter had significant amounts of tracer rounds, which are illuminated and can improve someone's firing ability, along with incendiary ammunition which can cause fire on impact. CNN National Correspondent Kyung Lah joins us now. Kyung, you broke the story. What have these sources told you about the shooter's supplies?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is information that we're getting from two law enforcement sources with direct knowledge of this investigation, and they're talking about what was recovered inside the gunman's room, that suite where he fired upon that innocent concert crowd below. Tracer rounds, a significant amount of them were recovered. They were not used, but they were recovered in that suite. The way these tracer rounds work is one round that sort of lights up every four or five rounds in your clip. And that does help improve your accuracy. Previously we had been told that he'd simply attempted to buy these tracer rounds. We are told now he was successful, he just simply did not use them, though. Incendiary rounds, these were also recovered in his room, and these rounds are designed to ignite upon impact.
Our sources tell us that they were found in the room. They were also used. According to these sources, these incendiary rounds were recovered near the fuel tanks at the airport nearby. It is a little unclear because what the airport had said previously five days ago is that rifle rounds had been recovered. They were unclear about exactly what kind of rounds, other than they were rifle rounds, that they struck the tank. And a little context here, just because the way jet fuel is designed, it is designed to withstand a brief open source of flame. So even if these incendiary rounds had come in contact with jet fuel, it may not have succeeded in doing anything. Also, Jake, survival equipment according to our sources was found in the room. Some type of breathing apparatus. We're led to believe this is a gas mask as well as protective vests. Jake?
TAPPER: And Las Vegas Police announced a major shift in the timeline of the shooting. Tell us about that.
LAH: Well, we are told now, based on that press conference that the Sheriff held, is that the security guard was shot first. Shot a full six minutes before the rampage began. Here's what the Sheriff said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE LOMBARDO, SHERIFF, CLARK COUNTY, NEVADA: He was injured prior to the mass volley of shooting. What we have learned is Mr. Campos was encountered by the suspect prior to his shooting to the outside world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: Previously, we had been told the security guard had surprised, Mr. Campos had surprised the gunman. The gunman was shooting at the crowd and turned his attention to the security guard. Now at 9:59 p.m., Jake. The gunman had been firing first on the security guard and then six minutes later began his rampage. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, Kyung Lah in Las Vegas for us covering this horrific mass shooting from nine days ago. Thank you so much. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER or you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. We actually read them. That's it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jake Tapper, turning you over now to Wolf Blitzer who is in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.