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Shooter's Girlfriend Interviewed by FBI; Trump: Shooter Was 'A Very Sick Man, Demented'; Tillerson Staying on Amid Open Discord with Trump. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired October 4, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Questioned by the FBI. Investigators are questioning the Las Vegas gunman's girlfriend, who returned overnight from the Philippines. Can she shed light on the motive behind the massacre of dozens of innocent people?
[17:00:36] Meticulous planning. New details emerging on how the gunman carefully planned the slaughter, bringing nearly two-dozen guns into his hotel suite and setting up cameras to detect the approach of police. Did a security guard interrupt the slaughter, saving lives?
Comforter in chief. President Trump meets with survivors of the massacre, along with first responders and medical teams, praising their heroism and calling the shooter sick and demented. But the president avoids the topic of gun control.
And Kremlin conniving. Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn Moscow is still trying to interfere with America's democracy as CNN learns that thousands of Russian-linked Facebook ads targeted at least a dozen states, including key election battlegrounds.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news, President Trump is on his way back to Washington this hour after visiting with some of those wounded in the Las Vegas massacre along with medical teams and first responders. The president praised the heroism of those involved and called the shooter very sick and demented but so far is refusing to address the issue of gun violence.
Police have released body camera video revealing the chaos and the desperation as bullets rained down on the crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas. But investigators are still struggling to come up with a motive for the massacre and are now interviewing the girlfriend of gunman Stephen Paddock, Marilou Danley, who returned to the United States overnight from the Philippines.
Investigators have been putting together a profile of Paddock and his meticulous preparations for mass murder. They've learned he bought -- he brought 23 guns into his hotel suite, some modified to act as fully automatic weapons. He also positioned cameras allowing him to track the approach of the police officers. Also tonight, the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee warned
that Russia's efforts to interfere with America's democracy continue. But they say the issue of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign is still an open question. CNN has learned that 3,000 Russian-linked Facebook ads targeted specific geographical areas, including key swing states like Wisconsin and Michigan.
I'll speak with Clark County Nevada Commissioner Jim Gibson. And our correspondents, specialists and guests, they're all standing by with full coverage.
Let's begin with Las Vegas massacre investigation, which may get a boost as the FBI questions the girlfriend of the gunman. Let's go straight to our Brian Todd. He's on the scene in Las Vegas for us.
Brian, what's the latest?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as you mentioned, the shooter's girlfriend, Marilou Danley, is back in the United States tonight. The FBI is interviewing her, trying to learn what she knows about Stephen Paddock's motive and about his planning. Now, this comes as we're getting new information tonight, more details about those first harrowing moments of the shooting and how hotel guests and a security guard's quick actions may have saved hundreds of lives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back! Get back!
TODD (voice-over): This newly-released police bodycam video shows first second of the shooting. Police can be seen taking cover and trying to get civilians protected...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're shooting right at us, guys. Everybody stay down. Stay down.
TODD: ... as a hail of gunfire rains down on them from an unknown source.
One officer dashes across an open space. At least a dozen volleys are fired off for about 10 minutes.
As the shooting starts, one concertgoer quickly zeroes her camera in on the windows of Mandalay Bay. Inside the hotel, security staff trying to narrow down where the shooter might be while outside the hotel, police try to triangulate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see the shots coming from Mandalay Bay halfway up. Coming out a window. Anybody have eyes on him, on the shooter?
TODD: Officers narrow it down to the 29th through 32nd floors and begin sweeping the halls.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm on the 32nd floor. The room is going to be 135, right? TODD: A Mandalay Bay security guard approaches the door of Stephen Paddock's suite. Police say Paddock set up three cameras to monitor police in the hallway. A cable appears to lead to the cart that held one camera. Another camera was on the door's peep hole. Paddock opens fire at the security guard through the closed door, which is riddled with bullet holes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He shot down the hallway and shot a security guard. Has anybody on the outside heard any further shots?
[17:05:06] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's negative.
TODD: With the shooting stopped, first responders moved to help save those injured below while officers in the hotel regroup. By the time SWAT blows the door, Paddock is dead on the floor.
Inside the room, police find a cache of 23 weapons. These "Daily Mail" photos show how meticulously Paddock appears to have planned for the massacre: neatly stacked ammunition clips, a hammer; likely used to break the windows; 12 bump stocks to make guns fire faster.
Tonight investigators talking to someone who knew him well, his live- in girlfriend, Marilou Danley, who returned to the U.S. overnight. The FBI in Los Angeles interviewing her soon after she arrived.
Her sisters say Paddock sent her on a surprise trip to the Philippines in advance of the shooting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She would definitely something whatever -- what he was planning. She was sent away. She was sent away so that she would be not there to interfere with what he was planning.
TODD: Now, since she was his live-in girlfriend, Marilou Danley may well be able to tell investigators about Stephen Paddock's accumulation of weapons. An ATF spokesperson tells CNN tonight that he purchased 33 firearms, mostly rifles, between September -- excuse me, October 2016 and September of 2017. Law enforcement officials tell CNN that he accumulated weapons for more than 20 years, Wolf. So the girlfriend, live-in girlfriend may well have some information on that.
BLITZER: Yes. And police say they found 47 guns so far in his homes and the suite. And thousands and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Meanwhile, Brian, a top FBI official today, the FBI director of the FBI made a somewhat surprising comment about the shooter's possible motive. Tell us about that.
TODD: He did, Wolf. Andrew McCabe, the deputy director of the FBI, told another news outlet that the fact that they have not discovered a clear motive at this point is a surprise in this investigation. McCabe says at this point, in an investigation similar to this one, they've established some kind of a motive or are learning strongly a certain way. He said it's a surprise that they have not established a clear motive at this point.
But again, that may be due to the girlfriend, you know, taking some time to get back to the United States from the Philippines. So hopefully, they'll get some more information soon from her.
BLITZER: Yes. They suspect they're getting closer to discovering that motive, but they're not there yet.
Brian Todd in Las Vegas for us. Thank you.
President Trump is returning to Washington after meeting with some of those wounded in the Las Vegas massacre along with first responders and medical staffers. Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is in Las Vegas for us. Tell us about the president's visit, Jim.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as you said, the president and first lady, they are on their way back to Washington after meeting with survivors of the Las Vegas massacre.
Earlier today, the White House took great pains to keep the president's trip here more subdued and more scripted than other official visits in recent days.
ACOSTA (voice-over): In a city in desperate need of comfort, the president and first lady toured the hospital where survivors of the mass shooting in Las Vegas are clinging to life and searching for answers.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we ask God to ease their suffering and to speed their healing. We pray for the recovery of the injured and those injured officers who so bravely threw themselves into danger when duty called.
ACOSTA: The president praised the medical staff that treated the wounded.
TRUMP: The doctors, the nurses, all of the people hospitals have done, a job that's indescribable.
ACOSTA: And offered his own diagnosis of the killer.
TRUMP: And I can tell you, it was a very sick man. He was a very demented person.
ACOSTA: One topic the president is not taking on during his visit: gun control.
TRUMP: We're not going to talk about that today.
ACOSTA: The White House is steering clear of the issue: "Let's gather the facts before we make sweeping policy arguments for curtailing the Second Amendment," the talking points read. "Let's be clear: new laws won't stop a mad man committed to harming innocent people." The talking points ask, "Did he have radical ties?"
Despite the fact that investigators say they believe the gunman acted alone, the president doesn't always wait for the facts to come in. During the campaign, then candidate Trump called for a temporary ban on Muslims coming into the U.S.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A rapid shoot out here.
ACOSTA: After mass shootings in San Bernardino, California, and Orlando.
Advocates for more gun control say the time to confront the issue is now.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D): How many more must die? A hundred? A thousands? Ten thousand? A million? What is your blood price? How many more must die?
GABBY GIFFORDS (D), FORMER ARIZONA REPRESENTATIVE: Now is the time to come together. Be responsible. Democrats, Republicans, everyone. We must never stop fighting. Fight, fight, night.
ACOSTA: The president's trip to Las Vegas was much more controlled than his visit to Puerto Rico, where Mr. Trump tossed rolls of paper towels to storm victims and joked the hurricane damage there would be costly.
TRUMP: Now, I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you've thrown our budget a little out of whack.
ACOSTA: On this day the president appeared to strike the right tone, meeting with the first responders who rushed into the line of fire.
TRUMP: You showed the world, and the world is watching. And you showed what professionalism is all about.
ACOSTA: Now the president and the first lady, they did not make a special trip down to the crime scene, but they didn't have to. Air Force One was, of course, parked at the Las Vegas Airport, just a short distance from the Mandalay Bay casino. Up and down Las Vegas Boulevard, Wolf, were signs saying reading "Pray for Vegas" and "Vegas Strong" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Acosta in Las Vegas for us, thanks for that report.
Joining us now, the Clark County, Nevada, commissioner, Jim Gibson. He's joining us from Las Vegas.
Mr. Gibson, thanks so much for joining us. Based on the information you're receiving, and I know you've been speaking with investigators, are they any closer to answering the key question on everyone's mind, what motivated this killer?
JIM GIBSON, CLARK COUNTY, NEVADA, COMMISSIONER: I know that the investigation is under way, ongoing. They've intensified, to the extent that they can, the entire investigation. At this moment, I don't know how much closer they are. They'll tell us when they're ready, I suppose.
BLITZER: When you see the arsenal of weapons and the carefully-laid cameras in and outside that suite at the Mandalay Bay hotel, what does that tell you about his state of mind and how long he perhaps was planning this?
GIBSON: This man was deranged in every sense of the word. His -- this was all about killing. This was not about anything else.
I don't have any clue about what might have been his contacts, his education, his experience in life. I don't know anything about that except what we've read. But what I do know was he was deranged and meticulous in the way that he put together his killing assets. What an incredible horrible, horrible thing.
BLITZER: There are reports, as you well know, not just in Las Vegas, in your county, but elsewhere, that the gunman may have actually cased an earlier music festival in Las Vegas. What, if anything, can you tell us about evidence he might have planned, perhaps, another massacre?
GIBSON: I really can't tell you anything more about that. I've heard the things that are out there. I've read on social media things. But in terms of official response, I really can't respond officially, because I don't know anything in particular about that. And I don't know facts. I don't know that any facts have really been confirmed by the investigation.
BLITZER: I know there's a lot of focus, of course, as there should be, on the heroism of the first responders and a lot of the concertgoers. There were 22,000 at that concert.
I want to ask you about the actions, though, of one security guard at the hotel, the Mandalay Bay hotel, who was the first to engage Stephen Paddock and was shot in the process in the hallway. Do you believe that security guard may have prevented this massacre from becoming even worse?
GIBSON: Absolutely. Anything that distracted him from the window, from the things he was doing, aiming down across the road, protected, defended and mitigated in some degree.
Obviously, this guy, just in the moments that he was engaging with the security officer, could have been firing off dozens if not hundreds of rounds.
So the security guard did what all of the first responders did: they rushed into danger's path. They didn't shy away. They did everything they could do to get there as fast as they could. You think about it, ten minutes, and the police officer was breaking that door down to find this man now dead. I think that this is a remarkable thing. That's a big building. And while you can see the windows from outside, determining exactly where that room is not as easy as one might think.
The security at the hotel, the first responders and people who were inside the venue responded in a way that is heroic. There's just no other way to describe it.
BLITZER: That security guard, by the way, we all thank him for what he did. Jesus Campos. Thank you, Jesus Campos, for what you did.
Is it time, Commissioner, for tighter, more stringent gun control laws in the United States?
GIBSON: We're going to -- we're going to evaluate everything that has happened in the past few days and everything that happens going forward. There's surely going to be an appropriate discussion about every single piece of this, including the firearms, and their availability, and all of that.
[17:15:16] The thing that we need to keep sight of is that this was a deranged person. Las Vegas today is open for business. It's a safe place. There isn't a question in anyone's mind here that that's the case. People who are coming into town continue to come into town for their planned activities. We continue to host them safely. We'll continue to do that.
We don't think that there is anything missing right now that makes Las Vegas safer, but we do believe that every single aspect of our response and even before our response, the things that occurred, needs to be in review so that we're certain we got it right and that we're improving each time anything like this happens.
And we've benefited from the discussions that have been had between our -- our community and Boston and other places that have experienced similar massacres. This is one that we're all learning from.
But I'll tell you, it was an amazing thing. An amazing feat to see the way both people inside that venue rendered assistance to others, and security and police and fire and others responded. This is an example of what humanity -- the good side of humanity.
GIBSON: And what we can and need to do more frequently for one another.
BLITZER: Yes, good point. Amazing, amazing stories. And more and more of them are coming in. I know all the hotels, major hotels in Las Vegas right now, and hotels elsewhere, they're reviewing their security to make sure that they have everything in place down the road so that a horrible massacre like this doesn't happen again.
Jim Gibson, thanks for everything you're doing. Thanks very much for joining us.
GIBSON: Thank you.
BLITZER: We're going to have more on the breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM as we get new information on the Las Vegas massacre, the heroism that followed, the ongoing investigation.
And after a stunning report that he called the president a moron, Secretary of State Tillerson goes public, saying that he has no plans to quit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: To address a few specifics that have been erroneously reported this morning, the vice president has never had to persuade me to remain as secretary of state, because I have never considered leaving this post.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:22:03] BLITZER: Our breaking news, President Trump now heading back to Washington after meeting with survivors of the Las Vegas massacre, along with medical staffers and first responders.
That comes amid more signs of the continuing discord within his administration. Following a stunning report that he had called the president of the United States a, quote, "moron," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took the extraordinary step of going public to reaffirm his commitment to the president and to his job.
Let's bring in our White House reporter, Kaitlan Collins, who's working the story for us. So Kaitlan, what is this all about?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. CNN has confirmed that, apparently, Secretary Tillerson was so frustrated with the president over the summer that he referred to him as a moron.
And we've also learned that the president was aware of this remark before NBC News first published that report earlier today.
But there's been some tension between these two men for a while. We saw Tillerson try to distance himself from the president after he made those contentious remarks about those deadly clashes in Charlottesville.
And then just recently, we saw the president undercut Tillerson on Twitter when he said that he should stop wasting his time by trying to have dialogue with North Korea.
But what's knew now is that we are really seeing this spill out into the public eye. Though State Department spokesman Heather Nauert denied earlier that Tillerson referred to the president as moron, even Tillerson didn't go that far during a press conference earlier today. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me address the main headline of this story, that you called the president a moron. And if not, where do you think these reports are coming from?
TILLERSON: I'm not going to deal with petty stuff like that. I mean, this is what I don't understand about Washington. Again, you know, I'm not from this place. But the places I come from, we don't deal with that kind of petty nonsense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: So he insisted during that press conference that he has a close relationship with the president and that he thinks he is smart. But as you saw there, there is no outright denial about the moron remark.
Now Tillerson said did he not speak to the president before he gave those remarks earlier today. But we heard from the president just a short while ago about his response. Listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm honored about his comments. It was fake news. It was a totally fake story. Thank you very much. It was made up. It was made up by NBC. They just made it up. Thank you all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have confidence in him?
TRUMP: Total confidence in Rex.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Now, NBC had multiple sources for that, and CNN has independently identified verified the moron remark. But it sounds like Rex Tillerson's job is safe for now. The president is very wary of another high-profile departure from his administration. But what's clear here, Wolf, is that the tension between these two men is at an all-time high.
BLITZER: Yes, and it was interesting. The -- Senator Corker of Tennessee, the chairman the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kaitlan -- and you've seen this -- he said, "I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos. And I support them very much."
Strong words from Senator Corker.
[17:25:02] COLLINS: That's right. You don't typically hear remarks like that from someone speaking of very high-profile people in an administration. But we've heard recently that Senator Corker is retiring. He's not going to run for re-election. So it seems like he's very -- being very open with his thoughts here, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, direct swipe at the president of the United States. All right. Thanks very much.
Kaitlan Collins over at the White House.
Coming up, more on the breaking news, more details emerging now in the Las Vegas massacre investigation as the FBI questions the girlfriend of the shooter. Can she provide them with a motive? And the Senate Intelligence Committee warning that Moscow is still
very much meddling with America's democracy. CNN learns that thousands of Russian-linked Facebook ads targeted key election battleground states. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories. Investigators are interviewing the girlfriend of the Las Vegas gunman, a man President Trump called very sick and demented.
[17:30:39] We're also following a new warning about Russia's ongoing meddling in the U.S. political system. The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee briefed reporters today. While many questions about possible collusion involving the Trump campaign remain unanswered, both senators agree Russia still very much trying to create chaos here inside the United States.
Let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju. He's covering all of this for us.
What else did they reveal, Manu?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they said that they've really done an enormous amount of investigation as part of this nine-month now inquiry, saying that they have talked to roughly 100 people. They've actually went through more than 100,000 pages of documents, about 4,000 transcript pages, as well.
But they said there were a lot of unanswered questions, including this major question: Did anyone in the Trump campaign collude with the Russians as part of an effort to meddle with the elections? That's still a question that Senator Richard Burr says is outstanding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: The president has said particularly that any talk of collusion is a hoax. I mean, you've gone through all these documents. You've interviewed all these people. At this point is the president right that it's a hoax?
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-NC), INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: I'm going to let you guys quote the president and ask him questions about what he says. It's not going to be the committee. We're going to...
RAJU: Do you have any evidence to suggest, to rule out that the president knew anything about the meetings, contacts that occurred between even associates and the Russians?
BURR: Let me go back and say, because I thought I was pretty clear, that the issue of collusion is still open. That we continue to investigate both intelligence and witnesses; and that we're not at a position where we've come to any type of temporary finding on that until we've completed the process.
(END VIDEO CLIP) RAJU: Now the committee does want to interview 25 more witnesses this month. Those would happen mostly in a classified setting.
But Burr did suggest that they were having some issues with some other witnesses, including Christopher Steel, who is that British agent that compiled that dossier looking at any potential connections between Trump officials, Donald Trump himself, as well as the Russians.
They say they could not get his cooperation whatsoever with their own investigation. And I asked Senator Burr if he's open to issuing a subpoena for Christopher Steel, but because he's not an American citizen, Wolf, he probably wouldn't be successful if doing that.
But it sounds like from both him and Mark Warner this investigation is -- has a long way to go. It probably won't be done this year. We'll see if they can get it done next year during the election season, Wolf.
BLITZER: Manu, as you know, CNN has learned that those Russia-linked Facebook ads specifically targeted both Michigan and Wisconsin. What have you learned about that?
RAJU: Yes, that's right. Now we're learning this roughly 3,000 ads that Facebook submitted to Congress that were tied to Russia, had some efforts to try to go after swing states, Michigan and Wisconsin being two of them.
Now, some of these ads went all over the map. They went to states that had nothing to do with the effect of the outcome of the election, because they were not heavily contested states.
But we're learning for the first time that there were some of these ads that did appear in these swing states. Now some of them promoted very divisive messages that were designed, really, to stoke some antipathy among the electorate, including against Muslims, as well.
And Richard Burr and Mark Warner suggested that they could really be seen as affecting one -- it wasn't clear they were necessarily designed to have one candidate over the other.
But, Wolf, the committee also made clear that, if anyone wants to see these ads, it will be up to Facebook to publicly release these 3,000 ads. That's something the committee says it will not do as part of an investigation. And a Facebook, Wolf, tells me tonight that they are unlikely to release these ads publicly, trying to protect some private information.
So the public may not see exactly what were in these ads. We may have to rely on these descriptions as well, as well as to learn about exactly where they were targeted and whether they were designed to affect the election outcome and if it did help President Trump in any way whatsoever, Wolf.
BLITZER: I don't understand why they don't release the ads? The ads were public. If they release the ads, what kind of privacy would be undermined? It's a great question. Facebook has not gotten a clear explanation,
other than they said they are trying to protect user information in not releasing these publicly. But they will get a lot of pressure. They're already getting pressure from Democrats in the House and the Senate to release the ads. And significantly Mike Conley, who's a Republican who's running the House Intelligence investigation on Russia, does believe that those ads should also be released. So we'll see if they pressure Facebook to do it or decide to do it themselves, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Manu. Thanks very much. Manu Raju, up on Capitol Hill.
Let's bring in our specialists, and Phil Mudd, I'll start with you. How did you interpret the comments from the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, the ranking member, pointedly refusing to close the book on the collusion aspect of this probe?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: He's got to do that. Let me take you inside the intelligence business for a moment.
Let's go back to last summer when we saw information about Donald Trump Jr., email information indicating that he met with a Russian lawyer about first he said adoption issues, then it was -- then we learned that it was also about getting dirt on Hillary Clinton.
We can prove that something happened there, because we have an email trail. What we're hearing from Congress today is a classic problem in the intelligence business: how do you prove that something didn't happen? How do you know where every single Trump campaign official was? Whether everything they say is true? Whether they ever had a cup of coffee with the Russian official.
Same problem you have in Las Vegas. How do you guarantee, how do you prove that the girlfriend of the killer never had a conversation with the killer about the motive for that killing? Proving a negative is hard.
And finally, one reason proving it's hard is the Senate doesn't have, and Congress doesn't have the same forensic capability as the FBI. They don't have the manpower and the expertise to look at things like financial records and to find out whether there is collusion.
BLITZER: Gloria Borger, as you know, Senator Burr, the chairman of the committee, he refused to discuss, entertain the president's continued suggestions that this whole Russia probe is simply a hoax. What did you think of that moment?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's important. I mean, you have a key Republican here saying that the committee, Republicans and Democrats, agree with the assessment of the intelligence community.
What he didn't do was say, "Oh, well we believe that there was interference on the side to help Donald Trump." I think that was a very smart move on the part of the chairman, because you don't want to prejudice the rest of their investigation.
And so while he didn't come down on one side or another, because they said that it was just meant to create chaos, they went that far. But they're not done with their investigation yet.
So, you know, I think that, if I were in the White House right now or if I were -- if I were President Trump, who keeps calling it a hoax, I might stop a little bit, because your Republican chairman of the Intelligence Committee is saying no, it's not.
BLITZER: Mark Preston, some Republicans are very eager, understandably, for these congressional investigations to wrap up. How much pressure is on the Senate Intelligence Committee right now, and the other committees -- the Judiciary Committee, for example -- to reach some definitive conclusions in this investigation and to wrap it up quickly?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, there's no doubt that there is political pressure on them, because there's a lot of Republicans that are looking at this investigation, and they're looking at their own political prospects, heading into 2018. They do not want to become political damage, collateral damage to what this investigation may or may not show as it continues forward.
But they've got to be very careful. And I do think that, for all the criticism that we talk about these investigations and how they've been handled so far going through, Richard Burr in the Senate really has done a very good job of working closely with his Democratic counterpart. And having those two gentlemen stand side by side today to deliver that report and that update, I think was very, very important.
But, Wolf, let's not forget. Not only did you say the Judiciary Committee in the Senate, the Intelligence Committee, as we're talking about. Then you have the House Intelligence Committee.
In addition to all that, there is that parallel investigation right now that Robert Mueller is overseeing, that independent inquiry. Could you magine in the United States Senate Intelligence Committee came out with a finding saying they found nothing, only to have Robert Mueller come out weeks, months later saying, in fact, that they had? So I do think that the Intelligence Committee kind of has to keep pace with what's going on with the other committees to make sure that they don't get it wrong.
BLITZER: Yes, good point.
All right. Everybody stand by. We have much more coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[17:44:15] BLITZER: We're back with our specialists. And Gloria, let me get your reaction to that statement made earlier today by the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, denying an NBC report that he threatened to resign this summer after a series of disagreements with the president.
But he didn't deny one aspect of that report, that he called the president a moron during a private meeting. The State Department spokesperson later did deny that, saying she had spoken with the secretary. What do you make of this?
BORGER: Well, look, it's no secret, Wolf, that this has been a relationship that has been fraught. And we knew about it last summer, remember, when Rex Tillerson took a few days off. And we understand that there's been an awful lot of friction between Rex Tillerson, for example, and Jared Kushner, who has a foreign policy portfolio. There's also been disagreements on foreign policy between the president and Rex Tillerson.
So this is a -- this is a very difficult relationship. And when that story broke this morning, I'm sure it wasn't well received. And I think the idea was to go out and deny it, although our reporters have confirmed it.
And so it's clear that this relationship, probably, is not going to be long lasting. We do know the President has had difficult relationships with a lot of members of his cabinet, including Jeff Sessions, whom he called beleaguered, but Jeff Sessions still remains in the cabinet. So we are going to have to sort of let this one play out a little bit.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, the former Secretary of Health, Tom Price, price not in the cabinet and he no longer --
BORGER: Right, not in the cabinet.
Mark, what did you think? How did you react when you saw the Secretary of State actually show up for a news conference at the State Department today? He doesn't do a whole lot of media, but he wanted to react.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, not surprised, right? So why did he do it? Well, we can speculate that he did it because he was told to do it.
As you said, Wolf, the Secretary of State hasn't been necessarily media friendly in that he doesn't do a lot of news conferences. He's not out and about with reporters that cover the State Department.
But oftentimes, you look beyond those who are the principals in the discussion, Donald Trump and the Secretary of State, at this point, and you only have to go to people on the outside, such as Bob Corker, and you see what his response was to it.
The chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, basically, he backed up Tillerson. And he acknowledged and noted that Tillerson has been put in a bad spot by this President and that he wished that Tillerson actually had more backing from the President. So sometimes you look for the allies of the President or at least
those you would expect to be to see what their reaction is, and so far, it hasn't been that good.
BLITZER: And very quickly, Phil. Is it possible for the administration to function properly on these most sensitive national security issues when so many feuds are playing out in public?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: No. Simple reason why. Number one, you need discipline, over time, to execute difficult policy on places like North Korea. With discipline over time, you need personnel in place.
We've lost a chief strategist, the national security advisor. There's dissension with the Attorney General, evidently. Evidently, there is also, obviously, with the Secretary of State.
The second and final problem, we not only have a problem with discipline over time because of turn over, on issues, whether it's Iran and tearing up the Iran nuclear deal that the President has talked about, whether it's transgender policy.
In each of these issues, he's got differences with staff. So how do you execute a policy when you don't know what it is and when you have staff turnover, Wolf?
BLITZER: All right. Everybody stick around. Don't go too far away.
An important note to our viewers, stay with CNN throughout the evening. Later tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, Chris Cuomo hosts a town hall with the Democratic leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi. She'll discuss the Las Vegas massacre and much more.
Tune in later tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.
Coming up, more on the breaking news in the Las Vegas investigation. FBI agents are now questioning the gunman's girlfriend.
Also, Puerto Rico's official death count in the wake of Hurricane Maria nearly doubles.
[17:53:02] BLITZER: Tonight, we're keeping our eyes on a developing storm that may affect the U.S. Gulf Coast this weekend. The as yet unnamed tropical depression is off Nicaragua. It's forecast to become a hurricane by the time it nears the Florida panhandle.
Much more on that coming up, but we're also watching efforts to get help to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico right now where the death toll has nearly doubled. CNN's Leyla Santiago is in San Juan for us.
Leyla, update us on the situation as it is right now.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, as we have been out on the ground, we are seeing more FEMA aid being distributed right now. In the last two days, we certainly see more movement of that.
But, you know, part of the complaint from people that are in the municipalities themselves, be it in San Juan or outside in more rural areas, is, they say, the bureaucracy.
You see, we asked FEMA to compare how things are working here versus in the mainland U.S. And off camera, they told us, in Puerto Rico, the way the logistics being handled right now, the products go from FEMA to the National Guard, from the National Guard to the municipality, and then in the hands of the victim.
In the mainland U.S., it goes straight from FEMA to the people. So part of the issue in getting this aid to the people who need it most is bureaucracy, according to the organizers themselves who are distributing these goods.
Now, as far as the latest on the death toll, that changed just hours after President Trump left the island yesterday. When he was here, they were reporting 16 total deaths related to Hurricane Maria. That number is now up to 34.
And as we were looking at the causes of those deaths, it will just break your heart, Wolf, because they have two of them listed as suicide and three of them listed as lack of oxygen.
When I clarified if the lack of oxygen was because they didn't have the power to run oxygen tanks, we were told, yes, that's the exact reason, Wolf.
[17:55:00] BLITZER: Yes, so sad. So sad, indeed. Leyla Santiago reporting to us from Puerto Rico. Thank you.
Coming up, more on the breaking news. As President Trump returns from a visit with Las Vegas massacre survivors and first responders, investigators are questioning the gunman's girlfriend. Can she shed light on a possible motive?
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. What did she know? The girlfriend of the killer behind the Las Vegas shooting massacre is questioned by the FBI after returning to the United States from her native Philippines. What information does she have about the deadliest shooting to strike modern America?
[18:00:01] Calculated plan. New details emerging of Stephen Paddock's months of meticulous preparation for his horrific crime, including the deadly arsenal he stockpiled.