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AT THIS HOUR

New Orleans Under State Of Emergency As Nate Approaches; Louisiana's Governor Declares A State Of Emergency Ahead Of Nate; Investigators Analyze Note Found In Killer's Hotel Room; Girlfriend: Ticket To Philippines Was A Surprise; Trump Warns Of "Calm Before The Storm"; Tillerson's Days Seen As Numbered As Foreign Crises Boil. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired October 6, 2017 - 11:00   ET

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


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[11:00:040

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello on this Friday. I'm Ana Cabrera in for Kate Bolduan. We begin with more breaking news after a very busy news week, another major American city in the crosshairs of a killer storm. Yes, folks, it is happening again.

Right now, Tropical Storm Nate is heading towards New Orleans and Louisiana's governor has just declared a state of emergency as the gulf coast braces for impact. This storm has already caused at least 20 deaths in Central America and the National Hurricane Center just updated its forecast.

Let's get straight to CNN meteorologist, Chad Myers, for the details. Chad, where and when will this storm hit the U.S.?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Very close to maybe 50 miles one way or the other of Plaquemines Parish, which is south of New Orleans and that will be tomorrow night. So, we have about 36 hours of prep time before the storm actually makes landfall.

It's 50 miles per hour, now at the 11:00 advisory. Still traveling to the north going to Clip Cancun and Cozumel and eventually get into very warm water in the Gulf of Mexico and that's when it's expected to really get going. Get going to an 80 mile per hour storm nearly close to New Orleans in Louisiana.

Now it will still be a 60-mile-per-hour storm as it traverses parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. That will bring down power lines and even, of course, many of the branches on these older trees are going to be nothing for a 60-mile-per-hour storm, taking these branches down quickly.

The hurricane hunter in there finding 47 miles per hour so we call it a 50-mile-per hour storm, close enough. The models are following exactly where the track is at least right now with the hurricane center, and still the wind.

The wind will be the story here as it makes impact very close to where Katrina made impact. Now, you have to understand, this isn't Katrina. This is an 80 or 90-mile-per-hour storm. Katrina was so much bigger.

That's the same place that the surge will be. The same surge areas, not as big, not going to get 20 feet, but could get 5 or 7 feet, anywhere there from New Orleans to Bay St. Louis to Biloxi and Mobile Bay.

So, we'll keep that in mind as well. Here's your surge graphics. New hurricane warnings have been now posted at the 11:00 advisory. We will get those on the internet on our Twitter feed as soon as they are out.

CABRERA: All right. Chad, we know you will stay on top of it. Thank you. Joining us on the phone the governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards. Governor, thank you for spending time with us. You just issued a state of emergency there in Louisiana. What are you doing besides that to now prepare for this storm?

GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D), LOUISIANA (via telephone): Well, thank you, Ana. It's great to be with you and everyone watching. We've also requested from the president a pre-landfall emergency declaration for 17 parishes. We're waiting to hear back, but we have reason to believe that that request is going to be well received by the president.

But we're working to make sure that everyone does not underestimate this storm, and that by dark tomorrow night, Saturday night, everyone is where they want to be and then the posture they need to be for this storm.

You know, we don't know exactly how intense it's going to be, because once this storm moves over the warm waters of the gulf, intensification beyond the current modeling is possible, but even if it's a strong tropical storm or a Category 1, that is -- that presents a very real threat, especially to the low-lying areas because of the combination of rain and storm surge and wind.

So, it's all three. We're working to make sure that everyone is paying attention and following the directions of the local authorities and so we are -- we believe we're adequately prepared but you never know exactly what mother nature is going to throw at you.

CABRERA: No doubt about it. We know there have been some recent problems with the pumps in New Orleans specifically, not all those are back up and running yet. What's the impact of that?

EDWARDS: Well, they're not all up and running but the truth is, New Orleans has never had all of their pumps running at one time because there's more than a hundred of them. But they are in better shape, their capacity is better than it has been in many months if not several years.

And based on the forecasted rain that we can expect, we don't anticipate that there's going to be widespread flooding. Now if you have short duration, high intensity rainfall, street flooding is possible and there's always some chance that some businesses and homes will take on water as well. Right now, based on the forecast, we don't anticipate that that is a widespread problem, but then again, you never know whether these rain bands kind of sit over New Orleans and drop more rain than you're told to expect.

So, we're working very, very hard with the city of New Orleans. We're in constant contact doing everything we can to get as much capacity from power generation and in terms of pumping, as possible.

[11:05:07] So, we're working hard on that and I'm not going to say there's no vulnerability there, but it's not as critical as it was just several weeks ago.

CABRERA: And yes, we know that your state has not really been tested by a hurricane in several years. The last hurricane to hit Louisiana was Hurricane Isaac back in 2012, and then on top of it we've had all these other hurricanes hitting the U.S. in recent weeks.

FEMA, obviously, still on the ground responding to the past three hurricanes. Have you been in touch with them and are you confident FEMA will be able to help your state when the storm hits?

EDWARDS: I am and yes, we have. In fact, I have had multiple conversations with FEMA Administrator Brock Long as it relates to Nate, but also Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert, who advices the president on these matters. He and I have been in contact.

The good news is FEMA is ready. They have recovered sufficiently from their operations around Harvey in Texas that they are positioned well. We're in the same FEMA region as Texas. So, we're talking to Tony Robinson, who is the administrator for that region.

And we feel really good about FEMA and being prepared to help us as it relates to Nate. But you made a great point a while ago, Isaac in 2012 was a Category 1 and we had record flooding in many parts of Louisiana that were actually impacted more by Isaac than by Katrina, for example, and different parts of the state.

So, the lesson we learned there, it's not the category of the storm, it's all of those factors taken into account, whether it's moving fast or slow, what the storm surge is, in addition to the rainfall.

And so that was a Category 1 and that's why we cannot underestimate this storm, Nate, just because it's forecasted to be a Category 1.

CABRERA: Must be prepared. Governor John Bel Edwards, thank you for your time. We wish you the best as you prepare for this storm and we, of course, will stay in touch with you and your team.

EDWARDS: Thank you very much, Ana.

CABRERA: And now I want to turn to the investigation in Las Vegas. We now know the names and faces of all 58 people who lost their lives, but one key aspect of this tragedy has not come into focus yet, their killer's motive. A few new details have emerged, however. Authorities are analyzing computers, cell phones, and a note left in the shooter's hotel suite that reportedly has a series of numbers on it.

But five days after this massacre, investigators are still at loss to explain why a 64-year-old gambler and retired accountant amassed an arsenal and what led him to this killing perch 32 floors above the crowded Las Vegas strip.

CNN's Jean Casarez is live now in Las Vegas. And Jean, this must be frustrating for investigators?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: FBI's deputy director, Andrew McCabe, told CNN that at this point, the FBI has hundreds of people, Ana, working on this investigation and we were told that the weapons that were seized during the execution of the search warrants have been sent back east where the FBI will do the forensic examination.

And as we do know as they collected evidence, potential evidence, in the hotel room in his homes and in his vehicles, that electronic devices were found, that must include cell phones, computers, and various other things.

Forensic examinations of those items so important, but they can take a lot of time as well as forensic examination of any financial records. But at this point, no information on anything that has been found in that area.

What we do know, however, though, is that the killer may have possibly been intending on targeting other large venues. We were able to confirm that at the Chicago's Blackstone Hotel, a person by the name, the same name of the killer, Stephen Paddock, rented rooms there in August at the very same time that the Lallapaloosa Music Festival was taking place.

And he hotel that he booked at, the Blackstone, was facing where thousands of people would attend those music festivals. We have not been able to confirm it is the killer, but it was the very same name.

Also, right here in Las Vegas, The Ogden, a hotel condominium and one week before the country music festival, Route 91, there was another music festival, Life is Beautiful, and The Ogden was very close to that and there were rooms booked under the same name.

Now, police told us that they were going to be searching the surveillance video to see if, in fact, he stayed at the hotel that weekend. Obviously, nothing was done, but it gives you a sense of an intent of the killer.

[11:10:01] Now, along with that, Marilou Danley, we know she's in this country and she was the girlfriend of Stephen Paddock. The FBI has been interviewing her. She told through her attorney only one statement, that it was about two weeks before all of this that he said, here's a ticket, go to the Philippines, visit your family.

Well, the hairdresser of Stephen Paddock spoke with our own Kyung Lah, and she said something very different. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KALLIE BEIG, SHOOTER'S HAIRSTYLIST: 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)

CASAREZ: Now the girlfriend was not present for that conversation, but she's saying about two weeks ago she learned of a trip and according to the hairdresser he was talking about it two months ago -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Jean Casarez, more information and still a lot of answers that we don't have yet. Let's dive deeper into what we do know. At this point joining us, CNN law enforcement analyst and former assistant director of the U.S. Marshal Service, Art Roderick, Retired ATF Special Agent Sam Rabadi, and CNN senior law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, also former assistant director at the FBI.

So, Tom, let's get right to that new detail. The killer tried to buy tracer rounds. What does that tell you about his plan?

TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Hi, Ana. Well, it could mean he wanted to put those tracer rounds at the bottom of the magazine so he would know when he was running out of ammunition to switch guns.

It could mean that he wanted to try to help his aim and actually follow those tracer rounds, although if he can see the rounds going to the target, it would make it easier for people on the ground to determine where those bullets were coming from.

So, that's a double-edged sword for him if he actually used them. But I think it's very likely that he wanted to know when he was about to run out of ammunition so he could grab the next gun he had available and start shooting with that one.

CABRERA: Sam, apparently, he didn't get those tracer bullets because they were out. But if he did have them, what do you see being different about this attack?

SAM RABADI, RETIRED ATF SPECIAL AGENT: So, as was just mentioned a tracer rounds almost serve as a guiding method to guide a shooter's rounds to the intended target. You know, I'm not sure if it would have made a huge amount of difference.

It seems that when he was shooting fully and fully automatic mode it was just to get those rounds down into where the crowd was at, at the concert. So, it probably would not have made too much more of a difference again, as was just mentioned, probably more just to give them an indicator as to when the magazine was about to be empty so he could switch to the next gun.

CABRERA: Guys, we're also learning that days before the massacre the shooter rented a room at a Las Vegas condo complex. Jean mentioned this, before the Life is Beautiful Music Festival in August, a person by the same name also rented a room, had a reservation at a hotel that was going to overlook the Lallapaloosa Music Festival there.

Art, do you think this was research that this was perhaps researched the shooter was doing for the crime that he eventually committed or could that have been indications he was planning other attacks?

ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think he was trying to eliminate -- I tried to put myself tactically in this individual's mindset at the time and I think he went there, looked at it and eliminated that as a possibility because if you look at The Ogden and you look at some of the other places that he staked out and surveilled, they're very close to the venue, which means the individuals would have known where the rounds were coming from a lot sooner.

CABRERA: It would have been too easy to identify.

RODERICK: It would have been too easy to identify where the bullets were coming from. I think when you look at the venue and we did get a good look at that and just absolutely was stunning to see how he had set up overlapping fields of fire and was a quarter of a mile away from the venue, from the middle of the venue, which means it takes people a lot longer to figure out where the rounds are coming from --

CABRERA: When you hear from the victims and those who were there, they talk about the confusion and going different directions.

RODERICK: Confusion, initial panic, which gives him a lot more time to be on target.

CABRERA: That's so disturbing.

RODERICK: It is disturbing.

CABRERA: More clues coming out here, Tom, as perhaps evidence in this investigation, a note in the shooter's hotel room with numbers on it. But the sheriff tells "The New York Times" at least that this was not a manifesto, not a suicide note. Does it tell you anything about where the investigation is right now?

FUENTES: Well, Ana, we don't know if it was suicide note because if it was some kind of special code he invented then, you know, the best cryptologists in the world at the FBI will be looking at those numbers to see if that's what it was.

[11:15:11] You know, it could have been a coded message of some kind that we just don't know what it is until they analyze and crack it. It could be random numbers. It could be, you know, numbers he's going to use in the next lottery. We don't know. But I think the best people in the world are looking at those numbers and have been since the first day to try to determine if there is a hidden message in the meaning.

CABRERA: And message, no motive at this point. Tom, is that surprising to you?

FUENTES: Yes. It's a little bit. You know, we're so used to, you know, people that do these mass events, to put some kind of a manifesto or something on social media, why they're doing something, why they -- who they hate and why they hate them and all that type of thing.

And in this case without social media, and without other immediate friends that we've been able to talk to, we don't know yet what it is. I think that is one of the keys for his girlfriend and those interviews, is does she know -- not whether she knew he was planning this or how many guns he bought.

But did she know of other people he associated with, people he gambled with, invested with or traveled with or other friends? Is there another name that's been missing in this that may have had close contact with him and may have some clue as to what he did or -- I mean, why he did what he did? We don't know that yet.

CABRERA: Art, do you think there is any chance that we will not have a motive? We will never get that answer?

RODERICK: There's a possibility. I mean, when you look at how long he planned this in a meticulous planning he put into this, he could have well been in the mindset that I'm not going to leave anything behind so that they can figure out what the motive is.

It's interesting that he left that note. Was that just to have law enforcement concentrate their efforts on trying to decipher that note in the room or does it actually mean something, is it coded?

You have to think back to the individual's background. He's very organized. He's an accountant and auditor so he planned this out very well and that note could very well just be a red herring to throw law enforcement off the track.

CABRERA: Sam, I want to also ask you about the NRA putting out a statement saying the bump fire stocks that we know maybe impacted the number of casualties in this may be subject to additional regulations or the NRA saying it should be subject to additional regulations and urging actions by the ATF, not Congress. We know it was back in 2010, Sam, that ATF gave approval for these devices. Why were they deemed acceptable?

RABADI: Well, at the time, our ATF's Fire and Technology branch just like the many hundreds of products that are brought to them for different types of approvals, do a close examination of the item and in this case the bump stock and they have to go by the letter of the law and the law as it pertains to this is under the provision of the National Firearms Act. That item at the time met the definition and they had to issue the approval process. I understand the statement from the NRA and punting the statement to revisit the ruling or take a second look at it.

And, of course, that's something that ATF can be directed through the Department of Justice to take a second look if you have additional facts that have come forward but at the end of the day, even if ATF does that and says that this item should be banned what could happen is the manufacturer. That's the only way I see this item being addressed.

CABRERA: Sam, Art, Tom, thank you all for your insight and expertise in this discussion.

And reminder that tonight we have a very special report, Anderson Cooper's tribute to the 58 victims of the Las Vegas massacre, who they were, how they lived and how they will be remembered. Las Vegas Lost," a special commercial-free event at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

Still ahead this hour, a mysterious hint from President Trump flanked by military commanders inside the White House he warned of, quote, "The calm before the storm." We'll go to the White House for more details.

Plus, a CNN exclusive, the ex-British spy, who wrote that now infamous dossier alleging Russian efforts to help the Trump campaign. We are now learning he has met with the special counsel's team. What this could mean for the Russia investigation next.

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[11:24:02]

CABRERA: The calm before the storm, that was the ominous cryptic warning from President Trump last night speaking off the cuff at a photo op with the nation's highest ranking military officials and their spouses. Listen closely to what he says.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the storm?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Could be the calm before the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What storm, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: You'll find out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: You'll find out. I want to bring in CNN White House reporter, Kaitlan Collins, and CNN global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott. So, Kaitlan, did the White House offer anything to clarify what the president meant by those remarks?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: No, they haven't. They haven't responded to multiple requests for comment about what the president meant when he made that ominous remark last night, but I should note that this is an event that reporters were not supposed to attend.

The White House had issued a lid which means that the president is not scheduled to make any more public remarks and then shortly thereafter they called the reporters back into the room and that's when the president unprompted made these remarks about the calm before the storm.

[11:25:08] He was asked in the moment what storm was he referring to and he did not provide any more context, only said that you'll find out. But the White House did provide a read out of his meeting with these senior military leaders and it said they discussed things like North Korea, Afghanistan, Iran, some actual storms as hurricanes that have hit the United States in recent weeks, but no mention of any impending storms that could happen.

There's a high possibility here that the president was just speaking off the cuff. We'll see is a favorite phrase of his that he uses very often. So, whether or not he was foreshadowing or just speaking off the cuff again is really anyone's guess at this point -- Ana.

CABRERA: We know this president likes to create drama, that is his wheelhouse over the years. Elise, you and Kaitlan, both have some new reporting just out on the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson now widely seen by both officials inside the White House and within the diplomatic community as being on the way out?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, I mean, look this week with revelations of things he might have said about President Trump, possibly calling him a moron, just the idea that the secretary of state is not in, you know, supporting his president, I think has really chafed President Trump.

You know, he kind of knew about this when it -- before these stories started by NBC News that others have, you know, corroborated, ran, but the whole idea that it would become public and that -- Secretary Tillerson would be seen as being defiant of his president in that way, I think President Trump has been fuming.

He was certainly furious when this all came out, and now officials are, you know, talking about whether Secretary Tillerson could stay in his job, whether President Trump would want to keep him in his job. I think there's a real recognition in the White House that they can't have this continued turnover of staff.

You've seen a chief of staff, national security adviser, several communications advisers and cabinet member leave. So, I think the question is, whether President Trump can, you know, continue to work with this secretary of state. You have threats from North Korea and Iran. You have a big trip by President Trump to Asia coming up. But then on Secretary Tillerson's side, I think it remains to be seen how long he can stand this type of humiliation and this public airing.

You heard him earlier this week say I'm not from Washington, I really don't understand this idea that people are trying to take people down. The question is, can he stay with dignity? Does he feel he has a duty to this country and will he stay in this job as long as he can? I think these are the questions that the administration and Secretary Tillerson himself are going through.

CABRERA: And the rest of the country curious to see what happens with the end of all of this. Elise Labott and Kaitlan Collins, thank you both.

For more perspective, let's bring in National Security Analyst John Kirby, a retired rear admiral and former Pentagon and State Department spokesperson. So, first, Admiral, I would like to get your reaction to this new reporting from Elise and Kaitlan that Tillerson is widely seen as on his way out?

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RETIRED), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Yes. Very, very interesting. And if it's true boy, you can see that ball must have rolled really fast this week in light of the moron comments because before that, while it was widely known that Tillerson had had some frustrations working with the White House, it was largely over policy resourcing issues.

And that they were working it out at the staff level and sort of the typical grumbling, but now it seems like things might have been moving fast here after the comments that he allegedly made to military leaders at the Pentagon about the president's intelligence. This is not a president who suffers fools very well.

It's not a president who likes to suffer criticism, particularly from those on his team. So, one can see where this might have caused more tension than probably we appreciated earlier on.

CABRERA: Yes. The comment being that the president is a moron is the reporting that NBC News broke earlier this week. But we haven't seen the president attack Tillerson, which is interesting because he hasn't held back in terms of his fury projecting that on other officials like AG Jeff Sessions.

But if this is how many in the diplomatic community view Tillerson he's on his way out, how does that impact his work on so many of these crucial international issues like North Korea, like the Iran deal, and others?

KIRBY: It's certainly not going to help his credibility on the world stage to be seen as having, you know, caused perhaps irreparable rift with the president of the United States. That said, Ana, the president has undermined him in tweets before. I mean, just recently with the, you know, hey, that's OK, Rex, don't negotiate with North Korea. We'll take care of it another way. CABRERA: Calling it a waste of time.

KIRBY: Yes. Well, I think the president may have thought he was trying to help Tillerson in terms of pressurize the atmosphere for talks with North Korea with a message it likely sends to Pyongyang is, Tillerson's not really the man, he's not really the one we need to be negotiating with.

So, I don't think the president has done much to help him. I also think quite frankly, Ana, that Mr. Tillerson hasn't done a lot to help himself inside the State Department. I mean, there are still plenty of dozens of positions that are left unfilled and he hasn't done a really good job in terms of communicating inside the lifelines with our ambassadors, with our diplomats, the career foreign service officers about what his vision and goal --