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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Las Vegas Authorities Update Mass Shooting Investigation; New Storm Targets Louisiana; Trump's Stormy Language. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired October 6, 2017 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:03]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Did he mean war? Was he just making a joke? Was he doing the old, look, a squirrel thing?

THE LEAD starts right now.

The commander in chief, surrounded by his generals, teases that it is the calm before the storm. What does that mean? And how unsettling might U.S. troops and their families find those comments?

It could become a hurricane. It could be heading for New Orleans and there's little time to get out. Out of nowhere, deadly Tropical Storm Nate is becoming a major threat to the Gulf Coast. And here we go again.

Plus, new details about the mass murderer and his movements overseas from port to port before the massacre last Sunday. What, if anything, could this tell us about why he may have opened fire?

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We are awaiting a press conference from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to update the public on the latest in the investigation into that massacre there which left 58 dead and hundreds more wounded.

We will bring that you as soon as it begins.

But we're going to begin today with our politics lead and a cryptic remark by President Trump that might be fun, were he not the commander in chief at a time of serious tensions in the world.

But, of course, he is. The president and the first lady hosted a dinner with military leaders and their spouses, including his national security adviser, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, the secretary of defense, James Mattis, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other top military commanders.

The press was then suddenly unexpected called in for a photo-op. And listen to what President Trump had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

QUESTION: What's the storm?

TRUMP: It could be the calm before the storm.

QUESTION: What storm, Mr. President?

TRUMP: You will find out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The calm before what storm? "You will find out," he tells the world. Was he being playful or is he serious about an upcoming military strike by the U.S.?

Just a few minutes ago, the president in the Oval Office repeated the same line.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Mr. President, what did you mean by calm before the storm? What did you mean by that?

TRUMP: Thank you very much. You will find out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Wink. You will find out.

The White House echoing the same thing moments ago. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders saying you are going to have to wait and see what the president meant.

I asked a former senior national security official who served in a Republican administration about these comments.

He responded -- quote -- "It's unpresidential. Presidents wield great power, and they need to act differently than if they are just in real estate in Manhattan. What a president says has weight beyond the words. What a president says has weight beyond the man. And he doesn't seem to understand that at all" -- unquote.

President Trump yesterday praised his military leaders, but he also berated them in front of the TV cameras, saying this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, such public humiliations are part of the Trump leadership style, as everyone from Attorney General Sessions to Sean Spicer knows all too well.

But the former senior national security official that I spoke with, who is in frequent contact with current military leaders, says there is something more important going on here, with these tensions coming forward now in the midst of a nuclear standoff with North Korea, a country the president has threatened to -- quote -- "totally destroy" if it threatens the United States or its allies.

Says the official -- quote -- "It seems that the president has lost patience with the normal and healthy caution that the people who are actually responsible for military actions always has. And this is his way of trying to pressure them to give him what he wants. And there is a reluctance. These are naturally cautious people when it comes to use of force. The president has got this cartoon image that all good generals are Patton," the official says.

"These guys are trying to be prudent with the use of military power. Frankly, I think America wants these guys to be the least enthusiastic people in the room when it comes to committing their sons and daughters to combat. And there isn't one of them who is not embarrassed at being used as a political prop like that" -- unquote.

When it comes to North Korea, the president has even more publicly and strikingly undermined his own secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, suggesting that Mr. Tillerson was wasting his time by pursuing a diplomatic resolution to the standoff with North Korea.

Administration officials tell CNN that tensions are so fraught right now between them president and Tillerson, many suspect that Tillerson's days are numbered.

CNN Washington correspondent Ryan Nobles filed this report from the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a Friday in Washington. And once again, the job of a high-profile member of the Trump administration could be on shaky ground.

[16:05:00]

TRUMP: Thank you. Total confidence in Rex.

NOBLES: Despite the president's insistence that he's confident in his secretary of state and Rex Tillerson's denial that considered stepping down, top aides say their relationship is strained.

And a growing number of top diplomats and White House officials view the secretary of state's days are numbered.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Nothing has changed, despite what you may read in the media or watch on TV. I would certainly trust the president and my comments far above those of other reporters.

NOBLES: In the Briefing Room, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders continued to push back on the reports that Tillerson could be on the way out.

And a White House official tells CNN there is no indication that Tillerson's job is jeopardy, primarily because Chief of Staff John Kelly's concerned about the optics of another high-profile official administration official stepping down.

The uncertainty around Tillerson's future comes at a time when the administration is preparing to wade into one of its most foreign policy matters, decertifying the Iran nuclear deal hatched during the Obama administration.

TRUMP: Thank you will be hearing about Iran very shortly. Thank you.

NOBLES: Trump could decertify the deal as early as next week, forcing the decision to be made by Congress, which would have 60 days to determine a path forward.

While the president claims Iran has not lived up to the spirit of the deal, top administration officials like Defense Secretary James Mattis have warned pulling out completely is not in the best interests of U.S. national security.

JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Absent indications to the contrary, it is something the president should consider staying with.

NOBLES: It's expected that the White House will announce a broader long-range strategy for the Middle East, which will include the Iran deal and some beefed-up measures to strengthen inspections and plan for what happens when it expires.

But pushing that deal through Congress is always risky and will involve winning over fickle Republican hawks in the U.S. Senate, a job that could be made more difficult if the tension with the administration's top diplomat continues.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBLES: And Sarah Sanders was asked today about comments made by Senator Bob Corker that Rex Tillerson is among a group of aides that is separating the country from chaos.

Sanders responded by saying it is the president who is keeping the world from chaos -- Jake.

TAPPER: Ryan Nobles, thanks so much.

Joining me now is Leon Panetta. He's a former secretary of defense and CIA director under President Obama.

Mr. Secretary, always good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.

LEON PANETTA, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Nice to be with you, Jake.

TAPPER: How do you interpret the calm before the storm comments by President Trump? (LAUGHTER)

PANETTA: It's one of those moments where, you know, if something like that was said in a past presidency, you would really worry about it.

But this is a president who tweets, who engages now in verbal tweets as well, and says things like fire and fury, and we are going to destroy your country. And you begin to assume that it's more about getting attention than it is about proclaiming some kind of national policy.

I don't think it's responsible. I don't think presidents ought to do it. But I think in this instance we probably all should take a deep breath and try to assume that he's just making a play for attention.

TAPPER: You sound like you are talking about a neighborhood kid, as opposed to the president of the United States.

PANETTA: Well, that's -- you know, we have seen him do that for the purpose of getting attention. And he certainly is getting attention.

But at the same time, there is no indication that there is a strategy or a policy behind that statement.

TAPPER: You're a former secretary of defense, and you are close with Defense Secretary James Mattis, retired Marine general. Do you think this is helpful to him, frustrating, has no effect? What do you think?

PANETTA: No, I don't think it's very helpful at all.

You know, you don't want the president to be making casual statements about the possibility of a storm happening and conveying the impression that somehow we are going to be engaging in perhaps some kind of military action.

A secretary of defense doesn't need to deal with that. He's got problems enough just trying to figure out what strategies we might have to put in place if something goes wrong in North Korea or Iran or countless number of other places in the world.

So, I think Jim Mattis would prefer to have a president that speaks more commonly to the American people about things that involve the lives of their men and women in uniform.

TAPPER: There was something else that the president said to the military commanders I would like to get your feedback on. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[16:10:08]

TAPPER: What do you think of that, as a former secretary of defense?

PANETTA: You know, my experience is that our military commanders and our military chiefs of staff are very careful about the process of presenting military options to the president.

They want to think them out. They want to make sure that what the consequences will be. They want to make sure that whatever they recommend to the president will in fact work on behalf of protecting our national security.

So I'm not sure what kind of message he's trying to convey here. The fact is, as president of the United States, he is well-served by those who are careful in recommending military action to the president.

TAPPER: There is also a confrontation going on, not just between the president and the Pentagon, but also the president and the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, sources telling CNN that Tillerson's days might be numbered.

This comes, of course, after multiple reports that Tillerson privately referred to Trump as a -- quote -- "moron." The White House said today President Trump still has confidence in Tillerson. Do you think he can ride this out?

PANETTA: You know, in a more traditional administration, the likelihood is that the secretary of state would probably be fired.

And yet this is not a traditional administration. This is a president who has heavily criticized his attorney general, Attorney General Sessions, and somehow the attorney general remains in his job, although, with Secretary Price, he criticized him, and he's gone.

It is possible that Secretary Tillerson could survive in kind of a bad cop/good cop kind of scenario that has played out. He's also well- respected as part of the national security team.

But I just think it's going to be very difficult for a secretary of state whose credibility has been damaged here in terms of representing the president of the United States to have traction when it comes to dealing with foreign leaders and foreign crises.

I think it's going to be tough. But, as I said, it's very unpredictable with this president.

TAPPER: One of the tensions, of course, had to do with President Trump last weekend telling Secretary Tillerson via Twitter that Tillerson was wasting his time engaging in diplomatic talks with North Korea.

Beyond the tweet and the appropriateness of that, I want to ask you about President Trump's basic argument, which is that diplomacy, the kind that you are used to, that I'm used to covering, that we saw during the Clinton years, the Bush years, the Obama years, President Trump's argument is basically it hasn't worked.

Does he have a point there?

PANETTA: Well, I think, like Jim Mattis once said, that you cannot come to the point where you have exhausted your ability to try to find a diplomatic solution.

You keep trying. And you always know what the military option is about. But the effort here, particularly with North Korea, has to be about the continuing effort to try to find some kind of diplomatic solution.

The reality is, his comments basically limit the United States, limit the United States to a set of military options that, frankly, are all bad, in that they ultimately produce some kind of nuclear war.

That's unacceptable. I think the only option here is to continue a policy of deterrence and containment, to try to keep putting pressure on North Korea to ultimately come to the negotiating table to try to resolve this diplomatically.

The reality is, there really is no other option that the United States should pursue at this time. But the president's comments just are not very helpful in that way.

TAPPER: All right, former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta, always good to see you, sir. Thanks for stopping by.

PANETTA: Good to be with you, Jake.

TAPPER: Any moment now, we expect to hear from the Las Vegas police about Sunday's massacre in which 58 innocent people were slaughtered.

I want to go right now to CNN Kyung Lah. She's live for us in Las Vegas.

And, Kyung, what are you learning about the explosive material that the gunman had in his car?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The reason why we are very interested in this, Jake, is because we are not really sure.

Law enforcement isn't quite sure, according to information that CNN has received from a law enforcement source, on what the intent of this was. We know that there was 50 pounds, according to the latest information from law enforcement, that 50 pounds of Tannerite was found inside that Chrysler parked in the parking garage of the Mandalay Bay.

[16:15:03] The question here, Jake, is, was that Tannerite there for target practice, was that the intent, or was it to in effect rig the car in case the car were ever to be fired upon? So that's what investigators at this point are still trying to nail down, the intent here.

TAPPER: And, Kyung, you've also been reporting all day about detectives looking closely at the foreign travel that this mass murderer went on. What are you learning about his trips abroad and why might it be important?

LAH: It might be important because it's helping to paint the profile of this gunman, this mass killer. What they want to know is, does it mean anything?

There were quite a number of cruises that investigators have been able to track down and attach to this gunman, 20 of them so far. These were cruises that they took to Europe, that they took to the Middle East. What they don't know because we're talking about someone who did actively like to gamble, he did enlist in real estate application that he was a professional gambler. We know that he boasted to his brother that he like today gamble as much as $10,000 in a hand.

So what we don't know is what foreign travel was for, because so many cruises do have casinos a board but this is helping them to understand if it does mean anything, when you are talking about 20 cruises that this gun went to up.

TAPPER: OK. We are going to listen into the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department press conference.

UNDERSHERIFF KEVIN MCMAHILL, LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: Good afternoon, everybody. I'm Kevin McMahill. I'm the undersheriff for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and I am going to be providing you an update this afternoon on the Route 91 Music Festival mass murder.

To date, we have rundown more than 1,000 leads in this investigation. While some of it has helped create a better profile into the madness of this suspect, we do not still have a clear motive or reason why. I can assure you that we are aware of all aspects of this case, to include the rumor, innuendo and supposition by many in the public. And I get it. We all want answers.

We have looked at everything, literally, to include the suspect's personal life, any political affiliation, his social behaviors, economic situation, and any potential radicalization that so many have claimed. We are also aware, of course, that ISIS has repeatedly claimed responsibility, which today I can tell you that we have no known nexus to. We have been down each and every single one of these paths, trying to determine why, to determine who else may have known of these plans.

We will continue to investigate each and every one of these areas, as well as all the tips and leads that continue to come in. We must remain focused solely on truth and fact. It's very easy to assume. We are collectively working with FBI and other partners to try to get there.

But at this time, I'll tell you again that we have no credible information to report to you as to motivation. We will not stop and we will keep you up to date as anything develops on that. I'll tell you, though, that all of the rumor and speculation has not been helpful to our investigation. In the past, terror attacks or mass murder incidents, motive was made very clear, very clear on most of those case, by a note that was left, by a social media post, by a telephone call that was made, by investigators mining computer data.

Today, in our investigation, we don't have any of that uncovered. I wish we did. We will and are continuing to investigate with great tenacity and hope to arrive at an answer.

We reported in the media yesterday that we found the missing Hyundai Tucson with Nevada plate 114 baker 4 zero. It was in the Reno residence that we did a search warrant on, just a communication issue that we didn't know about when we reported to you.

Most of you also now know the name of the Mandalay Bay security guard who you all named in the media, and I'll just re-affirm to you that Jesus Campos is a true hero. I can tell you now, just a little bit more that I know about what he did that particular day. We now know that he was dispatched to what they call a door alarm on the 32nd floor.

He went up there to investigate the open door. And as he was doing his job, diligently, he came under fire by our suspect. As you know he was struck from the leg, he turned around and retreated, he notified his dispatch which was absolutely critical to us knowing the location, as well as advising the responding officers as they arrived on that 32nd floor.

[16:20:14] I can tell you that this was a remarkable effort by a brave and remarkable man. I want to say today that I don't think we've done enough, good enough job recognizing him and his actions, and for that apologize. I want to take the moment and clear the record that he's an absolute hero.

There's also a couple of questions that have continued to come in in regards to this Tannerite and what materials that we had. You all know we have given you this information about where we found the Tannerite in the vehicle. Tannerite is a binary explosive meaning that it's composed of two substances. We also have a significant amount of that Tannerite as a finished product and we had two chemicals of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder that when combined make the finished product of Tannerite.

I'm sorry to tell you I don't know what he was going to do with all of that Tannerite. I wish we did. And we continue to try to find that information out.

There is it a couple of things before I take any questions from you, however. First and foremost, is that our partners, special agent in charge, Aaron Rouse, has some information about new media plan that FBI has launched and I would like him to explain what that is.

Mr. Rouse?

AARON ROUSE, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Thank you, Undersheriff.

I'm very pleased to announce that Clear Channel local here in Las Vegas has partnered with the Metropolitan Police and FBI to reach as many people as we possibly can. We are starting an information campaign, seeking true knowledge as to what happened in the events leading up to and involving this incident. The billboards will be displayed throughout the Las Vegas area. They will have the badge of the metropolitan police and the seal of the FBI on it along with the terms, if you know something, say something, along with a phone number which we agreed will be 1-800-CALL -FBI.

This is critical for us as the undersheriff mentioned, we have not stopped, we will not stop, until we have the truth. Thank you.

MCMAHILL: Thank you, Mr. Rouse.

Next up, I would like to have the chair of the Clark County Commission, Steve Sisolak, come up and provide you some additional information as well.

STEVE SISOLAK, CLARK COUNTY COMMISSIONER: Thank you, Undersheriff, and I appreciate you all being here.

In the past four days we've had numerous names assigned to this event, this tragedy, and for official purposes and in the future, after consultation with the coroner, our first report coming out this afternoon, the official name for which this tragedy will be referred to will be the number one October. So the digit 1, October will be the official name listed on all reports and investigations moving forward on this incident. Thank you all very much.

MCMAHILL: With that, I'll take a couple of questions.

REPORTER: Undersheriff, where there any indications -- can you expand on the misinformation? A lot of rumors online on how (INAUDIBLE)

MCMAHILL: Yes, listen, I mean, we have a responsibility as law enforcement organizations to run down each and every lead, to debunk them, to determine whether there is any validity to those leads. And so, as I told you, we have a significant number of those. The investigative effort is massive. We continue to do it. But rumor and supposition doesn't help.

And so, those true tips and leads of things that people know are imperative to this investigation. But just because you think you know something doesn't necessarily mean that you do. If you have factual information that you can provide us in regards to this investigation, it would helpful to us. Thank you.

REPORTER: I understand motive is still unclear. However, can you confirm that investigators while recovering these numerous electronic devices and cameras, they may have recovered a video in which the suspect may have alluded to his motive or any type of video regarding the shooting?

MCMAHILL: I'm not aware that we have recovered any such video.

REPORTER: Undersheriff, have you been able to resolve the question of whether there was -- whether he had any help or whether there was an accomplice? Or can you eliminate the question of whether he was simply trying to find someone else?

MCMAHILL: The question is can we confirm whether there's an accomplice or not. I can tell you this: we're very confident that he did not -- there was not another shooter in that room. What I cannot confirm to you today and what we continue to investigate is whether anybody else may have known about this incident before he carried it out.

(INAUDIBLE)

[16:25:03] MCMAHILL: You're going to have to speak up, I'm sorry.

REPORTER: Concerning the question of Tannerite and it was being used for, was there any indication that any that was found in his vehicles or his home, that there was a chance that he was putting together IED, shrapnel with containers or anything else like this, or was this a standard package that's normally sold?

MCMAHILL: Right. The question is about the Tannerite that we found, and whether we believe he was trying to make it into an IED, I can tell you, we found it in a condition that it was and it did not resemble an IED.

REPORTER: In the video of the Mandalay Bay, have you reviewed all that to see if somebody else came with him all those days prior?

MCMAHILL: The question is that we reviewed the video from the Mandalay Bay -- I can tell you there is voluminous amount of video for many different locations. We have reviewed it and we have not located any other person that we believe to be a suspect at this point.

REPORTER: Was there any indication that someone else used his card key to get into his room while he left the hotel?

MCMAHILL: The question is do we know that anybody used a room key for the hotel room. And we did not believe that happened.

REPORTER: Can you comment on whether the shooter mental health diagnosis, whether the report he was on valium or other medication?

MCMAHILL: The question is about medical status, that is another aspect of the investigation we are keenly interested in and we continue to investigate that.

Go ahead, sir.

REPORTER: The timeline, so the security officer tells the timeline that he was shot, at 10:18, that's when he tells you he was shot. When was he shot?

MCMAHILL: I can give you the exact time off -- the timeline off camera, I don't remember -- I don't have it in front of me as we sit here.

Be clear about the timeline, right? What the sheriff and I have both explained to you at different times is information that we had initially, we went back and reconciled it with what was on the body worn camera as well as what was in our computer aided dispatch, the CAD data, and so, all the time line that we represented to you is what we have to the best of our knowledge today.

I'm sorry, I cut you off, ma'am.

REPORTER: I'm just wondering, are you looking into the question whether he was king of obsess with the month of October since he bought the guns in October, and lots of equipment in October?

MCMAHILL: I can tell you that our investigation is focused -- I'm sorry, the question is, are we looking specifically at the month of October? The answer to that is we are looking at every aspect from birth to death of this suspect in this case.

REPORTER: So just to go back to the security guard. Are you able to tell us what time the alarm went off on the 32nd floor and why it was going off? And is there any -- is it at all possible the security guard was shot before he fired into the crowd?

MCMAHILL: So, you have two part question. What time did the suspect go up? I'm sorry the security officer arrived to check the door and why, the question -- the answer is the door alarm went off indicating the door was ajar so the officer was dispatched off to check that. That specific time we have it, I don't what it is.

And I'm sorry, your second question?

REPORTER: Is it possible he was shot before Paddock would begin firing --

MCMAHILL: The question is was the security officer shot before the suspect was shooting into the crowd? The answer to that is yes, we believe he was shot -- I'm sorry we believe he was shooting into the crowd and then the security officer was shot during that event.

I'm taking two more. Go ahead.

REPORTER: The percentage of injuries, I know we had discussed earlier. Do we know how many people were actually shot versus the trampling injuries or anything else?

MCMAHILL: That's the question that you're going to -- the question is, how many people were shot versus other trampling injuries? As you well know, the number that we continued to look at, both for dead and injured and we still have obviously critically injured people in the hospitals, you notice I'm not giving you a number, because that number continues to change every day. People are being discharged from the hospital.

And I'll let the coroner answer those questions because he's best provided to give you the information in regards to whether somebody received a gunshot wound or another type of wound.

REPORTER: To clarify a report about a key being used, his room key being used when his car was out of the garage. Did that happen? MCMAHILL: The question is, was his vehicle being used while his room

key, was his vehicle out of the garage while room key was being used? I'm not aware of that information, sir, no.

Last question.

REPORTER: Might an address this at the beginning, so maybe two 22,000 people have belongings there. When are they going to get it back? When are they maybe the FBI and Metro can tell us?

MCMAHILL: Yes, so we've answered that question a couple of times, Ken. But the question is, when are people going to be able to get their property back. As you can imagine, we have thousands of pieces of property that were left on the field that particular day.

We are diligently working to find how it is that we can appropriately document the evidence where it lay, and catalogue it, collect it, and then find the mechanism to get that back to the people that actually own it. I believe we are still probably about four days away from allowing that to happen.

And final thing I'd just like to close by saying to you that it's really imperative that the listening public have a very clear understanding that there are still --