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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Police Believe Suspect Was Homeless; Mother: Montano Diagnosed As Paranoid Schizophrenic; Obama Likens GOP To Iran's Hardliners On Deal; Official: Russian Hackers Number One Suspects In DOD Hack; Officials: Window, Seat Cushion Parts Have Washed Up On Reunion Island; Republicans Try To Avoid "Oops" Moments In First Debate. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired August 6, 2015 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Within a minute or two, it was covered. It was definitely very, very fast.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Called it luck, serendipity or a blessing, two police officers were working a car crash right in front of the theater and we are able to race to the scenes.
DON AARON, NASHVILLE POLICE SPOKESPERSON: The officers stopped what they were doing and immediately ran to the theater. Our response to the theater after the gunman or active shooter situation began was probably 60 to 90 seconds.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE DISPATCHER: All cars be advised, shots fired, officer involved.
VALENCIA: Minutes later the SWAT team converged into the theater, donning gas masks when the suspect tried to escape.
AARON: The gunman tried to go out through a rear door of this particular theater. When he did, they were other officers waiting.
VALENCIA: Montano was killed when police opened fire preventing a potential tragedy.
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: The shady-looking guy stood up with what looked like two bags.
VALENCIA: The frantic 911 call reveals the chilling moments inside the Nashville theater.
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: He pulled out like a hatchet and started attacking a family, and then he pulled out a gun, and we all ran out of the theater.
"STEVEN," VICTIM OF THEATRE ATTACK: We did nothing to bring this upon ourselves. I am very, very grateful that no one else got injured other than the person who perpetrated this.
VALENCIA: Montano is believed to have been homeless. We reached out to the National Rescue Mission who told us he checked in there on Monday, but didn't stay the night.
Also on that same day, his mother called authorities to file a missing person's report saying her son was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic and quote, "had a hard time taking care of himself." Police now are trying to figure out the motive and understand what inspired Montano to do this -- Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Nick Valencia in Nashville, Tennessee, thanks.
Up next on THE LEAD, President Obama comparing the Republican critics of the Iran deal with Iranian hardliners chanting death to America in the streets, saying that they made common cause, but can the president get enough people in his own party on board?
We'll talk to a crucial key important skeptic of the deal, Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Topping our World Lead today, a choice between war and diplomacy, that's how President Obama is framing this upcoming congressional vote on the controversial nuclear deal with Iran. In a speech yesterday, Mr. Obama said if Congress does not sign off on this proposed agreement, military confrontation is inevitable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We have to be honest. Congressional rejection of this deal leaves any U.S. administration that is absolutely committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon with one option -- another war in the Middle East.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Republicans fired back accusing the president of presenting false choices and sending up straw men to knock down. Let's talk about --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: This is an enormous national security debate. I wish he would tone down the rhetoric and let's talk about the facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Let's talk about the president's push for the Iran deal with Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Mr. Chairman, thanks so much for being with us.
I want to get to the choice that the president posed there in a second, but first I want to get your reaction to something perhaps the most pointed part of his speech. It started with his talking about Iranian hardliners opposed to the deal. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: In fact, it's most hardliners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It's those hardliners chanting death to America who have been most opposed to the deal. They're making common cause with the Republican caucus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: They are making a common cause with the Republican caucus. Your reaction.
SENATOR BOB CORKER, CHAIRMAN, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: To me it's just an attempt to keep Congress from really debating this issue on the merits and I think it demeans the debate. I think you know the president began with a veto threat over us even being able to weigh in.
And we passed overwhelmingly the Iran Nuclear Review Act, which gave us this voice. To me this is a sign of someone who really doesn't want the issue debated on its merits. He wants to turn it into partisan issue, but yet today in a committee hearing, I'm sitting there with Bob Menendez --
TAPPER: A Democrat.
CORKER: Ben Cardin, the ranking member, we all have concerns about this deal. So the concerns about the Iran deal, which is a significant foreign policy issue right now are very bipartisan. To me it marginalizes, I think it probably infuriates some of the people that are on the bubble on the Democratic side of the aisle that are really trying to make up their mind.
TAPPER: Now the argument he's putting out there is not about what could be or should be, but he's saying if Congress rejects this deal, partners such as Russia and China will end their sanctions anyway, so what will happen in the president's view is the U.S. is pushing sanctions while Iran feels free to build a bomb with no restraints and no deal keeping them from building a nuclear bomb.
Is he not correct that once Iran did so, and they certainty would, the U.S. would then feel forced to take military action. Is he not right that this is ultimately the choices we have today?
CORKER: So I don't think there is anybody that believes that. I know Iran does not believe that this president would take military action. We had testimony both classified and otherwise that certainly presents a very different viewpoint.
We've also had the military officials that have been a part of these negotiations, and never -- never has the military option been on the table.
[16:40:05] So most people believe and again we've had just an inordinate number of hearings and briefings, most people believe that Iran would in no way rush to build a nuclear weapon because they would fear something like he just said happen.
So I think at the end of the day, what the president is attempting to do is to create a scenario, where instead of members of Congress, which everyone knew we would weigh in, Iran did, China did, and Russia did.
Everyone knew we were going to weigh in is to set up a scenario where people are not able to vote their conscience on whether they really believe this is something that's going to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
And instead for people to fill intimidated that if they express a different view, they are being viewed as one of the hardliners in Iran or they are creating a scenario that leads to war neither of which is true.
So again I wish he would tone that. I think when people get in situations where they feel like they're losing the argument, they start throwing out these other kinds of things to try to rally the troops.
And again, I think it demeans the debate that we're having that is in fact the most important foreign policy debate we're likely to have while we're here in the Senate.
TAPPER: Where is it right now in terms of a head count? Is there a veto proof majority? Will there more than 66 senators voting against this agreement?
CORKER: So I have no idea, and Jake, I haven't even attempted to call somebody to go in one direction or another. We spent the entire month trying to makes sure that everybody fully understood what the deal is about, what are the options?
I don't know, I mean, there are a couple maybe three key senators on the Democratic side that depending on which way they go, I think will sway numbers of others? I'm not going to mention names. I'll let you editorialize.
TAPPER: I'm just guessing.
CORKER: But you know, at this point, I think it's very fluid. I think people likely so will go home. They're going to spend some time with their constituents, going to decompress with all that's been put at them relative to this deal.
And I think people will come back, have a very sober and dignified debate and they will be a decision made. Some will make their decision over the holidays. Some I think will wait until they come back. TAPPER: All right, Senator Bob Corker, thanks so much. Enjoy your trek through the great state of Tennessee. We appreciate you being here.
Coming up, seat cushions and airplane windows, Malaysia says more debris from a plane has washed up on an island in the Indian Ocean. Do they hold clues to the fate of missing Flight 370?
Plus Republicans getting ready for the first presidential debate, and surely hoping they will not repeat mistakes of candidates past. We will relive some of the biggest oops moments in debate history. That's coming up.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The Politics Lead, Cleveland, Ohio, the site of tonight's Republican debate where Donald Trump is all set to face off against his Republican rivals. The Republican frontrunner just touched down on the tarmac and quickly addressed reporters. Let's listen -- we do not have that sound ready.
Let's listen to some breaking news just into CNN. They are the top military advisers in the Pentagon and counsel to the White House, the Joint Staff. For the past 11 days, their e-mail server has been shut down by a cyberattack.
A defense official confirmed to CNN yesterday, a sphere phishing attack penetrating the Defense Department's unclassified e- mail network and now an official tells us that Russian hackers are the number one suspects in this hack.
Let's get right to CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Star. Barbara, this sounds very serious. Why do officials think that Russian hackers are behind this?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It was what they saw about 11 or 12 days ago when they saw an intrusion into the system. They very quickly took the whole thing down and have been rebuilding it, trying to get it back up since.
What they saw was a very sophisticated attack, almost a stealthy attack, a phishing attack where suspicious e-mails come into the system, and they penetrated. They got into the unclassified system.
Here's what officials are telling us. It was so sophisticated there are really only two entities that could pull it off, China or Russia. China tends to attack by trying to drain data out of a system as they did with the Office of Personnel Management when they launched a massive attack there.
That's not the Russian style. The Russians go much more for malicious activity. That is why tonight the Pentagon thinks the leading theory is not only was it the Russians.
But the Russians were specifically targeting the Joint Staff and that includes the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Martin Dempsey, President Obama's top military adviser. An unclassified system but very serious -- Jake.
TAPPER: Barbara Starr, thank you so much.
Our other World Lead today, there are more potential clues in what may be one of the most confounding puzzles in the world right now, the hunt for and confirmation of debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared more than 500 days ago with 239 people on board.
France has just announced it will be adding paramilitary operations and new aerial and maritime units in the search for plane debris off the coasts of Reunion Island where that piece of wing was discovered last week.
Malaysia's foreign minister is saying parts of the plane's windows and seat cushions have washed up on the beaches of that island. Some experts are saying not so fast. There's no concrete evidence this debris is from the plane.
Sunlen Serfaty is on the story for us. She has with us a plane cushion from a 777. Sunlen, what could a cushion like this show investigators?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it could potentially show them an awful lot. Underneath every cushion there is a label. It has a serial number when it was last inspected, when it was manufactured.
[16:50:02] And of course, investigators could potentially look at all these clues and match that to MH370's records, but all of this is contingent, of course, on the condition of these seat cushions and this other debris that the Malaysians claim they have found, items that potentially could have been in the ocean for over a year.
SERFATY (voice-over): As investigators wrap up their second full day in Toulouse, France, today reports of chilling new discoveries. Seat cushions, pieces of windows, and aluminum material, the Malaysian government said all washed up on the same shore on Reunion Island where that large wing part was found.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are many items collected and we have sent to the authority for verification, but that I cannot confirm is from MH370. They all need to be verified.
SERFATY: The Malaysian prime minister says the wing part or flaperon is from MH70, but French investigators inspecting the part have yet to confirm with certainly it belongs to the missing plane.
The mix messages represent another public tug of war between officials, which has set off the families of the missing victims. Desperate for answers, today they stormed into the Malaysia Airlines office in Beijing, demanding to know the truth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We will go to the site to check it out by ourselves. We don't believe any of their words, which are all lies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now we lack a lot of confidence in the Malaysian government so whatever they say, we just feel like they rushed it.
SERFATY: In the lab, French analysts continue to focus in on the flaperon using equipment like these high-powered microscopes to analyze paint chips and metal fatigue, doing everything they can to find out for sure if the piece is from MH370. Maybe even learn what happened to the doomed plane in its final moments.
SERFATY: The Australian Transportation Safety chief just says this evening that nothing they believe has been retrieved from the site. Let alone nothing that resembles a plane or nothing potentially from MH370 so, Jake, a lot of questions still remain.
TAPPER: All right, Sunlen Serfaty, thank you so much. When we come back, no matter how much a candidate prepares, it is the unscripted moments that are remembered long after a debate ends.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. We are counting down the hours and minutes until the first debate of the 2016 race in our Politics Lead today. Tonight's stakes are quite high. A bad moment tonight could very well follow a candidate around for the entire campaign.
ANNOUNCER: Republican candidates for president of the United States.
TAPPER (voice-over): Primary and caucus debate moments can live on in the public consciousness long after they impact the race.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: You're likable enough, Hillary.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.
TAPPER: The candidates' performances could stay with them for years to come. You can bet on it.
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Ten thousand bucks?
TAPPER: Mitt Romney's 2011 wager did not help him fend off the impression that he was out of touch with average Americans, keeping him ultimately out of this mansion.
Moments can linger feeding into larger doubts. The political world still has a difficult time forgetting when Rick Perry forgot.
RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The third one I forget. Oops.
TAPPER: Though it may have been this primary debate moment when Perry truly lost support of conservatives angry about illegal immigration.
PERRY: If you say we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they've been brought there, by no fault of their own, I don't think you have a heart.
TAPPER: In 2007, Hillary Clinton hurt herself when she seemed to take two different positions on driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.
CLINTON: I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do it and we have failed. We have failed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You thought it made sense to do it.
TAPPER: Sometimes the killer blow is self-inflicted. Sometimes it's in what a candidate does not say. When Tim Pawlenty begged off an opportunity to attack Romney on health care reform, two Romney's face, it seemed to show he lacked the instincts necessary to win.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": Your rival is standing right there. If was Obamneycare on Fox News Sunday, why is it not Obamneycare standing here with the governor right there.
TIM PAWLENTY: President Obama is the person who I quoted.
TAPPER: Indeed while general election presidential debates get far more attention -- first impressions can be shaped in these earlier ones. The command shown by Ronald Reagan in this 1980 New Hampshire primary debate echoes today.
RONALD REAGAN: I am paying for this microphone.
TAPPER: It was Mr. Freen, not Green, but that didn't seem to matter. A moment does not have to adlibbed to be effective as Walter Mondale showed four years later.
WALTER MONDALE: I'm reminded of that ad, where's the beef?
TAPPER: No doubt some candidates are bringing with them a few zingers in their pockets hoping to use them to historical effect.
TAPPER: I'll get a chance at the Republican debate right here on CNN on September 16th, the second Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simivalley, California, September 16th.
That's it for THE LEAD today. I am Jake Tapper. I will turn you over for Brianna Keilar. She is filling in for one Mr. Wolf Blitzer. She's in a place we like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM." It's right next door -- Brianna.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news, leading suspect, sources say Russia is likely behind the cyberassault on the e-mail system of the Pentagon's Joint Staff, but there maybe --