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Man Attacks Gay Nightclub in Orlando; Interview with Congressman Michael McCaul; Forty Nine Killed, 53 Injured In Orlando Terror Attack; Donald Trump Responds To Orlando Attack. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired June 13, 2016 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: -- perhaps hundreds at any time in this country that have some expression of support for these groups, whether they follow them on Twitter, they might have had a communication on Facebook. The fact is you can't lock them all up.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: But you had two bites at this guy, and you're allowed to put him on a no-fly list on the basis of investigation. But they couldn't do anything even to the same agency that did the background check for the weapon to even call him and consult with this guy that you investigated in two different incidents.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: That's law. If you don't find the guy guilty, you can't do anything to him. And if you talk to FBI agents, to local police, they want to do these things to these people. But again, how many rights do you take away? Who would rebel as soon as we say we talked to you the other day, and because of that discussion we're now taking off all of your rights to no-fly list, take away your guns, all that? There would be a hue and cry against something like that. That's the tough part about living in a democracy.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: General, Jim, thank you for all the information. We'll be back with you shortly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
CAMEROTA: All right, we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world right now. This is NEW DAY that you're watching. We're coming to you live from Orlando, Florida. This of course the scene of the worst mass shooting in this nation's history. Fifty people killed at a gay nightclub. Here you can still it's still behind us. And 53 other people wounded.
Not since September 11th have we endured a more deadly attack on American soil. We are finding out more about the gunman, including his chilling call to 911 pledging his allegiance to ISIS minutes after starting this massacre.
CUOMO: And this is still very much a developing situation. The names of those were killed, families desperate for information still not knowing, brought home by an image from investigators of them walking through the nightclub just shortly before taking out this murder and hearing cellphones ringing, ringing. There are still dozens of people in surrounding hospital that families have not identified them yet. So that's a big part of this in connection also with this terror investigation.
We're taking it all on for you this morning here on CNN. Let's begin our coverage. First up, we're going to have Laura Sanchez about what happened this morning here on this nightclub in Orlando. No, we're going to go to McCaul first? Great. Congressman McCaul, we have you with us. Obviously as we're learning more about the situation we have to process how to respond in terms of leadership. You heard what Secretary Clinton just said on the air here about what needs to be done to fight the war on terror, what the situation with access to weapons is about in this country. What is your response?
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL, (R) TEXAS: Well, I do think we have to define the enemy for what it is, radical Islamist terror. I think we need to take the fight to the enemy over there so they can't come here.
And I think in this particular case you probably have an individual who is radicalized over the Internet. We know he had contact also with the foreign fighter, a suicide bomber that prompted an FBI investigation. That's something we'll be taking a look at as well.
But stopping this phenomena that the police departments call losers to lions where a person is very vulnerable to be radicalized in the United States, this individual is born in the United States, and now has pulled off the deadliest terror attack since 9/11, these are all policy questions we need to be looking at. But I would hesitate to go down a partisan road at this time. We're still grieving and the bodies have yet to even be buried at this point in time.
CUOMO: Two questions. The secretary says there is no question that there is an element of terror, of murderers that are using Islam to generate support. She says there is Islamic terror. She doesn't want to get caught up into what to call it because she says that's an excuse for dealing with what the real problem is. When you call it Islamic terror you justify the likes of ISIS who want this to be a holy war. Do you accept that rationale?
MCCAUL: No, I don't. I haven't for a while. I think you need to define it to defeat it. That's any military strategist will tell you that. We didn't dance around the Nazis or communism in the past. We've always defined our enemy and found a way to defeat it. I think we are in many respects, this is a symptom of the fact that we may be losing in many respects this war.
We've had San Bernardino, Chattanooga, now this horrible tragic shooting. We're seeing the caliphate expanding into northern Africa. I just came back from Sinai, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya. These are all places were ISIS is not on the run but on the rise. And that concerns me from homeland security perspective because from there they can conduct external operations.
In addition, they use the internet in a very savvy, sophisticated way to radicalize individuals in the United States. I think we need to do a better job at the counter narrative out there in reaching out to the Muslim community to make sure people don't radicalize here in the United States.
[08:05:13] CUOMO: Congressman, another frustration in this situation is that the FBI had a lot of bites at this apple, right? In 2013, this man, this murderer was actually the focus of an investigation. In 2014, he was part of a different investigation. They could have put him on a no-fly list during those investigations until the case was closed, but they couldn't do anything during his background check. The FBI, as you know, conducts them. That is very frustrating to people. Do you think that that should change? Because it gets tricky, right? Because you can put them on a no-fly list, but the FBI couldn't do anything to even additionally question this man when he was trying to get the weapons that would ultimately lead to all these murders. Do you think that's right or do you think that rule should change?
MCCAUL: First, I talked to the FBI yesterday about these two investigations, one based on inflammatory comments to coworkers, including terrorist comments. Number two, the meeting with this individual who became one of the biggest suicide bombers in Syria, which concerns us as well. I think if you talk to them they'll tell you they didn't have the what's called predication and evidence under the constitution to properly contain, arrest, and charge this individual. Is it frustrating? Yes. Are we going to be look at that and asking questions about what happened? Of course.
CUOMO: But that's what I'm asking you. It's not about closing the case or whether the FBI did that wrongly or rightly. I'm saying while they were investigating him, they could have put him on a no-fly list, right. But they weren't able to abridge his rights to get a weapon. And even when they were well known to him, when they found out he was trying to get a weapon, because the FBI does the background check on the federal level, they weren't able to even question him. They didn't even have the power. Do you think they should?
I know that gets sticky, because it starts to dovetail with Second Amendment rights. But do you think it should be something to be considered? If someone is important enough to be investigated federally for terrorism, should you be able to talk to them before they get a gun?
MCCAUL: Of course. And I think the FBI could have in this case. I don't know whether they did or not.
CUOMO: They did not. They say they could not because that's not part of the background check system. You're not allowed to interview people about why they want a gun or not. That's the law. I'm saying, should that law change? You just said yes, it should. That will anger a lot of Second Amendment proponents.
MCCAUL: I think there's a background check for any weapon that is purchased.
CUOMO: There is. MCCAUL: The no-fly list was based on hunch or suspicion. Remember,
the courts have ruled, the appellate courts, that this type of weapon is protected by the Second Amendment. Chris, it hasn't gone to the U.S. Supreme Court. Perhaps it's time it does that and have the Supreme Court rule and resolve this situation once and for all. But this issue --
CUOMO: But the weapon, congressman, the weapon is a side issue. Let's say it's legal. Let's say it's OK, let's say it's fine. I'm saying the FBI didn't have the authority to pick up the phone and say we know who you are. We've talked to you before. We understand that you want to get a long gun and a semiautomatic pistol. We want to talk to you first. They don't do that right now. It's not part of what's allowed because that would be seen as an abridgement of the right. That's not part of the legitimate background check. Do you think that rule should change?
MCCAUL: I do know when you purchase a firearm you go through a legitimate background check. That includes running data list, databases within the FBI. I'm not quite as sure that they wouldn't have that opportunity. And I think in this case --
CUOMO: But if they don't, do you think they should? Do you think the FBI should be able to say, we investigated you, we want to talk to you again?
MCCAUL: Again, Chris, I don't have all the facts in this case. If, indeed, these were terrorism leads that opened up, I think the FBI should have access to interview him, as they did on multiple occasions. I don't think that would preclude them from interviewing him.
Let's not forget what the real threat is. Many of these terrorism cases involve stolen firearms, AK-47s. An outright ban is not going to solve the problem. But I do think that the FBI should have full access to any potential terrorist in this country that is looking to purchasing a firearm.
CUOMO: Congressman, it's definitely something worth looking at. That's why I'm asking you about it. And I appreciate you being on NEW DAY. As always this conversation will continue.
MCCAUL: Thank you, Chris.
CAMEROTA: OK, the people who were inside the gay nightclub here in Orlando and survived the terror attack describe, of course, a horrifying scene. But they also describe heroism.
[08:10:00] Joining us now is Christopher Hansen. He was inside the club when the shots rang out. Chris, how are you this morning?
CHRISTOPHER HANSEN, WAS INSIDE DURING ORLANDO ATTACK: I'm a little better than I was yesterday.
CAMEROTA: Have you had much sleep?
HANSEN: Not much. Not much. It's still hard to absorb.
CAMEROTA: And can you tell us what happened? I know that people started hearing gunshots and you thought it was part of a song. Then what happened?
HANSEN: Everybody started to flee. Bodies were dropping. Blood was flying everywhere. Glass was shattering behind the bar. I dropped down to the ground when the guy next to me. After you hear the bang, bang, bang several times and you look and see everybody going down, and screaming for help, you know it's time to go. It's a flee moment. So I dropped down to the ground and I crawled my way out toward the back exit.
CAMEROTA: Did you see the gunman?
HANSEN: I did not see him.
CAMEROTA: So you were crawling. Was there a crowd of people crawling?
HANSEN: Some people had dropped down to the ground. They were crouching. Some were going off into the bathroom. I continued on toward the back patio. I knew that was an exit.
CAMEROTA: You had been to the Pulse nightclub and knew how to get out?
HANSEN: No. This was actually my first time being here. I just moved here from Orlando. But going to the bar, it was Latin night. I didn't know the language. So music is international. It speaks to you. It's love. You just move to it. But there were three different rooms to it. And just like any new person that goes into a nightclub or a place that they had never been to, you observe it. You look around. And so I walked around. I went to the bar, got a beverage, and then I walked patio and walked back around and went to the main area and to the back of it where some of the dancers were just to kind of see what was there.
HANSEN: And I found the Latin room was very fun, very outgoing, very upbeat. There was salsa dancing, cha-cha, all sort of different types of dancing.
CAMEROTA: That's where the shooting started?
HANSEN: That's where the shooting was.
CAMEROTA: Were you with friends?
HANSEN: I didn't know anybody that was there.
CAMEROTA: So when you made it out, you crawled out to the patio, then what happened?
HANSEN: I got up and then I crouched and I was zigzagging my way. There was a whole bunch of people that had gone out and the privacy fence went down. And that's when everybody was just like going. But I was like down and zigzagging my way hearing the boom, boom, boom. It was just continuous, like the length of a song. It was just over and over and over and over and over again. And I made it all the way across the street. That's when I saw those that had been wounded and was trying to safety with that.
CAMEROTA: And you did assist. In fact, we have video of you that we were just showing. You were carrying somebody who was wounded off to get help. How did you have the courage and the wherewithal to stay in the area and begin helping people?
HANSEN: When I realized that the blood that was on me wasn't mine. And then I wiped away -- because I had to make sure it wasn't mine. In a moment like that, you don't know. And so, with me being able to get up, I chose to stay because where else would I go? The cars were in valet. Nobody was going anywhere. And I'm not going to leave these people behind that are a victim of a hate crime that we later found out that was a hate crime. And there's no point if you can help somebody, you should help them. And the girl we carried was hit in the arm. She also had heart issues. She was having trouble breathing. So I was trying to keep her conscious.
CAMEROTA: You were talking to her?
HANSEN: Asking her questions, asking where she was from. She actually recently located down here from Ohio as well. And I'm a tourist, she's a tourist and we were able to communicate that way. And we found out she was born in 97, and --
CAMEROTA: You were just asking her questions and you found you had a bond?
CAMEROTA: And was it comforting to her?
HANSEN: It was to keep her awake. I wanted to make sure she was alert. You're at a bar. You're drinking, then you're shot. You have got blood loss. So you don't know what's going on, what's going to happen. You know, a wound can hurt somebody a different way than it can another person. Not each person is the same. So you have to treat each one as a unique situation. And I was not leaving her until she was assisted. She was yellow tagged.
CAMEROTA: What does that mean?
HANSEN: That means she was a priority right away.
CAMEROTA: So you were staying with her until the paramedics were able to get to her?
HANSEN: Yes. I sat her head in my lap and said get comfortable. And then we all moved her. And we see -- and then I just sat with her until they were able to take her. And then I continued on down and ran into one of the bartenders who was limping. I thought she was hurt. She wasn't. She just had her shoe off. I was helping her meet her girlfriend so that they could show they were together and they met. She said I can do it. I said no, I'm not leaving you. I just left a scene with a bunch of situations. You were there. Everybody is in -- this is your bar, this is your area. I'm sure you're -- and I wanted to make sure there was somebody that could at least be with her. Because you don't know.
CAMEROTA: Of course.
HANSEN: They said there was a bomb, they were doing all sorts of things.
CAMEROTA: Chris, I am sure everyone appreciates the comfort you lent to them and the friendship you lent to them that night. I'm hoping that somehow you'll get past these past 48 hours. Thanks so much for sharing.
[08:15:04] HANSEN: I really hope so. I pray for the families and hope they can get through it as well.
CAMEROTA: We do, too. Thanks so much for being here.
HANSEN: You're welcome. Thank you.
CAMEROTA: All right, Donald Trump has been very vocal about this. He's been blasting President Obama and Hillary Clinton in their response to this Orlando terror attack. We'll be speaking with him live momentarily. We'll be right back.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Let's talk now with Florida Senator Bill Nelson. Obviously, Senator, I'm sorry to see you under these circumstances. As you know, everybody feels as though they have a connection to the people who were victimized here in Orlando.
A lot of firsts that are of the most horrible variety, the most death lost in connection to terror since 9/11, the deadliest gun attack in America's history. This was the largest attack we've ever seen on a gay population.
Most of these victims could be the largest concentration of Latino victims. What is the message to your state and the country about what to do now?
SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: This is an act of terror because it's going to be ISIS inspired, plus a hate crime. Either one is terror. Terrorists try to intimidate with fear. The message is don't succumb to fear.
[08:20:01]CUOMO: People are afraid. They say this proves that this is happening more often. We're not fighting ISIS effectively. My life is not as safe as it was ten years ago. Is that true to you?
NELSON: That's exactly why we have to go on about our daily lives so that they don't win. Because if we cower, if we miss our productivity, if we don't support the grieving that are here, then we're missing a part of the character of the American people.
The character of the American people is deep down inside. Pull it out. You'll see this country respond, just as we did after 9/11 and now in a new kind of terror. It's not one planned from outside.
It's one that is coming from within and in a free open society, that's one of the things that we are going to have to (inaudible).
CUOMO: The nation is debating what change means right now, right? That's what the election should be about. We are not distracted by other things. In this situation, you have the FBI, 2013, this murderer is the focus of their investigation. They close the case.
In 2014, they're looking at him again. He then tries to get a weapon, two weapons. The FBI does their background check. They are not able to bring him in even though he's on their radar and caused this --
NELSON: Because he doesn't have a criminal record. So the question is, in a society of freedom of speech and freedom of your personal effects, how much intrusion do we want? And that's a legitimate question.
We are constantly, when these terror attacks occur, like going into the cell phone of the San Bernardino attacker. The question is how much do you cross the line of our constitutional right of privacy?
CUOMO: But you investigated the guy on two separate occasions. Now he goes to get guns a couple of years later and you don't even talk to him?
NELSON: That's right. Now looking back, we see that. But there was no communication with any outside group, which is how our intelligence apparatus works.
CUOMO: But that sounds right to you that the same guy you're investigating now wants a long gun and semi-automatic pistol and you don't even follow up?
NELSON: Of course not. As a matter of fact, I don't think that long guns, assault rifles should be for sale. That's for killing. That's not for hunting.
CUOMO: But that's also a separate discussion. I'm just --
NELSON: But that's a separate --
CUOMO: -- from an intelligence perspective.
NELSON: An intelligence perspective.
CUOMO: In fighting back, this guy was important enough to talk to him in two separate cases in consecutive years and then the background check doesn't even allow that FBI to call him on the phone and say I want to talk to you specifically about getting these guns because of who you are. NELSON: You wish you could have connected all those dots. He did not have a criminal record. He was not on the radar and this is one of those horrific cases.
CUOMO: Is it evidence that we're not getting it right? That the war on terror is not being done with the intelligence and the effectiveness that's needed to keep people safe from what just happened here in Orlando?
NELSON: In America, no, because for example, our intelligence apparatus penetrates the mosques, the Muslim community, and other elements in order to pick up the information. You've heard his imam say, you've heard his father say there's no way that my son could have done this.
So, this was -- then you heard his ex-wife say, he is bipolar, mentally disturbed. You put all of that together in a mixer and you get this very tragic mistake.
CUOMO: On one level, does it matter whether this guy had the right mind or not? He called 911. Whether he's mentally ill or not, it wound up in the same place and that's why the country is once again in a familiar quandary?
Senator, always a pleasure to talk to you. Not under circumstances like this. Let's take a break. We have a man who wants to be president, to lead in situations like this, on the phone right now. Alisyn, go ahead.
CAMEROTA: All right, Chris, thank you very much. The presumptive GOP nominee, Donald Trump, blasting President Obama as well as Hillary Clinton for not calling this what he says it obviously is.
We have Donald Trump joining us right now on the phone.
Good morning, Mr. Trump.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via telephone): Good morning, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Thank you for being with us on New Day. We know what a busy day this is for you.
I want to start by talking about one of the tweets that you sent out in the hours after this attack. You renewed your call for the total and complete ban on Muslims entering the U.S., but of course, in this case, this was a U.S. citizen, this was someone who was born here.
So what do you do about this kind of radicalization or home-grown terror?
TRUMP: That's right. We've had people born here that cause tremendous difficulty. We've had people coming in.
[08:25:03]And we have -- by the way, thousands and thousands of people pouring into our country right now who have the same kind of hate and probably even more than he has.
And we have to stop. We cannot take in more Syrian refugees, many of them are going to be causing big problems in the future. And as you know, I've been a pretty good prognosticator as to what's going to be happening.
So, we have to stop that. As far as the people born here, there are many people are born here that become radicalized. You saw that where the -- in San Bernardino, where he became radicalized, possibly by her.
TRUMP: Nobody really knows. Maybe nobody is ever going to figure that one out. But we have -- we need much better intelligence gathering information. We need intelligence gathering centers, because the people in the communities where these people are, they know there's something off. They know there's something going on.
In San Bernardino, there were bombs all over the apartment floor. In other cases, they knew when they went to interview (ph) -- and you're going to find that with this mad man. People in the area, the people in the neighborhood, they know there's something off with him, and they don't report them to the police. They don't report them to the FBI.
And you know, this is much different, Alisyn, than when we fight a war with Germany or with Japan, and they have uniforms.
TRUMP: These -- there's no uniforms here. This is going to be pure intelligence gathering, and people --
TRUMP: -- Muslims, where they are, they have to report these people. Otherwise it's going to be a bigger, bigger problem.
CAMEROTA: Yes. And --
TRUMP: We have, right now, thousands of people in the United States, living in the United States who have the same kind of hate in their heart as he had. And we have to know who they are.
CAMEROTA: Yes. And Mr. Trump, you know, and that this guy was on the FBI's radar. In fact, he was interviewed twice by FBI agents. In 2013 and 2014, they were concerned that he did have radical ties to extremists or to terrorists.
And yet, they concluded that there was nothing they could do about it. And he was allowed to own a gun, he had a carry license.
Are you comfortable with people who the FBI has identified as possibly having radical ties owning weapons? TRUMP: Well, in this case, he was actually licensed, and -- which is a sort of an amazing thing. He went out, he got licensed. He was fully licensed. So, he had the right to have a gun.
So, for all of those people that want to have people got out and get licensed, here's an example of somebody that went out -- you know, went out and got licensed, and he was able to get a gun. Gun owners --
TRUMP: -- even more than ever, need to be able to protect themselves. And by the way, if you had some guns in that club the night that this took place, if you had guns on the other side, you wouldn't have had the tragedy that you had. If people in that room had guns with the bullets flying in the opposite direction right at him --
CAMEROTA: But there was. But Mr. Trump, there was an armed security -- there was an armed security guard.
TRUMP: -- right at his head, you wouldn't have had the same tragedy that you ended up having. And nobody even knows how bad that tragedy is, because I think probably the numbers will get bigger and bigger and worse and worse. I hear the injured are so gravely injured.
But if you had guns in that room, if you had -- even if you had a number of people having them strapped to their ankle or strapped to their waist, where bullets could have flown in the other direction right at him, you wouldn't have had the same kind of a tragedy.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Mr. Trump, this is Christine Romans in the New York studio. We've lost our satellite feed with Alisyn Camerota. So, I'm going to pick it up here, sir, if you don't mind.
ROMANS: So, what do you think? Is there, Mr. Trump, any policy prescription in light of this event that would prevent a future attack like this? What would be your policy prescription?
TRUMP: Well, you -- you have tremendous numbers of people with this tremendous radical hate. The first thing you need is, you need a president that is going to mention the problem. And he won't even mention what the problem is.
And unless you're going to mention -- unless you're going to say it's radical Islamic terrorism and hate, unless you're going to say that, Christine, it's going to be -- you're never going to solve it. And you have Hillary Clinton refuses to use the words.
Now, she doesn't really believe that she shouldn't use it; she's afraid to use it because President Obama doesn't want her to use it.
ROMANS: Mr. Trump, on our show this morning -- I'm sorry to interrupt. She did say that this morning. She said -- TRUMP: And he's the boss, and she's afraid of him because, obviously,
you know, she probably thinks he has a very profound effect over her life.
ROMANS: Let me jump in. I don't know if you can hear me on the phone. Let me jump in, because --
TRUMP: He's protecting her from going to jail. So, she's not going to us it. But I'll bet you that she would believe that she would love to use those words because almost everybody agrees that those words should be used.
ROMANS: She said, Mr. Trump, on our interview with her just an hour ago that she's happy to use the words radical Islam, that she's happy to use the words, that the semantics aren't an issue here.
It's -- you know, this is now about, right, investigating what happened, finding the motive, finding out more about this man, this murderer, and figuring out if there's anything we can do to prevent something like this.
TRUMP: The greatest source and -- look, first of all, we have to stop people from coming in from Syria. We're taking them in by the thousands and you're going to have tremendous problems.