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Interview With Florida Congressman Patrick Murphy; Florida Mass Shooting Investigation; Grand Jury Getting Evidence against Gunman's Wife; Trump Renews Calls for Mosque Surveillance; Orlando Terror Tests Clinton, Trump on National Security. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 15, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news: charges sought. Federal authorities are taking the next step in their investigation of the Orlando attacker's wife by taking evidence to a grand jury. What specific charges could she face?
Killer's final calls. The Orlando gunman's surprising phone conversations in the midst of the massacre. Why did he contact a friend and a TV producer? We're going to tell you what we're learning this hour.
Going rogue? A stunning new threat from Donald Trump, that he's telling leaders of his party to toughen up and quiet their criticism or he will wage his general election campaign without them.
And terror in 2016. Hillary Clinton trading new barbs with Trump over their clashing policies. Will the battle over national security determine who wins the White House?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I am Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, the wife of the Orlando terrorist now may be on the brink of facing charges in connection with her husband's act of mass murder. Law enforcement officials telling CNN that the U.S. attorney plans to present the evidence against her to a grand jury.
Noor Salman has told investigators she was with her husband for at least one trip at least to buy ammunition. Also this hour, investigators have interviewed a friend who phoned by Omar Mateen in the midst of his shooting rampage in a gay nightclub. We're told the call was to say goodbye. The gunman called a local TV station as well and declared he carried out his attack for ISIS.
As the investigation continues at the Pulse nightclub and other key locations, authorities are having trouble accessing data from the gunman's phone because it was damaged by water and blood at the scene of the massacre. Also tonight, a new move by Donald Trump in the aftermath of Orlando.
He's set to meet with the National Rifle Association to discuss barring people on the terror watch list and no-fly list from legally buying guns in the United States.
Our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of all the news that is breaking right now.
Up first, let's go to our chief security national correspondent, Jim Sciutto. He's on the scene in Orlando for us.
Jim, what more are you learning about this investigation?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, we have learned that the U.S. attorney in charge of this case will present evidence before the grand jury to consider charges against Noor Salman. That is the wife of the shooter, Omar Mateen.
No decision yet. They're still considering the evidence. What we learned today, new evidence they're considering. In addition to accompanying him on trips to the Pulse nightclub or other possible targets, she also went on at least one trip with him to buy ammunition. No decision made yet on charges, still many questions to be answered.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): CNN has learned that the U.S. attorney plans to bring evidence before a grand jury to determine if charges are warranted against Omar Mateen's wife, Noor Salman. Investigators are still collecting evidence and completing a timeline for their activities leading up to the attack.
Barricaded in a Pulse nightclub bathroom that night, Omar Mateen paused his deadly shooting rampage to make several phone calls, one, according to authorities, to say goodbye to a friend, another to a local television news station, CNN affiliate News 13 Orlando.
ORLANDO TORRES, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: He sounded very, very calm and collected, very calm and collected, not irritated, not sounding like a nut job, not sounding like he had lost it.
SCIUTTO: Shooting survivor Orlando Torres, who hid in a bathroom stall during the attack, heard the gunman's conversations. Mateen, he says, demanded that the U.S. stop bombing ISIS in Syria and ominously claimed there were other attackers both inside and outside the club that night.
TORRES: At the beginning, he said: "Well, I am here at the club, and it should be already all over the media, news media," and that he is there with three others, and he is the fourth gunman, and someone mentioned a name or a female addressing in that sense playing dead with the other victims on the other side of the club, and she's wearing a bomb vest, and also that he was wearing a bomb vest, and also there was supposedly three snipers out there ready for the cops if they came. SCIUTTO: Local news producer Matthew Gentili was on the other end of
the line for one of the shooter's calls. Gentili says the chilling phone call came about 45 minutes into the shooting.
MATTHEW GENTILI, NEWS 13 ORLANDO: He started saying: "I did it for ISIS. I did it for the Islamic State" again. And I didn't know what to say to him. I was just blown away. And I asked him, you know: "Who is this? Where are you?" And he told me that's none of my F-ing business.
SCIUTTO: Investigators have recovered the phone Mateen used to make those calls, but found submerged in water and blood at the scene. Damage to the device is slowing recovery of data.
RONALD HOPPER, FBI ASSISTANT SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: The FBI is reconstructing the subject's movements going back months, days, hours, and minutes before the fatal act here at the Pulse nightclub. And that's something we are looking at and scrubbing thoroughly. Not anything I can share with you at this time.
SCIUTTO: Wolf, and, tonight, we have learned further new details about the shooter's activities in the weeks and months leading up to this attack, that he used a gay dating app and befriended several transgender women on that app, became friends with them, contacted them.
The FBI investigators talking to them now about the nature of those relationships. This is part of this increasingly broad profiled they're able to create for him, frankly, a confusing one at times, but they are still having many questions to answer, Wolf, both in terms of his activities, but the wife's activities in advance.
BLITZER: Lots of questions remaining out there. All right, Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.
We also have more on the killer's wife and what she knew about his plans.
Our senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, is joining us now.
What are you picking up, Drew, from your sources?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: We are digging into details of the timeline that could include her, Wolf, also digging deep into her background which could add to the body of evidence building apparently against her, and also uncovering the training aspect of this gunman and just details on why he was so proficient in carrying out this massacre.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GRIFFIN (voice-over): Whatever she did or did not know about her husband's whereabouts on the night of the attack, Fort Pierce police told CNN Noor Salman was home early Sunday when they knocked on her door.
DIANE HOBLEY-BURNEY, FORT PIERCE, FLORIDA, POLICE CHIEF: We met with the wife, and we kept the residence secure until the FBI was able to come in.
GRIFFIN (on camera): Do you feel when you met with the wife that she had any idea before you arrived?
HOBLEY-BURNEY: Well, that's a part of the investigative part, and we can't discuss that issue.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): It is a nearly two-hour drive from this condominium in Fort Pierce, Florida, to the nightclub in Orlando. The car used by Noor Salman with two child car seats in the back remains today where it was the morning of the attack, sealed off in the condominium's parking lot.
We are learning much more about her. Investigative sources say she told the FBI she knew her husband was growing more violent, knew her husband was talking about carrying out a jihadist attack, but denies she knew he would strike in Orlando.
Noor Salman is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants. She, too, like her husband, has been married once before, her marriage to a Chicago man dissolved after four years. The Orlando shooter had only been divorced himself two months when they got married.
She attended high school Northern California, was on the volleyball team, and though graduating from college and listed as an engineer, she appears to have worked in small jobs, a Kmart, a day care center.
The FBI has been to her family home in California, where her mother still lives. A friend came today to offer support.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're charming, they're sweet, they're amazing.
GRIFFIN: New documents obtained by CNN show the gunman applied for his security guard license in September of 2007. That is just a few months after he was kicked out of a law enforcement academy, according to sources, and around the same time he was fired by Florida Department of Corrections.
Twice since then, he has come under scrutiny for his own radical Islamic outbursts or possible connections to an American-born suicide bomber in Syria. Both times, the FBI investigated and said they found nothing. He once got a near perfect score on an annual shooting test for his firearms license. And though he performed well on that test over the years, his final exam he took in September of 2015 was his worst.
Seddique Mateen continues to say he believes his son was perverted by online ISIS propaganda, and that neither he nor anyone else in his family had any reason to believe his son had interest in ISIS or even the father's home country of Afghanistan.
(on camera): Did you talk about the politics of Afghanistan with your son?
SEDDIQUE MIR MATEEN, FATHER OF OMAR MATEEN: He is born here. He is born here. He's gone to school, he's gone to college. He worked here. He never been back in Afghanistan. He had no interest.
GRIFFIN: Wolf, if we're to believe the family, they're in the same position as the FBI investigators. The motive, they just don't know what it is, the father saying his son had no interest in politics and also demanding that he had no idea his son was gay -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Drew Griffin reporting for from Port St. Lucie in Florida, thanks very much.
Joining us, Congressman Patrick Murphy of Florida. He's a Democrat on the Intelligence Committee. He happens to represent the district where the killer lived with his wife.
Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.
REP. PATRICK MURPHY (D), FLORIDA: Yes.
BLITZER: What do you expect will happen to the wife, Noor Salman?
MURPHY: Well, this investigation is going to continue to play out every day.
In the House Intelligence Committee, on which I sit, we are learning more about this. And we are learning more that the face of terror is changing in this country. After 9/11, we learned that we had to do a better job getting the information from the federal government down to the state and local governments.
But in these lone wolf situations, it is more important than ever that we go from the bottom up, in essence, where our ears on the ground, there's local sheriffs, there's local deputies on the ground working from local, state to federal, because as we are learning information, it turns out that I believe there's stuff out there that local law enforcement might have had that if combined with what the federal government had and the FBI during these investigations and other -- we might have had a different outcome.
BLITZER: Like you don't think -- the left hand wasn't talking to the right hand, is that what you're saying?
MURPHY: The investigation is going to let us know what happens. And I don't want to point a finger yet.
But it is more important than ever that law enforcement work together. I think that's what we are learning.
BLITZER: Because I assumed, after 9/11, we got to that point where there was greater cooperation between various law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies. But you're saying there seems to have been a problem here.
MURPHY: Well, it appears with what we are learning back home, with some of the information starting to come out, that all the pieces weren't connected in this situation.
And, look, it is easy to play Monday morning quarterback and hindsight is 20/20. But there seems to be enough pieces of information here that perhaps he should have been monitored, perhaps we should have kept an eye on him a little bit closer. And in this era of lone wolf attacks, I think it is important that lawmakers start addressing some of these problems and start coordinating better, making sure law enforcement has the resources they need to do that, and realizing that, look, this isn't just terrorism, this is a combination of mental health, of a hate crime, of gun violence.
This is a combination of factors.
BLITZER: So, was he more motivated by jihad or by hatred of gays?
MURPHY: Well, that's what this investigation is going to play out.
BLITZER: What do you think based on what you know right now?
MURPHY: I haven't seen any conclusive either way, based on what the wife is saying, what the dad is saying. Combine that with the -- now the acquisition of his cell phone, going back through some of his records.
I think we're going to see a lot in the coming days, the Web sites he might have been on recently, the phone calls he was making. And the investigation will determine how often he was visiting some of these clubs or other locations.
BLITZER: Have they been able to retrieve information from that cell phone? Because we were told it was underwater, it was full of blood, they were having problems with it. Have they managed to get information?
MURPHY: I can't speak to that information yet. That is going to come out as they continue to investigate and as we learn more about it.
BLITZER: And as far as if she knew in fact that he wanted to commit jihad, but she wasn't exactly familiar that he was going to do it that night, is that enough to charge her?
MURPHY: Well, that will be up to law enforcement and others to determine.
But it sure seems she had enough information at this point that she should have certainly flagged, should have certainly said something, and awfully -- seems like an accomplice to me.
BLITZER: Yes. If you see something, say something.
BLITZER: And evidence that presumably right now, even as we speak, is being presented to a grand jury in Florida by the federal prosecutor. We will see where that leads.
MURPHY: As it should.
And I think this is reminder to everybody back home watching that in this era of lone wolf attacks, every citizen has to be more vigilant looking to the co-workers, right, family members, anybody, that if things don't smell right, and if there are enough red flags out there, you have to speak up to law enforcement right now.
BLITZER: Anyone else being questioned as the wife is being questioned?
MURPHY: There's a full investigation going on. I don't want to speak to that yet.
BLITZER: But do you -- without giving us details or anything, I guess the bottom-line question, in addition to the wife, did anyone else know that this individual wanted to commit jihad?
MURPHY: Based on what we have seen, it seems like this is a lone wolf attack. This is an individual that was radicalized probably online by ISIS and others. Some of the phone calls he made, as we have seen, to 911 and other -- would indicate that.
BLITZER: Are they going to release those 911 calls he made from the nightclub during those three hours?
MURPHY: At a certain point, most of those things usually do come out. But I haven't heard one way or the other.
BLITZER: Have you been briefed on those calls?
MURPHY: We have heard just high-level information about them, nothing more than you have, actually.
BLITZER: I want you to stand by, Congressman. There's more information coming in. We will take a quick break. We will resume our questioning right after this.
BLITZER: We are following breaking news.
Federal authorities are taking evidence against the wife of the Orlando attacker to a grand jury to consider charges against her. Law enforcement officials say she went with him on at least one trip to buy ammunition.
We are back with the congressman who represents the district where the killer and his wife lived. That would be Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy of Florida. He's a member of the Intelligence Committee.
Is there any sense you're getting that this killer, this terrorist communicated with terror organizations directly overseas?
MURPHY: The investigation is going to have to play out until we see all that information.
But I think it is pretty clear that he was radicalized, most likely via cyber. And that's an area where I believe the federal government can start using some more of our offensive capabilities.
BLITZER: How? How does the U.S. government do that? Because anybody can go to the Internet and watch whatever they want.
MURPHY: Well, they can, and that's exactly the point, is that we can use and turn what's one of these organizations, especially ISIS, one of their biggest assets into one of their biggest liabilities, in using our technology, our resources to crack down and see who is doing this recruiting, see the Web sites they're going to.
BLITZER: You're on the Intelligence Committee. Has the U.S. government built an effective counternarrative to these young men, mostly young men, who are -- some women -- who are influenced by Anwar al-Awlaki or other terror leaders on the Internet and the poison that they're sending?
MURPHY: Well, they're certainly trying to.
And that's one of the interesting pieces of the fight, that it is not just boots on the ground. It's not just what you see on TV all the time. There's multiple types of war being fought here, whether that's social, whether that's economic, whether that's religious in a sense.
There are many fronts that have to be fought. A piece of that is propaganda, and giving an alternative narrative, especially to a lot of folks that don't see any other opportunity in their life. And we have got to counter that. And that's where I believe we can do a lot more.
BLITZER: But this young man, he had a job. He was a security guard. He was getting -- he was on the payroll. He had opportunities.
And this is a situation where this monitoring needs to, I believe, continue. And when we can really use our full offensive capabilities and see who is being radicalized, see who is visiting these Web sites, who they're in touch with constantly, while maintaining that balance of privacy in our country, we can, I believe, and need to, start stepping up our game to do that.
BLITZER: Was he taken off inappropriately by the FBI of that terror watch list in 2014?
MURPHY: That's exactly what you heard Director Comey talk about yesterday, is that we need a full investigation of ourself, of the FBI, to see exactly why that happened.
It looks like they followed procedures by the book, but the question is, was the FBI in touch enough with the state and the local law enforcement agencies, those ears on the ground, those everyday folks that are there listening, and was the full picture painted here?
BLITZER: Was this wife, the second wife, Noor Salman, was she also similarly radicalized online on the Internet, as her husband was?
MURPHY: I haven't seen any evidence either way to indicate. I don't know that. I don't know that.
BLITZER: So, you don't know if she was inspired by ISIS or anything along those lines?
MURPHY: Don't know.
BLITZER: What's happened in Orlando these last few days, a young singer from "The Voice" was killed in Orlando, awful, 49 people were killed at that nightclub, now this 2-year-old little boy in Orlando at the Disney resort, if you will.
You are running. You want to be the next U.S. senator from Florida. What do you say to those people in that area whose hearts are broken?
MURPHY: Well, my thoughts and prayers go out to the entire community, the entire state and our country, because we are all mourning here.
And I believe want action. They're tired of the finger-pointing, the name-calling. This isn't a partisan issue. We have got to do something about this, especially this horrific act of terrorism here. But this has been a very tough few days for the Orlando community and we will continue to build a stronger community. Orlando is a strong community. We will unite and come out stronger.
BLITZER: One final political question, Congressman, before I let you go.
Indications today from Senator Marco Rubio he is reconsidering his earlier statements that he was not going to seek reelection. Now he says he wants to meet with his family in the coming days and maybe come to a different conclusion. What's your reaction?
MURPHY: Yes. Well, look, I announced against Senator Rubio a year ago, year-and-a-half ago, when he was still in this race. This isn't about Senator Rubio. Right? This is about the people of Florida. This is about making sure they
have someone that is going to fight for them, right, that's not going to miss a historic amount of votes in committees, that's going to vote against this terrorist group that I believe is largely responsible for what just happened the other day, somebody that is not going to block immigration and continue to change his mind.
So, Floridians I think are very interested in this race and a senator that is going to fight for them, and continue to do things like protecting and rebuilding the middle class, addressing climate change, protecting Social Security and Medicaid. There are so many things we have to do right now. And the partisanship in this country is killing us and holding us back.
BLITZER: It sounds like, if he reconsiders and decides to seek reelection, you're ready to battle him?
MURPHY: You bet.
BLITZER: All right, Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.
MURPHY: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Appreciate it very much, Patrick Murphy of Florida.
More breaking news out of Orlando in the terror investigation right after this.
BLITZER: Tonight, we are learning more about why the U.S. attorney is now going before a grand jury in Florida to present evidence against the wife of the Orlando attacker. Multiple law enforcement officials say Noor Salman has told investigators she was with her husband for at least one trip to buy ammunition.
Let's get another update from our chief security national correspondent, Jim Sciutto. He's on the ground for us in Orlando.
Jim, there are still so many questions about the wife's role. What's the latest you're hearing?
SCIUTTO: And what is key is what you mentioned there, Wolf, is an increasing list of knowledge, facts she knew before these attacks were carried out.
We knew already that she knew that he had talked about carrying out a jihadist attack. We knew that she had traveled to some of the sites, including Pulse nightclub, with him before the attacks.
And now we learned today that in addition to that, she has also told investigators that she went on at least one trip to a store to buy ammunition. Whether that's the ammunition used in the attack, we don't know yet. But that collection of evidence is what is leading the U.S. attorney in charge of this case to go before a grand jury to see if there's enough evidence to bring charges against her.
They don't have that decision yet, no conclusion yet. But at least he decided there's enough to go to the grand jury with this.
BLITZER: You spoke, Jim, to a survivor. What did he tell you about what the shooter was actually saying during those phone calls? And he made several phone calls during that three-hour assault inside the nightclub.
SCIUTTO: That's right.
We now know that, in addition to the call to 911 the night of the attacks claiming this attack for ISIS, he also called a local television station, claiming the same, making sure the television station was covering this, and also called a friend to say goodbye.
[18:30:08] We spoke to a survivor, Orlando Torres. He was in one of those bathrooms. As the survivor -- as the shooter, rather, was making these calls, she said that he also said -- the survivor, Orlando, said that he also said that there were other attackers involved. He claimed that there were snipers outside the club, that there was a suicide bomber inside the club hiding under the bodies, in effect to convey not just to authorities but also to the other survivors there that, if they moved, that they might also face greater risk. He was making those claims, trying to keep the fear going over the course of the three horrible hours of this attack.
BLITZER: Jim Sciutto in Orlando. Thank you.
Let's bring in our justice correspondent, Evan Perez; our senior law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes. He's a former FBI assistant director. Our CNN counterterrorism analyst, Philip Mudd. He's a former CIA counterterrorism official. And forensic psychiatrist Dr. Lisa Van Susteren. Guys, thanks very much.
What else are you hearing, Evan, about the wife's involvement? Do you anticipate that charges will be filed against her?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I think there's no doubt that she will be -- will be charged in this case. It depends on what it is. I think there's still a lot of legal hurdles they're trying to get through -- get to before they charge her.
But I'll tell you this. I mean, she's made conflicting statements. She's made -- she at first told them that she had no idea that he was going to do this, that she didn't know about his casing of these places. But in subsequent interviews did say she knew that there was a deterioration of his behavior, more violent turn that he was taking.
Even on the day, on Saturday, before he left the house, she said she had an inkling that he might carry out an attack, that perhaps even an attack on the Pulse nightclub. She said that she tried to confront him and tried to tell him not to do it. And that he left; he lied to her. According to her, he lied to her about where he was going and why he was leaving that night. She said that she, in essence, had an inkling that he was about to do something very bad. BLITZER: We don't know if she's telling the truth or not telling the
PEREZ: She didn't call the police, so that's where you get a possible charge, perhaps misprision, which is knowing about a possible felony and not telling the authorities.
BLITZER: Is anyone else besides the wife, as far as you know, being investigated right now?
PEREZ: They're looking at his wider circle of friends and associates, Wolf, but right now, she's the focus.
BLITZER: The FBI is now saying anyone who had contact with this killer, please get in touch, share information. This is, what, three, four days into the operation. Seems a little bit late to start making appeals like that.
FUENTES: I think those appeals were being made the day of by the police, by the bureau. I think that's common sense that people -- what people need to be told.
BLITZER: Today they made a big deal of, please call if you know anything.
BLITZER: I haven't heard that in the last few days from the FBI spokesman. In fact, they weren't having a whole lot of news conferences making those kinds of appeals.
FUENTES: Well, I think the coverage that's going on, I think they felt that everybody out there that could provide information has been notified to do it. It's in the media nonstop.
BLITZER: But San Bernardino, you remember this well -- you remember this well -- there were news conferences every few hours from local authorities, FBI officials: "Please help us."
PEREZ: Those people in San Bernardino, I think, were a bigger mystery. They had left very little -- very little electronic footprint.
I think what's happening in this case is simply a lot of people are coming forward to the media, saying about interactions. And so the bureau is telling them, "Come to us. Don't go to the media first, come to us and let us know about it."
BLITZER: Right. But my only point is they should have said this immediately, hour after hour after hour, get these people, get their eyewitness accounts or whatever. I'm just looking back as someone who's covered these kinds of stories for years.
Phil, you heard the congressman from Florida, Patrick Murphy say it may have been a case where federal authorities weren't sharing information with local authorities or vice versa; the left hand didn't talk to the right hand.
With hindsight, they could have done a better job sharing information. When you heard that, what was your reaction?
PHIL MUSS, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Wolf, I can't figure out what the heck he's talking about. I mean, after 25 years of looking at this kind of stuff, let's look at the facts you would share in a meeting between federal, state and local officials.
Somebody complained or made bigoted comments to friends, family, in this case to co-workers. Somebody bought a weapon. Somebody appeared to have anger about various communities, whether it's black people, whether it's Muslims, whether it's gay people.
The FBI investigates over the course of a couple years, conducts conversations and says there's not more here to find. What are you supposed to share? What are the facts here that suggest that the federal government had more to give to state and locals?
If we're talking about this tired phrase of connecting the dots, here's a question I'd have for the congressmen: what dots are you talking about? Because I don't see any, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, I pressed him, but he didn't want to share that information. He said it would come out.
Lisa, one of the survivors told the media, told us, in fact, that the shooter, during the conversations with the people he was holding, said, "Are there any black people in this bathroom? Because I don't have a problem with black people. They have suffered enough."
But so many of those 49 people that were killed, so many of the 53 people who were injured were African-American. So what does that -- you're a psychiatrist.
[18:35:10] DR. LISA VAN SUSTEREN, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: It makes no sense. But none of this makes any sense. Why would anyone do something like this? So to hold him to some consistency standard would probably be illusory.
But the main thing is that look at this and realize that what he wanted to have was power over people. And that whole scenario about other people in suicide vests and a whole network out there, this is all to suggest that he's so powerfully connected with this fearsome group. This is all about feeling insignificant.
BLITZER: And the decision, his decision to do this mass murder at this gay nightclub, what does that say to you?
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I -- you know, lots of speculation. For one thing, it could be that he -- and this often happens; we call it reaction formation.
When people have a forbidden impulse inside, they don't want to know that they have it, so they have an exaggerated response on the outside that negates, in their minds, how they're feeling inside. So is he saying, "No, I really hate these people," because he has forbidden impulse? That could be one thing. It could be trying to get rid of the sin of being gay in his culture, in his family. Who knows? There are lots of things to speculate there, but not to forget that...
BLITZER: Because presumably, Phil, he cased locations where there were a lot more people than this Pulse nightclub. There were, what, 350 people at that nightclub. He did a lot of destruction, and it was a massacre. But he also cased presumably Disney World down there, as well, where there are a lot more people.
MUDD: Yes, I think there's a simple explanation for that, Wolf, and that's something we've talked about for years. Soft targets versus hard targets.
When we weren't as hardened as we are today in 2001, al Qaeda had access to hard targets. That is, airplanes. You go today to someone who's relatively untrained, we don't have any evidence that he was not only not directed but not owned by any terror groups.
So let's look at the world through his eyes. He goes up to Disney World. Disney World, high security, I think excellent security for not only perimeter security, but you've got to go through a focal point, potentially, in his case with a couple of weapons. He's got to look at that and say, "Compared to Pulse nightclub, my prospects of success against Disney are low."
So I think this is, in some sense, Disney is a hard target. Pulse is a soft target, and he had only one choice.
BLITZER: All right, guys. Stand by, because we're going to get more on the breaking news. We're following this breaking news on the terror in Orlando.
Will Donald Trump convince his party to compromise to keep guns out of the hands of terror suspects? Stand by for new information.
[18:42:17] BLITZER: Tonight, Donald Trump is renewing his call for increased surveillance at mosques across the United States. The presumptive Republican nominee raising more red flags within his own party as the Orlando attacks weigh in on the presidential race.
CNN's Phil Mattingly is in Atlanta for us. That's where Trump had an event earlier today.
Phil, Trump is escalating his battle with Hillary Clinton over national security. What's the latest?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question about it, Wolf, he's not backing down at all. The hope, I think, amongst some Republican officials over the course of the last four or five days, that Donald Trump would ease off some of his rhetoric, certainly disappearing, whether it's the ban on Muslim immigration, whether it's surveillance of mosques, or whether now it's the NRA. Donald Trump splitting, in so many ways, with the Republican Party. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It's going to happen again and again and again, because we're not doing what we have to be doing.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Donald Trump raising serious concerns on the campaign trail today in the wake of the devastating attack at an Orlando gay club.
TRUMP: We have to maybe check, respectfully, the mosques, and we have to check other places, because this is a problem that, if we don't solve it, it's going to eat our country alive.
MATTINGLY: Attacking Hillary Clinton and again swinging back at President Obama's broadside of his foreign policy...
TRUMP: He gives a speech yesterday, a long speech that, at the end of it, nobody knew what the hell he was talking about.
MATTINGLY: ... after this retort Tuesday night.
TRUMP: And I watched President Obama today, and he was more angry at me than he was at the shooter.
MATTINGLY: And he isn't backing down on an earlier insinuation that the Obama administration was aligned with ISIS.
TRUMP (via phone): He doesn't get it, or he gets it better than anybody understands. It's one or the other, and either one is unacceptable.
MATTINGLY: Now a full-blown accusation, tweeting that, despite the media criticism, criticism that extended to top leaders of his own party, Trump, quote, "is right," using as evidence a story purporting to show a memo implying the Obama administration's support for ISIS, something the memo does not, in fact, show.
Trump is also calling for a meeting with the NRA to discuss barring individuals on the terror watch list from gun purchases. The NRA says it would welcome the meeting, but the group says its position on the issue has not changed. And it continues to support Republican legislation that would expand the ability of law enforcement to block such sales.
This as many GOP leaders in recent days have taken pains to distance themselves from the presumptive GOP nominee.
Trump faces bigger problems, the U.S. voters. A new ABC/"Washington Post" survey showing Trump with a 70 percent unfavorable mark, while a new Bloomberg national poll shows 55 percent of respondents would never support the New York billionaire.
[18:45:12] And Trump is trailing Clinton by 12 points.
Clinton, seizing on new momentum, hammered Trump again today during a national security event in Virginia.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: So, not one of Donald Trump's reckless ideas would have saved a single life in Orlando. It's just more evidence that he is temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be commander in chief.
MATTINGLY: And, Wolf, those attacks from Hillary Clinton are only expected to escalate in days and weeks ahead, and we know they're also going to be amplified, amplified by surrogates, amplified by the president of the United States, amplified probably by her own husband. The question now becomes, who will help Donald Trump amplify his message?
We have seen Republican leaders walk away from him this week. Larry Hogan, the popular Maryland governor, blue state Republican telling "The Washington Post", he will not vote for Donald Trump, in a new data point just released from the Bloomberg poll. The Republican Party has a 32 percent favorable rating. All of that weighing on Republican leaders as they continue to watch and listen everything Donald Trump is saying and very wary about what they're hearing -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Phil Mattingly in Atlanta for us -- thanks very much.
Let's bring in our senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny, our chief political analyst Gloria Borger, our CNN political director David Chalian, and our CNN politics executive editor, Mark Preston.
Gloria, let me play a little clip. This is Donald Trump speaking about his fellow Republicans with a warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You know, the Republicans, honestly folks, our leaders have to get tougher. This is too tough to do it alone. But you know what, I think I'm going to be forced to. I think I'm going to be forced to.
Our leaders have to get a lot tougher. And be quiet, just please be quiet, don't talk, please, be quiet. Please be quiet to the leaders because they have to get tougher, they have to get sharper, they have to get smarter. We have to have our Republicans either stick together or let me do it by myself. I'll do very well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: It's pretty unusual. He says, be quiet, to Republican leaders who may disagree with him. Be quiet, just be quiet, don't talk, please be quiet.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Shut up. I think it is a game of we quit, you're fired. And Donald Trump was essentially firing the Republican leadership for opening their mouths and disagreeing with him, and, you know, this is something I've never seen. I don't know if you folks have.
I have never seen Republican Party leadership being more distant or distancing themselves than they are from Donald Trump. I have to tell you, Wolf, today I talked to a couple of sources who aren't anti-Trump people but they say that Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has privately told people he is intrigued of the notion of throwing his hat in the ring if the convention were to be open.
BORGER: Now, his -- let me say this. His office completely denied it, issued flat out denial to this. This gives you some indication of the fact people are looking for a white knight.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. You have to remember what we saw through the entire Republican nomination process in exit polls. We asked whether or not Republican voters felt betrayed by their party's leaders. Overwhelmingly, they did in state after state after state.
And so, for Donald Trump to get up there and say hey, Republican Party leadership is not so strong and they should be quiet, that's going to be a welcome line to a lot of Republican primary voters and a lot of Donald Trump's core supporters. But we get back to the question again, we're no longer in the primary phase of this campaign. We are in the general election phase of this campaign.
And what Phil pointed out in the report couples with this in as astonishing as hearing somebody say, please be quiet, let me do it on my own, is there's nobody behind him ever. There's no cavalry. Yesterday, the president of the United States, Democratic nominee for president pummeling him, and he on his own is just standing there.
There is not the entire -- normally in every other presidential election we covered the infrastructure of the party, parties, state campaign operations and outside groups would be singing from the same song sheet in response to that, but he stands alone.
BLITZER: His unfavorable number is, 70 percent of the American people right now, according to this latest poll, "The Washington Post," ABC News poll, 70 percent, they have an unfavorable attitude toward him. In Bloomberg poll, he was losing nationally to Hillary Clinton by 12 points.
What some Republicans are saying, and maybe wishful if they see a disaster unfolding, maybe that rules committee at the convention can, in fact, come up with some new rules to prevent him presumably from getting the nomination.
[18:50:02] Is that wishful thinking, or is it all realistic?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: No, it's unrealistic that would happen. That's not to say Scott Walker might throw his name out there to try to gel some support. But let's not forget, Scott Walker was one of the first and certainly one of the first out of this presidential race.
BORGER: They think that's -- some people think that's good.
PRESTON: Well, no doubt about this.
Here's the issue now. This is the biggest problem that Republicans thought they would run into if Donald Trump won the nomination. He has now gone entirely rogue. He's trying to disassociate himself with the party right now. Forget about what happens in the White House right now. You have senators and congressman looking up saying, my God, am I going to get pulled down if Donald Trump gets nominated in November?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Which is why some Republicans I'm talking to say, you know what, four years is not that long. If Hillary Clinton wins, as long as we hold the Senate and the House. So that is what you're going see going forward here. A focus to build a firewall around the House and the Senate, which, of course, is difficult when your nominee is out there in front like this.
BORGER: You know, it's each man for himself. Strategists saying look, I'm advising my clients, you can do whatever you want to Donald Trump, distance yourself as much as you want from Donald Trump. Just don't cross the Rubicon and support Hillary Clinton, right? And that's -- and really hardly anyone has. And Susan Collins says, maybe she will.
But they're just -- they're distancing themselves because they have to in order to survive. And Donald Trump is playing his own game here.
BLITZER: Yes, fascinating political stuff going on.
BLITZER: All right. Guys, stand by.
Coming up, we'll have another live update on the Orlando terror investigation as the federal authorities take a big step towards seeking charges against the killer's wife.
[18:56:10] BLITZER: Tonight, as the presidential candidates spar over national security after the terror in Orlando, new polling suggests Hillary Clinton has more work to do to convince voters she'd keep them safe.
A new Bloomberg survey asks Americans which candidate that had more confidence in if a similar attack happened a year from now. Donald Trump comes out slightly ahead of Clinton, 45 percent to 41 percent.
Our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, has more now on the politics of terror in 2016. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
CLINTON: This approach isn't just wrong. It is dangerous.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Democrats are going full throttle against Donald Trump on national security.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Loose talk and sloppiness about who exactly we're fighting.
BASH: And it's new presidential terrain for a party that tends to be more comfortable fighting on domestic turf.
In 2004, the first presidential election after 9/11, George W. Bush and allies so aggressively painted Vietnam veteran John Kerry as weak on national security.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he lacks the capacity to lead.
BASH: It likely sealed Kerry's defeat. Now, Democrats are plotting their 2016 presidential race to mirror their 2006 takeover of Congress, trying to make it a referendum on a Republican who shouldn't be trusted as commander in chief.
REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: People were so concerned with President Bush and policies they viewed as reckless and not particularly thoughtful that they opened the door to Democrats on national security and that's happening now. People view Donald Trump as reckless, antagonistic and uninformed. And they are opening the door to Democrats.
BASH: Congressman Steve Israel, in charge of message strategy for House Democrats, delivered a behind-closed-doors briefing this week on why national security should be Democrats' 2016 calling card.
ISRAEL: There is a vivid contrast between Hillary Clinton, who is strong and smart on keeping us safe, and Donald Trump, who is reckless.
BASH: National security was the subject of Clinton's first major speech of the general election, before the Orlando massacre.
CLINTON: A Trump presidency would embolden ISIS. We cannot take that risk. This isn't reality television. This is actual reality.
BASH: But new polling from Bloomberg suggests that is hardly a slam dunk message. Trump is five points ahead of Clinton the question of who is best to handle terror threats at home and abroad.
TRUMP: Hillary is a rank amateur. She has been doing it forever and she still doesn't get it.
BASH: Trump is banking on building support with his tough talk and contrast with Clinton's more cautious approach.
TRUMP: We have seen that political correctness is deadly. They don't want to talk about the problem.
BASH: And even Republicans not thrilled with Trump say not so fast, especially since Clinton is so tied to President Obama.
(on camera): What Democrats I talk to argue is, they argue that when it comes to experience and judgment, Hillary Clinton is a better candidate than Donald Trump. And your response is?
SEN. JAMES RISCH (R), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, I think clearly, on experience. That is -- it would be hard to argue she didn't have the experience. Having said that, just because you have experience doesn't mean you're right. The experience has led us down a very awful path, I think.
BASH: The fight over national security is likely to play out just like other issues -- a stark choice between the different but unknown versus the experienced but with a record.
Dana Bash, CNN, Washington.
BLITZER: And that filibuster, by the way, continues on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Senators -- Democratic senators by and large arguing for greater gun control. We'll continue to watch that as well.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching.
CNN's breaking news coverage of the Orlando terror attack continues right now. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts.