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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy; Florida Mass Shooting Investigation; President Obama Visits Orlando; McCain: Obama "Directly Responsible" for Orlando Massacre; Man Detained in Shooting Death of British Lawmaker; Source: Killer Texted Wife During Massacre; Anxious Republicans Ramp Up 'Dump Trump' Talks. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 16, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[18:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news: the killer's words. We are hearing the Orlando attacker's voice for the first time and learning more about his final messages, including texts with his wife and threatening Facebook posts during the massacre.
President Obama grieves. The president visits Orlando to honor shooting victims and comfort their families. Tonight, he is venting his frustration with America's gun politics and Donald Trump's proposals.
ISIS intensifying. The CIA director is warning that the terror group is stepping up its efforts to attack the West. Is that grim assessment at odds with the president's claim of significant progress against ISIS?
And political panic. Some Republicans are privately talking about ways they might be able to stop Donald Trump from officially claiming the nomination, this as Trump tells critics of his party to be quiet or he will dump them.
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 this hour, we're learning about the Orlando gunman's final communications with his wife during the hours he was holed up in that night club where he committed a massacre, a U.S. official telling CNN that over Omar Mateen exchanged texts with his wife asking if she knew about the attack.
We're told she texted back that she loved him and tried to call him, but he didn't answer his cell phone. In Orlando tonight, President Obama says victims' relatives pleaded with him to do more to prevent further carnage from gun violence.
Speaking a short while ago, the president said America's politics have made it easy for terrorists or mentally ill people to buy powerful weapons legally. The president says he is pleased that a Democratic filibuster in the Senate has set the stage for new gun control votes.
Senator Chris Murphy says he has got assurances Republican leaders would work toward making those votes happen. Senator Murphy, he is standing by live. We will talk about if anything will actually get passed.
And our correspondents, analysts, and guests, they will have full coverage of all the breaking stories.
Let's begin with our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown. She's on the scene for us in Orlando.
Pamela, what are you learning?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: We have learned, Wolf, from our law enforcement sources that the wife of this gunman, Omar Mateen, was frantically calling her husband during the shooting after news broke and she suspected that her husband may be responsible for it.
She claims that she tried to dissuade him from going to launch an attack, unsuccessfully, as we know. She did not call police. And during the three-hour attack, Wolf, we have also learned the couple exchanged text messages.
BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, chilling new video captured inside Pulse nightclub, clubgoers hiding in the bathroom, trying to keep quiet as the shooting was taking place. In the middle of the chaos inside Pulse nightclub, CNN has learned the gunman and his wife communicated.
According to law enforcement sources, she was frantically calling him after news broke of the shooting. At around 4:00 a.m., he texted asking if she saw the news. She responded, "I love you."
She has told investigators she had a suspicion when he left the house on Saturday he was going to launch an attack, even though he told her he was going to visit a friend.
OMAR MATEEN, GUNMAN: Everybody is just out to get paid.
BROWN: And we're now hearing from Omar Mateen for the first time. This documentary from Big Picture Ranch about the BP oil spill shows Mateen working as a security guard.
MATEEN: Once people get laid off here, it's going to suck for them. They want more disaster to happen, because where their moneymaking is.
BROWN: Sources tell CNN in the weeks leading up to the attack, Mateen began spending a significant amount of money, including to buy weapons used for the attack.
A letter from Senator Ron Johnson to Facebook says Mateen searched the site during the rampage for news on the shooting and even allegedly posted: "In the next few days, you will see attacks from the Islamic State in the USA."
While the gunman was holed up in the bathroom, officers were pulling victims out as fast as they could. Hostage negotiators were able to make contact with him.
CPT. MARK CANTY, ORLANDO SWAT COMMANDER: There was kind of some speculation that he did have explosives and that he was eventually going to come out of the bathroom with explosives.
BROWN (on camera): And so what was running through your mind during that?
CANTY: Is the breach going to work? Are we are going to be able to get anybody out? What is he going to start doing? That kind of -- so, but our main concern is always trying to get those people out.
BROWN (voice-over): A first-responder telling CNN about the harrowing experience.
OMAR DELGADO, EATONVILLE POLICE OFFICER: It was kind of dark. Had those disco lights still on. And I just began yelling, hey, guys, come on out, come on out, come on out, we got you, we got you. And just unfortunately it took a minute to realize that they weren't faking. It was just they couldn't get up.
BROWN: Investigators are still trying to determine motive for the nightclub attack and if anyone, including his wife, could have done anything to stop it.
BROWN: And, Wolf, we know a few weeks before the attack, the gunman attempted to buy body armor. We have learned from the store owner that an employee from that store, she called the local FBI office, because he was asking suspiciously when he went in there.
At the time, they didn't know it was Omar Mateen. They learned that later after the shooting. But that's something of course that the FBI wants to look into, the fact that the FBI was alerted. Also, we have learned, Wolf, from our law enforcement sources that the gunman went on a spending spree in the weeks leading up to the shooting.
As we know, he bought the guns he used in the shooting and other items, so all of this is under investigation. The question remains why didn't anyone speak up and why wasn't the gunman prevented from doing the rampage, Wolf?
BLITZER: Those are important questions, indeed. Pamela Brown in Orlando, thank you.
Now to the president's very emotional trip to Orlando and his renewed call for action against gun violence here in the United States. He said the idea that lives could have been saved if people in the nightclub were armed defies common sense.
That's something Donald Trump, by the way, has suggested.
Let's get some more on the trip to Orlando. Our White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, is joining us.
Michelle, the president says he held and hugged those grieving family members. Update our viewers.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
He spoke of indescribable grief and pain. He met with the survivors, first-responders, families of victims, and then he took their plea to the American public, saying that not doing more to prevent certain people from getting access to high-powered weapons is the same as choosing to let it happen again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, once again, as has been true too many times before, I held and hugged grieving family members and parents, and they asked, why does this keep happening? And they pleaded that we do more to stop the carnage.
They don't care about the politics. Neither do I. Neither does Joe. And neither should any parent out there who's thinking about their kids being not in the wrong place, but in places where kids are supposed to be.
This debate needs to change. It's outgrown the old political stalemates. The notion that the answer to this tragedy would be to make sure that more people in a nightclub are similarly armed to the killer defies common sense.
Those who defend the easy accessibility of assault weapons should meet these families and explain why that makes sense. They should meet with the Newtown families -- some of whom Joe saw yesterday -- whose children would now be finishing fifth grade -- on why it is that we think our liberty requires these repeated tragedies. That's not the meaning of liberty.
I'm pleased to hear that the Senate will hold votes on preventing individuals with possible terrorist ties from buying guns, including assault weapons. I truly hope that senators rise to the moment and do the right thing. I hope that senators who voted no on background checks after Newtown have a change of heart. And then I hope the House does the right thing, and helps end the plague of violence that these weapons of war inflict on so many young lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSINSKI: We have seen the president make similar trips to this after mass shootings nine times before today.
We have heard him angrier. We have heard more emotional. I think what came across today was his tiredness and disgust that, yes, this has happened again. He used very direct language to lay out a broad argument for why this is about more than fighting ISIS.
When you look at this shooting and others, these are lone wolves, and he made the point that that requires some different approach -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Michelle Kosinski joining us from the White House. Michelle, thanks very much.
President Obama is urging Congress, in his words, to do the right thing, as the Senate now appears on track to hold new gun control votes after a dramatic Democratic-led filibuster.
Senator Chris Murphy ended his nearly 15-hour marathon once he got promises from Republican leaders that they would move toward votes on two measures. But there are right now no guarantees anything will actually get passed.
Senator Murphy of Connecticut is joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And, Senator, thanks very much for coming in.
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Sure. Thanks for having me.
BLITZER: Will there be two votes early next week?
MURPHY: There will be two votes.
It looks like Monday night or Tuesday morning, we will have two votes, one on closing the terrorist loophole, so that individuals who are on the terrorist watch list cannot buy guns, and the second one expanding the reach of background checks so that they penetrate not just sales at bricks and mortar stores, but also these online sales and these gun shows, where today about 40 percent of all gun sales are happening.
The reality is, if you want to stop a terrorist from getting a gun, you have to first make sure that those that we know have terrorist connections are on the list of those that are prohibited. But then you have to make sure that those lists are sitting not just in gun stores, but in all the other forums where there would-be potential terrorists are trying to buy a dangerous assault weapon.
BLITZER: So, there are 54 Republicans, 44 Democrats, two independents who caucus with the Democrats. How many votes will be necessary? A simple majority of 51 to pass this legislation or 60?
MURPHY: Well, it is a deep frustration to many of us who want rules reform in the Senate that this is going to be another 60-vote requirement.
BLITZER: Do you have the 60 votes to pass either of these two measures?
MURPHY: I am skeptical that we have 60 votes to pass...
BLITZER: So, all this has been for naught? MURPHY: No, I am skeptical that we have 50 votes to pass the
background checks measure.
BLITZER: Sixty votes.
MURPHY: Sixty votes. But we may have 60 to pass the measure that makes sure that people who are on the terrorist watch list cannot buy guns.
That is a non-controversial issue in the American public; 90 percent of Americans believe that if you are so dangerous that you're not allowed to fly on a plane in this country, that you probably also shouldn't be able to walk into a gun store and buy a gun.
BLITZER: You think you have the 60 votes for that?
MURPHY: I don't know. But I know that in the wake of Orlando, there are a lot of members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, that are reassessing our laws relative to the ability of would-be terrorists to get expensive and dangerous weapons.
BLITZER: I spoke last hour with Republican Senator Lankford of Oklahoma, who said, I want to work with Democrats and come up with a bipartisan piece of legislation.
Have you been speaking with him?
MURPHY: There are discussions right now happening relative to a compromise. And that would not have happened if we hadn't gone to the floor and forced this filibuster.
Let's be honest. When we came to the Senate this week, the Senate leadership, Republican leadership, had no plans to debate any legislation that would have addressed the shooting in Orlando or made shootings in the future less likely.
We forced a debate this week into next week on these measures. Maybe we will end up with a compromise. And that only happened because there were 40 United States senators that went down to the floor for 15 hours yesterday to demand that this debate happen.
BLITZER: You know what your critics are saying, that even if what you're proposing now, this legislation, had been the law of the land, this terrorist in Orlando would still have been able to purchase that weapon, that semi-assault weapon that he got and the pistol.
MURPHY: Well, first, we can't get into this trap in which we have to design a piece of legislation that is an exact answer to the latest mass shooting.
There's no doubt that if you expand background checks, there will be less carnage on the streets of America. That's what data shows us. But let me say this. If Senator Feinstein's amendment, and she -- it is her amendment that is relative to this issue of stopping terrorists from getting guns -- it would give broad jurisdiction to the attorney general to put on the list of those prohibited from buying weapons anyone that they think is a threat to the nation.
Now, Omar Mateen might not have been on a specific list today, but the totality of his contacts may have led the attorney general to put him on the list of prohibited buyers. And so I actually think that the amendment we will consider on Monday may have, if it was in effect prior to this weekend, stopped Omar Mateen from getting that weapon.
BLITZER: Even if your legislation passes the Senate, it's still got to be passed in the House of Representatives, where there's a significant Republican majority.
I want you to listen to what the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, said today, because he has got concerns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: As the FBI director just told us the other day, and I think he said this publicly, if we do this wrong, like the president is proposing, we could actually blow our ongoing terrorist investigations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You want to respond to the speaker of the House? Because he says that you could tip off a potential terrorist out there. If he wants to go buy a weapon, he is not going to be allowed to buy a weapon. He will then know he is under investigation and there could be some serious problems as part of the -- as the FBI is investigating that individual.
MURPHY: So there's two responses to that.
First, the Department of Justice supports the amendment that we are going to be voting on next week. And Senator Feinstein has worked with them to address...
BLITZER: But you heard FBI Director Comey's reservations.
MURPHY: Yes, he had reservations. They have been worked out. They support the bill that is coming before the Senate next week.
But, second, I have never heard those reservations by Speaker Ryan raised with respect to the no-fly list. So, if you are trying to get on a plane and you are a known terrorist, well, if you're denied that ticket, maybe that might be a tipoff to you that you're on one of these lists.
But the alternative is for that individual to get on the plane. The alternative to not prohibited to buy the gun is to get the gun. And so, yes, there maybe is some danger that if you got prohibited from buying the assault weapon, you might think to yourself, why am I being denied this purchase, but the alternative is perhaps more slaughter like we saw in Orlando. BLITZER: There are, what, about 300 million guns out there already around the United States. The argument is, you know what? There are so many guns out there, there's still going to be a problem no matter what you do up on Capitol Hill.
MURPHY: Well, that can't ultimately be the answer.
The data shows us city after city that when you have less illegal guns in communities, you have less gun homicide. And there's a small number of purchases every year that are attempted by individuals who are on the no-fly list. We're talking about 200 or so of these purchases. That's not an infringement on anyone's right.
BLITZER: Senator Murphy, stand by. We have more to discuss. There are other developments happening right now. We will take a quick break. We will be right back.
BLITZER: We are back with Democratic Senator Chris Murphy. He's a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, stand by.
There's a new warning tonight from the CIA director that ISIS is intensifying its efforts to launch attacks on the West.
Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is joining us with details.
Barbara, this is a very disturbing assessment of the current ISIS threat.
What did he say?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, look at it this way, Wolf.
ISIS may be losing territory and troops in Iraq and Syria, but the CIA director said, does that mean it is really losing ground, it is on the road to being defeated? Clearly, in his view, the answer is no.
STARR (voice-over): The Orlando attack was not directly connected to ISIS, but the head of the CIA said today ISIS wants to encourage more.
JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: As we have seen in Orlando, San Bernardino and elsewhere, ISIL is attempting to inspire attacks by sympathizers who have no direct links to the group.
STARR: In blunt language, CIA Director John Brennan warned ISIS is working to attack the West any way it can.
BRENNAN: ISIL has a large cadre of Western fighters who potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the West. And the group is probably exploring a variety of means for infiltrating operatives into the West, including in refugee flows, smuggling routes and legitimate methods of travel.
STARR: And an astonishing assessment.
BRENNAN: Unfortunately, despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts haven't reduced the group's terrorism capability and global reach.
STARR: Brennan called the terror group resilient adapting to the efforts to stop it.
BRENNAN: ISIL will probably rely more on guerrilla tactics, including high-profile attacks outside the territory in Syria and Iraq that it currently holds.
STARR: The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee calling for more action.
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA: ISIL's global battlefield now includes the United States, and we cannot stand idly by. We must take the fight to them.
STARR: But after thousands of airstrikes and loss of territory, ISIS maintains key advantages.
BRENNAN: The group would have to suffer even heavier losses on territory, manpower and money for its terrorist capacity to decline significantly.
STARR: The group still collects an estimated tens of millions each month through intimidation taxes and oil sales. And the spread of ISIS across the world is now ensuring its capacity for conducting more terror attacks, its numbers far exceeding al Qaeda at its height.
In Iraq and Syria, there are between 18,000 and 22,000, down from as many as 33,000 last year. In Libya, its most dangerous affiliate, 5,000 to 8,000 operatives. In Egypt and Sinai Peninsula, perhaps up to 1,000.
BRENNAN: There are hard-core fighters. There are adherents. There are logistics specialists, facilitators and others. But the numbers are significant.
STARR: And in answering all of this criticism today, the Pentagon said it has been warning for months that military action, airstrikes and military advisers on the ground, that alone would never be sufficient to defeat and destroy ISIS -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thanks very much.
We are with Senator Chris Murphy, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
I assume you agree with that very dire assessment we heard from the CIA director? MURPHY: I agree in the sense that there are two narratives that are
important to continuation of ISIL and their growth.
One is that their supposed caliphate in the Middle East is inevitably expanding, and, second, that the East is at war with the West, the Muslim war at war with the Christian world.
That first rationale is becoming less available to them, because, in fact, that geographic center of control they have is being reduced by our efforts there. So it's that second narrative that's now most important to them.
That's why they're trying to export the fight and they are hoping that we react in ways that further radicalize populations here at home who may listen to their calls for lone wolf attacks.
BLITZER: Senator John McCain caused quite a stir this afternoon when he uttered these words about the president of the United States and his responsibility for ISIS and for what happened in fact in Orlando. Listen to McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Barack Obama is directly responsible for it, because, when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al Qaeda went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama's failures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now, he later issued a written statement saying: "I misspoke. I didn't mean to imply that the president was personally responsible. I was referring to President Obama's national security decisions, not the president himself."
Basically, what he was saying, the decision by the president to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq helped create ISIS. Your reaction?
MURPHY: Well, that's a tried-and-true Republican fiction, because, in fact, it wasn't President Obama's decision. It was President Bush's decision. It was President Bush that signed the agreement that set the timetable for the withdrawal of our troops.
And, in fact, President Obama tried to reverse that decision, but couldn't get an agreement from the Iraqi government in order to override the agreement signed by President Bush. And of course you have to just reverse ourselves a little bit farther backward in time to understand that it was the very invasion of Iraq that set off the chain of events that created this terrorist force.
So this is something that Republicans have tried to proffer for a long time. It is just not based in fact.
BLITZER: Yes, we know that President Bush had set that deadline, but the assumption was some troops would stay. The argument that McCain makes and Lindsey Graham makes is the president really didn't try to convince Nouri al-Maliki, the leader of Iraq at the time, to let those troops stay there and they would have immunity from Iraqi prosecution.
MURPHY: No, the president tried to keep troops there.
The president -- the prime minister of Iraq wouldn't give us the conditions upon which we could keep those troops there. And we had to pull them out. But this is only a piece of the storyline. The fact is, is that whenever our troops left, the prime minister of that country was determined to conduct internal affairs in a way that marginalized Sunni populations and drove them into the arms of these extremists.
BLITZER: He turned out to be a real disaster, that prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.
MURPHY: That's right.
BLITZER: Hey, Senator, thanks very much for coming in.
MURPHY: Thanks for having me.
BLITZER: Just head, we will have more on the breaking news, the Orlando's killer's texts with his wife right in the midst of that three-hour murder standoff with the police.
And did she know more about his plans than she's told police? Our correspondents, they are digging for new information.
[18:31:40] BLITZER: We are following breaking news in the Orlando terror attack investigation. The killer apparently wanted to make sure his wife knew what was going on, a source telling Omar Mateen texted his wife to see if she'd seen news reports of the slaughter.
We're joined now by forensic psychiatrist Dr. Lisa Van Susteren; our justice correspondent, Evan Perez; our senior law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes; and CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen.
First of all, Evan, what are you learning about Mateen's wife, Noor Salman, the shooter's communications with her during that three-hour massacre?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: In addition to those text messages that came -- which came around 4 p.m. [SIC], about two hours into the massacre, Wolf, in addition to those texts, he also -- she also tried to reach out to him when she realized what was happening, when she learned that there had been this -- been this attack at the Pulse nightclub. Of course, she'd been there with him, and she realized that he might be involved. She frantically tried making those calls. He did not answer.
But at the same time he's also posting on Facebook, making comments about ISIS and pledging allegiance and declaring that we're going to see attacks from ISIS in the coming weeks. So you see a lot of activity that he is doing while he's still in the club in a standoff with -- with authorities.
BLITZER: This wife, his second wife, Noor Salman, apparently has changed her story on a few occasions in these various interviews with the FBI. I assume that's some sort of red flag if you were part of that investigatory team?
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, the problem there, Wolf, is that everything she says is going to possibly be recanted later at a later time. And her claim could be in the future that she's under such duress, such trauma after learning what her husband has just done, that you know, she's still trying to sort it out in her mind.
So -- and the other aspect is that, if you have these text messages where he's trying to tell her, basically, "It's me, and I'm here, and I'm doing it," if that's any kind of a surprise to her, that adds credibility to her not knowing that he was absolutely on his way to commit this attack at that club at that time.
So there's still going to be things that have to be sorted out. What the authorities need, particularly what the FBI needs, is for someone else to say that she told them that she knew he was going to do an attack, that she told them that it was going to be the Pulse and possibly that date.
Just the statements that she's made to the FBI during interviews, I don't think is enough for conviction. Maybe enough to bring charges, but I don't think it will be enough, ultimately, to convict her.
BLITZER: We'll see what kind of evidence they have.
The FBI director, James Comey, he says that he was not directed by ISIS specifically, but he was inspired, if you will. But during the course of the massacre he repeatedly pledged his allegiance to ISIS, to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. That kind of behavior, what does that say to you?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: We've seen it before. We saw it in San Bernardino with 14 people dead in December. We saw it in Paris on Monday with police chief dead, as well as his partner. And people around the world are heating the coal that came on May 21 from ISIS to do attacks in the holy month of Ramadan. I think it speaks for itself.
BLITZER: We also are now learning, and it's very interesting, Lisa, that during the course of the massacre itself, he was searching Facebook, other websites to see what the reaction was. He put in a word like "Pulse," the name of the nightclub, or "shooting" to see if people were talking about it, talking about him.
[18:35:04] DR. LISA VAN SUSTEREN, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: Yes. Well, this is the whole fantasy of being powerful. And so his alliance with ISIS: "I'm a big shot. I'm a member of this important terrorist group." This is all part of what he's been saying, that there are people with suicide vests and others. It's all part of this fantasy of being a warrior and a brave hero. And of course, it's all nonsense, but that's what's going through his mind, likely.
BLITZER: Because he wanted to see if people were talking about him.
VAN SUSTEREN: Absolutely.
BLITZER: He was obsessed with it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Absolutely.
BLITZER: The chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Ron Johnson, he wrote Facebook, Tom -- this is a sensitive subject -- asking Facebook for assistance and basically to try to determine, learn some lessons to see if this could have been prevented if they had more information about what he was posting in social media. What more do you think Facebook should be able to do?
FUENTES: Well, the problem there, Wolf, is that if people are going to monitor Facebook, that should be the intelligence community; that should be the law enforcement authorities. I think asking a private company to monitor every single posting is going to be a little more difficult.
Usually in the past, when people have put offensive material on there, someone reports it to their management. They take a look at it, and they remove it. But to ask Facebook to monitor their own systems would have a chilling effect, I think, on anybody using it.
BLITZER: Evan, what are you finding out about his spending in the weeks leading up to this terror attack?
Perez: We see this in many of these cases. You saw it in San Bernardino, where the terrorists moved money, tried to prepare themselves, essentially, for their final act.
And in this case, this -- this shooter started spending a lot of money in the weeks before. He bought stuff for his wife and, of course, spent thousands of dollars on these firearms and on ammunition. So you can see that, in the weeks before -- in addition to his violent behavior and his moods changing and his speaking out about jihad and so on, you see that he's starting to money, and his wife is noticing some of this.
BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Lisa, that this couple, the terrorists in Orlando, they had a little three-year-old child. The San Bernardino couple, they had a little child, as well. You would think that, with a little child -- and we've seen all the pictures -- this would stop someone from wanting to go out and kill people, knowing they were about to die.
VAN SUSTEREN: You would think that if the person was normal. This man was anything but normal. There's murderous rage in his heart. There is not love in his heart. He isn't thinking about his son. If he looked into the eyes of almost 100 people, murdered 49 and injured 64 more, this is not a man that is going to have in his heart the empathy, paternal love to keep him from doing something.
BLITZER: How unusual is it that these terrorists have little kids, and they still go out and want to engage in jihad, become martyrs?
BERGEN: We looked at more than 300 cases since 9/11, and we found a third of the perpetrators in the United States were married and a third had children. So it's not unusual at all.
BLITZER: Pretty shocking stuff no matter how many times you hear about this. All right, guys, stand by.
Still ahead, we'll get another update from Orlando on the terror attack investigation.
And a year after Donald Trump launched his presidential candidacy, anxious Republican leaders right now, they are talking behind closed doors. Could it lead to a coup at the convention?
[18:43:06] BLITZER: Tonight, some of Donald Trump's Republican critics are rejecting his demand for them to be quiet. Instead, they're privately plotting ways to potentially stop him from officially becoming the party's presidential nominee. Our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, has been looking into this.
Dana, Trump's latest controversies raising a lot of anxiety out there.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to believe that it was actually one year ago today that Donald Trump started his presidential campaign. And despite winning primaries and caucuses, he is far from unifying the Republican Party behind him.
And I am told tonight that one new GOP group formed just in the past several days, calling themselves Delegates Unbound, will try to convince Republican delegates to the convention that they can and should vote for somebody other than Donald Trump.
BASH (voice-over): Donald Trump rolled into D.C. to be deposed in a lawsuit involving a former employee. Exhibit A of the kind of political distraction causing some Republican strategists and donors to quietly discuss ways to dump Trump. And a source familiar with the discussion tells CNN talks are ramping up.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We have to have our Republicans either stick together or let me just do it by myself. I'll do very well.
BASH: Despite that new warning, concern about Trump has grown from angst to near panic.
TRUMP: The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican.
BASH: Not just because of controversial Trump comments but the way voters are reacting to him. He's trailing Hillary Clinton, but most alarming to Republicans, his favorability rating is at an historic low.
A new "Washington Post" poll this week shows Clinton is hardly well- liked, with a 55 percent unfavorable rating, but that pales in comparison to Trump; a whopping 70 percent say they have an unfavorable view of the presumptive GOP nominee.
Discussions about cutting Trump loose are focused on the Republican convention, finding a way to free delegates for Trump to vote for someone else.
[18:45:08] One idea to use the GOP convention rules committee to vote unbind Trump delegates. Another CNN is told is dust off a rule from 1976, the last contested GOP convention called a conscience clause, allowing delegates to vote for a new candidate if they disagreed with something theirs said or did.
But even those involved in discussions underscore that the moves would be unprecedented and extremely hard to execute.
Former RNC chief of staff Mike Shields agrees.
MIKE SHIELDS, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, RNC: The delegates are bound right now under rules to nominate Donald Trump. That's the rules of the Republican Party. They would have to unbind themselves, go through a process of changing the rules actively to say that we want to go against the wishes of voters.
BASH: Has that ever happened?
SHIELDS: That's never happened before and I think it would be a difficult, heavy lift.
BASH: CNN is told that neither the RNC chair nor congressional leaders are taking part in strategy talks to oust Trump, even after Trump's new taunts.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our leaders have to get a lot tougher and be quiet, just please be quiet, don't talk, please be quiet.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: You can't mix this up sometimes. I'll just say we represent a separate but equal branch of government.
BASH: As for the Clinton campaign, they're openly reveling in the GOP discord, marking the day, one year anniversary of the Trump campaign with this video.
TRUMP: They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists.
BASH: Now, for the most part, Republicans who don't like Donald Trump still say that they believe they're stuck with him, not just for technical reasons but also perception and political reasons, that any move to oust him will feed right into the sentiment, Wolf, that helped him get elected in the first place that the system is rigged.
BLITZER: Stand by, Dana, because we're going to have a lot to discuss right now.
I also want to bring in our chief political analyst Gloria Borger, our senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny, and our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Gloria, among everything else, Senator John McCain caused quite a stir, as you well know, when he blamed the president of the United States for what happened in Orlando. Listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Barack Obama is directly responsible for it because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al Qaeda went to Syria, became ISIS and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama's failures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now, it caused a big stir, but he quickly issued a statement, saying, "I misspoke. I did not mean to imply that the president was personally responsible, I was referring to President Obama's national security decisions, not the president himself."
But it underscores the angst that's out there right now.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And, look, John McCain if he's been consistent on any issue through the last decade, it's this question of ISIS and Iraq and how we needed to be more muscular in response. He has been critical of this president throughout. He clearly got his gander up a little bit in this hallway interview, and Dana is laughing, because we know that John McCain can do that, and he did.
He had to kind of take it back, say I misspoke, because what he didn't want to do and it sounded like he was doing it in this statement was to blame the president personally somehow for Orlando. And, you know, I think in a way he wanted to distance himself from remarks that Trump had made earlier in the week somehow questioning the president's motives here. I think John McCain knew immediately he needed to correct it.
BLITZER: Senator Harry Reid, Democratic leader, and minority leader in the Senate, he put out a statement right away responding to Senator McCain, Reid, "Senator McCain's unhinged comments are just the latest proof that Senate Republicans are puppets of Donald Trump."
Go ahead. You heard that.
BASH: I mean, John McCain threw that right over Harry Reid's plate, he swung and hit it and hit a political homerun. In that, that's the name of the game for Democrats in trying to retake the Senate. One of their prime targets is John McCain. He's got a tough re-election campaign, maybe one of the toughest. One that wasn't expected and it is in part because of the pretzel that he and others up for re- election on the Republican side are tied in and how to deal with Donald Trump.
BLITZER: He's facing a Republican primary.
BASH: Exactly, especially in a state like Arizona, where there is a lot of Republican support for Donald Trump, a lot of it, that's how much independence.
BLITZER: Jeff, how far-fetched is this notion there could be a coup?
[18:50:01] The rules committee at the convention, they meet a week before a convention. They come up with a rule saying people -- pledged delegates can abstain, vote their conscience.
Is that totally far-fetched?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I talked to a Republican today involved in another presidential campaign earlier. He said two words, it's wishful thinking. And that is the reality here.
I mean, Donald Trump won 13.4 million votes. He comes in there with more pledged delegates. Now, as Dana smartly pointed out in her piece, it is technically possible they could change the rules before the delegates arrive and change it to require a two-thirds majority of delegates.
But it really would fuel the suspicions that the system is rigged, and, in fact, it would be rigged. So it is --
BLITZER: And you can only imagine how the Trump supporters would react.
ZELENY: But that said, for the next five weeks if the polls keep getting worse and worse and worse for him, for Donald Trump, that's possible. I mean, 70 percent of people say they don't like his -- in terms of approval, 55 percent say they won't vote for him at all.
ZELENY: All that said, it would turn Cleveland into a huge mess. I don't see how it's possible.
BORGER: And a clear majority of Republicans, I think 60 or 70 percent, believe that Donald Trump ought to be given the nomination, because he won it.
BLITZER: He did win it.
BORGER: So they would be working against their own party.
BLITZER: Jeff, the speaker of the house, Paul Ryan, has endorsed Trump, says he has no plans to rescind that support. But other high- profile Republicans, Mark Kirk of Illinois, for example, they have done just that. Do they actually have any leverage over Trump? Because he seems happy to wage the campaign with or without party elites supporting him.
JEFF TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I mean, his brand, his -- his -- the way he has appealed to voters, at least in the Republican primary, has been by running against the establishment.
So the fact that he is not popular with many elected officials is not -- is not really that big a problem. The real problem is if he's not that popular, apparently, with voters. And, you know, that could be a real problem.
And just one of the things -- we keep talking appropriately about, you know, the rules and could you change the rules. One thing we haven't mentioned, which is, OK, if it's not Donald Trump, who is the candidate?
BASH: Exactly. Who --
TOOBIN: You know, is it Mitt Romney? Is it Paul Ryan?
BORGER: Scott Walker.
TOOBIN: I mean, you can't beat somebody with nobody. At the moment, the never Trump people, they don't have a candidate.
BASH: Exactly. And that is one of the many, many hurdles that these people who are talking about just doing this it at the convention have to deal with, because if you approach these delegates, and I'm told they could get money for advertising to try to not just call delegates on the phone, but to try to reach them through their television sets. You can't just say, please don't vote for Trump. You have to say, vote for X. And who is that X?
BLITZER: All right, guys. Those are all excellent questions. Stand by.
Just ahead, we're also getting more information right now in the Orlando terror investigation. We're learning more about the killer's final moves and messages.
And a popular politician shot and stabbed to death. Tonight, a man is in custody.
[18:57:41] BLITZER: We're following breaking news in Britain, where police have now reportedly detained a man in connection with a deadly attack on a member of parliament.
CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, is joining us with the very latest.
Nic, this is a shocking attack on a rising political star in the U.K. Tell our viewers what happened. What do we know?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Wolf, it's absolutely shocking for this community. It sent shockwaves across the whole country. Jo Cox had been an MP for a year. People we talked to here say in that short time, she had done so much more for community here than MPs have achieved over many, many years.
She was meeting with her constituents just around the corner from here in a library around midday today. A man armed with a gun and a knife attacked her, fired two shots and stabbed her and an air ambulance flown in, the medics couldn't save her. She was pronounced did within an hour of that shooting happening.
This is a young parliamentarian with a young family. This community, the country is absolutely in shock. The police investigate is going on tonight. They have in custody a 52-year-old man who they believe is solely responsible for this.
His name, Tommy Mare, his house is being investigated and searched by police tonight. Neighbors describe him as a quiet man who did a lot of gardening. But everyone here asking the question, why is this happening? This murder, this brutal murder at a time when tensions in the country are hugely high. There is a vote next week, whether Britain should stay in and around the European Union.
Members of parliament have been accused of lying about the facts and figures involved in this debate. Jo Cox, she wanted Britain to remain part of the European Union. Is this in any way related to her death? We don't know. But both the in and the out campaigns today suspending their campaigning, tributes paid by the British prime minister, by the leader of the Labour Party. She was a member of the Labour Party.
But a hugely popular MP, killed, shocking the last time a member of parliament killed in Britain was over a quarter of a decade ago. That was by the Irish Republican army from northern Ireland. It is rare. Guns here absolutely rare, Wolf.
BLITZER: A totally, totally horrific event. All right. Thanks very much, Nic, for that report.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching.
CNN's breaking news coverage of the Orlando terror attack continues right now with "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT".