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NEW DAY SATURDAY
Terror in Orlando: FBI Analyzes Surveillance Video, Questions Shooter's Friend; GOP Delegates Launch New Push to Stop Trump; 50 Millions Americans Face Dangerously High Temps; Gun Advocates: Leave Assault-Style Weapons Alone; Iraqi PM: Falluja Nearly Completely Free from ISIS; Rio Declares A "State of Public Calamity". Aired 7-8a ET
Aired June 18, 2016 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): The doping problem is not only related to Russia.
[07:00:04] It is the problem that is relevant for the whole sports world and if someone is trying to politicize this error, it is a big mistake.
Let me emphasize that we have never supported any violations in sport. We have never supported that at the state level and we will never support this. We will never support any dopings or any other violations in this area and we are going to cooperate with all the international organizations in this regard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Be sure to watch Fareed Zakaria's "GPS" special Sunday morning, 10:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.
REPORTER: The chasm among Republicans is widening.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm an outsider, and historically they don't love the outsiders.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going down in flames and he looks like he's taking the Republican Party with him.
TRUMP: President Obama is trying to make terrorism into guns.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And if we don't act, we will keep seeing more massacres like this.
REPORTER: Thousands who fled Fallujah wait in this camp while the battle rages nearby.
REPORTER: Disney taking new steps to protect guests from alligators.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I quickly grabbed my son, grabbed him out of that shoreline and brought him up to safety.
(MUSIC) (END VIDEOTAPE)
PAUL: All of those stories and more coming up with you and we're so grateful for your company, as always, on this Saturday morning. I'm Christi Paul.
My colleague, Victor Blackwell though, has the very latest from Orlando this morning.
Good morning, Victor.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Christi, good morning to you. Good morning to you at home.
It's been almost a week now since the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history happened here in Orlando at the Pulse nightclub just a block over my right shoulder here. Forty-nine people were killed in that senseless attack, dozens more injured. Some still in hospitals.
Authorities are still on the scene here trying to piece together the killer's motive. Here's what we know -- that right now investigators are pouring over surveillance video showing the carnage from inside the club. Authorities say the shooter paused several times to make phone calls, even posts messages on Facebook.
His Facebook posts then prompted his friend who is a medical professional we're told to call during the attack to discuss medication. We don't know many details of that conversation. The FBI is now questioning that friend.
Well, FBI agents also spent an hour at the mosque where the shooter used to pray. They were looking for anyone who knew the shooter or know anyone associated with that shooter.
Our Polo Sandoval joins us now with more on the investigation.
And, Polo, some other details we are learning makes it seem as if this was man preparing to die.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there seem to be here, at least several different suspicious behaviors investigators that investigators are taking a closer look at. We've now learned the gunman had actually transferred over -- at least included his wife on his insurance policy as well as actually gave her access to his bank account. There's also several indications that he had planned this when you look at his history closer to home which is his hometown about two hours south of here, in Port Lucie, Florida.
Now, investigators saying that he had visited a gun shop, attempted to buy not only level three body armor and also ammunition in bulk. We have since found out the owners of that store initially called investigators when that happened. But that investigation didn't actually go anywhere since the staff at that gun shop was unable to provide any more information at the time.
Again, this is all different red flags, if you will, all suspicious indicators that investigators are taking a closer look at to see if anyone could have seen this coming, Victor.
BLACKWELL: There are some other elements as well, Polo, that I know investigators are looking into about the gunman's past, some violent elements. Are there any direct connections being made now between the suspicious behavior and the attack he carried out?
SANDOVAL: Not quite. We did hear several days ago from his ex-wife who described their marriage which started relatively normal, then quickly took a turn, a very violent turn, even getting physical at times. So, we are getting a side of him here that involved some violence.
We're also hearing from some of those who may have known him in grade school, even teachers and some of those who actually were classmates of his telling the story that he was not only rude but also very violent prone.
So, again, that just again provides a wider picture and something else investigators are considering right now, Victor.
BLACKWELL: And let's talk about the medical response. We know that of course dozens of people rushed to local hospitals in the wake of that attack.
[07:05:03] We're learning from the hospitals what it was like from those trauma surgeons, what was like inside the O.R.s while this was happening and those hospitals were on lockdown.
What are they saying?
SANDOVAL: Yes, of course, you have the first responders, but then you also have the individuals at the hospital. That was not far from the nightclub itself. You have to remember, there was a lot of chaos, confusion and there were reports there was possibly a gunman either heading to the hospital or possibly in the hospital.
But yet, these doctors continued to perform to save the lives of these individuals, including one senior resident surgeon who shares his story, something he feels that is something that will stay with him the rest of his life and paints a better picture of what happened that night. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. JOSHUA CORSA, TRAUMA SURGEON, ON-CALL NIGHT OF ATTACK: I've been wearing shoe covers obviously to keep -- just for hazard protection. But, no, again, I want to remember them as they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANDOVAL: Just to add a little bit of context here so we really understand his story, too, victor. It is a remarkable. The senior surgeon -- surgical resident who says he basically wore those shoes that were relatively new but today they are blood-soaked. I read a Facebook post of his almost immediately following that shooting. One of the most powerful things that I read since the shooting
happened, Victor, saying that in the fibers of those shoes was the blood of dozens of people and he had no idea of knowing whether they were gay or straight, black, white or Hispanic. What they had in common is that they all arrived in his hospital on this way of suffering, of screaming, and even death.
And I think that this is really the other side of the story that really we haven't talked about too much is these individuals who really went above and beyond to save the lives of so many people despite those reports that there was possibly a gunman either heading to their facility or even there already.
BLACKWELL: Heroic work. Heroic work at those operating rooms by those trauma surgeons, and we actually saw the reunion between Angel Colon, one of the men who was shot six times, and the officer who pulled him out. He's now praising the doctors who saved his life at ORMC.
Polo Sandoval, thanks so much.
Now, the second round of funerals, those continue today as families mourn the loss of those killed in the nightclub shooting. And now, there is an outpouring of support, many looking to help financially.
The largest fund in the wake of the pulse nightclub shooting is the city sponsored one Orlando fund. It now stands at $8 million.
Joining me now is Paul Brinkmann. He's the senior business reporter for "The Orlando Sentinel".
Paul, thanks for being back with us.
And there has been a bit of a shakeup essentially from the time this was announced that there had been some changes, but a shake-up in just the last 24 to 36 hours.
PAUL BRINKMANN, SENIOR BUSINESS REPORTER, THE ORLANDO SENTINEL: Right. I guess it is really evolving as the city a week ago, they didn't know they were going to be dealing with this and a little over a week ago, and so they are kind of on a learning curve. We had the fund by equality Florida set up on the Go Fund Me website, but then the city came in and announced theirs on Tuesday. At first they said it was going to be aimed at supporting other non-profits in the community. They immediately heard that it is -- that there is a more direct need and that somebody needs to be giving directly to the victims.
BLACKWELL: There was the backlash from the families of those who lost people in Sandy Hook and Aurora and the Boston bombings who said this money should not be -- in the words of one of those survivors - the United Way's payday. Shouldn't buy the new senior center, and then they made the shift that the money is going directly to the victims.
BRINKMANN: Yes, according to the city, they had realized this at the same time that the mass shooting network group was putting out their statement.
BLACKWELL: So, they say there is no causation here. There is no --
BRINKMANN: They say that they had also realized because they were over at the stadium dealing with victims and their families coming in, hundreds of them at this point, and that they realize that they needed a more direct mechanism right away. So --
BLACKWELL: So the money is now going to the victims. Now this was supposed to be facilitated by the Central Florida Fund in collaboration with the One Orlando Fund, Central Florida Foundation, I should say. What now with the Central Florida Foundation, are they leaving?
BRINKMANN: Yes. They sent out an announcement Friday saying they would establish their own fund and that it would be directed more at the other non-profits and other needs in the community, Hispanic and LGBT support groups.
Again, the people that I talked to with the mass shooter's networking group, the support group, they said again that they don't like it when they see fracturing of funds and a lot of different funds going out because that's when they say that some groups in the past have started raising money for their own causes.
[07:10:16] BLACKWELL: Yes.
BRINKMANN: One person told me, basically, on the backs of our dead children.
BLACKWELL: Do we know when any of this money will be starting to go there?
BRINKMANN: I mean, I believe that some of them are already. But I mean the city is still -- they are still perfecting the way that they're going to do this.
BLACKWELL: Get their hands around that.
BRINKMANN: Right. They've flown in a national consultant.
BLACKWELL: Yes. This is Ken Feinberg. They got the man who helped hand out the money after 9/11, after the BP oil spill, after the GM settlement. So, he, of course, is an expert there.
Let's talk about the support groups that you mentioned. We know that they are also coming in. Tell us about those.
BRINKMANN: Right. So, last I heard, there are seven of them coming in. And they'll be here Sunday evening, and start Monday meeting with victims and their families. They don't have a formal agenda that they have told me about yet but they are going to be contacting the various different organizations and working with victim, and one of them told me he's a 6'2", 240-pound comfort dog.
BLACKWELL: Sometimes you just need a little comfort and someone to listen.
BLACKWELL: Paul Brinkman with "The Orlando Sentinel", senior business reporter, thanks so much for being with us this morning.
Christi, of course, we're going to continue to cover what's happening here in Orlando, as five funerals, five of the 49 funerals that will be happening over the next several days will happen this morning. Back to you in Atlanta.
PAUL: I hope those families find comfort in the fact that this is such large chunk of this country is behind them and keeping them in thoughts and prayers.
Victor, thank you so much.
PAUL: Meanwhile of course, this has brought the calls for gun control to become even louder. But there are voices who say assault style weapons should not be banned. You're going to hear from one of those people.
Also, Donald Trump launches a preemptive strike as some worried Republican delegates consider waging a convention revolt.
[07:15:32] PAUL: Fifteen minutes past the hour right now. So good to see you this morning.
Donald Trump looking ahead to his party's convention next month, but a group of Republican delegates are looking at ways to block his nomination. This faction is talking about changing the rules, freeing up delegates bound to Trump to vote for whomever they choose.
As CNN's Jason Carroll reports though, Donald Trump is not taking this new threat lightly.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christi, Trump telling the crowd here in Houston people are finally starting to like him. Well, tell that to a number of GOP delegates who are trying to active live stop him at the convention, to which Trump says that would be an illegal move and would disenfranchise the millions of people who support him.
TRUMP: The party is doing very well. The party is -- the party is actually liking me. You know, I'm an outsider. I'm an outsider. And historically they don't love the outsiders. But I think they're starting to like me. Maybe there will be a few --
CARROLL: RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has been privately working behind the scenes to find out how large this anti-Trump movement might be. But he also sent out a tweet saying any reports of discord are pure fiction. But once again, Christi, Trump saying that any move to try to stop him
at the convention would be one that would be illegal and again would try to disenfranchise the millions of people who support him -- Christi.
PAUL: Jason Carroll, thanks so much.
CNN political commentators Maria Cardona and Jeffrey Lord both with us now.
Good morning to both of you.
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning, Christi.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning, Christi.
PAUL: Maria, I should point out, is a Hillary Clinton supporter, Jeffrey, a Trump supporter.
So, Jeffrey, we understand this is a small faction of delegates but does it reflect the mounting anxiety inside the party about Trump's candidacy after this week where a lot of Republicans balked at his reaction to Orlando and polls that show that he's down six to ten points to Clinton in a general election? I mean, is there anything that Donald Trump can do and does he have any responsibility to turn this around somehow?
LORD: Well, he's in the process of turning it around. I mean, Christi, this is a handful of people. Almost 14 million people voted for Donald Trump. He's going to be the Republican nominee. Not coincidentally, they don't have, as it were, a horse here.
The last time I can remember, not to date myself, something remotely like this was 1964 when at the last minute the powers that be persuaded then-Pennsylvania Governor Bill Scranton to get in the race against Barry Goldwater and the race was already over. But there is no one like that here. It is just a handful of delegates complaining to one another. That's it.
PAUL: So I want to talk to you, Maria, about some of the unfavorable numbers we are still seeing out there -- 54 percent Hillary Clinton unfavorable, 66 percent for Donald Trump. Both camps seem to have the same mantra here. We can't allow either Donald Trump, or we can't allow Hillary Clinton to become president, just insert whichever name works there.
Is it disconcerting to you though that the driver -- or motivating element here seems to be the dislike of a candidate as opposed to the support of one?
CARDONA: Well, I think that's disconcerting to a lot of Americans but I think, also what's disconcerting to a lot of Americans, and increasingly to many Republicans, is the possibility that somebody like Donald Trump would actually walk in to the White House as commander in chief. If you do want to look at the numbers, Donald Trump is in an historic hole with unfavorables. You talked about 66 percent. There was an earlier poll that said he was up to 70 percent.
And he is even tanking among the people that supported him during the primary process. He's tanking among independents. His numbers are actually lower now than they were a month ago among white Americans without a college degree. And these were the folks who were his base, who are his base.
And what's more, Donald Trump is doing nothing but alienating additional groups of demographics that he needs desperately in order to win the White House. He has a more than 90 percent disapproval among African-Americans, 89 percent among Hispanics, high 70s among women. And if he is doing nothing to try to gain the support of those groups, there is no viable path for him to get to the White House.
PAUL: But, Maria --
CARDONA: That's the problem that Donald Trump is facing.
PAUL: -- but when we talk about low numbers, or high numbers in this case, two-thirds of the people, according to some polls, say that they believe Hillary Clinton did something wrong when she used her personal e-mail server as secretary of state.
[07:20:10] I know that that is a topic that just will not seem to leave her side. And when you consider two-thirds of the people believe that she did something wrong, what does that say about her?
CARDONA: Well, I think what we'll see is when the FBI process comes to an end, which it will here pretty soon, I think that will be put to rest.
PAUL: Is she going to interview with the FBI?
CARDONA: Yes. She is. She has offered this since last August. We're just waiting for that to be scheduled.
So, but the problem here is, even -- be that as it may, Christi, that is not reflected in the poll numbers when you have the contrast between Hillary Clinton who has 30 years of public service devoted to helping families and helping working class Americans versus Donald Trump who has dangerous rhetoric, dangerous policies, who will do nothing but divide us, degrade us and defraud us if he gets to the White House. That is a message that is really sinking in to the general electorate which is very different from the primary electorate that actually gave Donald Trump the nomination.
PAUL: Jeffrey Lord, 15 seconds. You have the last word.
LORD: Maria is in fine form this morning. There is no FBI process. It's an FBI criminal investigation, number two.
Number two, in terms of the polls, Michael Dukakis in 1978 was 17 points ahead of George H.W. Bush at this point. You know, the polls that are going to count are state by state polls once we get to the fall election. So, these polls that you're seeing right now don't really mean a great deal and Donald Trump is doing well in some and not so well in others. This is going to change a thousand times before we get to where it counts.
PAUL: All right.
CARDONA: I agree with that. But he's going in the wrong direction.
PAUL: Jeffrey Lord and Maria Cardona, we appreciate you both taking the time to be with us today. Thank you.
CARDONA: Thank you, Christi.
You know, today could be dangerously hot and I mean dangerously across some parts of the country here. Allison Chinchar is talking about record breaking heat here.
ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right. We're talking about impressive heat for portions of the southwest. The other problem is, it is also helping to fuel a lot of the fires in California. We'll take a closer look at that, coming up.
[07:25:52] PAUL: Well, 50 million of you are under dangerous heat advisories today.
CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar is showing us what's happening here.
This could possibly be life threatening, Allison.
CHINCHAR: Indeed. Yes. We aren't just talking a few degrees above average. We're talking near record breaking in a lot of these areas and it is going to be for several days.
So, again, we have heat advisories for portions of the plains but the real oppressive heat is going to be down towards the Southwest. Again, all of this pink area here is an excessive heat warning. Unfortunately, that's also having a problem with a lot of the fires they've been trying to battle in California.
We're already off to a very bad start. Look at the last three years, 2015, 2014, 2013, in terms of millions of acres burned. We're well above, in some cases over a million acres more than we've seen in the last couple of years. So, that's not a good start and it's because in part due to the temperatures.
So, let's take a closer look at this. Now, again, what you can see here, we are talking about the temperatures in this general area. Look at these highs. Las Vegas, 103 today, 109 tomorrow. Tucson's going to get up to 117 by Sunday. Yuma will be 119 by the time we get to Sunday.
This is very important because of the direction in which these go. Again all of this heat in this general area is going to push in to California because of the high pressure. Notice those winds going in that $ motion where they're pushing it from places like Arizona into California. That's what we call an offshore wind, meaning it is coming from land and going over water.
What it's doing is it is taking all of this incredibly hot air and pushing it into those areas where they're having some of the fires. Now, Phoenix doesn't necessarily have the fire but we are still talking incredibly hot temperatures. But the area around Santa Barbara which is where the Sherpa fire is located, again we are talking incredibly zero chances for rain, low humidity and, again, all of these incredibly hot temperatures. And that hot, dry air is what pushes and helps fuel, unfortunately, a lot of those fires.
PAUL: Oh, boy. All right. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.
Certainly thinking about all of those folks in that area.
All right. In defense of assault style rifles, why one user of an AR- 15 says, just leave us alone.
First, mortgage rates inched up this week. Here's your look.
[07:31:44] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm Victor Blackwell in Orlando.
Our top story this Saturday, terror here in Orlando. A new reality for this community and the response to the shooting that left 49 people dead.
Now, the vote could come as early as Monday on a bill that would prevent people on the FBI's terror watch list from purchasing guns. It's only happening after a 15-hour Democratic filibuster.
Now this bill is unlikely to pass, but it plays into a prime topic of conversation -- should military assault style weapons like the one used in this shooting and others be restricted, be ban or possibly closely regulated, or more closely regulated?
The voices in favor of gun control are being matched by those who say leave these guns alone. One of them is Hal Shouse. He uses assault style weapons, the AR-15, to stop wild hogs from devouring farmer's crops in South Georgia.
I know because I did a story with him back in 2013. Here's a portion of that story from March of that year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAL SHOUSE, OWNER, HOG S.W.A.T.: Tragedies happened but the weapon didn't create these tragedies. Sick individuals used this weapon, this tool, and they did something destructive with it, something ugly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Hal Shouse is joining us via Skype from Albany, Georgia.
Hal, good morning to you. And I wonder, that was before, of course, Orlando. That was before San Bernardino. Has your opinion of whether civilians should be allowed to own these semi-automatic rifles changed?
SHOUSE: No, Victor, it hasn't. Frankly, that's kind of what pisses me off about this whole situation. We shouldn't be talking about that. That's not going to solve our problem.
Our problem is a mental health crisis. If you want mental health and you're not wealthy, it's very hard to get. And if you don't want mental health and you need it, it is almost impossible to get.
The guy in San Bernardino was being seen and all of his friends and family knew he was off, and they even sent the police to do a wellness check on him and he breezed through it. They don't have the tools to deal with the mental health problems that our society is generating that you can see is at a breakneck speed, from religious whackos, to abortion whackos, to, you know, people who can't get laid, want to kill everybody they've seen. Police --
BLACKWELL: Well, no question mental health is part of the conversation, Hal, but is it also part of the conversation that there is one common denominator, whether the motive is terror, the motive is hate towards any specific demographic group, the motive is antiabortion, that these individuals all have the same type of gun?
SHOUSE: It's a great weapon for what we use it for. It's meant to kill people. It's meant to kill a lot of things. But it's a tool. And if you're not going to go at the root of the problem, these people's mental health, their stability, then you're never going to take away enough tools to save everybody. You just can't.
[07:35:00] We're either going to keep having these conversations. You could get with me in 2018 and there could be 15 more of these. And if right now, Congress was saying, let's have for every two churches, let's have one mental health facility, if they were trying to get veterans in at a higher rate, maybe sending them to civilian places at a higher rate, you wouldn't see the massive amount of suicide attempts or successes by military folks.
We're not handling this. And literally any weapon you take away -- if I were to give you all of my weapons, all of my magazines, my ammo, give you all of that, you're not going to be one bit safer -- nobody's going to be one bit safer because I'm not a crazy person who's hell bent on destruction. Anyone who is will find another way to kill you. And the dead don't care how they died. They just don't.
BLACKWELL: Let me jump in here. There is a delay so I hate that if it sounds like I'm cutting you off to the viewer, there is a delay from my being in Orlando and you being in Albany, Georgia. But there is this group now Veterans Coalition for Common Sense that
has jumped in to this conversation. I want to read for you a portion of why they have created this group. Let's put up on the screen, "Some opponents are closing these gaps in our laws will continue to argue that dangerous people will obtain guns in our country no matter what." That's your argument. "And therefore taking steps to make it harder for them is fruitless. This is both poor logic and poor leadership."
Your response to that. Poor logic, poor leadership. And this is coming from General Stanley McChrystal, one of the members of this group. This is not some anti-gun radical. This is someone who is a member of the military.
SHOUSE: I was watching Bill Maher last night. He had a colonel on there who said straight up that he didn't feel that civilians should have military style weapons.
I think he's crazy. I mean the reality of it is, just because you've been in the military for a really long time doesn't mean you can't be a dumbass.
And the fact of the matter is civilians like us, like you, like these folks in Florida, they had to deal with a terrorist with a semi- automatic assault style weapon. It's not an assault weapon. It's a semi-automatic weapon. Let's get that clear.
But the fact of the matter is, if a policeman needs this weapon and a soldier needs this weapon, I'm going to run in potentially the same people, the same criminals, the same terrorists. There's really no reason I shouldn't have it as a normal sane person, because if you ban it from me, they might just get some fertilizer and some diesel and kill 200 people.
You're not going to stop sick people by taking my weapons. You need to -- we need to deal with the mental health crisis. I'd like to see celebrities and politicians and comedians talking about, how can we open up our mental health clinics. How can we get 200 beds for a city of 100,000 people, 100,000 people in Albany, there's like 12 freakin' beds.
BLACKWELL: That is part of the conversation. But, unfortunately, as we continue to go through these situations over and over, what's highlighted is that the death count here is 50. If you did not have this type of weapon that could use in quick repetition, in quick succession this much ammunition, the death count would not be as high.
We had a conversation with General Hertling in the first hour, we're having you on the other side this hour.
Hal Shouse, thank you for being with us.
I've got to toss it back to Christi in Atlanta. Thanks so much.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, gentlemen. Now, CNN is just outside the city of Fallujah this morning, listening
to the gunfire as the Iraqi forces are declaring the city nearly free from ISIS. Our reporter's chilling description for you next.
Also, more trouble for the beleaguered Summer Games in Rio. One state government leader warns of a "calamity" because there is no money to complete critical projects there.
[07:42:31] PAUL: Forty-two minutes past the hour right now.
And it is being hailed as a major victory in Iraq. The country's prime minister saying Fallujah is nearly free from ISIS control this morning. As CNN found, nearly free does not mean fighting is over. Listen to how Ben Wedeman describes what he sees and hears from just outside the city limits a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): We're at the very edge of Fallujah. What I'm seeing is almost all of the houses and buildings on the edge of the city are either completely destroyed or severely damaged. Now, I can hear the thump of artillery, incoming artillery rounds within the city itself. And we're also hearing the occasional crackle of small arms fire.
So, even though Iraqi officials are very eager to announce that the city is "nearly" liberated, it does appear that there are battles ongoing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: CNN contributor and co-author of "ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror," Michael Weiss with us now.
So, Michael, when you hear what we're hearing from Ben Wedeman and what we're hearing from the Iraqi prime minister, what is your assessment?
MICHAEL WEISS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, it is a huge victory for the Iraqi government. Remember, this was a battle and operation that took about four weeks. People thought it was going to take much, much longer than this, myself included.
It appeared in the early weeks that ISIS was digging in. I mean, they had had between 50,000 and 90,000 civilians trapped inside Fallujah as humid shields. They had been sniping those trying to escape. And, frankly, it's surprising that they've melted away. This is not Tikrit. This is the hornet's nest of the Sunni insurgency going back to 2003, and 2004 during the first war in Iraq. It was the first city to be severely contested by ISIS in early 2014.
This is the last major stronghold they have in al Anbar province. And also, this is a victory that Prime Minister al Abadi really needed. What we're not paying attention to is the political dynamics inside Iraq and what is taking place now within the Shia political establishment. It is essentially a civil war led on one side prime minister al Abadi backed by Ayatollah Ali Sistani and then the other pro-Iranian, pro-Iranian, pro-Revolutionary Guard Corps militias which are now becoming like Hezbollah in Lebanon, declaring a political bloc for themselves or trying to create a political bloc to take over the country.
So, he needed a victory like this and it is a big achievement. But as you noted, the Iraqis are always quick out of the gate to declare 100 percent victory when they're still very much involved in mopping up operations. If Ramadi is any indication, ISIS will have probably left IEDs and booby-traps in their wake which can do untold damage to civilians coming back and so on.
PAUL: And we do know that there are pockets in that city where ISIS is still hold up.
Listen, I want to get to some other news this morning. We just learned that Belgium is on alert after government officials were threatened there and that a dozen people have been arrested in anti- terror raids there. What have you heard about that?
WEISS: Yes. I mean, this -- to be honest, this is sort of an ambiguous threat. It reminds me of the kind of things European security services do whenever there is a major event or international sporting competition, rounding up suspects, people who are on the radar, not necessarily planning or thought to be planning any kind of imminent attack.
But look, the fact remains, what I've called the francophone network of European ISIS operatives or European ISIS inspired terrorists is by far the most significant and profound coming from the West. These are the guys responsible for Paris, for Brussels.
As I have reported relying on at ISIS defectors and informants inside the organization have told me, the head of the Anmil Karji (ph), which is foreign intelligence branch or CIA of ISIS, if you like, is a French national. His nom de guerre is Abu Soliman al-Farinsi (ph). There were reports last week that he may have been captured by the Turkish military fleeing from northern Syria into Turkey.
But this is what ISIS is trying to do now. They are putting a lot of emphasis on bringing the war against the West to the West. So as they lose ground in Syria and Iraq, you will see them revert to more of an insurgency or guerrilla terrorist style form of warfare. They cannot nation-build anymore. What they want to do is blow up cars and kill civilians.
PAUL: Michael, I've got a couple of seconds, but I want to get this in to you -- the CIA warned this week despite the loss of territory that ISIS is stronger than ever and they are trying to get into the U.S.
What do you know or say and I have to be very brief here. We don't have a lot of time. But what do you know or what can you say about that statement? Because it is alarming to people -- WEISS: It is alarming. I mean, I'll leave you with an ominous note.
I got wind from the same sources who told me about Abu Soliman Al- Faransi, that ISIS in the next three months was planning something in Minnesota using the Somali Diaspora community there, not necessarily operatives trained up in Syria, but people who have been radicalized to blow something up. That's a tip I passed along to the FBI and they never got back to me.
So, you wonder why things like San Bernardino and the Omar Mateen massacre in Orlando happened.
PAUL: Well, Michael Weiss, we appreciate you being here. Thank you.
PAUL: Good to see you.
Now, when we come back, an incredible story to share with you about a mother who fought off a mountain lion after it attacked her son. Stay close.
[07:51:35] PAUL: Well, a five-year-old boy is in a Denver hospital after being attacked by a mountain lion. This is an attack that happened last night. It was near Aspen, Colorado, and the local sheriff's office says the boy was playing outside with his brother when this animal attacked.
Listen to this, the mother ran outside and she's been treated for minor injuries and has been released. But I want to show you some video of the type of mountain lion we're talking about here. The one involved in this attack last night was hunted down, we understand, by authorities and has been killed.
But let's talk to wildlife expert Lorne Sulcas with us now.
Lorne, just wondering how common these types of attacks are.
LORNE SULCAS, "BIG CAT GUY" WILDLIFE EXPERT: Yes, thanks, Christi. Thanks for having me.
You know, these kind of attacks in the last 20 years have been not uncommon. Apparently, there have been 20 fatal attacks between 1890 and 2011. Fourteen of which were actually victims under the age of 14. And so, what that points to is the propensity for these big cats to hone in on targets that are easy prey and the big cats will look for the young, the small or the weak.
And, of course, this child was five years old playing outside with his brother and interestingly enough, out of these 14 fatal attacks that were on kids, in the last, you know, several decades there have been no parents present and so it's an opportunistic attack by a big cat that's looking for an easy prey.
PAUL: Well, this cat underestimated the mom in this case because she pulled that lion as we understand it, according to reports, off of the boy. Any mom goes, yeah, that's what I would do, but wondering what is our approach supposed to be if we or someone else is attacked by a mountain lion.
SULCAS: Well, you know, Christi, the mountain lion is generally a very calm and quiet sort of elusive cat and it's -- it's not really -- it's not really likely to attack when there's an adult around. On this, again, it's a case of easy prey.
And you know, generally, if one is very bold and makes oneself big and almost runs towards the animal, you're likely to ward off an attack by a mountain lion, but if you run, you are then identified as prey and that will, you know, that will signal to the animal that you are its prey and it will run after you and at that point you have very little chance.
PAUL: Lorne Sulcas, we appreciate so much you taking the time to talk to us this morning. Thank you.
SULCAS: Thanks for having me.
PAUL: Of course.
All right. So we learned something there, didn't we?
Turning to sports -- in addition to Rio has had preparing for the Olympics, guess what? There's a new one.
HLN's Melissa Knowles has a preview.
Good morning, Melissa.
MELISSA KNOWLES, CNN SPORTS: Good morning. (AUDIO GAP)
[07:58:19] PAUL: All right. I'll leave you with this, waiting to watch the Olympics for 50 days, less than 50 days before the start of the big games.
Authorities in Rio now declaring a state of public calamity over finances.
Melissa Knowles is here with more on this latest crisis.
KNOWLES: Yes, we've been hearing about this for quite a while, Christi. I actually took my calendar out. Seven weeks yesterday to when the Olympics are supposed to begin.
Brazil is dealing with the worst recession since the 1930s and hosting the Olympics certainly isn't helping the economic crisis there. Yesterday, Rio de Janeiro's state governor issued an executive order declaring a financial state of emergency. The government warned, quote, "extreme economic measures would need to be implemented to successfully host the Olympic games in August." Now, Brazil will spend an estimated $10 billion on the games. The
order is meant to open the door for more funding, but there's no word on where the money will actually come from or how much money is actually -- would be needed. However, a Rio 2016 organizing committee says the games are guaranteed and will happen.
Now, this is just the latest in a long list of problems leading up to the summer games. The Zika outbreak has hit Brazil harder than any other country. Recently, more than 200 physicians and scientists signed a petition arguing that the games should be postponed or even moved to another location.
Water pollution has been a major concern in the bay where the sailing and rowing competitions will take place and add in the worries about the region's crime rate and the political corruption scandal that stripped the president of her powers while impeachment proceedings continue. The games are set to begin on August 5th and run through August 21st, but, Christi, a lot of problems, a lot of concerns right now.
All righty, hey, Melissa, thank you so much. It's good to have you here this morning.