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Source: ExxonMobil CEO Likely Pick for Secretary of State; Bomb Blast Kills 25 Near Cairo's Coptic Cathedral; Terror in Turkey: Twin Bombings Kill At Least 38; South Carolina Shooting Trial: Alleged Gunman's Confession Shown to Jury; Louisiana Senate Win Gives GOP 52- Seat Majority; Is Trump Taking Tips from Reagan Playbook?; New Details Emerge Six Months After Orlando Massacre; Army Beats Navy to Snap 14- Game Losing Streak. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired December 11, 2016 - 07:00   ET



[07:00:27] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for being with us today.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: We got a lot more ahead on the next hour of your NEW DAY and that starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The explosions were so powerful that we could feel the ground shaking beneath our feet. The casualty count, we expect, will continue to grow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's looking more and more like President-elect Donald Trump is leaning toward ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I have, obviously, concerns of reports of his relationship with Vladimir Putin, who is a thug and a murderer.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Why aren't we, as Americans, upset about the fact that a foreign hostile actor, apparently, put its thumb on the scale in our election and why doesn't Donald Trump want to get to the bottom of that.

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I am outraged. I don't think any foreign entity, any individual, any entity --

SMERCONISH: Why don't you say that and why didn't Trump say that?

PRIEBUS: I'm saying it, Michael! I just said it!


PAUL: That will wake you up.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it certainly will. PAUL: So glad to have you with us. It is Sunday. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.

From dark horse to the lead horse, new details this morning on President-elect Donald Trump's search for secretary of state. Senior transition source says that the ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is the leading and likely pick to head the Department of State.

PAUL: Sources say Trump and the oil company executive did meet yesterday, that Tillerson left the meeting believing that he will be the chosen one. We're told no official announcement on who Trump has chosen with will happen up until middle of the coming week.

But the President-elect praised Tillerson during a new interview with FOX News.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Let me ask you about Rex Tillerson --


WALLACE: -- head of ExxonMobil. Why does a business executive make sense as the chief diplomat?

TRUMP: Well, in his case, he's much more than a business executive. I mean, he's a world-class player. He's in charge of I guess the largest company in the world. He's in charge of an oil company that's pretty much double the size of his next nearest competitor. It's been a company that's been unbelievably managed.

And to me, a great advantage is he knows many of the players. And he knows them well. He does massive deals in Russia. He does massive deals for the company, not for himself, for the company.


BLACKWELL: Let's talk about this pick, potentially, of Tillerson with CNN reporters Tom LoBianco and Stephen Collinson. Good morning to you again.

And, Tom, I want to start with what we're hearing from Senator John McCain, who has expressed a bit of pushback against this potential pick. Let's listen.


MCCAIN: I have, obviously, concerns of reports of his relationship with Vladimir Putin, who is a thug and a murderer, and -- but that's the -- we will have hearings and that issue and other issues and then that's the time to make up your mind as to whether to vote yes or no.

REPORTER: So what kind of questions would you ask Rex Tillerson that would make you feel comfortable about him in a role? MCCAIN: His view of Vladimir Putin and his role in the world and, for

example, the fact that Boris Nemtsov who is the leader of the opposition, was murdered on the orders, I believe, of Vladimir Putin and the shadow of the Kremlin.


BLACKWELL: Rex Tillerson has expressed some affinity for Vladimir Putin, has received back in 2013 the order of friendship from the Russian government.

Tom, is this -- are we looking ahead to a contentious confirmation fight for Tillerson at this point?

TOM LOBIANCO, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: It's clear. I mean, look, you know, there is one of the, you know, senior Republicans inside the Senate there, you know, a man who is the 2008 nominee for the party, you know, saying in pretty clear terms that he's got some problems with the guy who looks like will be Donald Trump's secretary of state. I mean, this isn't, you know, a back venture, this is not a freshman lawmaker.

This is a guy with a ton of standing and specifically in this policy area. So, yes, I think that does portend some problems going forward. You know, I think it kind of speaks to the broader issue of Congress probably serving as a check on some of the -- I don't want to say some of the wilder picks, but some picks where maybe Trump might be a little less traditional going outside the bounds a little bit more.


[07:05:01] LOBIANCO: He's not going to have -- he's not going to have a good time with this one, I think.

BLACKWELL: One of those picks, Michael Flynn, for national security adviser, of course. That doesn't require Senate confirmation, but there were questions if he were put up for another position, if he would get through the confirmation hearings.


BLACKWELL: Stephen, let me come to you. Give us an idea potentially of the coalition that needs to be put together if this is going to be stopped or to be challenged in the Senate? Because we see John McCain has some serious concerns.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: Right. You would have to, for this not to go through, you would have to get some kind of alliance between the more hawkish Republican senators, those who have expressed can concerns about Vladimir Putin, his intervention, not just alleged intervention in the election, but his policies towards Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea and his posture in Europe. You're thinking about people like Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio potentially as well as John McCain.

Democrats will oppose this nomination first of all because it's Donald Trump's nomination, they're looking for a way to, you know, take a shot at the new administration. Already concerns are being expressed among environmentalists that this would be, in effect, tantamount to a takeover of American foreign policy by big oil.


COLLINSON: I think there will be questions about supposed conflicts of interest. After all, Mr. -- the new secretary of state will have represented ExxonMobil for many years. He would have to divorce himself completely from the company and, you know, take on U.S. diplomacy. It's possible that, for instance, lifting sanctions against Russia that were imposed over the annexation of Crimea could benefit ExxonMobil.

So, there's real big questions here that are really going to come to the floor ahead of the confirmation early next year.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Tom, let me come to you on the issue of climate change that Stephen just brought up. We know that Donald Trump over the years has been in many different places on climate change, saying he's not a big believer in a manmade influence and recently he said that, you know, he would stay with the Paris pact on climate change, after saying he would go against it.

Here's what Rex Tillerson has said about climate change not so long ago.


REX TILLERSON, CEO, EXXONMOBIL: There's no question the climate is changing and we have never -- that's never been up for debate. I think the real question that's driving a lot of policy is, to what extent are human activities and industrial activities and our consumption of energy contributing to that change.


BLACKWELL: You know, after we saw the potential nomination or the pending nomination of Scott Pruitt, the head of the EPA, how does a Rex Tillerson fit into what we're learning about a Trump administration's approach to climate change and the environment?

LOBIANCO: You know, what's interesting about the answer he gave, that's kind of the code word that's used by the opposition, the code language used there, on this issue, right? If you're in the energy sector, if you're in the traditional fossil fuel sector, that's kind of the way you talk about this issue as opposed to environmentalists, Democrats, more liberal folks, would talk about this issue. It's kind of -- the language is a little softening, but it's still fundamentally opposed to what the Obama administration has done, which is place his through executive actions.

I don't think there's any expectation that Trump won't roll back those executive actions. He doesn't have to do this through Congress. You know, he doesn't -- you know, I was covering this back in 2009, the climate change bill, you know, it's easy to forget that, you know, when Obama came in, he almost had -- he had similar numbers of Democrats and looked to be in a very similar position of power and, you know, Democrats were talking about climate change like the third big get that they were going after.

I mean, of course, that died in 2010. So, you know, it's kind of fascinating to look at it now. I don't -- I think what will happen is, executive action, rollback of Obama executive actions, and it looks to be the case right now.

BLACKWELL: All right. Tom LoBianco and Stephen Collinson, we'll continue to learn about Rex Tillerson as he appears to be the lead contender for secretary of state. Thank you, both.

PAUL: Well, CNN projects Republican John Kennedy has won a runoff race for a Senate seat in Louisiana. That helps the GOP hold a strong majority in the Senate with 52 seats. That is down from 54 before the November 8th election. Donald Trump and Mike Pence though both campaigned for Kennedy in the runoff.

That state was considered safely Republican but the runoff was needed after no candidate received the majority of the vote in November. The race started with a field of 17 candidates including former Klan leader David Duke.

Now, for more politics, be sure to watch "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper this morning. Look who's on? Vice President Joe Biden. That is on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper, 9:00 Eastern, only here on CNN in a couple hours.

BLACKWELL: All right. We've got more video coming in of this terror attack in Istanbul. Most of the people killed, police officers.

[07:10:01] We've got details on these twin bombings there that detonated less than a mile from one another.

We're also following breaking news out of Egypt. A bombing at that country's main Christian cathedral. What we're learning about this deadly attack.


BLACKWELL: All right. Breaking news now in Egypt. A bomb blast in Cairo killed at least 25 people and dozens of others hurt. This happened in a small church of St. Peter and St. Paul, which is attached to the city's Coptic cathedral.

The video here just coming in after this aftermath.

So far, no one has claimed responsibility and it's been a violent several days around the capital. We take you to Friday where two roadside bombs on -- one in Cairo, one north of the city, killed six police officers and wounded six others.

PAUL: And it is now a day of mourning in Turkey following a devastating terror attack. We're talking about two bombings here. There's a live look at protest that's going on outside. It's actually a rally to show those terrorists who are suspected, that Turkey will not fall to them. They're matching outside the first scene of the blast, the soccer arena.

Officials confirming to CNN that police officers were, indeed, the target in that one. There you saw that first bomb blast along that road that is heavily traveled. A startling moment captured there. A car suddenly explodes on that street. This was just following the soccer match.

Now, here's what we know at the moment. Authorities tell CNN someone remotely set off that car bomb around 11:00 late last night after a huge soccer game at that popular arena. And then, less than a minute later, a suicide bomber detonated a second smaller explosion at a nearby park. The two scenes are less than a mile from each other.

[07:15:00] At least 38 people were killed, 30 of them police officers, 155 people are still in the hospital this hour. Thirteen people, though, have been arrested.

Here's another look at the impact of the explosions.


PAUL: You notice here they didn't even -- the two people playing the guitar didn't realize there had been an explosion until the sound of the blast reached them.

Elsewhere, journalists were scrambling for cover when one of the explosions was heard on live television.

Look at this.


PAUL: And we are hearing from President Erdogan now who says, "We have 38 martyrs and 155 injuries. The most important topic is on how we will stand against terrorist attacks and I want the people to know that we will fight this until it ends. We will not let them discourage us and make us afraid of them."

Our Muhammad Lila joining us live from Istanbul.

Muhammad, I understand, I'm assuming here, you are in front of this rally that's going on. But, also, you -- you felt the impact of the explosion.

MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's right, Christi. Good morning to you. We were about half a mile away from the explosions when they happened. Immediately we could feel the ground shake beneath our feet and feel the walls shaking and the windows trembling and we knew that it was a very big explosion.

Let me just explain what's going on right now behind me. There's a very loud demonstration happening. The crowd of people are actually gathered around the exact spot where the car bomb went off late last night here local time. That car bomb, of course, targeting and you can see it in the background the soccer stadium, the game had finished. People on their way out into the streets and a heavy police presence here as well, and that heavy police presence also made the police tragically, very visible and easy targets.

Of the 38 people that were killed, 30 of them were police officers and we know there are 155 people that are still injured right now, many of them in critical condition. I should say we've seen all that dramatic footage. There is now other footage showing the other location of the suicide bomber and it appears as though this was an act of heroism by some of the police officers. They surrounded this person, they held him and that's when that person exploded his suicide vest. Had they not done that this could have been much worse and many more people could have been killed.

PAUL: Oh, my goodness. We know nobody has claimed responsibility as of yet. As we said, 13 people have been arrested. What do we know about the people that are in custody right now?

LILA: Well, the Turkish government isn't confirming this but they're saying all the signs point towards this being another act of terrorism by the PKK. That's the Kurdistan Workers Party. They've been waging the insurgency against Turkey, a separatist movement, a violent militant separatist movement, for nearly three decades now. We know that 13 people have been arrested and we don't know what the specific charges are.

And we also don't have a claim of responsibility. And that's very important because Turkey has a lot of enemies. There's ISIS. There's the people that they blame on the failed coup six months ago and, of course, there's the PKK.

At this point in time, none of those groups have come out and openly said that they take responsibility for this attack. So, that's something that we're monitoring and we may get some clarity on that over the next coming hours.

PAUL: All right. Muhammad Lila, we can hear the chants behind you. Thank you so much for bringing us the very latest on Istanbul. Take good care.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's go to Syria now. U.S. drone strikes took out an ISIS leader linked to the "Charlie Hebdo" attacks in Paris. Now, a Pentagon spokesman says that Boubaker al-Hakim was killed in Raqqah. This was November 26th, saying his removal hinders ISIS' ability to conduct further strikes in the West.

Now, according to reports, al-hakim was a mentor to the brothers who carried out the January 2015 attacks in Paris. You remember, 17 people were killed. In Syria, ISIS is reportedly on the run in Palmyra after making gains there in recent days. An activist group says ISIS had taken control of neighborhoods known for some of the world's most treasured ruins but overnight, heavy Russian air strikes and ground battles forced ISIS fighters to withdraw from Palmyra.

All right. Just hours after this deadly church collapse, a state governor in Nigeria is ordering the immediate arrest of the contractor handling that building project.

Look at this. At least 23 people we know now were killed when the building's roof, it was still under construction, collapsed during services. This happened in Uya. It's about 400 miles south of the capital.

Search crews, they're digging with their hands through the rubble, through the dirt looking for survivors. Representatives of that church said it was packed with worshipers when this caved in. The governor again, who was inside the church when the roof came down, is as I said calling for the builder's arrest.

PAUL: It is a really emotional case in South Carolina. The church shooting case with Dylann Roof trial resuming tomorrow morning.

[07:20:04] We're talking to -- having some legal analyst -- with Page Pate on the other side of this break.

Stay close.


PAUL: The trial resumes tomorrow morning in that South Carolina church shooting case. Dylann Roof, 22 years old, accused of killing nine parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

It was an emotional first week. Jurors heard roof's two-hour confession, shown graphic crime scene photos from inside the church. While the testimony is continuing this week, the prosecution says they may rest their case as early as Wednesday, though.

But let's talk to criminal defense and constitutional attorney, Page Pate, about this first and foremost.

So, as we look ahead to what happened, we know that Dylann Roof is representing himself. What is the chance he will take the stand?

PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE AND CONSTITUTIONAL ATTORNEY: I think there's a good chance of that. I think it's clear from the beginning of this case, well, from the beginning of the crime that Dylann Roof had a message he wanted to send.

We saw the manifesto he wrote, his reason for going in there, obviously, had to do with his beliefs dealing with white supremacy and he echoed those beliefs in his taped confession. So, for him to have the opportunity, that kind of audience there in open court to get his views exposed, I anticipate we're going to see him testify.

PAUL: This is a death penalty case. Do you think he should die based on what we know thus far?

PATE: There's no question about guilt or innocence. I mean, he confessed almost as soon as they arrested him. This trial was never about guilt or innocence. The lawyers that are there to represent him, to stand by him, have already told the jury you're probably not going to hear evidence from us, no witnesses. There's not a question of whether or not he did it.

What is the right penalty for something like this?

[07:25:00] The state is also seeking the death penalty. The federal government doesn't usually do it unless it's a terrorism type case and many people can equate this case to terrorism because he had an agenda and killed people. Personally, I'm not an opponent of the death penalty in every case, but this guy, obviously, has mental illness problems. The judge --

PAUL: But he was found capable of --

PATE: No question.

PAUL: -- of standing trial.

PATE: But competency is different for mental illness. Competency requires only that you have general idea of what's going on and you can help your lawyers. It doesn't mean you understand the consequences of your action.

I think it's clear this guy was operating under some type of delusion. I mean, the way he calmly describes what he did and admitted what he did, I think shows not everything is working right in --

PAUL: Well, and the lack of remorse.

PATE: And the complete lack of remorse.

PAUL: So, are you saying when we look at this, because they're essentially trying to keep him off death row. They're trying to save his life. They're not trying to determine whether he's guilty.

Why does it even go to trial? Was there another way to do this?

PATE: Absolutely. I mean, if the federal government and the state because they're also pursuing a case against him, had agreed he could simply serve his sentence in prison for the rest of his life and they took death penalty off the table, there would have been no trial. But the federal government refused to do that. They said we're going to try him, we're going to seek the death s is one of those kinds of cases where we feel it's the appropriate thing to do.

PAUL: So, we have this jury of ten women, two men, nine of them are white, three of them are African-American. Do people often have a hard time sentencing someone to death? Because the jury is going to make that determination.

PATE: Absolutely. Yes.

PAUL: They do?

PATE: I think so. I hope so. I mean, it's the ultimate sentence.

And the guilt or innocence phase is separate. So, once they get past that, then they will consider whether or not death is the right sentence in this case and in the sentencing proceeding, you're going to hear more about Dylann Roof, his family, his upbringing. Some of the ideas he became exposed to over the Internet.

And the jury will have to determine is this somebody completely without remorse, no possibility of rehabilitation and somebody who is dangerous, even if we keep him in prison. And that's an argument usually the prosecutors will make. We know he did this, what is he going to do the next time. Is it possible he could injure a guard or another inmate?

So, they will consider all of that in determining the sentence.

PAUL: All right. Page Pate, we appreciate your insight on this.

PATE: Thank you, Christi.

PAU: Thank you so much. Absolutely.


BLACKWELL: All right. So, let's take a look at a couple of the president-elect's cabinet choices. One, you've got a man who is suing the EPA now nominated to lead that agency. You have another man who is the pending labor secretary who has spoken to the virtues of employing robots over humans. There's a provocative piece on about how Donald Trump may be following the Ronald Reagan playbook as he fills his cabinet. That's next.


[07:31:15] PAUL: Thirty-one minutes past the hour. So good to see you.

New details for you this morning on President-elect Donald Trump's search for secretary of state. A senior transition source tells CNN ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is the leading and likely pick to head Trump's State Department. Sources say Trump and the oil company executive did meet yesterday, that Tillerson left the meeting believing he would be the chosen one. We're told no official announcement on who Trump has decided on will happen until probably middle of this week.

But the president-elect did praise Tillerson during a new interview with FOX News. Take a look.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Let me ask you about Rex Tillerson --


WALLACE: -- head of ExxonMobil. Why does a business executive make sense as the chief diplomat?

TRUMP: Well, in his case, he's much more than a business executive. I mean, he's a world-class player. He's in charge of I guess the largest company in the world. He's in charge of an oil company that's pretty much double the size of his next nearest competitor. It's been a company that's been unbelievably managed.

And to me, a great advantage is he knows many of the players. And he knows them well. He does massive deals in Russia. He does massive deals for the company, not for himself, for the company.


PAUL: Now, in the meantime, CNN projects Republican John Kennedy has won a runoff race for a Senate seat in Louisiana. That now pads the GOP majority in the Senate with 52 seats.


BLACKWELL: All right. Let's stay with the presidential transition where some believe that Donald Trump may be taking a page out of the Ronald Reagan playbook. The president-elect is on track to have one of the most conservative cabinets in some time. Many of his top appointees have records of wanting to roll back regulations and with Republican majorities in Congress, they appear to be poised for swift confirmations.

Here with us, Brian Robinson, Republican strategist and former assistant chief of staff for communications for Governor Nathan Deal in Georgia, and Tharon Johnson, former south regional director for Obama's 2012 campaign -- President Obama.

You were just on Skype a couple moments ago. Thank you for doing that there and coming in for us.

I want to start with this opinion piece by Meg Jacobs, an author and professor, on

The headline here is, Trump is appointing people who will hate the agencies they will lead, Jacobs writing that. I suggest you read it.

For a reminder on the Reagan playbook, let's go back to Reagan's first inaugural address and then we'll talk.


RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.


BLACKWELL: So, Brian, what do you make of Jacobs' theory that Trump, like Reagan, is appointing people who will undermine or deconstruct these departments fundamentally?

BRIAN ROBINSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, that certainly seems to be the case with Ben Carson at Housing and Urban Development --


ROBINSON: -- where he has spoken out regularly about the programs and how counterproductive they are. Probably true with the EPA where the Carl's Jr. CEO is or the labor secretary with the Carl's Jr. guy is going.

So, Republicans, conservatives, are tired of seeing what Republicans going into these positions and then going native as they say, becoming part of that bureaucratic system. We want somebody to come in there and throw the cards up in the air and see where they land. Trump has promised to be a disrupter and that is exactly what these appointments suggest he's going to do.

And there's a lot of change that needs to happen. There's a lot of downsizing that needs to happen at these agency, and he promised throughout the campaign to roll back regulations. So I think you're going to see some of that and these are the guys who have the cojones to go out there and do it.

[07:35:02] BLACKWELL: What you're talking about, though, is reform, right? What Jacobs is saying is dismantling, undermining the department and the point of the department.

Tharon, what's your view?

THARON JOHNSON, FORMER SOUTH REGIONAL DIRECTOR, OBAMA 2012: Well, I think you've pointed out. I mean, never in history have you seen so many people being appointed to positions that they have actively opposed and have made a career out of it. But what's very interesting to me is that Donald Trump ran on this "I want to drain the swamp. I want to basically, you know, disable the financial elites."

And what he's really doing, he's bringing in a lot of his donors, his millionaire and billionaire friends that don't have policy experience, Victor. It's to the point he has to make the transition from running a disruptive campaign to actually getting people in the federal agencies that have policy experience to make sure that those agencies work for the American people. That is the big problem with a lot of these picks that he's made.

BLACKWELL: Let's look at a few of the picks. Put them up.

We've got Tom Price, chosen to head Health and Human Services, who said on the record that department is getting in the way of providing good care from doctors to their patients. Scott Pruitt, who many would call a climate change denier, is going to lead the EPA. Betsy DeVos at education who's talked about the virtues of moving to charter schools. And then you got Andrew Puzder, the pending labor secretary who've spoken about the virtues of employing robots instead of humans.

But let me come back to you. There are some who say that this is going to happen any time you move from one party to another, that the party leaving power is going to say that these guys, who are coming in, are dismantling the department.

Is this not just a theoretical change that's happening? It's not that they're going to dismantle it, you just don't like the changes.

JOHNSON: Well, yes. I mean, listen, Republicans said the same thing when President Obama was elected and also President Clinton. But here's the difference, Victor, they also made attempts to reach across party lines, to bring in someone from the opposite party. Also what Donald Trump is doing --

BLACKWELL: Is it a token Republican or are they really making changes?

JOHNSON: No. But what Donald Trump is really doing, he's yet to really reach across the aisle and put a very prominent Democrat or someone who actually can appeal to the progressive wing of our party, but where Donald Trump is really doing, he's appointing people against the mainstream Republican Party.

If you go -- if you go position by position, these are all people who are anti-establishment and many of whom are part of the swamp that he promised to drain. That's the big difference with these.

BLACKWELL: I see you smiling here.

ROBINSON: That's because the entire premise is that the purpose of these government agencies is to carry out a liberal mindset and a liberal world view, that you've got to be for changing the climate, you've got to be for Section 8 housing, you've got to be for Medicaid expansion.

What Trump's appointees are doing are reflecting the views of Republican voters throughout the country whose views have been blocked out by the Obama administration. There are no conservatives passing -- heading up agencies in the Obama administration. This is a changing of the guard.

The entire idea is that conservatives are going to bring their world view to these agencies.


ROBINSON: There's nothing wrong with that.


JOHNSON: The attack that Donald Trump is getting right now is from conservatives in the Republican Party. When you have John McCain saying he has strong concerns about the secretary of state nominee, these are attacks he's receiving from his own party now. That's the one thing to watch.

BLACKWELL: I would point out, that's one nominee and that's one voice thus far. But again, he's moved to the front of the pack in, what, the last --

JOHNSON: Many will come later, yes.

BLACKWELL: All right. Tharon, Brian, good to have you. ROBINSON: Thanks, Victor.

JOHNSON: Thank you.


PAUL: Always a good conversation. Thank you, gentlemen.

You know, six months after the Pulse Nightclub shooting, remember 49 people died there. But there were 101 people rescued from inside that club. Well, we are learning this morning more about what it was like to save them from the SWAT officers who were there.


[07:42:15] PAUL: I don't know if you realize it's been six months since the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.

BLACKWELL: The massacre inside Orlando's Pulse Nightclub left 49 people dead, 53 wounded. Now, for the first time, we're hearing more about what happened inside the club, outside the club that night as well, from SWAT officers who responded to the call.

Here's CNN's Deborah Feyerick.


911 CALLER: Please come to Pulse, P-U-L-S-E, in Orlando. He's shooting and everybody is bleeding everywhere.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Where was the concentration of people who didn't make it?

CHIEF JOHN MINA, ORLANDO POLICE: The main dance floor was the greatest concentration of dead bodies. He did most of his killing within the first two months. You know, the video and the audio that I've heard, you know, multiple gunshots, multiple magazine changes, all within the first minute or two.

FEYERICK: Do you have any sense of how many rounds he fired?

MINA: Hundreds of rounds. I don't know the exact count.

FEYERICK (voice-over): The first Orlando police officers arrived on scene while the gunman was still shooting.

Sergeant Ira Morris and his team entering through the open patio and unto the dance floor.

SGT. IRA MORRIS, ORLANDO POLICE: We were stating things like, if anyone can hear us just raise your hand. Some of the folks that were, of course, they were obviously deceased but they were still trying to hold on to each other to protect each other.

FEYERICK: On the opposite side near the main door, Officer James Hyland was preparing to main entry with a second team. JAMES HYLAND, ORLANDO POLICE: Once I was up to the south doors, a

female came out and she just dropped to the ground. So while there's gunfire still going on, I tapped one of the officers in front of me and said, hey, you know, give me some cover. I with went and grabbed the female.

FEYERICK: Shattering a picture window, Hyland and SWAT Officer Ben Chisari moved towards the back of the club.

BEN CHISARI, ORLANDO SWAT: We got five or six other officers with us and we made entry into the club where the gunfire was coming from. You know, we had an idea that the gunman was in the bathroom. We just didn't know where at the time. So, we held our positions.

FEYERICK (on camera): Is it fair to say that you had your firearm up and ready?

CHISARI: Absolutely.

FEYERICK: The whole time.

CHISARI: The whole time.

FEYERICK (voice-over): The shooter briefly appears. Police fire but miss. The gunman is barricaded with hostages.

HYLAND: The shooter was sort of in the bathroom and they were holding cover on him which allowed me and a bunch of officers go in there and start extracting the wounded out there.

FEYERICK: Ambulances were blocks away outside the safety perimeter.

HYLAND: I remember shouting use my truck, get them out of here and another officer came and jumped in the driver's seat of my truck so people that were pulling out, they would take them from behind the cars that I pulled them.

[07:45:08] And then they load them on the back of the truck and take them down to the hospital down the street.

FEYERICK: Fifteen trips in all, as frantic phone calls come steadily from inside the night club.

911 CALLER: He's loading up. He's loading up. Hurry up.

DISPATCHER: A caller is advising he's reloading in the bathroom.

FEYERICK: Thirty minutes into the attack, the self-proclaimed ISIS gunman exchanges three phone calls with police.

SHOOTER: There's some vehicles outside that have bombs, to let you know. People are going to get it and I'm going to ignite it if they try to do anything stupid.

FEYERICK: A new threat as a bomb dog identifies the scent of explosives in the gunman's car. Dozens of police and deputies worked quickly to rescue survivors hiding throughout the club. Some two dozen hostages remain trapped in the south bathroom and in the north the gunman is pointing his assault rifle towards the door, ready for police. It is more than two hours into the standoff.

911 CALLER: Why isn't anyone coming to get us in the bathroom? There's two people in here that are about to die. There's four already dead. Somebody needs to come in here now.

MINA: If our officers who were feet away had heard him start shooting, they, obviously, would have went right through that bathroom door and engaged him.

FEYERICK (on camera): A text comes through at about 4:30 saying he's going to put suicide vests on us and blow the club up. That must have accelerated things pretty significantly?

MINA: It did. Negotiations had stopped and he wasn't answering our phone call.

CHISARI: It was relayed to us while we were in there he had explosions and he was going to blow the club up if we didn't back out. No one backed out.

MINA: My SWAT team commander tells me what the plan is. I say get ready for an explosion breach. He comes back and says, "They're ready".

ROBERT WOODYARD, ORLANDO SWAT: It went off, hit the lights and the dust settled and the wall was still there.

FEYERICK (voice-over): SWAT Officer Robert Woodyard aims his armored vehicle with a battering ram at the rear wall.

WOODYARD: I change it to four wheel drive just in case and drove at the hole that was supposed to be breached.

FEYERICK: But it was the hallway, the hostages are feet away. So he rams a second hole.

WOODYARD: I remember backing out and just seeing hands. Just immediately. From a couple of the guys on the ground, grabbed the handheld ram, and they started to make the holes bigger. Once it got big enough, people started coming out.

MINA: The officers did start hearing shots coming from the north bathroom and we learned later from the survivors that that was the shooter shooting out at the officers. So, that's when our officers, again, thinking out, threw some devices in there, flash bangs made some loud nice and some bright light and somewhere during that time period, that's when the shooter came out of the big hole that was made in the hallway and immediately began firing at our officers.

Several other officers also returned fire, killing him right there.

FEYERICK: The standoff is over three hours and 15 minutes after it began, 49 people are dead, 53 injured, with 101 people rescued from inside the club by dozens of police and sheriff's deputies.

(on camera): Why not launch that rescue operation sooner?

MINA: Going into that doorway within the first few minutes, basically would have been a suicide mission for the officers. But also, like I said more importantly, I believe many hostages would have lost their lives at that moment either from the gunman or friendly fire from our officers if we had gone in right away through that bathroom.

FEYERICK (voice-over): The survivors were interviewed that day and only then did Chief Mina learn the gunman had been waiting to ambush his SWAT team.

MINA: I'm proud of the way the Orlando Police Department responded.

FEYERICK: Deborah Feyerick, CNN, Orlando, Florida.


[07:52:41] BLACKWELL: The Army Black Knights snapped a 14-game losing streak against their bitter rivals, Navy.

PAUL: And guess who almost got pummeled? Coy Wire. He was very close.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I made it out, but if I had go out, it would have been a great way to go. I got to tell you.

Good morning, Victor and Christie.

Tradition, pageantry, respect for one another make the Army-Navy rivalry the greatest in all of college football. I've played in big bowl games, NFL playoff games, but none of them matched the magic that is the Army-Navy game, and yesterday's game was a classic.

President-elect Donald Trump was there. Midshipmen, cadets cheered loudly for their commander-in-chief to be.

Now, Army's losing streak was the longest ever in this series, so they were hungry. This was the moment Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw bearingly into the end zone and into Army football lore for the go ahead score and eventual game winner. The Black Knights, victorious at long last, winning 21-17.

And I got to tell you, when that clock struck zero, the corps cadets rushed on to that field, basked in the glory of breaking an historic 14-year losing streak. It was called the most orderly field storming in history, and I have to tell you, they may have been orderly in the fashion they got on to the field, but once on the field it turned into a mosh pit.

Army football players were the rock stars. I thought for sure I was going down to the turf. Cameraman Jay was getting banged, producer Jeff was getting jostled. Somehow, someway, fortunately for us, I got pushed right on into the victorious Black Knights head football coach just moments after that clock struck zero. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: How's this feel?

JEFF MONKEN, ARMY HEAD COACH: Unbelievable. Look at this. What a feeling. I'm so proud of our guys. I'm so proud for this corps of cadets, the United States Army. Every soldier serving, everybody laying in a fox hole chasing a bad guy right now, this one's for them.

WIRE: What do you have to say to all the servicemen who watched this victory tonight?

MONKEN: Go Army, beat Navy!


WIRE: What a wonderful moment. There was another great moment yesterday, the Heisman ceremony and congrats to Louisville's Lamar Jackson who became the youngest to win he Heisman at 19 years old.

[07:55:04] Congrats to Mr. Jackson, but also, special congratulations to the Army Black Knights for their triumphant victory in the 117th edition of the Army-Navy game here in Baltimore -- guys.

PAUL: I'm so glad you got that experience, Coy. That's pretty awesome. Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: All right. Hundreds of flight delays this morning due to a major winter storm.

We've got Allison Chinchar watching that for us -- Allison.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right. I'm a little disappointed. Coy is now wearing his hat. It's literally flurrying in Baltimore and he's hatless right now.

As a mother, I'm embarrassed for him.

PAUL: Spoken like a mom.

CHINCHAR: I know, exactly.

So, yes, we do have very heavy snow coming down and we already know about the numerous delays in Chicago, but we're starting to see some delays now creeping and cancellations for cities like Cleveland and also New York City. And it would not surprise me if we get other cities, say, like Pittsburgh, even Detroit, or Erie Airport to start getting some delays and cancellations as some of these really heavy bands now start to creep into some of those areas.

We have winter storm watches, warnings, and advisories out for this area and for good reason. Now, here's a look at the forecast. This is for today, through tomorrow. What we can expect for delays. So, New York, Chicago, even Denver and Salt Lake where we have potential for snow could also be experiencing some delays.

PAUL: All right. Good to know. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much. We appreciate it. Have a great weekend when yours starts.

And, hey, thank you so much for spending time with us. We hope you make some great memories today.

BLACKWELL: "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts after a quick break.