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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Embattled Republican Congressman to Resign; Three U.S. Soldiers Killed in Niger; New Details Emerge in Mass Shooting Investigation; Embattled Congressman Tim Murphy to Resign; Sources: Trump Plans to Decertify Iran Nuclear Deal. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired October 5, 2017 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Were more music festivals in the Las Vegas killer's crosshairs?
THE LEAD starts right now.
Chilling new details about the Las Vegas gunman and the other rooms he may have booked and why this may not have been the first giant outdoor event that he wanted to terrorize.
And, in the wake of the Vegas massacre, a new gun control proposal picking up steam in Congress, and it's Republicans leading this new effort.
Plus: deadly ambush. Three of America's elite warriors killed in the African nation of Niger. What were U.S. troops doing there and who might be behind this attack?
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
TAPPER: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We have breaking news just in. President Trump planning to decertify President Obama's Iran nuclear deal next week, declaring the Obama era pact as not in the interest of the United States and launching a congressional review period.
That is according to two senior U.S. officials talking to CNN. We're going to have more on that story in a moment.
But we're going to begin today with our national lead, new clues suggesting that the gunman responsible for the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history may have even been planning more carnage. Police say he may have intended to escape alive and he had 50 pounds of explosives and 1,600 rounds of ammo in his car in the hotel parking lot.
New questions today after authorities say the gunman booked a room at a nearby hotel during an even larger music festival in Las Vegas last month. And a person under his name reserved a room near the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago this morning , according to hotel staff.
CNN's Martin Savidge is in Las Vegas for us.
And, Martin, now authorities are openly considering that the gunman may have had to have had help at some point.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. That's at least the theory that the sheriff has. There was so much planning, there was so much weaponry, there was so much training that was required, he believes there had to have been help for some way for the gunman.
Meanwhile, they continue to look back at where Stephen Paddock has been, sort of tracing his footsteps, trying to get the answer to the question everybody wants answered, which is, why?
SAVIDGE (voice-over): New video shows chaos at the festival exits.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep your heads down. Go!
SAVIDGE: Concert-goers fleeing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Run! Keep your head down!
SAVIDGE: As the shooter kept firing his hotel suite high above. Firefighters say even the nearby airfield was used for cover.
GREG CASSELL, CLARK COUNTY, NEVADA, FIRE CHIEF: We also had people jump the fence, break through the fences, and get into the airport property. They were laying in between the runways trying to take cover, because those areas were carved out between the runways and taxiways.
SAVIDGE: The Harvest-Festival-turned-concert-killing-field was just the latest big music event Stephen Paddock had loomed over in recent weeks.
Authorities he booked event view rooms at the Ogden in Las Vegas less than two weeks ago during the large Life Is Beautiful Festival. Annual attendance, more than 100,000.
Weeks earlier, a guest by the name of Stephen Paddock booked a room in this hotel overlooking Lollapalooza in Chicago, but never checked in. Attendance there, north of 300,000.
ARNETTE HEINTZE, LOLLAPALOOZA SECURITY CONSULTANT: It's concerning that an individual like this was thinking about potentially carrying out an attack like this in Chicago.
SAVIDGE: But it was from this suite on Sunday where the gunman executed his attack on country music fans. Authorities say not only did he shoot out of these broken windows, but unleashed more than 200 rounds into the hallway, injuring a security guard. Police believe Paddock's, whose body is seen on the floor of the suite, had planned to survive and leave the building. JOSEPH LOMBARDO, CLARK COUNTY, NEVADA, SHERIFF: He was doing
everything possible to figure out how he could escape at that point. His concern was personal concern vs. what was occurring down below him.
SAVIDGE: Police confirm Paddock carried his arsenal into the hotel in 10 suitcases, but kept another lethal cache in his car in the parking lot, 1,600 additional rounds of ammunition and 50 pounds worth of explosives, specifically Tannerite seen here in a demonstration.
All this leading to one key question: Did Paddock act alone?
LOMBARDO: Do you think this was all accomplished on his own?
Self value -- face value, you have got to make the assumption that he had to have some help at some point. And we want to ensure that that's the answer.
SAVIDGE: We're also learning more about his wealth. Paddock's home in Mesquite, Nevada, about 1.5 hours from Las Vegas, was paid for in cash in 2014. The price, more than $369,000.
On the application, Paddock said he earned his income by gambling, wagering about a million dollars a year. Police say he was at the casino again Sunday night, all the while planning this rampage for later.
SAVIDGE: That video is just so, so stunning.
The Clark county coroner is now confirming, Jake, that they have finished identifying all of the victims and notifying all of the next of kin, which, of course, is the hardest task of all, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Martin Savidge in Las Vegas for us, thank you so much.
I want to bring in counterterrorism expert Phil Mudd to get his reaction.
Phil, what do you make of the reports the gunman may have been casing other music festivals, in fact, someone with his same name reserving a room near Lollapalooza in Chicago?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I'm looking at this, and looking at what we didn't hear yesterday. We saw the sheriff speak yesterday. The CIA agent in charge in the Las Vegas office got on the podium, said nothing. That's telling to me in relationship to this.
Why? The FBI's responsible for digital data, looking at his laptop, looking at his cell phone. At this point, four days in, they have got things like credit cards. They're starting to piece together where he was, where he was in Chicago, whether that corresponds with other information like whether he was speaking to friends and family at the same time.
They're starting to put together the digital trail, and the exposure of the fact that he was in Chicago suggests to me that that's starting to bear fruit, unless somebody in the interview told them that.
TAPPER: And while this is all going on and the police are sharing with us very limited amount of what they know, because -- understandably so -- the sheriff said that the killer had to have had help at some point, that unless he was super, somebody else played a role in this.
Well, let's look at the difference between whether someone was complicit, whether they assisted or whether someone knew, whether someone encouraged. I'm looking at this and looking at the number of people he knew. He was not isolated. He was participating with his family, with his girlfriend. He had a job.
And the amount of time during what which he was acquiring weapons and planning, remember, the Lollapalooza event, that's a while ago. That's back, if I recollect, in August. So this isn't a snap judgment on his part. The acquisition of weapons isn't a snap judgment. To suggest to me as he's talking to friends and family over years, acquiring information, making reservations, traveling to Lollapalooza, that nobody has any information that's relevant to understanding his mind-set, I just can't believe that.
They may not have known, but they knew something about when his behavior was changing, for example.
TAPPER: All right, Phil Mudd, thank you so much.
We are still continuing to learn the names of those who were senselessly murdered.
Teresa Nicol Kimura, her pastor said her laugh was infectious.
Keri Galvan was a devoted wife and mother of three.
Laura Shipp, friends say she was smart as a whip with a huge heart.
Patricia Mestas, her family said she was bubbly and energetic.
Brett Schwanbeck, he would drive 500 miles to help you if you needed him to, his niece said.
Rocio Guillen Rocha, her cousin says she was a hardworking super mom with four children, including a six-week-old baby.
Just a few of these 58 innocent lives senselessly slaughtered that day.
And now some people are looking for answers, what could have prevented this gunman from taking so many lives, if anything. Republican officeholders typically resist most measures to further regulate any gun ownership, but apparently hearing the rapid fire from Mandalay Bay and seeing how this attack was carried out has even many Republicans today ready to look at one possible measure.
Today, Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo said he would introduce a bill to ban bump stocks. That's an accessory that can let a gunman fire off a semiautomatic gun in rapid succession, essentially making it into an automatic weapon.
CNN's Phil Mattingly is live for us on Capitol Hill.
And, Phil, Democrats were first out of the gate and they are pushing similar bills about bump stocks. There's no vote set, but even the House speaker and other Republicans say they're open to discussion and the NRA just issued a statement that might surprise some people.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Exactly right.
Look, you don't often see the National Rifle Association cede any ground when it comes to government regulation. But take a look at this. Pull this up from the statement.
It says in a lengthy statement about Las Vegas, and specifically about bump stocks, "The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semiautomatic rifles to function like fully automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations."
Now, why would the NRA come off the sidelines? Well, take a listen to what Speaker Paul Ryan had to say earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Look, I didn't know what they were until this week. And I'm an avid sportsman. I think we're quickly coming up to speed with what this is. Fully automatic weapons have been banned for a long time. Apparently, this allows you to take a semiautomatic and turn it into a fully automatic, so clearly that's something we need to look into.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: The speaker echoing what you're hearing from Republicans in the Senate and the House.
Obviously, you noted Congressman Carlos Curbelo's bill to actually ban these issues, but I want to be kind of very specific about what the NRA actually said today, Jake. They said they believe the ATF should look into imposing additional regulations here.
They were not calling for legislation. They were not supportive of legislation that has been put forward.
And I can tell you from talking to sources on Capitol Hill, that would be the preferred route for Republican leadership as well. They are very concerned about what a legislative debate could turn into, what it would mean about other agenda items.
They fell like, if there's a way for the ATF unilaterally to handle this, this would be the preferred route.
This is what the National Rifle Association is looking for right now. And that's what, when the Trump administration says it is open to a conversation about this, what people are looking towards at the moment, Jake.
TAPPER: A lot of reasons for that, one of them being the NRA does not want a big debate about gun violence in America.
Phil Mattingly, thank you so much.
So, will any of these proposals on Capitol Hill, even if they make it through, prevent another massacre? We will talk about that next. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Now we're back with some breaking news right now in our politics lead.
Embattled Republican Congressman Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, we are told, will resign his seat effective October 21. Murphy had previously announced he was not going to seek reelection.
We'll bring back CNN's Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill right now.
And, Phil, Congressman Murphy, a proud member of the pro-life caucus, but some text messages emerged recently. Tell us more.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right. Text messages where he was alleged to have urged the termination of a pregnancy with a woman that he had been having an affair with. Obviously, as you noted, a very pro-life member, a very outspoken pro-life member and this has been an issue that's really kind of plagued the entire Republican conference this week as they tried to get their heads around.
Speaking Paul Ryan just putting out a statement saying, quote: This afternoon, I received a letter of resignation from Congressman Tim Murphy effective October 21st. It was Dr. Murphy's decision to move on with the next chapter of his life, and I support it.
Again as you noted, Jake, he had initially said he was going to work out his term and retire at the end of this term. That now has been moved up an enormous amount and I'm told when you talk to Republican members and several whom I've spoken with over the course of the last couple of days, this is certainly their preferred route. This was a very bad scene, bad news for them and their conference and they kind of wanted to rid themselves of it. The congressman now doing that on his own capacity now, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill, thank you so much. I want to bring in my panel.
So, S.E. Cupp, let me start with you. First of all, we should say, Congressman Murphy was on the show a number of times. He did a lot of important work when it came to mental healthcare. He would visit service members at Bethesda. That said, this is obviously very disappointing news for people who liked him.
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, disappointing personally, for people who liked him. Disappointing from, you know, pro-life groups who want to believe that our loudest advocates believe what they say. And believe it not just in politics, but in practice.
So, very disappointing, but he did the right thing by stepping down and leaving now, so that Republicans can sort of move on from this.
TAPPER: Mike, let's turn on to some of the bigger news. Obviously right now, we have on Capitol Hill, the NRA and some Republicans trying to get ahead of this issue when it comes to this device that can change a semiautomatic weapon into a essentially an automatic weapon. What -- how do you see this playing out?
MICHAEL FELDMAN, FOUNDING PARTNER, THE GLOVER PARK GROUP: I think they'll pass something. I think it's a smart thing to do. I think the NRA moving will then make it -- will give some Republicans who might have not voted for that legislation a pass. And I think it's the bare minimum probably of what we could be doing right now.
I do think there is a lot of -- usually a lot of emotion in the aftermath of one of these events. And often people jump to solutions that may not in fact be solutions or that may not in fact be effective, but in this case, taking a device that makes an illegal weapon essentially legal and in the hands of people that does mass damage was the smart thing to do.
TAPPER: You're a gun enthusiast, what's your take on this, S.E.?
CUPP: Well, the NRA is not prone to legislative and policy solutions that they do not believe will solve a problem and curve gun violence. So, what this tells me is two things. They think this will. And they think that there is the political will to do it.
Now, the question for me is, will Democrats accept this or will they move the goalpost? Because a lot of Democrats have been asking for this, I think it's sensible. I know a lot of sensible gun owners believe that bump stocks should not be legal or should be regulated more seriously.
We'll see if Democrats take, take this and accept this as the appropriate response. And response that will actually, maybe help curb gun violence unlike so many other legislative suggestions.
TAPPER: Earlier today, President Trump tweeted why isn't the Senate Intelligence Committee looking into the fake news networks in our country? I don't know why that's -- oh, our country as opposed to Russia I suppose. In our country to see why so much of our news is just made up. Fake.
And here is Sarah Sanders' response to that tweet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: With the First Amendment, with those freedoms also come responsibilities. And you have a responsibility to tell the truth, to be accurate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That is true.
TAPPER: We do have a responsibility to tell the truth and be accurate. Does President Trump have that same responsibility?
CUPP: Appearently not, the president feels as though he is in the unique position of verifying news. We saw it when it came to the Rex Tillerson quote. He said, I didn't verify it, so it didn't happen.
Well, he also wasn't in the room. He said it behind your back.
CUPP: And we had multiple sources confirming it. That's the way American journalism works.
TAPPER: And confirming that he knew about it, and confirming that President Trump knew about it.
CUPP: Right. But this is a much bigger problem as we know. President Trump has been trying to undermine the stability and the trust of the free press. And he's done that not just in the press, but in a lot of institutions.
[16:20:02] And it's a tactic to make the American public, American citizenry paranoid, afraid, distrusting. That way he can be the voice. And only he can be the voice that most people trust. So, it's deeply, deeply disturbing and dangerous when he says things like this because people believe him.
TAPPER: And what I wonder, Mike, is after the Trump presidency, whether that's in 2021 or 2026, is this going to be how politicians behave? Is there a new standard being set here?
FELDMAN: Well, I hope not. Look, I would say that the device of attacking the media as an institution --
TAPPER: That's old.
FELDMAN: It's old. It's not new and it will keep going on. And I understand the utility of it.
The problem -- there's two problems with it, one is right now we have a real fake news problem. OK? This country and our democracy is under threat right now from countries that are, you know, hostile to us who are seeding unrest and discontent in our electoral process. We don't the extent of that yet, but we're investigating it.
Coming out and blurring the lines like this about what's real and not real at a time like that is very dangerous when it should be in President Trump's interest, as much as it is my interest and S.E.'s interest and your interest to make sure that we actually know what's real and what's not.
The second thing is, Sarah's response in, you know, having us, small violins playing for the coverage that this administration has been getting or not getting about their tremendous achievements and again, I have trouble pointing to those achievements, but let's say for the sake of the argument that she's right, it's their own doing -- antagonizing the media, the war with the media, the constant process arguments that are going on are the reason why their coverage in their view is so out of balance.
You know, taking a step back a little bit from that war, which again is useful in some circumstances might serve them well.
TAPPER: Where do you think this ends up? I mean, do you think, I'm sure you get asked this all the time -- I do.
TAPPER: Where does this war with the media and the fake news thing end? Does it just end when President Trump is no longer president or at some point, does he just not get off? Because there just -- the demonstrable facts that we report, and that he is at odds with, at some point, well, already, most of the American people understands what's going on. But at some point, even more will.
CUPP: Well, the optimist in me wants to believe that this will make reporters better, will do our jobs better, and will grow from this and we'll come out emerged from this stronger and better as a community.
But when there's record distrust in the media and the president is praying on that and -- preying on that and trying to take advantage of that, I know a lot of people believe him. People I would consider rational. People I would consider smart, intelligent, believe him and you hear them parroting what he says. So, I think it's a real -- it's a real problem that we in the press have to take very seriously.
Michael Feldman, S.E. Cupp, thanks so much.
And be sure to tune in to "S.E. Cupp Unfiltered", which is on weeknights at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on our sister channel HLN.
Great to see you again, S.E.
CUPP: Thank you.
TAPPER: And Mike as well.
Three American Special Forces troops killed in Africa. The situation is still unfolding on the ground. The hunt for the attackers, the terrorists is going on right now. And that story is next.
[16:27:24] TAPPER: And we're back with our world lead today.
Just in, President Trump has decided to decertify the Iran nuclear deal, two senior U.S. officials tell CNN. Next week, President Trump is expected to say that the Obama era pact is not in the interests of the United States. The deal then heads to Congress for a review period.
Let's go right to CNN's Jim Sciutto.
Jim, what would this decision effectively mean?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, this is a punt, but it's a potentially consequential punt. It's a punt because this now goes to Congress and it is Congress that would actually vote or have to vote to re-impose sanctions on Iran and therefore break up the deal.
So, it really puts the ball in the court of Congress. That said, it is causing genuine upset, including with U.S. allies that are also party to this deal, because remember, of course, this is not just a deal between Iran and the U.S., but between the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council, China, Russia, you have close U.S. allies, France, U.K., they're all involved and they have a very different view of this.
I spoke to a European diplomat who is party to this agreement and told me this, said, one, that Iran is complying with the agreement, and two, that it is vital to our national security interests and those of our allies.
So, you have U.S. allies, not just Iran who's upset about this, but U.S. allies saying, no, Mr. President, this is in our national security interests, which, of course, echoes what the president's own defense secretary, James Mattis, said earlier this week.
So, really, the question is, what happens next? I will add one thing that at the U.N. General Assembly here, that I was able to meet with the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and he left the door open to more talks on other issues, such as ballistic missiles, et cetera. So you do have that door open.
But on the deal itself, no action today, but at a later date, it could be extremely disruptive.
TAPPER: The Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee says he does not want that deal torn up. He said that the United States should enforce the hell out of it, but keep it.
Jim Sciutto, thanks so much.
Also in our world lead today, a deadly ambush attack against U.S. Special Forces in West Africa. Officials have confirmed to CNN that three Green Beret were killed and two others wounded near the Mali- Niger border. Now, the hunt is on for the attackers.
CNN's Barbara Starr has the story.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Army Green Berets and local forces were walking on patrol when they were suddenly ambushed. Initials indications are up to 50 fighters, likely affiliated with ISIS sprang the attack. Three U.S. troops were killed, two wounded.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly, there's risk for our forces in Niger.
STARR: Green Berets typically operate in a 12-man team, often facing significant danger.