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Sheriff: Gunman Planned to Survive Massacre and Escape; NRS: Bump Stocks Should Have 'Additional Regulations'. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired October 5, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, get away plan. Police believe the Las Vegas gunman planned to survive and slaughter -- survive the slaughter and then escape. He had 50 pounds of explosives in his car, along with 1,600 bullets. What was in the note he left at the scene of his crime?
[17:00:15] Dry run? Police say the gunman rented a condo overlooking another concert in Las Vegas and a room was rented, but never occupied near a huge Chicago festival. Did he plan other attacks?
Walking away. President Trump plans to decertify the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran which he railed against on the campaign trail. He'll drop the matter in the lap of Congress, which will then have to come up with a way forward. Will Iran restart its nuclear weapons program?
And churning off the coast. Tropical Storm Nate is expected to threaten the U.S. Gulf Coast this weekend as a hurricane. New Orleans is scrambling to get ready. We have the new forecast.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
The breaking news, President Trump plans to decertify the Iran nuclear deal, declaring the Obama-era agreement not in American interests. Senior officials expect the president to unveil his plan next week.
But rather than scrap the deal completely, he's planning to kick the matter to Congress, which would then have to find a path forward.
Also breaking, the White House says President Trump is open to discussing a ban on devices used by the Las Vegas killer to turn many of his guns into the equivalent of automatic weapons. A dozen of the guns found in Stephen Paddock's hotel room were modified with a rapid- fire bump stock. Key Republicans are sounding receptive to a bump stock ban, and even the National Rifle Association is calling for, quote, "additional regulations."
That comes amid chilling new clues suggesting the gunman may have planned even more carnage. Police say he had 50 pounds of explosives and 1,600 rounds of ammunition in his car. They suggest he intended to survive the massacre and escape.
Police say Paddock rented a room overlooking another Las Vegas music festival last month. And we're also learning a room was rented in the name of Stephen Paddock at a hotel near Chicago's Lollapalooza music festival in August. That room was never occupied.
Also breaking, the new forecast is coming in right now for Tropical Storm Nate, expected to hit the Louisiana coast this weekend as a hurricane. Officials in New Orleans are racing to prepare, and Florida's governor has declared an emergency in 29 counties.
I'll speak with senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada. And our correspondents and specialists, the guests are all standing by with full coverage.
Let's begin with the Las Vegas massacre investigation. The latest developments go straight to our own Brian Todd. He's in Las Vegas for us. What are you learning there today, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight investigators are piecing together more information on shooter Stephen Paddock's motive and on his planning.
Sheriff Joe Lombardo says he doesn't think he necessarily could have pulled this off without an accomplice. And the sheriff is giving surprising new information tonight that the shooter may not have intended to die inside that hotel room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, run! Keep your head down. Go!
TODD (voice-over): Police believe that gunman Stephen Paddock not only had an elaborate plan to carry out mass carnage; he also had a plan to try to escape.
Investigators now say they have a clearer timeline of just what happened Sunday night. The shooting began three minutes earlier than thought, at 10:05 p.m., and lasted for ten terrifying minutes.
This newly-released video shows victims fleeing along Las Vegas Boulevard, still in the line of fire.
Thirty-two stories up at 10:17 p.m., the first police officers on the scene arrive in a hallway, like this one, and find security guard Jesus Campos shot in the leg. Police say it's this first interaction that suggests Paddock was not planning to die in his suite.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see any evidence that he planned to survive the or try to escape?
SHERIFF JOSEPH LOMBARDO, CLARK COUNTY, NEVADA: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us what that is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's that?
LOMBARDO: I can't tell you. TODD: Police now say Paddock had barricaded the stairwell next to his
door, similar to this one and had set up an elaborate system to monitor the hallway, including more cameras than first thought. Two on this cart. One in the door's peephole. And another inside the room. They say when he saw Campos on a screen, he unloaded more than 200 bullets, some through the door into the hallway.
LOMBARDO: I believe because of his countermeasures placed in the peephole and in the hallway, he observed the security guard, and he was in fear that he was about to be breached.
TODD: At that point, police say Paddock stops firing on the crowd. The sheriff believes he has turned his focus from killing to getting away.
LOMBARDO: So he was doing everything possible to figure out how he could escape at that point. His concern was personal concern versus what was occurring down below him.
[17:05:05] TODD: Paddock's car was stocked with 1,600 more bullets and 50 pounds of tannerite, a chemical compound that could have caused a large explosion.
JOHN SHEAHAN, FORMER LAS VEGAS SWAT TEAM MEMBER: There's one of three ways that it's going to end for an active shooter, and they pretty much all know this.
TODD: From a room two floors above and just down the hall from the shooter's, former Las Vegas SWAT team officer John Sheahan told us he doubts Paddock could have ultimately gotten away.
SHEAHAN: You're either going to commit suicide, you're going to die in a hail of gunfire with the police, you're going to shoot it out with them and you're going to be killed. Or you're going to continue on a preplanned rampage at locations B, C, D, and E until the police finally stop you.
TODD (on camera): So you don't believe that escape meant escape for good, just to...
SHEAHAN: Brian, how could it? How could it, because he rented the room in his own name. He's already on video coming in and out. We know who he is. He's going to be the most wanted man in the world if he does try to leave here.
TODD (voice-over): Sheahan describes the gunman's set-up as well- defended and carefully planned, with a commanding few over the concert venue he targeted across the street.
His deadly preparations all visible in these crime scene photos leaked to "The Daily Mail" which combine to show a panorama of rifles with bump stocks, stands, scopes, and stacks of ammunition.
And tonight, authorities say the suite was not the only room Paddock booked. Just a week earlier, Paddock rented a room at the Ogdon Condominium overlooking a music festival featuring Lorde and Chance the Rapper.
LOMBARDO: Was he doing pre-surveillance? We don't know yet.
TODD: A Chicago hotel overlooking the Lollapalooza concert also says in August, someone named Stephen Paddock reserved a room during the festival, although he never checked in.
TODD: Now a spokeswoman for that Chicago hotel says it is not clear if the Stephen Paddock who reserved that room in Chicago is the same Stephen Paddock as the Las Vegas. She She also says she
does not have information about a request for a specific view in that hotel. But she says they are working closely with investigators here in Las Vegas -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd on the scene for us, thank you.
Twelve of the guns in the killers hotel suite were modified with a device called a bump stock, essentially turning them into automatic weapons. The White House says the president is, quote, "open to discussing legislation" to ban the devices. And there's a move on Capitol Hill right now to do just that. With key Republicans getting on board. Even the National Rifle Association wants what it's calling, quote, "additional regulations."
Let's turn to our congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly. Phil, you've been talking to Republicans who were very skeptical of anything that appears to be involving serious gun control, but why is this gaining momentum?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, they're generally surprised. When they listen to -- and I've talked to several who were watching videos of the attack in Las Vegas and were stunned by the rate with which the fire was coming out, their impression was this must have been an automatic weapon. Wolf, something that's been banned since 1986. Those that were grandfathered in are most certainly cost prohibitive.
And so Republicans are saying, look, if there's something that can mimic that rate of fire, something that a lot of Republicans you speak to up here clearly weren't aware of, this bump stock modification, then something should be done about it.
Now it's important to note, you mentioned the NRA, an organization that is very wary of any type of federal regulation, today releasing a lengthy statement that including this very important sentence: "The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semiautomatic rifles to function like fully automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations."
Now, there is an important caveat here, Wolf. Unlike some of the lawmakers right now who are looking at legislative answers or solutions here, the NRA is not talking about that. They are talking about the ATF using its own power to reassess its own authority to regulate these entities or figure out some way to ban them altogether.
That is a very important distinction, but still, there's no question about it: there's momentum to do something. The question, though, is what?
BLITZER: Saying you want to do something and actually doing something. So what is the current reality on Capitol Hill?
MATTINGLY: It's more wanting to do something. And I think that's really important to note.
Again, a legislative push opens up a whole list of potential problems for Republicans who are staunch Second Amendment supporters, when you look at the technical details. How do you write legislative language? Could you perhaps go too far, open the door to a less friendly administration to expand regulations? That is a real concern here.
Take a listen to House Speaker Paul Ryan phrase how he believes things should happen going forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I didn't know what a bump stock was, you know, until this week. So I think a lot of us are coming up to speed. And I'm an avid sportsman. So a lot of us are coming up to speed with just what this is.
But having said that, fully automatic weapons have been outlawed for many, many years. This seems to be a way of going around that. So obviously, we need to look at how we can tighten up the compliance with this law so that they are -- so that fully automatic weapons are banned.
We need to go back and figure out how this happened in the first place. So I think there's a big regulatory question, and then we just have to do more research to find out what's the best way to make sure that the spirit of law is upheld.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:10:05] MATTINGLY: So Wolf, the speaker obviously not jumping on board any legislative action, but talking a lot about the regulatory side of things. And that's important. In 2010, the ATF, in a letter to one of the entities that had been creating these bump stocks, said that they did not have the power, at least in their kind of lawyer's opinion, to regulate these items.
That is what the NRA is saying the ATF needs to go back and reconsider. And that, I'm told, is the preferred route for Republican leadership. That is very wary of a lengthy, kind of toxic gun debate. Not on their agenda. And very concerned about what that might mean going forward.
But it's worth noting: Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat in the Senate who is introducing a bill to ban bump stocks says that's not enough. Legislation is the answer. As you noted, Wolf, Republicans in the House have introduced their own legislation.
The fight and the tension right there between whether or not to let the ATF do it unilaterally or to actually move forward with legislation, that is the big question going forward and certainly something that needs to be resolved. Can't stress this enough: at this moment, Republican leaders very much would prefer the agency handle this instead of a legislative debate, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Phil, thank you. Phil Mattingly up on Capitol Hill.
Joining us now, Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada. She previously served as the state's attorney general.
Senator, thanks for joining us. Let's go through several of these issues in the news right now. First of all, do you agree with the Clark County sheriff, Joseph Lombardo's, assessment that Stephen Paddock likely had some help carrying out this massacre?
SEN. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO (D), NEVADA: You know, Wolf, I'm not going to second guess Sheriff Lombardo. I worked with him as the attorney general. Our law enforcement here in this community are incredible. They're topnotch. I have every confidence in their investigation and, moving forward, what they will uncover.
BLITZER: The sheriff also says there are indications that this mass murderer wanted to escape but refused to share that evidence with the public. Have you seen anything at in all the briefings you've received so far to suggest there was, in fact, a getaway plan?
MASTO: No. I will tell you, Wolf, the briefings that I have had are similar to what everybody else is seeing.
And let me just say, the sheriff has been very transparent on what they can share and the information that they're putting forward. That is not going to impede the integrity of their investigation. So, for my purposes, I think we need to let that investigation move forward and really not second guess it, and then just take the sheriff at his word.
BLITZER: Yes. You're right, absolutely right. Sheriff Lombardo, the Clark County sheriff -- that includes Las Vegas -- has been very open so far over these past several days.
As you also know, let me try to get -- get you to -- if you can answer this, the reports that the gunman actually cased other venues in Las Vegas, Chicago, perhaps other cities, as well. What, if anything, could you tell us about that?
MASTO: Other than what you know and you've heard publicly, those are -- that's the same information that I have been informed of, as well, Wolf.
BLITZER: Because we've heard about Chicago. There are reports of Boston, as well. Do you know of any other cities that he may have potentially cased, other venues, outdoor concerts? MASTO: I do not. I know that our law enforcement -- along with our
FBI, everybody, all hands are on deck. They're doing everything they can to take a look at what happened here, look at the information, and then release what they can that's not going to impede the integrity of any ongoing investigation.
BLITZER: Are investigators any closer to finding a motive?
MASTO: I know they're working hard. And I've been to the command center several times, and I know from our FBI to our local law enforcement, to homeland security, all hands are on deck. And everybody's doing their role, and they're taking a piece in this.
And they're really working 24/7 to figure out what happened here and to give an answer, not just to all of us that are questioning what's going on, but remember, this is a community in mourning. We have a lot of people who suffered. There are many who were injured are still in our community, and many loved ones and family members who lost their loved ones. So they're looking for answers, as well.
BLITZER: You know, and they deserve to get those answers. I'm sure you agree.
Before becoming a U.S. senator, you were the attorney general of Nevada, a prosecutor for many years. How unusual is it for a mass murderer to commit a massacre without a manifesto or another clear motive?
MASTO: Well, you can hear from the experts, and I've listened and I've heard, as well. It is unusual in the sense that we don't have a motive or something that the law enforcement has immediately.
But then again, these are unusual circumstances. And you've been talking about it.
We had a massacre that occurred here Sunday night because somebody was able to accumulate all of these weapons, and use a bump stock to turn a semiautomatic into fully automatic. It was a massacre. It was a slaughter. And that is something that we have to stop in this country.
[17:15:12] That's why as attorney general, I have been very vocal and an advocate for common sense gun safety measures. And I will be an advocate when I get back to Washington, D.C. I signed on as a co- sponsor to Dianne Feinstein's bill. I think we need to do everything to bring these gun safety measures forward.
I think there should be background checks. I think we should do everything we can to make sure that the mentally ill and terrorists do not have access to weapons.
And we have to do something about the devices, like these bump stocks. It's just incredible to me that we're -- we're having a debate whether it should be a regulation or a law outlawing them. They should be outlawed. Nobody should -- there's no need for them. And that's the discussion we should be having. BLITZER: But are you optimistic, Senator, that any serious gun
control legislation can actually pass through the House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, with the Republican majority in both?
MASTO: Well, I -- this is the first time that I'm hearing the Republicans are even willing to come to the table to have a conversation. And the NRA. So yes. I'm hopeful that they understand.
All they have to do is come into my community, Wolf. Come to the hospitals with me and talk to the family members and those that were injured. I mean, every single one of us that live in this community, and I was born and raised, we have friends or family members that were at that concert. People that are -- the incredible people that come to Las Vegas, that's over 40 million visitors, that travel here just to have entertainment and enjoy an anniversary or a birthday, now some of them are going home that will have emotional scars for the rest of their lives. So talk to those people and see what they have to say about this.
BLITZER: Our hearts go out to all of those people. Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
MASTO: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Hawaii -- of Nevada, I should say.
Up next, chilling new details from the investigation into the Las Vegas massacre. Did the killer plan to survive and escape? Our specialists are standing by.
And breaking news: President Trump railed against it during the campaign. Now he plans to decertify the Iran nuclear deal. Can Congress find a way to salvage the international agreement?
[17:21:56] BLITZER: The White House says President Trump is open to discussing a ban on devices used by the Las Vegas killer to turn many of his guns into the equivalent of automatic weapons.
Given his vast arsenal and the very troubling discovery of explosives, lots of them in his car, was Stephen Paddock planning more massacres?
Let's bring in our experts and our specialists.
Lisa Van Susteren, you're a forensic psychiatrist. Do you agree with Sheriff Lombardo's assessment that Stephen Paddock likely had help carrying out this slaughter?
LISA VAN SUSTEREN, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: That's impossible for me to know. I can't attest to the kinds of plans that he had outside of what I saw. What I can talk about is what leads someone like this to do something
like a massacre like this. But I can't really attest to his relationships. I know that he was very, very -- a loner, of course and had very few relationships and if he aligned with someone like him, possible, but I don't think it's terribly likely.
BLITZER: He had a girlfriend for several years.
VAN SUSTEREN: He did. But that's a little bit different from an accomplice.
BLITZER: I'm not saying she was an accomplice.
VAN SUSTEREN: No, no. But I'm saying that to have someone who would be involved in a criminal act with you requires something different from having a woman who's loving and nurturing and taking care of you. It's an easier, probably, gambit than having a person who would participate in something like this with you.
BLITZER: Yes. It's very interesting.
Phil, what do you think?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I was watching the sheriff yesterday, Wolf, as you were. It almost seemed like he knew something that he wanted to signal to the audience, but he didn't want to the say it.
That said, I'm looking at the facts that I've seen, and I've heard people say there's no way, given the amount of weaponry, the sophistication of the operation, that he could have done this alone. I don't see that yet. I am halfway there.
There is someone in his background that knows something that is material to -- not only to the investigation, but to his mental state. So to say that he was in isolation and nobody knew, I can't do that. Just by doing the math. The amount of time that he was looking at potential targets, the amount of people including his girlfriend and his family he was interacting with, and including people we don't know about, for example, maybe people at gun ranges. The amount of activity he was undertaking, including as we know now, looking at other locations.
You put all of those numbers together. The number of people, the amount of time. There is no way that he didn't slip at some point and say something that led somebody now to realize he was considering this act.
BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, could he have pulled this off by himself?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think he could have. It may not be likely, but I think he could.
And you know, I've travelled with film crews, and you go to these hotels. And they have dozens of large cases with tripods, cameras, lighting equipment. And they get the -- you know, the employees of the hotel to load the carts, take it up to the room.
He's a man with money. He could easily have had people -- once he got it in his vehicles and brought it to the hotel. He could have been bringing it day after day. He could have had the kind of help that people don't know what's in the cases, but just get help to get it up in the room.
BLITZER: Lisa, the sheriff also says there are indications that this killer wanted to escape. Here's the question: these mass killers -- and you've studied them over the years -- do they usually try to escape the scene of a crime or do they go into a mass murder like this expecting themselves to die?
[17:25:05] VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I think it's more likely in this case that it's the latter, that he expected to die. He's not going to be able to elude the police forever.
And his goal, really, I think, probably a person like this does not want to ever be incarcerated. He does not want anyone to have control over him. He is seeking ultimate power, which is this life and death sort of power that he has over people, and shoots them in this burst of spasm of violence. For some people, that's very -- it's a very masculine, military connotation. He would never put himself in a situation where he could be taken alive, in my opinion.
BLITZER: As you point out, very few personal friends as far as we know. He does have the girlfriend, but is that typical among these mass murderers?
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, usually, there -- you don't hear about a good relationship with a woman, but we know so little right now. And we heard that they had a nice relationship. It was a giving relationship, a generous relationship. And we had someone else say that he was abusive to her in coffee shops. There's so much right now that we don't know.
But the fact is that we have seen in the annals of criminal history that people can very much compartmentalize. So they may have the so- called legitimate mask of sanity or normalcy relationships on the one hand, even as they're plotting something absolutely ghastly.
BLITZER: Here's what's intriguing and very worrisome, Phil. They found lots of explosives in his vehicle outside, which suggests maybe he was planning to escape and maybe use those explosives someplace else.
MUDD: I'm with you on that, Wolf. I think a lot of us looking at the outside say, "You've got to be kidding me. Remember, you're on the 32nd floor here. The response time was in minutes, and the people coming upstairs -- and he knew this from the camera -- came up very quickly. That is law enforcement."
You'd say from a rational actor model, there's no way somebody could have looked that the scenario and planned it and expected to get out alive. I don't buy that rational actor model. I see -- I've seen people who go into situations that look ridiculous
and think they're going to get out. I think there's a chance he thought he would escape; he would use the explosives in the vehicle. Remember, there are other weapons at his residence as he looked at other targets. That doesn't mean it was a rational choice. It does mean he might have gone through a process that says, "I think I can shoot my way out."
BLITZER: In addition to the explosives, he had a lot of guns in that vehicle, as well.
Stick around. We have more. More details emerging right now from the investigation into the Las Vegas massacre. Did this killer have help preparing his attack?
And a new storm -- get this -- now lashing Central America. Could it slam into the U.S. Gulf Coast this weekend as a hurricane? We just received the latest forecast.
Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
[17:32:26] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: There's important breaking news coming out of the White House right now. Two U.S. officials tell CNN President Trump plans to decertify the Iran nuclear deal, declaring the 2016 pact negotiated under the Obama administration, that Secretary of State John Kerry not in the interest of the United States.
Let's get right to our Global Affairs Correspondent Elise Labott and our specialist Alicia, working this story for us. Be precise. Tell us what you're learning. OK. Well, we understand that President Trump is going to say that the Iran deal is not in the U.S. interest. That's decertifying this legislation that he has to talk about every 90 days. And this really kicks the can to Congress to make a decision what to do with the Iran deal.
Now, this is just part of the plan that the administration is working on. We understand that Secretary of State Tillerson, who we've talked a lot about this week is working on a plan so that President Trump, the real headache for him is having to certify every 90 days about Iran when he's spoken so negatively about the deal. They want to kind of put the deal on the shelf. Instead of certifying every 90 days that Iran is or is not in compliance, now they're going to shift the focus to some of the other behavior that President Trump is also very concerned about. We're talking about the ballistic missile program, we're talking about human rights, the activity in Syria and Yemen.
So, he's working with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, they're rewriting that legislation. So, it's kind of a face-saving measure, but also addresses the administration's other concerns so that's what will happen, though, kick it to Congress, Congress will have this new legislation, and this also keeps the Europeans on board because those Europeans in the deal say they do not to want renegotiate. So, it's kind of making -- trying to keep everybody happy.
BLITZER: Because since taking office, he's, what, on two separate occasions had the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson certify that Iran is in full compliance with this deal and it was going forward. Now, that there's going to be a change in that. But, Kaitlan, a lot of his top national security advisors are seemingly suggesting, not necessarily such a good idea, maybe the U.S. should definitely stay in this deal, at least for now.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. He seems kind of isolated almost in this thinking. He's maintained for a long time that he thinks the U.S. is getting a raw deal with this, but just days before this deadline was happening, we saw Defense Secretary James Mattis say that he does thinks it's in America's interest at this time to stay with the deal. So -- and that's not the first time we've seen the President at odds with his national security team either.
Just after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made a remark about a dialogue with North Korea, the President got on Twitter and said, save your energy, don't waste your time trying to talk to them. But what's noteworthy here is we're seeing how public these disagreements are. And they have no problem disagreeing with their boss in public.
[17:35:13] BLITZER: You know, it's interesting because not just Secretary of Defense Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, now Dana Bash is reporting that the President's National Security Advisor General McMaster invited a small group of Democratic Senators to the White House on Wednesday to discuss the President's plans on the Iran deal. And Dana's reporting that he hinted, McMaster hinted, that he did not think decertifying is the right way to go. This, according to two sources familiar with the meeting. So, how is this going to be received up on Capitol Hill?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, you know, it's all in Congress's court at this point. And if you -- if you have listened to Republicans over these last many years, as this deal has gone forward and been put in place, they think it was too soft. And they also talked originally about sanctions and wanting to reimpose sanctions. And so, that'll be a question as if to whether or not they're going to do that. They would only need 51 votes to do that. They, of course, have 52 Republicans, it's not likely that they're necessarily going get any Democrats on board, even though there were some Democrats who were -- who were critical of this deal, originally, Chuck Schumer and Ben Cardin for instance.
So I think Elise is exactly right, it's about shifting the focus, right. Not reimposing sanctions, because if they reimpose the sanctions, it's likely if you listen to what's coming out of Iran, that they would basically --
LABOTT: And even Republicans, even Republicans really don't want to be left holding the bag.
HENDERSON: Yes. Yes, right. LABOTT: So, it's really going to be up to what, you know, Senator Cotton and Senator McConnell is going to do, but I think they're pretty much going to keep the deal as is it, and not reimpose sanctions on the nuclear front.
BLITZER: Bianna, how are the allies, the partners, the U.S. worked out this deal with the Iranians together with the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, the germany, the E.U., they're not -- they think the Iranians are in full compliance.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right. The P5+1, this wasn't a bilateral deal that the U.S. negotiated solely with Iran. You already heard from the Europeans early on following the President's speech at U.N., they were concerned when the President was stoking the flames about pulling out of this deal. China and Russia have said that they will not renegotiate, Iran also said it will not renegotiate, its President Hassan Rouhani. And he had said from the get-go that if this is what the President ends up doing, then it's only going to isolate the U.S. Remember, there are billions of dollars at stake with regards to trade with the Europeans and Iran.
So, for many people, the perspective is, the train has already left the station. One could also argue that this is an added headache that the President sort of kicking towards Congress. They've got DACA that he pushed towards them; they've got this now with Iran, they've obviously got to keep the government funded as well. So they've got a lot on their plate that the President just seems to be pushing over to them for them to ultimately decide on, but I agree with Elise, it is sort of a partial way of saving face.
BLITZER: If the U.S., Bianna, were to walk away from this deal, how do you think the North Koreans would react because there's a lot of effort, a lot of pressure on them to enter into some sort of negotiation on their nuclear program?
GOLODRYGA: Well, right, what incentive is there from you could say Kim's perspective, if he sees that this deal with the Iran was ripped apart by an incoming President. So, in his mind, many could say, why would he sit down and negotiate with this President? And one could also say why would anyone negotiate with this administration when it's become so public, the internal disagreements as far as foreign policy as it relates to both North Korea, obviously from the President's tweets, and what Rex Tillerson have said to Iran today. So, that has always been the argument that sort of keeping things focused on one nuclear crisis at a time would probably be a more calming perspective as opposed to the President tackling two at once.
BLITZER: All right. Everybody, stand by, there's more breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. We'll resume our special coverage right after this.
[17:43:36] BLITZER: We're back with our specialists who we follow the breaking news. Two administration officials now telling CNN President Trump will announce next week he's decertifying the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran. Elise, even though he's decertifying it, doesn't mean it's necessarily the end. He's kicking the ball to Congress, let Congress figure out what to do. That's basically the gist of what he's trying to do. But there seems to be as we've been pointing out, serious disagreement among his national security advisors on this and other issues, the report yesterday that the Secretary of State behind the President's back called him a moron. Do they have fundamentally different world views?
LABOTT: I don't think they're fundamentally different. I mean, I think that you have the Tillersons, the James Mattises of the world, and maybe Secretary Kelly, but I think he might be a little more hawkish. A little bit more reasoned, a little bit more strategic as opposed to someone like President Trump who's shooting from the hip, goes with his instinct. These people have a more kind of nuances worldview. But I think it's more about the President's temperament and about how he's undermining them at every turn.
And how I just don't think if you look at someone like Secretary Tillerson and certainly Secretary Mattis who's not only a military general, but a scholar of history, that they think that he's not really kind of educating himself and taking the job seriously. This is the leader of the free world. And I think they hope that he'd be a little -- take the decisions as Commander-in-Chief a little bit more -- a little bit more serious.
[17:45:08] BLITZER: But, you know, Senator Corker of Tennessee, the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, he clearly thinks they have a different worldview. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN), CHAIRMAN, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos. And I support them very much. I think he's in a very trying situation, trying to solve many of the world's problems a lot of times without the kind of support and help that I'd like to see him have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He's talking about Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, but there seems to be a serious problem here.
HENDERSON: Yes, there is a serious problem according to some Republicans, right? Bob Corker, of course, not running again in sort of free to say what many Republicans privately have thought all along, which is that there are people in the government, people like Mattis, people like McMaster, people now like John Kelly who used to be at DHS and now is working in the White House are essentially the adults in the room, kind of protecting the country from Donald Trump's worst instincts.
I think the question going forward is for somebody like Tillerson, for instance, is how much humiliation can you take, right? And is he really even saving the country from chaos?
BLITZER: It's a good question, Bianna, how much humiliation can, not just Tillerson but other cabinet secretaries take? The Attorney General took some humiliation as well. Well, there seems to be a bit of exhaustion from always being reactive as opposed to being proactive. You're seeing people within this administration playing months and months of clean-up as opposed to actually going forward and implementing policy. Of course, they're cleaning up the President's tweets, the President's statements. I also don't know how much longer Tillerson can withstand some of this internal rife that we're seeing in the administration. It's been the worst-kept secret that he has been looking to leave.
Having said that, though, I covered him on the business side extensively, he ran Exxon, pun intended like a well-oiled machine. I'm not sure that this is the way he would to want go down. So, I wouldn't expect him to be leaving unless he at least had a few months now to diffuse the situation. And I know there's at least some policy that he would like to implement or at least be associated with and not be associated with the word, 'moron.'
BLITZER: Very quickly, Kaitlan, your thought?
COLLINS: I'm not sure this relationship can be mended between the President and his Secretary of State. This is a President who does not forget the smallest slight from anyone, and he's certainly not going to forget someone calling him a moron in private. My sources told me yesterday that the President was aware about this remark before NBC News had first reported it. But it's worse now that it's out in the open. And your job is only safe in this White House until it isn't. Look how many people we've lost so far; Heal and Human Service Secretary, wo Communications Directors, a Chief Strategist, a Press Secretary, all of these people in the White House, so that's to be determined.
BLITZER: Coming up, we're getting more details now, as investigators learn more about other possible plots by the Las Vegas killer. Also breaking, New Orleans and the U.S. Gulf Coast are at risk right now from a newly formed tropical storm, it's called Nate. And it's expected to become a hurricane. Stand by. We have the latest forecast.
[17:53:00] BLITZER: A new tropical storm in the Caribbean poses a threat to New Orleans and the U.S. Gulf Coast this weekend. Tropical Storm Nate is down by Nicaragua and Honduras. It's expected to strengthen as it moves north over the next few days. Let's bring in our meteorologist, Tom Sater. Tom, a new forecast just came out, what does this suggest?
TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, it's barely a tropical storm right now, Wolf. I mean, sustained winds at 40 and it only has to get to 39 to become a tropical storm. But it's already now a deadly storm, blamed for six fatalities in Costa Rica. We've had mudflow debris in El Salvador, Mountain villages looking at landslides in Honduras and Nicaragua. It's over land right now, so it's interacting with land but it's going to move in some very warm waters of the Western Caribbean and then make its way towards Cancun, Cozumel. That'll be tomorrow night. A little interaction with land there as well. Hopefully, most of the winds staying, of course, in that front- right quadrant over water. But then it gets to the Gulf of Mexico, and this is where we're going to have to watch it because remember Hurricane Harvey in just 12 hours jumped from a Category 1 to a Category 3, and, of course, we know, making landfall as a Category 4.
Sometime in the overnight period between 4:00 in the morning and 6:00 in the morning, Sunday morning, landfall. Now, this could be anywhere between Lake Charles, Louisiana, over toward Panama City. So again, we're trying to -- look, this is the track from the National Hurricane Center. And again, we're not looking at such a wide uncertainty again by Sunday morning. It picks up in speed and moves across the Tennessee Valley towards the northeast. But keep in mind, these waters are extremely warm. What we've seen in this season is rapid intensification. And if we have a landfall here, this will be the third one that occurs on the U.S. mainland. Of course, four when you consider Puerto Rico. Many more, of course, countries have been dealing with Categories 4 and 5.
But all the models right now were from a pretty good agreement that this system will move in. It looks like a Category 1, possibly a Category 2, but I'm not knocking out the possibility with rapid intensification. We could see maybe a Category 3. Let's hope it stays on the low end, but a hurricane, nonetheless.
BLITZER: Let's hope it does stay on the low end. It's hard to believe yet another hurricane in the next few days.
SATER: Yes, it is.
[17:55:04] BLITZER: All right, Tom, thanks very, very much. Coming up, Police say they believe the Las Vegas gunman planned to survive his act of slaughter and escape. He had 50 pounds of explosives in his car along with 1600 bullets. So what was in the note he left at the scene of the crime?
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Intent to escape. Investigators now believe the Las Vegas gunman was doing everything possible to flee the scene of his massacre, and may have planned to inflict even more carnage. Was he preparing for more attacks?
Casing other concerts, records reveal the killer booked a condo overlooking the site of another Las Vegas Music Festival and may have done the same in Chicago. Was he considering other potential targets?